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Wonderboy

First time Astrophotography Setup with a DSLR Camera... WHAT TELESCOPE/SETUP?

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Hi,

This is the first time writing on this site and I am in dire need of telescope choosing help. 

My goal is to create a decent, long-lasting and intermediate astrophotography setup that will produce quality images of deep sky objects and some planetary objects. I currently have a DLSR Nikon D7000 camera and I have saved up and am now looking at approximately an AU$2800 (US$1990) budget. I also live in a suburban area with mild light pollution (band 5-6) with access (via a 3hr drive) to a secluded area with very small amounts of light pollution (band 2-3 (maybe 1)).

I have undergone a lot of research and have asked a few local experts about which decision to make, however, I am still unsure. Hence why I am here.

My options consist of:

1. A Refractor SharpStar CF-80 Carbon Fibre 80mm f6.25 ED Glass Triplet Apochromatic telescope, with a Skywatcher EQ35 GoTo Computerised Equatorial mount, SharpStar Flattener for Astrophotography, and a Celestron 1.25 UHC/LPR Filter for the light pollution. This (along with the camera mounts nessercary) equates to AU$3,249.85 (with shipping)... over budget, way over budget.

2. A Reflector Saxon Velocity 2001 GOTO EQ5 Go-To Reflector Telescope (telescope and mount bundle (great value)), with a Saxon 2x Achromatic 1.25" Barlow Lens, 1.25" Extension Tube Mount Adapter for Camera Telescope Eyepiece, and a Celestron 1.25 UHC/LPR Filter for the light pollution. This equates to AU$1,890.94... way, way under budget, and I feel as though I may be missing some nessercary equipment.

3. A Reflector Orion 8297 8-Inch f/3.9 Newtonian Astrograph Telescope with a SkyWatcher HEq5 Pro GoTo Mount, with a Saxon 2x Achromatic 1.25" Barlow Lens, 1.25" Extension Tube Mount Adapter for Camera Telescope Eyepiece, and a Celestron 1.25 UHC/LPR Filter for the light pollution. This equates to AU$2306.60... under budget, and, again, I feel as though I may be missing some nessercary equipment.

 

My dilemma is whether or not I should invest in the refractor (get crystal clear images, non-flipped images, very little maintenance, lightweight and straightforward, opportunity to purchase a better telescope later on (keeping the mount for a long time) and having the opportunity to easily attach a dedicated astrophotography camera later on also) that is way, WAY over my dedicated budget. Or, should I go for the cheaper reflector (large diameter and great focal length, amazing light gathering abilities allowing it to see very faint and very distant objects, super cheap, raw colours (always)) that isn't quite the best option for astrophotography. All astrophotography setups that I have come across are refractors (really good ones) for obvious reasons, but the cheap and large nature of the reflector makes it very attractive.

However, the major reason for me not purchasing a reflector ASAP is because of the whole camera attachment issue. I have included a Barlow Lens above for both options, as I know that my DLSR camera will experience difficulty focussing due to the depth of the sensor in the camera. I know the possible solutions (such as moving the primary mirror, buying a new external eyepiece adaptor, etc.), however, they all present challenges that may cause me to damage the telescope. 

 

If anyone has any better, cheaper refractor setup that would be of interest to an intermediate astrophotographer, please let me know. Any advice on my options, or on entirely new options, would be greatly appreciated. What do you think the best option for me is... refractor or reflector? Any explanation on why would also be hugely appreciated.

Thank you for reading,

Mackenzie.

CLEAR SKYS! :)

 

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Hi, Mackenzie, and welcome to SGL.

The simple answer is that no telescope is a "do it all" instrument. If you want planets (which are small and bright - relatively), you need lots of magnification, which in turn requires long focal length. You take lots (hundreds, thousands) of short images in the form of a video and extract a single combined image from them. The software enables a sharper image than any of the individual frames.

If you want DSOs you want a 'fast' scope to capture a lot of the very faint light they emit. This means short focal length (which also helps with the increased fov you need for most of these objects). You are going to be taking long exposures (10-15 min is not uncommon) and so the mount - good tracking and guiding capability - becomes the most important part of the kit.

I would suggest you have a look at this book (written by one of our members) which will give you a lot of good advice on what kit to get and indeed the entire process of AP.

