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Best DSLR Camera Settings


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The settings you use completely depend on what you're imaging, but not the settings you mentioned. I'd suggest that what balance should be neutral and picture style should be standard or whatever it's called on your DSLR.

The settings you'll want to focus on are ISO (As low as possible dependant on the next one, higher values bring noise), and Shutter speed. 

If you're doing deep sky then you want as long a shutter speed as your tracking will allow. (apart from silly things like the core of M42 which blow out quite quickly)

If you're doing lunar then as fast as possible.

If you're doing planetary you'll want to be doing video but with a DSLR it'll be difficult, the sensor's too big.


Edited by johnfosteruk
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This should have no permanent effect on the RAW files as all the original data is kept so it doesn't really matter.

Important stuff is gain, exposure time and resolution as these can't be changed afterwards.

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No matter what settings you use, if you end up with an image you are happy with........thats what matters. Its all a bit of trial and error in the beginning. How things go depend on many external factors such as light pollution,"seeing",transparency etc.

Mess about on any given night with all of the camera settings (or most of them). Try different combinations of ISO and exposure times. It only takes a second to delete the ones you know and can see which do not work for you.

I'm not an AP'er, but i do have a 450D i like to play around with on a fixed tripod and take wide field images (although not often). My first/best astro image ever, was of Jupiter. It was a single second exposure on a fixed tripod and ISO of about 800. I also used the 10x zoom on the camera. It turned out as a B&W image (or grey scale) with NO colour what-so-ever, but clearly showed the main bands around the planet and possibly even the GRS (but i have my doubts about that). Unfortunately, i no longer have the image. Ive also had some success with creating star trails and even faintly captured M31, with a bit of help from DSS (Deep Sky Stacker).

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As for white balance, it's irrelevant as you should shoot only in RAW and therefore the balance will be set afterwards. 

As for ISO and exposure:
1) do a test and see how long you can expose before star-trails/tracking errors become visible. This will depend on mount/tripos, focal length, wind, imaging area in the sky and so on. 
2) Keep the max exposure from step 1, and now increase the ISO until the peek on the histogram is around 1/4 to 1/3 from the left.

There are of course always exceptions, but in general to begin with i'd recommend this - regardless if you're on a tripod, tracking mount, using a camera lens, or telescope. 

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Are you shooting through the telescope or are you using a tripod?

It really depends what you are doing and what you are trying to capture. I myself do a lot of milk way shots from the tripod and tend to favour shooting at F3.5, ISO 3200 with a 20-25 second exposure time. Thats based on an 18mm focal length. Of course changing the focal length will increase exposure time and/or ISO. Its all trial and error, but if you are shooting from a tripod, shoot in raw, ignore the white balance, watch the exposure bar and make sure the composition is correct. A lot of editing can be done in post processing, but nothing beats getting it as close to perfect when originally shooting. 


Edited by stupie1982
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