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Astrophotography with a Nikon D3200


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I have just tried to take a picture of a chimney pot via my new scope and with a Nikon D3200 in Live mode attached after taking of the diagonal and trying to focus via the scope.

Result zilch.

According to the camera manual, Live mode on the Nikon D3200 switches off when the lens is removed, and this certainly seems to be the case.

Is this in fact true?

I find it difficult to accept that it cannot deal with a relatively simple task like that.

Can anyone advise me.

I have a lot of experience in photography, but have never used live view before and I have no experience in Astronomy

Thanks for any advice.


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Hi again,

I have got over the problem by simply treating the scope as a very large telephoto lens and I got some "Chimney Pots". I am not impressed with the quality, but I didn't spend a lot of time so far on focussing. I am glad just to get an image.

I will now try some planetary  and moon shots and see if I can improve the quality.

Thanks for your help


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It was during the day, I set the ISO manually to 100 where I normally keep it for most of my photography. It was just as I normally use a telephoto lens except much bigger.

Apart from ISO and shutter speed I guess it will also work this way at night. I found focussing  a bit imprecise, normally a telephoto lens snaps into focus, this was much more difficult so I see that as an area to concentrate on. Next stop the moon.


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Happy cat,

I was trying to focus the telescope while looking at live view, but LV kept being switched off by the camera.  This time I focussed the telescope but looked through the viewfinder as I would normally do with a camera lens attached. I don't like LV anyway, so I am happier with this arrangement.


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You are right to treat the telescope as a telephoto lens, that's simply what it is when the camera is attached in prime focus (no eyepiece inserted between the camera and the scope itself)

Here's a few tips.

1. Use a cable release,  I'm sure you know about that from your photography, in astrophotography this becomes a real must, so use it for all photos.  At the focal lemgths we're using, any vibration will show in the image.

2. Use mirror lock, again this is to help stop camera shake.

3. use an intervalometer if you have one to take a series of images,  you can use this with mirror lock by enabling the 2 second countdown timer on the camera.

4. For focusing, get a hartman mask and/or a batinov mask.  I find the batinov works great on stars, and others say the Hartman works well on the moon.  (I've not tried mine on the moon myself, their reasoning does make sense)

5. Don't rush, you have all night to get the photo.  (Unless clouds are chasing you)

6. Take a series of images more the merrier.

When taking photos of the moon, it tends to be that you are taking a whole series of images.  You'll find that the perfect focus point will shift from image to image, this is because of turbulance in the earth astmosphere.  There is nothing you can do about it, (aside from spending millions on active optics) so the mitigation that we ameteurs can do is to take lots of images.  Using a program like Registax or Deep Sky Stacker, you can then combine the best of the image set to produce a better image.

When I had a go at planetary imaging, I used a CCD based web cam and took a 10 minute movie.  Then I used Registax to align all the individual frames, through about all but the top 20% of the movie and combine those into a single image.

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Chimney pots tend to make your scope look bad as they are typically surrounded by thermal currents as the heat from the house below disturbs the air.

Looking up at the sky you should be able to get a sharper focus provided seeing is good.

Focus can be tricky, as mentioned above a bahnitov mask can help with this and will allow you to find your infinity focus point. Note that the focus point may change as the scope gets colder outside. You shouldn't try to image until the scope has cooled down.

They are pretty simple to make with a bit of stiff cardboard or plastic and a craft knife.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Thanks for the useful tips.

I have a programme called Zerene Stacker that I use for macro shots. I have downloaded  Registax and will try that also.

I got up at 05.00 this morning and discovered something I didn't expect.

I do  not know how to operate my camera in the dark. I was struggling to do simple things like switch off auto focus. That is readily rectified with practice.

More frustrating was to be told that my image was too dark.

The monitor felt like a quartz halogen in front of my eye

I also came to the conclusion that all or most of the icons around the top dial could be dispensed with except for Aperture Prioriy, Shutter Priority and manual. There is a need for 1 more however. I would call it DWTAXT.

Do what you are x told where X can be user defined to be any appropriate word. It is frustrating in the extreme to be given stupid messages with the camera locked up.

OK rant over.

It was a useful session and I have learned a lot, but go no usable images.

This week looks good for potential shots if the weather co-operates.


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