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AP - Landscape photographer after advice!


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Hi all, 

Hope you're all keeping safe & well.

After some advice really.

Currently a landscape photographer interested in taking a few more steps into the world of AP but not really sure where to begin.

Initially interested in purchasing both a scope & a mount but on reflection since I already own several high quality DSLR lenses I wondered whether I should just stick with a mount & use my camera set up to get me going.

I've been specifically looking at the Sky Watcher HEQ5 which looks to be an excellent mount albeit expensive & it's max payload would happily support my Nikon D810 coupled with a 70-200 or my 100-400. It would also allow a good sized dedicated AP set up for any future upgrade.

Is this a sensible way forward?  Is the mount 'overkill'?  Any other things I need to consider?  What would you do?

Interested in mainly deep space imagery but will also want to take planetary shots.

Many thanks 

Neil

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Hi Neil and welcome.

I think all advice will point to, no mount is overkill...buy the best mount you can afford....as you say the h-eq5 will handle a good few upgrades over the coming months....if you can actually get your hands on one....the backlog for astro gear is crazy just now....I waited 3 1/2 months for my skywatcher eqm-35 pro mount between May and August last year.

Edited by Skinnypuppy71
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2 minutes ago, Skinnypuppy71 said:

Hi Neil and welcome.

I think all advice will point to, no mount is overkill...buy the best mount you can afford....as you say the h-eq5 will handle a good few upgrades over the coming months....if you can actually get your hands on one....the backlog for astro gear is crazy just now....I waited 3 1/2 months for my skywatcher eqm-35 pro mount between May and August last year.

Thank you so much for replying & yes the stock situation isn't good!  Probably be the summer before I get started - perhaps longer!

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Hi Neil 👋 and welcome to SGL

I'm far from an astrophotography imaging expert, but when it comes to mounts there's no such thing as overkill. A mount that can handle a 300 tonne capacity with ease is nowhere near too big for a 100 gramme webcam. Only things that matter are can you comfortably house and move it and can you afford it.

Those here who are into their deep sky imaging will probably give good detailed advice about that mount and at least some of the alternatives. If you have any chance to see firsthand the mounts do take it up - Covid restrictions permitting. 

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8 minutes ago, Skinnypuppy71 said:

Hi Neil and welcome.

I think all advice will point to, no mount is overkill...buy the best mount you can afford....as you say the h-eq5 will handle a good few upgrades over the coming months....if you can actually get your hands on one....the backlog for astro gear is crazy just now....I waited 3 1/2 months for my skywatcher eqm-35 pro mount between May and August last year.

We said almost exactly the same thing! 

I was just composing a longer reply on my phone so took a bit longer to post.

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Hey Neil..I'm just thinking that the Nikon d810...a fantastic camera it is. I'm  just wondering how much time and space it's going to take up on the processing side of things..your going to be taking hundreds of images on a good night's imaging.....that 36 mp sensor is going to be asking lots of post processing power...I think.

Edited by Skinnypuppy71
Mistake
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7 hours ago, Skinnypuppy71 said:

Hey Neil..I'm just thinking that the Nikon d810...a fantastic camera it is. I'm  just wondering how much time and space it's going to take up on the processing side of things..your going to be taking hundreds of images on a good night's imaging.....that 36 mp sensor is going to be asking lots of post processing power...I think.

Hi, 

 

Not entirely sure at this stage, but in DX mode the D810 resolution drops to 15mpx, which I'm guessing would be manageable..?

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As said above, there is no "overkill" for a mount. A HEQ5 is a solid starting point into DSO imaging. 

Those telephoto lenses you've already got are certainly a good place to start. A focal length between 200mm and 400mm is ideal for wide field DSO imaging especially for some larger targets (e.g. M31, M45, NA nebula, Veil, Heart, etc.). You can familiarise yourself with the capture software, autoguiding and the post processing routines while keeping the equipment simple. Your camera lenses will show more image distortions than a telescope + a corrector, but most of them can be corrected in post processing. Also you could use an aperture mask to stop down your lenses in order to be able to attain/maintain focus more easily and minimise CA. It is generally not recommended to control the aperture with the diaphragm of a lens because it create strange diffraction patterns around the brighter stars.

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1 hour ago, KP82 said:

As said above, there is no "overkill" for a mount. A HEQ5 is a solid starting point into DSO imaging. 

Those telephoto lenses you've already got are certainly a good place to start. A focal length between 200mm and 400mm is ideal for wide field DSO imaging especially for some larger targets (e.g. M31, M45, NA nebula, Veil, Heart, etc.). You can familiarise yourself with the capture software, autoguiding and the post processing routines while keeping the equipment simple. Your camera lenses will show more image distortions than a telescope + a corrector, but most of them can be corrected in post processing. Also you could use an aperture mask to stop down your lenses in order to be able to attain/maintain focus more easily and minimise CA. It is generally not recommended to control the aperture with the diaphragm of a lens because it create strange diffraction patterns around the brighter stars.

thanks!  Not sure what you mean by Aperture mask but will check it out!

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4 hours ago, Neila1975 said:

Hi, 

 

Not entirely sure at this stage, but in DX mode the D810 resolution drops to 15mpx, which I'm guessing would be manageable..?

It's at the stacking-calibrating stage that you'll need computing power. The software you choose for this task will be more or less demanding. For a very fast, efficient choice you could do worse than AstroArt, which has some other useful tools, notably a decent gradient remover. 

The HEQ5 is a good choice and really isn't expensive when you reflect on what you're asking it to do, which is allow you to image with a tracking precision of significantly less than one pixel or about half an arcsecond. (That's under guiding. The native, unguided error will probably be forty times that.)

Starting with your lenses is a good idea but there is a lot of glass in zooms and stars are murderously exacting targets. Primes are preferred for AP. There's so much to learn that you'll need some imaging time in which you're looking to make the system work rather than take perfect pictures so starting with the lenses would be fine.

Olly

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13 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

It's at the stacking-calibrating stage that you'll need computing power. The software you choose for this task will be more or less demanding. For a very fast, efficient choice you could do worse than AstroArt, which has some other useful tools, notably a decent gradient remover. 

The HEQ5 is a good choice and really isn't expensive when you reflect on what you're asking it to do, which is allow you to image with a tracking precision of significantly less than one pixel or about half an arcsecond. (That's under guiding. The native, unguided error will probably be forty times that.)

Starting with your lenses is a good idea but there is a lot of glass in zooms and stars are murderously exacting targets. Primes are preferred for AP. There's so much to learn that you'll need some imaging time in which you're looking to make the system work rather than take perfect pictures so starting with the lenses would be fine.

Olly

Great post & thank you for the advice, very much appreciated.

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