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Caribian

Astrophotography using DSLR through Telescope

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I have a Skymax 127 Maksutov telescope and an Olympus E500 DSLR camera with an adaptor and T Piece to fit the camera in place of  the Eyepiece.

Now I have never done this before so I would really like some advice on shutter speed, aperture and ISO setting (highest ISO on manual is 1600). I have Registax on my laptop. Any advice on how I should set things up to take photos of say the Orion Nebula and the moon as a starter. Do I need to take dozens of photos plus black photos with lens cap on etc? Any help would be appreciated. Any focusing issues I should be aware of?

Thanks

Ian

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hi mate i shoot the orion neb at 800 iso any more than that and you risk blowing the core, i take 30 to 60 sec exp, depending how my mount is tracking. hope this is helpfull clear skys charl.

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I'm not familiar with either the Mak or E500 but to take images of the Moon you ideally want to take AVIs to stack in Reg or Autostakkert so does the E500 take AVIs? If not, you can convert to AVIs using PIPP. Normally this will mean a video consisting or hundreds of AVIs for stacking. You may also need a Barlow to image the Moon - depends how "close" you want to get. Expose in the normal way or try out settings but I would suggest an ISO of 200 would be a good starting point.

DSOs are a whole different ball game. Here you would take individual frames (lots) and put them into Deep Sky Stacker. Try it first without dark or flat frames just to concentrate on getting something out. Without an EQ Mount you will be limited to about 30-60 secs exposure. As charl says try 800 ISO.

Peter

Edited by PeterCPC
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Oh Boy, easy question, long and difficult answer.

Quick answer: get a good book on astrophotography. A popular one (although I haven't got this myself: Making Every Photon Count).

Longer answer:

- Camera on RAW settings

- ISO 800 - 1600 to start with

- Aperture all open

- start with moon or planets

- Shutter speed depends on what you aim for. You need to be able to track; i.e. a motorized mount. If you have an EQ mount that is best. With an Alt-Az mount you can do some tracking, but your images will suffer from field rotation. You will probably need a manual timer or time with BULB-setting on you camera. Go for the longest exposure time your setup can handle.

- Take test exposures.

- Take as many light frames as you have time for (quality is roughly proportional to time on target = total exposure time)

- Take as many dark frames as possible with the same ISO, shutter speed and temperature

- Stack in registax or Deep Sky stacker (free)

- Have fun

- Don't hesitate and come back and ask for more details when you learn more.

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Use ISO 800/1600 and experiment with shutter speeds, use a cable release or intervalometer to avoid camera shake, is your mount the GOTO version ? if not you'll  to stick to short exposures so best start off with the Moon.

Dave

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As already mentioned above, I'd start with ISO1600 and get as many subs as you can. Exposure (shutter) duration anywhere between 60 - 120 seconds for Orion Nebula.

The trick is the get as many subs as possible, at ISO1600 I'd recommend 20+ subs per time exposure and try to get a variety of exposures... A heap of 60, 90 and 120 seconds subs. After you stack all of them you should have a good SNR and be able to stretch your image to reveal the nebula with relatively noise free results.

For the moon I'd say ISO400 and perhaps a shutter of 1/60 or faster, take atleast a dozen shots and stack them, using wavelets to eek out the detail.

Most of all have fun, and don't expect perfect images at the start... There is always a learning curve and it's one of the things where you always learn, perfection will never be met, just an ever increasing quality of your images.

Also accept that there will be nights when you setup spend the time hunting your target and at the end of the night you will end up with nothing but a lesson, goes with the territory.... But at the other end of the scale, when you do get success, it's a great feeling.

Good luck and clear skies.

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Steve Richards's book 'Making ever photon count' is an excellent primer on this subject and a very worthwhile investment that should answer many of your questions (and loads more you didn't even know needed answering).

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

The website www.astropix.com is also a mine of information on the subject.

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As MarsG76 says, have fun and remember, it's a steep learning curve. The greatest buzz is when you finally manage to see a smudge in a 30 second exposure where you haven't seen anything before, take 45 minutes worth of exposures, stack 'em and then see what you've got. You'll be amazed and maybe just a little humbled.

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The first year, I spent my time with the DSLR connected to my little 80mm Refractor.  I took many unguided photos of the moon.  I took pictures of Jupiter this way even though the image appeared very small.  I even took terrestrial pictures through the telescope.  All of this gave me an idea of how to use manual mode on the DSLR and let me experiment with exposure settings. 

The moon was easy.  I took exposures at various ISO settings to see what worked the best.  Taking pictures of the moon is like taking a snapshot so if you have experience with using a DSLR, the moon is great to get started.  Get a cable release for the DSLR and shoot away!

My first DSO attempt was the Orion Nebula.  Again, single exposures.  I experimented with ISO and different shutter speeds just to see what happened.

Then, I began to read about motorized mounts, stacking, pre-processing etc.  Now that I am beginning to take long exposures using the tracking mount, I am glad that I spent that first year learning about the constellations, star hopping to find objects and generally enjoying the night sky.  Taking the step up to learning how to operate the tracking mount, learning to use the software for stacking/ pre-processing etc took me many hours of study and trial and error.  I wanted to enjoy myself every step along the way and trying to learn it all at once probably would not have been as much fun for me.

So, I guess what I am suggesting is to start with a simple set-up and work your way up to your final goal.  Now, I know this is tough when you see some of the fantastic photos that people post here on SGL.  You will be tempted to spend a lot of money and try to get there NOW!  I have read where a lot of guys do this only to find out too late that they bought the wrong gear.

I hope my little story helps.  Better to take baby steps and learn THEN take the leap.  All the while spending time looking through your telescope at the night sky.

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I think almost everyones first DSO is the Orion Nebula.... One thing that Tim touched on was the urge to spend money to get the results NOW... There is no amount of gear or money that can compensate for experience... At the start all one need to take great astrophotos is a half decent EQ mount, a entry level DSLR, lens or telescope and lot of practice. Doesn't need to be too expensive.

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