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Whilst I am not yet ready to buy my imaging equipment yet, I have lots more to learn and loads to do with my Dobsonian yet, I am trying to get a kind of shortlist of what I would like to get regarding an imaging setup. I am not saying this shortlist will be what I get but there is just so much choice in equipment generally until I decide on a general route to take I just cannot get my head around what I will need and need some idea of the cost so I can get saving.

The first choice I need to make is DSLR or a dedicated atsro photography camera. I am mostly looking at DSO's with some planetary in and amongst. 

I have read the obligatory "Making Every Photon Count" which describes the pros and cons of each but still not sure. I am erring towards the modified DSLR thinking the cost will be far less but as I will only want it for astro photography my gut feeling is I really want a dedicated astro photography camera.

If I were to get a DSLR it would astro modified and probably something like a 2nd hand Cannon EOS 600D. So I am probably looking at around £300 to £350 anyway.  I could probably get a reasonable astro photography camera for similar price. 

On the other hand I really do not want to spend over £2000 for my initial setup and would like to be able to take pictures of at least the most common nebulas with this setup. So say around £1000 for scope and mount  am I expecting too much to get all other imaging equipment using a dedicated camera (the more I look I would say yes) or do I get a cheaper modified 2nd hand Cannon at around £150 leaving a fair bit spare for the other items I need.

Sorry for all the above rambling of the inexperienced but really would like some advice of a direction I should take.

Steve

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I would go for a second hand modified DSLR, it will be a lot easier to get to grips with. A dedicated CCD/CMOS camera just seems like to much for a complete beginner.

Get a DSLR, then decide later if you're want to dabble in the dedicated astro cameras.

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For astrophotography, a steady mount is most important. If you're on a budget, consider investing just in a mount and use a dslr with long focal length lens. Then invest in a scope as step 2. Regarding scope, you have to decide on type and focal length. If you want to do dso/nebulae, a shorter focal length allows easier framing. While a longer focal length is more for galaxiesor details in dso's. A longer fl is also more demanding in terms of mount stability and tracking requirements.

If you image from a light polluted location, a mono astro camera will probably be better than a dslr. It will allow you to do rgb and narrow band imaging. Rgb mono imaging is, imo, less sensitive to light pollution than osc/dslr. But with it comes a slightly steeper learning curve.

Also, consider buying used gear rather than new.

Edited by wimvb
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I'm not an Astro Imager.

Look at it like this; whatever route chosen you will need a good solid Mount, ideally something that you can grow into rather than grow out of.

Next camera types. If you go with a dedicated Astro Camera such as ZWO/ATIK then you are stuck on that path requiring all sorts of other items not even including the telescope or prime lens.

A DSLR is a good and fairly riskless choice for testing the water, including your dedication to AP.

£1000 for scope and mount is just not enough IMHO, you'll easily munch most of that on the mount alone.

If it were me, I'd go for Mount, DSLR unmodded, S/H decent prime lens and see where my path takes me.

For instance, compare Wim's signature above, with my signature here, 2 obviously different paths, but we could both probably make something acceptable out of the Orion Nebula although both different.

Rich

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I agree, get experience of Imaging (and guiding?) with a good mount and a used dslr you can sell later on to raise cash for a ccd.

Michael 

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Thanks all for the above replies. I think really it sounds like I should start with a DSLR S/H, which is pretty much what I had kind of come to the conclusion but just wanted some further advise. 

The ball park figure of £1000 was really a 2nd hand price and was expecting to pay much more for mount than scope, something like this:

Skywatcher Evostar 80ED DS-Pro & HEQ5 PRO

I was not sure whether I needed the HEQ5 version but perhaps I do.

So Is it better to get an unmodded DSLR for starters ? or is that just to keep the cost down to start with ?

 

Once again thanks for taking the time to give all this advice

Steve

 

 

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3 hours ago, RichM63 said:

For instance, compare Wim's signature above, with my signature here, 2 obviously different paths, but we could both probably make something acceptable out of the Orion Nebula although both different.

