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DSLR Lens Selection Advice.


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Hi, :D

A Newbie looking for a little help. For my birthday my wife treated me to a new shiny toy :)

I had a Canon EOS 350 film camera and a few lenses and managed to get myself treated to a new digital body Canon 1000D. I've got the T piece to fit it to my Mak 4SE but was wondering about mounting it on my tripod and using it with lenses.

Here's what I have already:

28-80mm Canon

80-200mm Canon

90mm Sigma (macro I think)

24mm Canon wide angle

The questions are :), What can be done with my DSLR? Which lenses are of any use for Astrophotography from my collection?

Finally, what lenses would you advise having in a collection to cover most aspects?

Just got myself a couple of books on the subject but would appreciate any feedback/comments from the community.

Thanks in anticipation

Clear skies


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Mark, you have a reasonable range of lenses there that should cover most things photographically... For astro on a tripod, your best bet is the 24mm prime, but you're going to be limited to something like 15 or 20 seconds. You really need a wide angle 18mm or shorter for static stuff. Although if you're wanting star trails they will all work. The other option, would be to invest in a dovetail and mount the camera on your NexStar. If gives you tracking and would allow for longer exposures.

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Fit a Ball and Socket head to a Short length of Dovetail.. it gives you much more flexibility when it comes to target framing...

I am not sure how much longer your exposures could be using an Alt/Az mount over not tracking at all... you would reduce the trailing but have field rotation to contend with...

Got to be worth a go though...

Nice selection of lenses to play with as well... I lock the zoom and focus settings either using tape or blutack... to stop them "creeping" during a session...


Edited by Psychobilly
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Congrats on getting an EOS1000D - I love mine and now have two bodies. If you piggy back your camera on the scope you'll be able to achieve exposures of about a minute at best with really accurate alignment and levelling. Also, as I found when I piggybacked anything to the back of my 6SE, as soon as you aim higher in the sky it can't cope witht he inbalance at all and slips.

For the moment I'd confine your efforts to widefield shorter exposure shots using the camera lenses, and make the most of being able to mount it on the scope with the T adaptor for 1 minute exposures. Depending on where you live, you might want to think about investing in the EOS clip filter for light pollution - it has the added benefit of keeping dust from the chip when using it at prime focus. You can use it with camera lenses as long as they are EF and not EFS lenses (The protrusion on the EFS lenses sits where the clip filter needs to go).

A good target in a few months time for shorter exposure through the scope would be M42 - with 30 second exposures you should get some reasonable results.

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Thanks all for the advice.

Interesting to know that the piggyback set up slips Sparrow. I had wondered about the balance of the scope and the best way to go about setting it up. I think I'm right in thinking that we share the same mount. If this is the case my 4SE + 1000D shouldn't be that far off the weight of you 6SE. It will be interesting to see if my mount is man enough for it.

I purchased this scope to cut my teeth on, and once I finally get an observatory and pier it will be relegated as my grab and go setup. I think this camera will prove to be be a worth while piece of kit for my more permanent setup set up in the future.

Thanks for the advice on M42. I'll be sure to give it a go.

Clear skies guys


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Congratulations on getting a 1000D Mark. I know several owners who use this camera, modded or unmodded, for astro work and have yet to hear a bad word about this model.

You have a very good set of lenses - far superior to the cheap tat lenses that I use with my AstroTrac mount, most of which were bought around 25+ years ago when I was very much into daytime SLR photography. They cover a very useful range of focal length from 28mm to 200mm and can all be put to good use for astro imaging. I would advise holding fire on getting any more lenses until you see how you get on with your current ones and identify any areas where you feel that an additional lens would be of benefit to you.

So what can be done with your DSLR & lenses? In short, plenty! As has already been mentioned, using a static tripod will of course limit your exposure time if you wish to avoid getting star trails. How limited you are will depend on the length of focal length being used but you should be safe with up to around 20 seconds when using focal lengths not exceeding around 50mm. Projects that you may wish to consider include:

- capturing the summer Milky Way

- capturing lunar/planetary conjunctions (tonight, for example, the Moon, Mars & Saturn were all very close together).

- capturing meteor showers (here wide angle lenses excel themselves & the very good news is that we have the best meteor display of the year, the Perseids, just around the corner).

Also, why not have a bash at doing an animation like this very rough & ready one that I did last year? Here a remote timer is a very useful accessory as it allows you to take exposures of exactly the same duration at exact intervals apart. You can then stack the results in one of the many freeware animation programmes on the net.

If you decide to venture into piggyback astro imaging where the scope is tracking in RA, then there are numerous targets up there (too many for me to list now as it's gone 3.30am & I'm knackered!). As has been mentioned already, you should seriously consider getting a light pollution filter so that any LP is kept to an absolute minimum during the longer tracked exposures. IMO the aforementioned remote timer is an absolute godsend too - especially if you decide to venture into taking a series of shots of the same duration for the purpose of stacking in a freeware programme such as Deep Sky Stacker.

Anyway enough for now & hope this post will be of some use to you. :)

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With you on that one Peter... Would I like the L class lenses... hell yeah, am I ever gonna fork out that much for a 50mm, I don't think so... I could so easily spend that much money on more useful lenses, and the nifty, whilst not being quite the same quality, does a superb job for very little money (I got mine for £70).

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