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Has anybody had a go at wet film astrophotography?


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Andrew's (Astropethean) battle with his new SLR has got me thinking about how easy (NOT!) it is to do conventional film astrophotography. Anybody had a bash at this? I know we discussed it a while ago and I was going to have a go with some wide stuff and a TLR but forgot, and Steelrat has aquired a Zenith for the purpose, but I wondered if anybody has BTDT so to speak.

IIRC Astroman has done some, but he has a wealth of experience and a pier and a good sky.

Captain Chaos

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If I had paid for all the rubbish frames I've had out of the DSLR I'd be potless and I think its a very hard thing to do right.

My thoughts are:-

Tracking has to be spot on or better. Manual or automatic guiding will, I expect, be necessary.

Exposure times are going to be huge as you can't stack the frames.

Focusing using the preview just isn't possible, nor is hooking up a computer or TV screen.

Framing the target is going to be next to impossible.

It seems so much more difficult the old way and I can see Andrew spending a lot of money for not a lot of useable pictures. He's currently looking for a motorised mount and I don't think it's going to work for him. Then again I've never even tried so I thought I'd better canvas other opinions.

Captain Chaos

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Used to do my own slide processing years ago, relatively cheap compared to processing labs, but then you need a slide scanner to get them on the computer, cost starting to escalate, also I don't know if the processing kits are still readily available.

Could be capable of some good results, but also pollution, fogging and reciprocal failure on long exposures can waste a lot of film.

Digital is so much easier, you can spot any mistakes on the night, rather than a day or two later and several hours locked in a darkroom, or large bills from the lab.

naz

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I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but why would you want to try it? The hours I've spent, eyeball glued to the EP manually tracking a guide star, only to find out the focus was off. The expense of testing the drive characteristics, finding out exposure times, focus etc., agony. For every good image I got, there'd be 23 failures. I've got a drawer full of bad pics and one or two worth blowing up and mounting-in 10 years.

If you want to discover how easy CCD imaging is, try a roll of film first.

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Thanks Astroman. Astropethean has been having "issues" with his SLR as it doesn't like working without an electronically coupled lens. Some of us have tried to help out, as one does, but it occured to me that we might be helping him get into a whole mess of pain. He's currently looking for a driven mount and it seems like (to me at least) he's on a route to having to learn a whole new pile of swear words. I PM'd him earlier about the horrors of wet film, but then got worried that I'd possibly been a bit previous as I've never tried it myself. I just hope he reads this thread and takes a different direction.

Captain Chaos

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CC,

Before I bought the DSLR, I toyed with the idea. After doing my research and trawling different forums the conclusion was I had to very, very good or very, very patient...The thought of having to wait a couple of days for the results.

Or going through the hastle of developing them youself.

If you can't go DSLR then go Toucam..that's probably the best way to go IMHO..

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Thanks again CC for the consideration, but now that I'm more than half way there, I'm not suddenly going to quit. If Tony Floyde ( http://tinyurl.com/yytrj3 ) can do it, then so can I. I'm going to give the moon my best shot, and I may well get something to go on the wall. Beyond that, you may well be right that I won't get any success, but I've still tried it, even if I fail miserably, and I can confirm that film astrophotography is not the way to go.

Regarding focussing and framing, I might boldly state that on a digital screen, the resolution is very limited and getting the focussing right with digital can't be much easier than on film. Framing doesn't seem to be a problem either. A simple glance through the eyepiece to check that the object is central is all that's needed. Exposure, ask the camera and bracket it.

That whole process might cost you a whole film first time, but thereafter, you'll know what went wrong and you'll improve. Sorry, CC, but I'm going to follow this through until I can see with my own eyes that it's a failure before splashing out £500 odd on a new camera.

Andrew

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Used to do a lot of "wet photography" a few years ago. I used an Olympus camera with a right angled magnified viewer and often slide film. You could send the film to be developed without any worry of the lab messing up and they would return the slides unmounted in a strip so I would not get images cut in half !! If you had an enlarger you could process the slides back to coloured prints or I suppose now you could scan them and do further image processing. Several of my pictures appeared in astronomy magazines in the 1990's. I often used the camera fitted with a 135mm lens piggy backed on the telescope this was good for bright comets. A picture of comet Hale-Bopp appeared in the July 1997 addition of Modern Astronomy clearly showing two separate colours in the tail. I found it quite fun even if you had to wait a few days to get the results it was exciting when the slides came back. Perhaps with CCD some of the fun has been taken away.

BTW - I do now have a CCD camera.

John

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