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Astrophotography with a standard Tripod And Dlsr?


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Hi all,

After reading a lot on SGL about doing astrophotography a lot of people have said it is a nescesity to have a go to or something similar to help you track while doing photography. Now I was wondering is it possible to do AP with a standard tripod, DSLR and a telephoto lense? And if you have done this would you be able to share your images? 

Edit: have just ordered Make Every  photon Count from FLO so hopefully this helps. 

 

Edited by Revilo
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It is possible, that's mainly how star trails shots are done. For milky way shots you'll need a decent wide angle lens then if you divide the focal length by around 500 you'll get an exposure time you can use before trailing becomes an issue. 

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Either that or by taking very many stacked very short exposures, using a wide angle lens ideally. Google the YouTube video "Astrophotography without a Star Tracker" by Forrest Tanaka for his example. You will be limited to bright objects, like the Moon and some of the brighter DSOs. Many have had good results with just a camera and lens by upgrading to a simple tracking mount like the Skywatcher Star Adventurer for modest cost.

Ian

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Hi Revilo, yes you can, but you will be somewhat limited in exposure times. FWIW my avitar was a 30 second exposure taken at the Mount John Observatory with my standard, i.e. not modified, Nikon D90 DSLR + 18-200 ED zoom on a fixed tripod - the hardest part was sitting absolutely still for 30 seconds. During the same trip I took this image of the Eta Carinae region using the same camera but with a prime ED180 lens.

EtaCarima(MinimalCrop)_13May2013_ED180mm_ISO6400_6Sec_CombineFilesExcAvg_1.thumb.jpg.869f60b991b1cccaea057660448f5e7d.jpg

I also shot the Large Megallenic Cloud (LMC) with the same rig, which just about shows the Tarantual Nebula.

LMC(MinimalCropEnhanced)_13May2013_ED180mm_ISO6400_12of14x6Sec_CombineFilesExcAvg_1.thumb.jpg.d6f72d550ea1a38e71229151ec5c2a9c.jpg

Both images are cropped processed stacks of 12 x 6 second sub exposures taken at ISO6400. They are hardly award winning images and under zoom the stars trail at even 6 seconds, but for normal viewing I think the image stands up pretty well. Of course the exceptionally dark New Zealand skies at the observatory certainly helped by allowing such short exposures to collect a fair amount of data.

It is definitely worth giving it a try, just set your expectations accordingly.

Cheers, Geof

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4 minutes ago, geoflewis said:

Hi Revilo, yes you can, but you will be somewhat limited in exposure times. FWIW my avitar was a 30 second exposure taken at the Mount John Observatory with my standard, i.e. not modified, Nikon D90 DSLR + 18-200 ED zoom on a fixed tripod - the hardest part was sitting absolutely still for 30 seconds. During the same trip I took this image of the Eta Carinae region using the same camera but with a prime ED180 lens.

EtaCarima(MinimalCrop)_13May2013_ED180mm_ISO6400_6Sec_CombineFilesExcAvg_1.thumb.jpg.869f60b991b1cccaea057660448f5e7d.jpg

I also shot the Large Megallenic Cloud (LMC) with the same rig, which just about shows the Tarantual Nebula.

LMC(MinimalCropEnhanced)_13May2013_ED180mm_ISO6400_12of14x6Sec_CombineFilesExcAvg_1.thumb.jpg.d6f72d550ea1a38e71229151ec5c2a9c.jpg

Both images are cropped processed stacks of 12 x 6 second sub exposures taken at ISO6400. They are hardly award winning images and under zoom the stars trail at even 6 seconds, but for normal viewing I think the image stands up pretty well. Of course the exceptionally dark New Zealand skies at the observatory certainly helped by allowing such short exposures to collect a fair amount of data.

It is definitely worth giving it a try, just set your expectations accordingly.

Cheers, Geof

Hi Geof,

Thanks for the images, I was just thinking about getting a normal tri pod first and a second hand dlsr and see how I get on before I by a star adventurer and to see if I actually like doing it. I’m not expecting to get good results of DSO’s.

Thanks for the advice

olly.

 

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24 minutes ago, The Admiral said:

Either that or by taking very many stacked very short exposures, using a wide angle lens ideally. Google the YouTube video "Astrophotography without a Star Tracker" by Forrest Tanaka for his example. You will be limited to bright objects, like the Moon and some of the brighter DSOs. Many have had good results with just a camera and lens by upgrading to a simple tracking mount like the Skywatcher Star Adventurer for modest cost.

Ian

Thanks Ian,

as ive just said to Steve I wanted to just to get used to taking photos of the sky and see if I like the idea of it before I purchase a mount like the star adventurer. I’ve ordered the Make Every Photon Count book so that should give me more of an idea. I will try and find some videos that you’ve mention 

Olly.

