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DSLR - suggested exposure settings


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You may have read my other thread in the equipment help forum specifically on how to use my new Canon EOS1000D.

I've posted here for this quuestion as it's a more general question about DSI with a DSLR.

Does anyone know of a website/page that has a database of suggested exposure settings for various DSI's? - particularly the more common ones like I'll be targetting to start with such as M1, M13, M31, M33, M51, M81&82.

If there isn't one, perhaps this would be something really useful for the experts on here to compile as a sticky thread. I know I'd find it really useful.



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I've had a go at most of these with an 8" reflector and a Canon 1000D,

M1 - 4min exposures

M13 - 90secs exposures (could go down to 45 secs and still get a good result)

M31 - It's huge! haven't done this one.

M33 - 5min exposures

M51 - 3min exposures

M81 and M82 - 3mins - but you could probably get a good result at 90secs as they are quite bright

For each of them aim to get more than 20 exposures at least - there's really no upper limit. The above are compromise bewteen guiding accuracy, sky brightness and the object brightness. hope that helps.


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The dynamic range of soem targets is so large that you will soemtimes need to take a range of exposures and get a little bit more complicated in the processing..

Sams list is a useful starting point but this is something you need to keep an eye on on a night by night and target by target basis especially if you suffer from any level of light pollution...

I normally do test exposures at ISO1600 and have a look at the histograms... Once I have settled on an exposure I will drop to ISO800 and double the exposure time or ISO400 and Quadruple it.. If you can spend the time you'll get richer images at lower ISO...

The 1000D is pretty good noise wise So soemtimes i will mix a stack subs at ISO1600 and ISO800...


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If you are not set up with guiding yet, I would just go for as long as possible.

You could get up to 3 minutes if you polar align well.

There is a method I use called the Iterative method, that works very well.

And for now I would just stick to ISO 800. And follow Peters advice.

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