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Simple starter approach without breaking the bank

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I'm primarily a visual observer, but I am thinking about doing some very basic and simple imaging, more for fun than trying to get particularly proficient at it. I'm aware of the potential cost of getting fully "into" this side of things, and I'm not intending to go down that road. I just want to take the odd image here and there and have a bit of fun with it.

My plan is to:

 - try a few prime focus shots of the moon or bright clusters with the DSLR using my refractor and possibly the MakCass, too.

 - Get some M42 lenses and attaching these to the DSLR to snap some wider fields of view, possibly on a friend's goto (my mount is manual)

 - Maybe try some video shots of the planets (much later on) 

With the M42 approach, what's people's experience with this? On the face of it, it appears to be a way of getting into this without breaking the bank.

Interested in thoughts / experiences.


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You might want to go with a simple eyepiece projection adapter for now because you may need a field flattener with that refractor to get nice edge to edge round stars and those are not cheap. Hotech makes a pretty decent one at 160 dollars. Some scopes are atrocious without one. All that will be usable is the very center.

Edited by Leveye
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Prime Focus web cam seems to be the cheapest option for lunar and planetary work. I'm struggling with Jupiter but did get some images of the moon when it was last about.

Anything else prime focus, or even anything through the scope will probably require some form of tracking. I was playing about last night with my DSLR PF and I have a very cheap RA motor which takes some fiddling to get the speed roughly correct and I think I managed 5 seconds without trailing stars. With more time to play I'm sure I can push that further as the clouds soon came in. So with no tracking you are looking at under a second exposure and you probably will not catch very much.

Your best option which is still a favourite is wide field shooting just with the camera. I don't know what camera you have but I've got some reasonable results at 300mm lens 1.6 seconds exposure stacked in DSS. Now the shorter lens you use the more you can push up the exposure. Get yourself an RA MD on the mount and piggy back the camera to really push the exposure times up. For example I did manage to get 10 seconds with the 300mm lens piggy backed on the scope.

There is a rule you may hear quoted a lot for non tracking the 600 rule.

Exp Time = 600/(Crop Factor x Lens Length)

With some searching you should be able to find your Crop Factor for the DSLR but I've heard that Canon tends to be 1.6

One last thing, I love the wide field photography, it's within my limits of equipment and it is so nice to bring out all those hidden stars that you can't see with the eye.

That's from a noob in the hobby.

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