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Lrlinnell

DSLR vs Telescope for astro photography

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I am a serious photographer that has become interested in astro photography. Should I invest in an AstroTrac so I can reuse my Canon 5D Mark III and 400 mm lens or invest in a proper telescope with tracking and the ability to mount my camera body directly to the telescope?

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Thats a very good question certainly a Canon/Astrotrac/lens (especially an L lens) is a formidable combination i suppose choice would depend on how mobile you want it to be.

Alan

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Stick with the lens for the time being , with a full-frame DSLR you'll experience serious vignetting with a 'scope and will be wasting an awful lot of that lovely big sensor.

An Astrotrac on a good solid tripod would be my choice too.

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If serious then you invest in a apo refractor, a good solid equitorial goto mount, a guide scope, guide camera and a cooled ccd, throw in a flattener for the scope.

Budget $2000-3000 for each of the main bits - scope, mount and ccd, and say $1500 for the guide camera and scope.

You might have change from $10,000 if serious.

Before you think I am joking or winding you up 3 times that expenditure is not uncommon.

You will get wide field images with a camera and a lens, however on images like M42, M45 they will be too small and simply appear insignificant compared to the overall background they are in. So for "objects" a scope is required.

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Sorry Ronin but a 5D MKIII and a 400mm lens gives a great view of M42 , M45 and especially M31 ...  :smiley:

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Yes you can go mad and spend 10,000+ , but just spending serious cash does not necessarily mean getting serious results .

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$1500 for a guidescope and camera? mine cost £185 for the camera and £50 for a second hand st-80 :). seems to work.

I don't necessarily think that being serious means spending crazy money...unless of course you've got it. In that case, go mad :D

oh yeah, sorry to the op, I've got an astrotrac and also have the traditional eq+scope. both get used equally and I wouldn't be without either.

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I would go for the astrotrac.  For someone who has already invested a lot in high end cameras and L lenses, it seems like the perfect solution.

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Worth trying before you spend.

Just an hour each on these and my rubbish processing. :grin:

M31 with a 60Da and 200mm L

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North American and Pelican cropped 60Da 200mm L

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Glad to be of help.

I've got one on order and they are due in the country around mid September so you will have plenty of time to look around.

They are a very new product so there isn't many reviews but from what i have see, most think its a very good little package.

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I would definitely start with an Astrotrac, they are quick easy and accurate with no need for guiding or messing about with laptops. Below are a couple of my shots taken on an Astrotrac with a modded 550d with both a 200mmL and a 300mmL lenses.

Mel

umudyna6.jpgnuvuhy6u.jpg

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I'm also thinking about a Star Adventurer - the payload is given as 5 kilos.  If I use my f/2.8 300mm Nikon lens with teleconverter and full frame camera I'm going to get to around the 4 kilo mark.  Do astrotracs generally function well near their maximum payload?

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Glad to be of help.

I've got one on order and they are due in the country around mid September so you will have plenty of time to look around.

They are a very new product so there isn't many reviews but from what i have see, most think its a very good little package.

That looks very interesting Anthony let us know how you get on with it. 

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Using your existing camera and lenses on an equatorial tracking mount would make a lot of sense if you will be happy with wide fields of view.

As well as the Astrotrac and Adventurer mounts, also have a look at the Vixen Polarie provided your total system weight is below 3Kg. The key is that all three are equatorial mounts and you will be making good use of your existing investment.

Consider making an aperture mask for your camera lens as stopping the lens down a little will give improved peripheral star shapes but using the camera's own iris will result in diffraction spikes that you will either love or loathe!

Focus is critical for astro-photography and you can't use autofocus - manually focus on a bright star at a 1/3rd position to combat the field curvature that you are bound to encounter:-

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Great advice from Steve.

As you'll realise, just as there are different kinds of day time photography there are different astroimaging disciplines.  A great intro is wide field imaging with a DSLR.  This will introduce you to polar alignment, tracking, image calibration and new processing routines, whilst at the same time allowing you to make good use of your existing expertise.  

An astrotrak is a marvellous piece of kit and other manufacturers have now cottoned onto the portable, widefield mount.  I can't comment on other mounts in this class but I have been very pleased with my Astrotrak.  It slips into a suitcase very easily so perfect for travelling.

Although people are using it with long lenses and small scopes I really think it is at it's best for very widefield e.g. 10mm milky way shots including a foreground subject of interest.  A 50mm lens frames Orion beautifully.  I have used it with a 200mm lens but you are likely to be restricted to fairly short exposures before trailing becomes an issue.  The polar scope isn't bad but not perfect.  I believe the latest Astrotraks include guide capability but this takes away all the simplicity which I think is the great benefit.  Once you start to hanker after long focal length imaging I think you are best to go for a more conventional mount.

I have an observatory with a long focal length scope and a good quality german equatorial mount but have no wish to trade in may Astrotrak, it serves a different purpose.  

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