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Hi everyone, 
I have just joined this online community hoping it will assist me in progressing with my astronomy.
I have wanted to get into astrophotography for years. I have watched the stars and planets with my eyes and with the assistance of quality binoculars for what seems like a long time. I have sat on the fence so to speak because I have never had the confidence to move forward as the whole imaging thing seems to be so complicating and confusing. However I did buy a portable EQ head to see what I could achieve with my DSLR and a wide angle lens. I have been pleased with my photos of the Milky Way and meteor showers. 

The problem is that it has left me wanting more. Using the portable EQ head has taught me quite a few things. I can now accurately align to Polaris and achieve images of around 3-4 minutes with a wide angle lens. I have even achieved a credible but all be it small image of the Orion Nebula, due to a 70-200 mm Canon lens being a bit short in focal length for the subject. If I remember right exposure was about 120 seconds. The trouble is that the portable EQ head can only handle small payloads.

I would like to achieve much closer and better quality photos of some of the Nebula, but getting honest advice from people as to the equipment I would need seems to be so varied and inconsistent. Dealers are quite happy to sell you the gear they have, but I am uncertain that they always have my best interest at heart. I know it will take time, patience, planning and technique to achieve my goal of taking wonderful photos of the night sky, and I am quite prepared to work at it.

Although I have a Canon lens at about 500 mm, I have been told that I would be better off buying a triplet APO refractor and a full EQ mount. I have been advised to go for either an Altair or Skywatcher 80 or 100 triplet together with an EQ 5. My DSLR is full frame by the way.

I just wondered if other forum members could  offer any advice? Am I better going for a 80 or 100 refractor triplet or is there something better? And what about the EQ mount? Also do I need a guide scope, or is this not necessary? I joined another online forum, but no-one could give me real life experience of using either of the telescope manufacturer's focal lengths or mounts. So I am still very much undecided which way to go. Any advice or experience of equipment would be gratefully received. This would be most likely to be a 'once in a lifetime' purchase for me, so I cannot afford to make a huge mistake in buying the wrong equipment. I fully understand that if you want to view and image DSO you need one type of scope, whilst planetary is a complete different thing. My interest at the moment would be DSO. 
May I take this opportunity of thanking anyone in advance who takes their time to post a reply to the above.

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Hi Lobo,

As others will say, first buy and read the book 'Making Every Photon Count' by Steve Richards.

It should save you money in the long run.

John

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5 hours ago, Lobo Cielo said:
 
Although I have a Canon lens at about 500 mm, I have been told that I would be better off buying a triplet APO refractor and a full EQ mount. I have been advised to go for either an Altair or Skywatcher 80 or 100 triplet together with an EQ 5. My DSLR is full frame by the way.
Am I better going for a 80 or 100 refractor triplet or is there something better? And what about the EQ mount? Also do I need a guide scope, or is this not necessary?

 

Welcome to SGL

What 500mm lens is it?

I would not discount it so fast. If you can use it then you may be able to get a better mount with the money you save on a triplet apo. Something like a HEQ5 pro or a NEQ6 would be a good place to start as opposed to the EQ5. Especially when you are talking about once in a lifetime purchases then I would be tempted to get a better mount.

If you have your heart set on a EQ5 and a triplet APO then i would say go for a 71mm or the 80mm as the 100mm is asking a bit too much of the EQ5 in terms of weight handling.

It may help to know which full frame camera you actually have? As to be honest with not all scopes will cover a fill frame sensor and you would need very large filters. Most people do not use full frame sensors for that reason. Not that you cant crop it down mind you.

You dont NEED a guide scope but you will likely want one at some point. The thing is that it can all be a little daunting when you first start so its sometimes best to buy things in steps so that you dont spend all night fighting issues with equipment and never actually take a shot.

Also a budget would be useful. As if you have the cash to be considering a 100mm triplet apo then (ill say it again) you really should be diverting more of that into the mount.

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Welcome Lobo,

I also agree with @Adam J . You have started well: you know you want to do AP, you know and appreciate polar alignment (although polar alignment will need to be more accurate with greater focal lengths). Now you need a solid mount. The HEQ5 and EQ6 mounts are the standard astrophotography mounts and have a huge following. I started with an EQ5 and it is a good mount, I could put a 120 f8 refractor on it with a guidescope piggybacked and it did work...just. I did lose quite a lot of frames which prompted me to go for the AZ EQ6 which is far more steady.