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44 minutes ago, Revilo said:

I wanted to just to get used to taking photos of the sky and see if I like the idea

That's a sound approach Olly, but often the difficulty is to be able to do it gently, and affordably. Many will advise that you should start with an EQ mount, and all the other gizmos! But if you don't want to produce gallery worthy images, just reveal what you can't see, then there are ways. But either way, be prepared for a learning curve. Just taking jmages, stacking them, and then processing the result is a journey in itself, but once you are familiar with it, it can be applied equally to all future upgrades you may wish to take. For me, I had a refractor and an altazimuth mount, and within limitations I reckon I've done pretty well getting images. The next step up would be quite a leap for me though. There is no doubt that the Star Adventurer has opened up imaging opportunities at modest cost, and it is an EQ mount to boot! But be prepared for quite a committment if you want to further your interests.

Good luck with your endeavours; you'll find plenty of inspiration on this forum!

Ian

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Hi Olly and thanks for your post. You are doing right trying your toe in the water at minimal cost to see if astro-photography is your thing. If the bug bites it will bite hard :-)

You certainly can do some imaging with DSLR, tripod and lens but as Geordie85 rightly says star trailing can become visible if you expose shots beyond the 500/lens FL length in seconds. However you can take deliberate star trails that way of course. At times of meteor showers exposing for a few seconds to show any meteor streaks detected can also be tried. If you are a DIY-er you could build a barn door tracker for next to nothing and take 1-2 minute shots with short FL lens.

Imaging can quickly become a sink for more money than you have and I rather think the journey is far more rewarding than just having the best, newest equipment-as there is so much to learn at each step. Times too are changing in astro-photography, the gradual move from CCD's to CMOS has begun and people have challenged the orthodoxy and proven you can take decent images with less than an expensive EQ mount, expensive cooled camera, guiding and far too many wires (or is that wi-fi in these liberated times?).

Have a go first with what you currently have, do have a look at the 'No EQ Challenge' thread on SGL to see what can be done cheaply and do enjoy yourself.

Help will be on hand on SGL if you do decide to take the hobby further.

Best Regards,
Steve

 

Edited by SteveNickolls
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24 minutes ago, SteveNickolls said:

 

Have a go first with what you currently have, do have a look at the 'No EQ Challenge' thread on SGL to see what can be done cheaply and do enjoy yourself.

Help will be on hand on SGL if you do decide to take the hobby further.

Best Regards,
Steve

 

Hi Steve

thank you for that. I’m trying to not let the price put me off as it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while (have only looked into it further and seen how much money needs to be spent!) I’m sure when i get the equipment in the next couple of months I’ll post some images and asking for more help. As I have no equipment as of yet. Thanks for the help. :)

olly.

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When choosing your dslr I prefer canon for ease of use, support, connectivity to my android phone and tablet and ability to use old vintage m42 lenses which can be cheap and even free from family and friends. If getting canon I would not go older than a 450d. 600d is a nice one, I use an 1100d.

I made a barn door tracker and can consistently get 3 minute exposures with my 40mm lens.

Lots of software is free to name a few:

Deep sky stacker version 3.3.4

Sequator

Gimp

Startrails

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+1 for Happy-Kat's suggestion of a barn door tracker.  With my minimal skills and a few hand tools I managed to make one which allowed 30 second exposures (the maximum my bridge camera would allow) with 50 mm lens.  It didn't cost much, if anything, but it certainly started me on the road to AP.

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1 hour ago, happy-kat said:

+ ^ made mine with minimal skills and it doesn't even need a tripod it is fully self supporting so can go on table chair car roof etc.

Will have to have a  look at how to build one. For the cameras have been looking at both cameras you’ve suggested. There was a video mentioned earlier that used deep sky stacker ( looks easy to learn?) 

Edited by Revilo
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2 hours ago, almcl said:

+1 for Happy-Kat's suggestion of a barn door tracker.  With my minimal skills and a few hand tools I managed to make one which allowed 30 second exposures (the maximum my bridge camera would allow) with 50 mm lens.  It didn't cost much, if anything, but it certainly started me on the road to AP.

Is this what you guys are talking about? http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-Motorized-Barn-Door-Tracker/

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1 hour ago, StargeezerTim said:

Yes, it can be done... but be careful... It could be like a 'gateway drug' and you'll end up obsessed and penniless! :sad2:

Here is a single exposure taken in devon and the second one is 70 odd stacked 10 sec exposures.

 

59d299f8cbdb7_LyntonChurch.png.197f1b9828e895e9b81319c8e2982e2d.thumb.png.737f29a2e5970688b12edb897204fbb9.png

 

58eb99b097bbe_Carina50mmFinal.thumb.png.a58b287af2ca5caa0a775f80ae2696fb.png.54157958fdfa3ad9d667ac089f75062e.png

Is that the Rosette nebula in the center? I may be completely wrong. Great pictures though !

Edited by Revilo
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1 hour ago, Revilo said:

Is that the Rosette nebula in the center? I may be completely wrong. Great pictures though !

Thanks... No, its the Carina nebula... imaged from from my daughters garden in Melbourne last year. Not available here I'm afraid...The garden backs onto a 6 lane highway so you can get reasonable images in tricky places

 

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