Rich

Not me. From my front yard it's too low over the houses on the other side of the street. And from my dark site it doesn't clear the trees. :grin:

And now I must have a look at your signature. (Can't see it on my mobile phone.)

My setup is very basic. I started with a 150PDS on an eq3 with goto, and an ancient unmodded dslr that had no working usb connection. My initial investment in AP was about € 800. I gradually saved up and bought new stuff, starting with the mount. As you say, this is the most important piece in AP gear. Went over my budget there, but thanks to a very understanding wife, and Brexit, the AZ EQ6 was just achievable. Computer control cost just about € 35 (raspberry pi), an eqmod cable, and a lot of fiddling. Next large investment was a camera. Both Atik and ASI1600 were out if reach, moneywise, so I settled for a smaller cmos sensor.

I try to make my investments reasonably future proof, which means that I do my research before I buy, and buy the gear that I need to get forward, trying to pick best value for money. And while I like the phrase "buy once, cry once", I also like "buy good enough now, and have fun while saving for better." That wobbly eq3 and necrotic, noisy Pentax taught me a lot along the way.

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4 hours ago, teoria_del_big_bang said:

Thanks all for the above replies. I think really it sounds like I should start with a DSLR S/H, which is pretty much what I had kind of come to the conclusion but just wanted some further advise. 

The ball park figure of £1000 was really a 2nd hand price and was expecting to pay much more for mount than scope, something like this:

Skywatcher Evostar 80ED DS-Pro & HEQ5 PRO

I was not sure whether I needed the HEQ5 version but perhaps I do.

So Is it better to get an unmodded DSLR for starters ? or is that just to keep the cost down to start with ?

 

Once again thanks for taking the time to give all this advice

Steve

 

 

That looks like a plan. The scope and mount are very popular, so you may have a hard time finding them used. For AP you'll also need a field flattener. A DSLR will keep the cost down. While an astromodified camera will be better for imaging emission nebulae, even unmodded cameras will pick up Ha. But the sensitivity at this wavelength is very much dependent on camera brand and model. There are websites that have data on spectral sensitivity of various camera models. Here's one such site:

https://maxmax.com/spectral_response.htm

 

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Pretty much agree with everything above. Mount is key and HEQ5 is probably safest bet. Smaller, like the EQ3pro and its a bit flakey/stressed mechanically - I've got both so this is 1st hand.

I've switched 6 months ago from modded DSLR to mono CMOS (ASI1600) and TBH I reckon got better bang for buck from the DSLR. Nice big sensor, simple to control, no worries about dust/condensation on filters, easy to process, can be used for non-astro stuff - even if modded.

One important thing. If you want to do any planetary, you will be doing movies and you need to avoid compression. Some Canon cameras have "video crop mode" which allows you to capture just the central 640x480 section uncompressed. There's a nice chart here showing which cameras do this.

As an alternative, its possible to capture the 5x Liveview image, but I think this requires third party software. I havent tried this, and I'm not sure how reliable it is. The link explains this all very nicely.

Just noticed there isn't much in the above about guiding. Dont forget to factor in cost of guide-scope and guide camera - you'll need this for longer exposures esp at longer focal lengths. If you are guiding, you could use a small sensor camera for this which would then double as a planetary camera - eg the ZWO ASI120. (You dont need to guide when doing planetary - sorry, thats probably obvious!)

Quick afterthought - the Canon 550D is great but doesnt have screen articulation. Make sure you take plenty of Omega 3's if using this!!

Hope that's helpful!

 

Edited by Tommohawk
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Make sure you take plenty of Omega 3's if using this!!

...or use Backyard EOS.

Peter

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3 minutes ago, PeterCPC said:

Make sure you take plenty of Omega 3's if using this!!

...or use Backyard EOS.

Peter

Yes agreed. In practice I usually use laptop to control with EOS utility, but there are occasions when a peep at the camera screen is useful. Cant think exactly when, but it does seem to happen sometimes.

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