Enjoy the journey.

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Thanks, Demonperformer,

I primarily am looking to photograph DSO's with my chosen camera, which is why I thought that an 8" Reflector with great light gathering abilities would be a good option for my possible setup. In your opinion, what type of telescope would be best for getting clear, colourful and accurate DSO's with my Nikon D7000 DSLR camera?

Thank you again,

Mackenzie

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Just a quick note on the reflector issue you mention - imaging DSOs with a barlow is definitely not a good idea for a number of reasons and will prove difficult. I understand that brands like Skywatcher do not sell their "DS" editions in the US? [EDIT: sorry, just realised you're in Aus!] There surely must be other brands that have the extra back-focus required to easily reach prime focus with a DSLR though? You asked about cheaper refractors - the problem here is that refractors really need to be very good quality to achieve good quality images, whereas you can get excellent images with a much cheaper Newtonian telescope + coma corrector. In my opinion, the only potential downside that's relevant is that they're slightly higher maintenance and larger, although not necessarily heavier.

Remember that the mount is massively important for DSO imaging, so it's wise to invest in that first, giving you the option to upgrade optics later.

Edited by Shibby

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5 minutes ago, Wonderboy said:

what type of telescope would be best for getting clear, colourful and accurate DSO's

It depends what you mean by clear. As your DSLR is one-shot colour, you'd want accurate colour correction - that's expensive when it comes to refractors. Newtonian reflectors need a coma corrector and good collimation. Good tracking is very important. As you're in a suburb, a light pollution filter is also something you need to factor in.

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I use a Star71 on an NEQ6 mount. The SW 80ED is a popular scope, but you will need the "optional" flattener, particularly with the big field of a DSLR. You will also require a T-ring for your camera. So that is just under £800 (your prices may differ!). You then need a good mount and at minimum I would suggest the HEQ5 which is about the same again. AP is not cheap!

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Do you have any DSLR lenses? I have a Canon 7D and a 400mm L lens. Was going to get an APO Triplet (80mm) but decided to put the money into my mount (NEQ6) and use the lens first. I have learnt everything with that setup and got some good results. Now I have guiding and plate solving all in my head and working well, I am looking at a dedicated camera. One day will get a scope but feel a camera would benefit me more now than using my DSLR with a scope.

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That is very true. Check out the Imaging - DSO section of the forum to see a lot of examples of very good "lens" results. If DSOs are the way you want to go, the mount is your first priority ...

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Yes, I agree that the major factor to consider is the mount that will be used. For my budget, would a SkyWatcher HEq5 Pro GoTo Mount be sufficient? I feel as though it has a decent carrying capacity and the youtuber AstroBackyard uses the same mount for his astrophotography.

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If you are going to go with a small frac or TP lens the yes. If you are going to go for a big reflector probably not.

Consider the carry-weight figures that are published and deduct 1/3 for AP.

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7 minutes ago, Wonderboy said:

Yes, I agree that the major factor to consider is the mount that will be used. For my budget, would a SkyWatcher HEq5 Pro GoTo Mount be sufficient? I feel as though it has a decent carrying capacity and the youtuber AstroBackyard uses the same mount for his astrophotography.

I was going to get the HEQ5 but as not in stock I got the NEQ6. As a guide, work out the weight of your setup and it should be around half (Or under) the mounts payload capacity (For imaging that is). Think about future proofing also, if in budget.

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Which do you think is better for my current situation (DSO in a Band 5-6 light polluted area), a moderate, intermediate refractor... or a larger Newtonian reflector for astrophotography? This may ultimately decide my mount and thus other telescopes I may purchase (weight factor again). 

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8 minutes ago, Wonderboy said:

Which do you think is better for my current situation (DSO in a Band 5-6 light polluted area), a moderate, intermediate refractor... or a larger Newtonian reflector for astrophotography? This may ultimately decide my mount and thus other telescopes I may purchase (weight factor again). 

I personally would go for a Refractor in the view of getting a dedicated camera down the line and shoot Narrowband. You could shoot with a LP filter to begin with (With DSLR). Just my view though ;) You know what Trevor would go for! :D

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I have extensive LP and I agree that the frac is the way to go. It will also make guiding less stressful. 