Your 500mm Canon lens sounds great for AP, it should illuminate your FF sensor and give a FoV that covers big targets like M42, M31, Heart and Soul nebula etc... One issue I've heard of using these type of lenses are diffraction effects caused by the aperture blades, I don't have one so I can't say if this is a common problem from experience.  Also, as mentioned getting filters for a big sensor can be difficult.

Guiding will be necessary at some point because it combats the effects of sub-perfect polar alignment, mechanical imperfections in the mount, wind and other disturbances that can affect your images. I use a ST80 and a synguider and it works well for me. Others use different set ups, e.g. adapted finder scopes (cheaper than ST 80) fitted with guidecams controlled using a laptop. There are lots of options!

HTH! Dan.

 

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Thanks to you all for your advice which I will take on board. I have some further questions to ask; if I use my dslr ( I have both a Canon 5D mk iii and a 1DX) coupled to one of my big lenses, probably a 300 mm f2.8, how would you attach this to the EQ head and how would you mount a spotting scope or guide scope to the setup. Also I have read about the effects of dark current, especially on the 1DX. Am I better just going for a astro camera in the first place?

The other thing is would you mind clarifying the point about large filters. Are these the ones that fit behind the lens over the DSLR sensor to remove light pollution of enhance different bandwidths of light?

I have read books like Turn Left at Orion, the Backyard Astronomy Guide and Digital SLR Photography by Covington and tried to absorb as much information as possible. However there is so much to learn! Making Every Photon Count sounds really interesting; I am guessing that the thrust of the book is using as few glass elements in your collector lens or telescope as possible, to gather as much light in the shortest possible time and stacking multiple images. Don't know if m assumption is right?

I come from a background of semi-pro photography and I appreciate quality optics, and have come to realise that you get what you pay for, and sadly to secure good gear you have to fork out major dosh for it☹️

Any further advice regarding the above is greatly appreciated and thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts!

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Hi Lobo, welcome to the forum!

I don't know what i can say, but i am new here, and i started this year. I do have Canon DSLRs including 1DX and older models such as 1Ds3 and 1D3 and even 1Ds2 and 5D classic, but i knew that those will be just fine but not mind blowing results until i can really modify one of them and start to use filters, and i do live in a light pollution urban so many advised me to go narrowbanding which is expensive, but i have to if i want quality.

As folks told you, you must get a mount, EQ type, i started this year and i didn't try to save much and i got AZ-EQ6 brand new, i wanted a mount that can last for 2-3 years rather than a mount that last for about 6 months if i start using it, AVX and EQ5 are good mounts but have limitations, even my AZ-EQ6 has limitations but its limitations is less than AVX/EQ5, so it can last slightly longer.

Once you buy the mount then other things will come smoothly, you will know which dovetail to buy, you will know which adapter, you will know which equipment to load on that mount because you will be given the payload capacity, if you think about accessories now you may end up not using something due to wrong choice or not compatible with mount or it is not enough, i bought the mount first, and because the price was high so i bought Skywatcher ST80 to start with until one day my budget recovers, then i can afford a better scope that can be handled on the mount.

Many told me to learn the sky, so you will have an idea what do you want to shoot, and maybe it can tell you the limitation of your DSLR upon different targets, but if you are wealthy or lucky enough then the best way to do is buy the mount first, and then buy a cooled astro mono camera then slowly add filters, you will be amazed with what you can get, you can use your Canon lenses first then later add a proper telescope.

Books are nice, add to that some videos too, both will put you on track, i keep going and hope sooner or later i can get there, you said you are a semi pro photographer, so that will help you in this journey.

 

Good luck and clear skies!

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Thank you TareqPhoto for the feedback. You have raised some good points. I will give the equipment choice some more thought before I purchase. I just can’t wait to get stuck in and have a go. I used a Star Adventurer the other night and loaded it up with my 300 lens. However the mount seemed to struggle despite it being within the payload tolerances. I then swapped to a 70-200 zoom and managed to catch a spiral galaxy, albeit small, on the final image. 

Can you or anyone advise on the post production workflow after taking a series of light frames? How does taking multiple images amount to a single long exposure when stacked? Many thanks.

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2 hours ago, Lobo Cielo said:

Can you or anyone advise on the post production workflow after taking a series of light frames? How does taking multiple images amount to a single long exposure when stacked? Many thanks.

You can download Deep Sky Stacker (DSS) free stacking software, there are quite a lot of tutorials on Y'Tube for it.

The idea of taking multiple exposures is to try to remove " noise " the more frames you stack the more the noise is reduced and the more processing you can do on your image without pulling out the noise.

Dave

Edited by Davey-T

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