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Tethering a Nikon DSLR for focusing


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Hi all,

I'm starting my astro photography journey with a Nikon DSLR and various lens. I'm currently using a D800 and when mounted on my tripod, with many short exposures, I'm getting encouraging results. I can focus using either the optical viewfinder or Live View.

However, and isn't there always a 'however', mount the camera on my modded EQ6 and it's a different kettle of fish. Not being as flexible as I used to be, read 'old fart' here, I find it nigh on impossible to see through the viewfinder, or get a clear look at the Live View screen when the camera it pointing toward the heavens, as there always seems to be a tripod leg in the way and I can only crouch with my head at a right angle for a very limited time.

To make focusing easier I bought a laptop (which will come in handy when I move on to a 'scope and something like PHD) and have tried several tethering programs, one of which was very flaky, and am currently trialing ControlMyNikon which seems much better. This will be used purely to obtain good focus as I'll then disconnect it and use my intervalometer for timing. I tried it the other night but could not get pinpoint stars on the screen, more likely operator error than the program.

Am I on the right track with this or is there a better method to get sharp focus?

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You could stop the lens down one stop to get better DoF, the other way is take a image adjust the focus take another and carry on until its sharp this will be a bit time consuming, upgrade the camera to one with a swivel screen, my 600D has one and its so much easier standing upright with the screen twisted at the right angle.

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You copuld always try BackYardNikon (BYN), which I used when shooting with my D7100.

Has a frame and focus module and you can also use that for capturing too, so no need for the intervalometer and all stuff done in one place.

There is a free to try version on the website, so you can always give it a go and if you get on with it / it does what you need it to do, then plump for the pay version

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A number of programs support tethering a Nikon D800.  Lightroom, Nikon Camera Control Pro, and Capture One all do but they are not cheap.

Have you thought of putting the lens in manual mode temporarily increasing the ISO and focussing manually using a Bahtinov mask on a bright star thats lower down and then lower the ISO back down and simply slewing your mount to point at the target you want.  The focus won't change.

 

Edited by wornish
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11 hours ago, wornish said:

A number of programs support tethering a Nikon D800.  Lightroom, Nikon Camera Control Pro, and Capture One all do but they are not cheap.

Have you thought of putting the lens in manual mode temporarily increasing the ISO and focussing manually using a Bahtinov mask on a bright star thats lower down and then lower the ISO back down and simply slewing your mount to point at the target you want.  The focus won't change.

 

Cheers Dave.

Lightroom doesn't offer Live View focusing and the Nikon stuff, as you said, costs an arm and a leg.

I only use manual focus and the problem I'm having is getting a clear live view image on the laptop screen. The ControlMyNikon program seems fairly well sorted and when the clouds go away I'll have another go and fiddle with ISO and 'f' stops, and also different viewing modes on the laptop screen, ie Night Mode, High Contrast etc.

Thanks for your input.  :thumbsup:

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Kev, 

I have a d5300 on the end of an ed80. I don't tether every night and when I want focus untethered I use a small hand held mirror.

I have a swivel lcd screen, but sometimes it is hard to access depending on what I'm looking at.

 Rob

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34 minutes ago, Rob Kenning said:

Kev, 

I have a d5300 on the end of an ed80. I don't tether every night and when I want focus untethered I use a small hand held mirror.

I have a swivel lcd screen, but sometimes it is hard to access depending on what I'm looking at.

 Rob

Cheers Rob

How do you find the D5300 for Astro?

I have it on top of my wish list with a full spectrum mod from Camera Clinic as my astro camera. I'd love the D810a but my budget doesn't equate with my desires.

 

PS: Just saw that this is your first post so welcome to the forum. They are a very helpful lot on here even though most are on the wrong side of the planet and have a rather skewed view of the sky down under.  :rolleyes2:

 

Edited by DarkKnight
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4 hours ago, DarkKnight said:

Cheers Rob

How do you find the D5300 for Astro?

I have it on top of my wish list with a full spectrum mod from Camera Clinic as my astro camera. I'd love the D810a but my budget doesn't equate with my desires.

 

PS: Just saw that this is your first post so welcome to the forum. They are a very helpful lot on here even though most are on the wrong side of the planet and have a rather skewed view of the sky down under.  :rolleyes2:

 

Thanks for the welcome. I'm starting out new myself but find the D5300 pretty good for 3200 iso sequences along with a set of  dark and flats. Noise doesn't seem to be a problem. The camera hasn't been modded for infra red. The only issue is the weight of the camera. I'm saving up for an Atik Infinity and hope it will save a lot of time getting a set of images of half decent quality.

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