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Lens vs Telescope


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Hi all,

The usual apology for the newbie question that follows.

I am currently at the beginning of my journey for deep sky imaging. I am currently using my unmodded Nikon APS-C DSLR with my wildlife photography Nikkor 200-500mm lens. This is supported on a Sky_Watcher Star Adventurer Wifi Pro 2 mount and good quality sturdy tripod. I have just got my guidescope etc and await clear skies (Been waiting a while).

My question is - Would changing to an entry level telescope (I'm thinking Redcat or Zenithstar territory) be an upgrade to using my camera lens, or a backward step in terms of image quality?

I hope at some stage to move to a dedicated astro camera. Possible the ASI 533.

Any help making this decision would be truly appreciated.

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Hi BobJC, welcome to SGL.  You will get lots of advice here.  My personal advice would be to stick with what you have for now but look to upgrade your mount first.  Doing that will significantly improve your ability to capture deep sky targets especially if you are mounting a guidescope as well.  Also, seeing as you have a zoom lens, you need to adopt a method of locking the zoom to avoid 'creep' during long exposures in the British climate.  Loads of other suggestions will come from others.

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Hi BobJC, welcome to SGL.

I agree with @Owmuchonomy, as you have the set up ready and awaiting a clear night (as are we all), I would certainly give your photo lens a go. I am definitely no lens expert (I have a Samyang 135mm  F2, but it's reputation for AP was already well established) but your Nikon lens certainly doesn't look like a low end item to me so what have you got to lose? Your set up has a sensible imaging scale for the mount you are using and I think  with your existing DSLR you would need to factor in purchasing a  field flattener to go with your telescope. 

I would get some time under the stars and plenty of  subs  under your belt with your existing setup, before making any firm decisions on what to acquire next, the mount may well be the first item you upgrade. There are plenty of folks on here who started out with a lens and DSLR, I'm sure they will comment on the best way forward. 

Besides, any new kit purchase will just prolong the clouds...

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I was debating between a zenitstar or a sigma/tamron 150-600 zoom, especially as I could use the zoom for wildlife as well.  What pushed me towards the scope rather than a lens was seeing a comparison of image quality with the scope being better.  I cant remember where it was but there is lots of choice on youtube.

So I think its an upgrade to your lens but one you can take your time over.  Getting a mount that can do goto and linking to a PC for automating positioning made things much simpler for me.  A cooled camera will improve your images as well.

So much gear we have to have! 

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My initial set up began with a ZS61. But speaking from experience, and still very much in my beginner phase, I find myself using my Samyang 135mm MUCH more often. Not because its better, but because its easier. Still do use my ZS61, but my best pictures so far are definitely from my 135mm lens, but thats just because I'm a noob.

(When I say much more often, it means when clear skies and 'not up early in the morning' nights allign, which is very few and far between 😅😕).

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I think anyone here will agree that the best ‘telescope’ is the one that gets used the most. I’ve got a couple of scopes but find the DSLR lens combo far quicker to setup and get results with which keeps the enjoyment going. In the last 12 months I have only used my DSLR with my HEQ5 mount and various lens combinations as I find my AP feet. I would therefore suggest sticking with the camera and lens and see how you get on before disappearing further down the AP rabbit hole/money pit! 😂 As many will say, the best thing to future proof where you go next will the mount choice, but for now the Star Adventurer should still back you some cracking images. 
 

HTH

Edited by Dazzyt66
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Astrophotography is an unusual pastime. To improve (whatever that means) images isn't necessarily straightforward and can involve a number of things.
For example (in no particular order):
Better scope
Better mount
Better camera
Better skies (usually means darker)
Better imaging processing software
Commitment/time/aims on the part of the imager

Changing only one of the above may make no substantial difference to images. That makes it difficult when deciding how to proceed, hence a bit of thought needs to go into any change.

So it's a balance. E.g. upgrading to a super scope on a poor mount won't make (or be a waste) in achieving pinpoint stars. Whereas upgrading a poor scope on a super mount could be worthwhile.

Astrophotography can be complicated and take a lot of time/commitment/expenditure. Hence it's not a bad idea to become familiar with existing equipment and what it can achieve before deciding on a potential upgrade. Plus, it's worthwhile taking into account that image processing can make for surprising improvements before any equipment upgrade, and not necessarily at any great cost as free software is readily available.

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I was in the same boat as you in January. I upgraded everything except my lens. I had to do a few mods to make the lens work, but it works great. If you want to change just one thing in your setup and see the most difference in your deep sky imaging results, it would be your camera. Unmodified DSLRs, in my experience are frustratingly ineffecient for capturing sky fog. A modded DSLR to start with is a great option or if you don't want to do it twice the 533 is a great camera. Invest in a broadband LPF and a multiband narrowband filter. First time I used a triband filter was like turning the lights on. If you are still smitten down the road and have some cash to burn, a goto eq mount will make your life infinitely better.

But capturing data is only the half of it. I'm still a struggling beginer at image processing. But we are blessed with many cloudy days to learn. There are many free resources and software to start producing some results. Play around with publicly available image data on some of your processing tools to see what you can produce.

Good luck and have fun!

 

 

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