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Digital Photography


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Dear all,

we recently purchased an ED80. Great fun. We wondered whether somebody could give us some advice as regards what digital camera would go with this scope? What are the minimum requirements to produce some good results (reflex camera? exposure capabilities? etc.). All this of course for a reasonable (non-professional) price and use. Is second hand an option?

Thanks. Sierk.

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Any camera will work with your scope as afocal imaging is always an option. However if you want to image faint objects your camera must be capable of long exposures. For the highest quality imaging most people prefer prime focus with a DSLR or, even cheaper, webcam imaging with a modified toUcam. Personaly i prefer using the DSLR but these can be expensive. I would surgest that you try with what you have first (assuming you have a little point and click digital camera already) and see if you can take a few images simply by pointing the camera at the eyepiece. If you find that you are enjoying taking images then you can progress to the more advanced (and more expensive) kit.

Also as a quick note, your mount is very important when taking long exposures, and im sure many here will advise you that a good solid mount and acurate tracking is important. But again for this you need to spend lots. What mount have you currently got your ED80 on?

Second hand is always an option, and lots of people have never brought a telescope new in there lives. I for one havn't :lol: take a look at www.astrobuysell.com/uk lots of bargins! Although it helps to know what you want before you buy it or you might find yourself wasteing your money on kit you dont need.

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Pretty new to this myself Arthur. Would agree with what Gordon has said. I am using an Atik2HS which is a modified web cam. This is very similar to a modified Phillips Toucam pro known as an SC1.3. In part it depends what you have now. If you have a digital SLR then it makes sense to try using that to see how you get on. However if you don't, and don't want one for general photography, and you have a laptop a modified cam is a good econimic choice. I don't know what the going rate is for an SC1.3 but one just went on the forum second hand for £175.

Modified web cam - advantages

Can be used like a webcam in AVI mode - ideal for planets and moon

Fan cooled so potentially less noise

Less weight on the scope

Very sensitive chip, handles red well

Relatively cheap

Disadvantages

Needs a laptop.

Cables

power supply for laptop if out for long period

narrow field of view

black and white

can't be used for holiday snaps

DSLR

Advantages

Can be used for holiday snaps

Wide field of view

Can be used with other lenses as well as scope

Potentially fewer cables

Disadvantages

Focusing - apparently tricky esp "prime focus" - ie if not using through an eye piece.

More expensive if bought purely for astowork

chip not cooled so more prone to noise during long exposures

possibly less sensitive to red (not designed for astro use)

Can't compete with a web cam on planets

Slightly heavier?

I think you will get a good few responses to this post Arthur and I'm very interested in looking at the responses and learning myself!

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Im new to this too, I have started with what I had, a Nikkon coolpics 4300, I have a bracket that fixes to the eyepiece and the camera is mounted on that, seem easy in the daylight but is a pig in the dark, you need to set it up with the scope pointing at something bright so you can see it on the cameras lcd screen then slew to the object you want to photograph, long exposures are difficult unless you have a remote THINGY which I dont.

Would I choose this method as a 1st choice? N0 i'm afraid not, its very hard to get the camera set up as to looking into the eyepiece at the right angle and it never seems to go on in the same position that it came off.

Like I said I'm new to all off this but you will get some good advice here so keep checking for posts

M2

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I also got to the totally frustrated stage with afocal astrophotography. I used a Canon A20 which was coupled to the eyepiece using a bc&f adaptor. It drove me nuts, lots of fiddling in the dark to get the camera pointing straight through the EP, then lots of vignetting and problems with exposure control.

So I "bit the bullet" and got a Canon 350D SLR , an adaptor to fit the camera body to the back of the 'scope, and a flip mirror. It is now much easier.

The flip mirror attaches to the back of the 'scope and the camera attaches to the flip mirror. I had previously parfocalised an eyepiece in the flip mirror with the focal plane of the camera. The way I did this was to set up in daylight, focus a distant, bright terrestrial object (as far away as possible) on the camera viewfinder (check it out by taking a few shots to ensure it is in focus), then set the flip mirror eyepiece also in focus, then lock the eyepiece in place on the flip mirror using a parfocal ring.

Now every time I set it up, I know that if an object is in focus in the eyepiece of the flip mirror, when I "flip the mirror" to set the light path through to the camera body, the image will be in focus at the camera focal plane. Result: good focus on most images, most of the time.

There are (of course) some disadvantages. You can only do prime focus photography - so image size is determined by the focal length of your 'scope. If you want larger images, you need to think about either positive or negative projection (image photographed through an eyepiece ar through a barlow, on to the focal plane of your camera). This brings you back to the usual focussing problems. However, it should be possible to use the flip mirror in conjunction with an EP or barlow, thus using the same "parfocalising" process as above, to get well focussed images. I haven't tried it yet, but am going to experiment in daylight over the next few weeks and then give it a go on some astro objects.

Not sure if this is helpful, but it might give you more food for thought Arthur.

Tom

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