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My choice: 3, with a coma corrector. I wish I had started there instead of a dim refractor.

HTH.

 

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I'm no expert here, but there do seem to be a number of scopes around at your budget described by the term "astrograph", ie for AP rather than visual. I seem to recall @vlaiv recommending a 6" Ritchie-Chretien as a very good AP instrument, currently €425 at Telescop-Express: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p2445_TS-Optics-6--Ritchey-Chr-tien-Pro-RC-Teleskop-154-1370-mm-OTA.html

Magnus

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This question is not easy to answer, although you have substantial starting budget, simple setup will not cover it all. Like it has been mentioned before in this thread - no scope will do it all.

Given that you are just starting in AP, I would not recommend 8" class instrument due to difficulties involved and limited budget. You want to get at least Heq5 (do a belt mod on it if you can) mount.

Heq5 will carry 8" F/4 newtonian, but I would not recommend such fast scope to beginner - you will struggle with collimation and possibly tilt, and choosing good CC for those sharp, accurate images you are after.

Heq5 will also carry 8" F/5 newtonian, but this is larger, more heavy scope, and you will have trouble getting guiding sorted with such scope - wind will impact it, and there will be host of problems to solve. Again, that is perfectly fine instrument to sit on top of Heq5 - but not for beginner.

Heq5 will also carry 8" F/8 RC scope, but that will require guiding with OAG, very precise tracking due to long focal length, and presents challenges of its own - perfectly fine setup, I use it myself, but again - not for beginner.

So what would work? 6" class instrument on Heq5. Either 6" F/5 newtonian - for larger FOV, or 6" RC - for "up close and personal". Or 80mm apo scope - this will give you wide field shots - be easy to guide and maintenance free.

Probably best would be to get both 80mm apo scope for wide field imaging and 6" instrument for getting in closer - if your budget can stretch that much.

 

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Thanks for the advice guys.

I thought that a refractor was going to be my choice for purchase, but now I'm torn! I hadn't considered an RC model before and this would eliminate those focus problems the Newtonian telescopes present. I have decided that I'll get the Heq5 mount for sure (that can hold around 13kg or 28.7lbs), allowing me room to choose a refractor or reflector. I would like to get up close and personal with nebulae and gas clouds and other DSO's, but I also would like a decent, sharp photograph. The refractor I am suggesting is carbon fibre (no shrinking or swelling in heat) and is an 80mm f6.25 ED Glass Triplet Apochromatic telescope. Would this suffice for what I am wishing to capture, or should I give an RC model more of a look?

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Check out this thread (and equipment list):

Maybe also check other posts by Benklerk - some very nice images captured with RC6 scope on Heq5 from Land Down Under

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6 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

Check out this thread (and equipment list):

I think we did the exact same thing at the exact same time lol, dare I say great minds think alike haha.

Edited by Sunshine
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Mac

You cannot go far wrong with a SW ED80 on a HEQ5 or 6 mount

I have mine on a EQ5 mount

In process of getting a ZWO ASI 290MM MINI to use as a guide scope

With the Mini, can also use as an eyepiece, down load ASICAP APP, and image direct to smart phone or tablet 

John

ZWO ASI 290MM mini.jpg

Skywatcher ED80.jpg

Edited by cletrac1922

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Thanks again guys.

I have actually already watched that video a couple of times, and read that article and they were both very informative and convincing. 

For refractors, in your opinion, what would provide the most up-close and clearest photographs of DSO's.

Skywatcher ed80 or Sharpstar CF-80?

The sharpstar CF-80 is carbon fibre, meaning less adjusting and has a triplet apochromatic lens. But, the skywatcher ed80 seems to be extremely popular for a good reason.

What one

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"close up" part comes from focal length.

"clearest" part is usually not directly related to optics. It's much more related to quality of your skies, quality of your mount and guide performance, and your processing skills.

I would go for tripled rather than doublet if given a choice. I actually do own 80mm F/6 Apo triplet that I use as "wide field" instrument (my wide field is considered narrow by many, because I really enjoy high magnifications - it can't fully fit whole m31 in a single frame).

Having said that, If I were to have only one scope for imaging and refractor - I would look at Stellarvue Access SV102 F/7.

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