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advice for photography

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I want to buy my husband a telescope for his birthday.

He is a keen photographer with a canon 5dmk II and is addicted to photography so I know he will want to use the telescope to take photographs so its impotant that what I get is compatible with his camera.

His use of the telescope will be to take and leave in our apartment in Egypt so he can sky watch from our roof terrace at night (its really dark there) so he wont be using it loads (say ten to twenty times a year or so). therefore my budget is only £200 (ready to use with a camera) - although I appreciate he will need to get used to it first of course, but the intention to buy is for photography.

I dont want to get carried away as his passion is underwater photography, however, he has mentioned an interest in the starts and takes lots of photos of the moon with a zoom lens already so want to surprise him as part of his birthday present.

What would you get and why? and will it be supportive enough to hold the mother of all cameras on it!!



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Hi Lou

Not sure if this is the answer you are looking for but here goes...

If your husband is only casualy interested in astronomy, it may be unwise to spend your money on a telescope he may only use a few times.

With the equiptment he already has, he can already do quite a bit of astrophotography by just mounting his camera on a tripod and taking longer exposures of the night sky.

My advise would be to maybe buy him a book on astrophotography and see if he enjoys the hobby.

If he does, you could possibly buy him a motor driven equatorial mount at a later stage to mount his camera on to do even longer exposures. Then a telescope to use visualy and take photos through.

It would be a shame if you bought a telescope for his birthday to find it later stands there gathering dust.

Hope this helps you a litte


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If he is seriously into photography, and his Canon 5D suggests that he is, you may find it difficult to get something suitable for him to use within that budget.

I would spend your entire budget on the best equatorial mount you can get, possibly look at second hand gear. Forget the telescope for now, he can use the lenses that he already has on his camera and can buy a telescope later if that is what he wants.

An Astrotrac (as opposed to a telescope mount), if you can find one, might be a good option.

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The advice so far is all good advice. For anyone wanting to get serious atroshots (which your hubbys camera suggests he would strive for) the most important thing is a stable EQ mount that tracks, these are not cheap. Dont get me wrong, I strongly believe you can get great joy from a more basic setup (like what I use) but if photography is the main goal you will hit a wall where the mount wont allow any better and the only option is to upgrade.

You can get great shots using just a camera and a decent mount, and pretty good shots with what he already has (widefield shots, the moon etc).

If you just want to get him started and wont blame yourself :( when he spends money upgrading as his ability starts to increase and the mount becomes the weak point then there may be some cheap options.

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Sorry to repeat the above but this really is very good advice. Your hubby would be very disappointed with the results he would obtain from a mount and telescope in this price range so you should concentrate on the best driven equatorial mount that you can afford and let him use the photographic gear that he already has to its best advantage.

The alternative of an AstroTrac mount that fits to a standard tripod would be perfect but will blow the budget.

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What hasn't been explained here is the fact that the sky is a moving subject (well, actually, it is the Earth that is spinning). If you try to take a photo of a fast moving car or sportsman, it will be blurred unless you use a very fast shutter speed. You can't use a fast shutter speed with stars. It has to be a very slow one - so the stars will move whilst the shutter is open resulting in 'streaks' instead of dots. The only way round this is to use a motor to move the camera whicle the shutter is open. This movement has to be in sync with the Earth's movement and in the same direction. What the people here are trying to point out that tripods with motors to do this are quite expensive and not within the budget you mention. Without this motorised tripod arrangement, possibilities are limited to what you can photograph with a short exposure (up to 30 seconds depending on the type of lens). This includes pictures of the Mooon and the brighter constellations on a clear night.

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