Astra-photography!

A friend asked me the other day, what would be the best sort of camera/lens to buy for astra-photography.

He wasn’t looking to spend mega bucks, I guess he would go to, say £2k tops. Possibly not even that much.

I told him I didn’t have a clue, despite him having seen a couple of decent photos (not astra photos) that I had taken in the past.

Anybody got any bright ideas ?

Cheers
Don

Shooting the night sky is something I’m determined to have a crack at living on the edge of the Peak District. My biggest tip would be to spend a huge proportion of the budget on the lens, an f2.8 or faster is really needed to capture enough detail without getting orbital movement due to a long shutter speed. And if you have decent processing software then only shoot in RAW, the retained/recoverable detail in the image is light years (excuse the pun…) better than the highest JPEG setting

No, but I have a dark idea… The most important thing is to find a dark skies site!

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Best camera within reasonable price range is probably a Nikon D850. It has a LOT of pixels and no filter in front of the sensor. Add a decent lens and a tripod, and his price limit might be stretched a bit, though.

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It’s a subject I have a passing interest in and some admiration for those who pull it off.

Seems a Dslr attached to a tracking telescope taking a number of exposures, which can then be stacked to form a single image is the way to go.

Otherwise dark skies and long exposures get you part way there…

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Depends on whether the £2k Max budget is for just a camera body, or intended to include a lens…

The new Canon Ra is an obvious body choice, with sensor filter characteristics specifically designed for the purpose, and having good sensitivity and low noise.

Alternatively, almost any decent digital camera with the normal visible light filter removed from the sensor and either replaced with an H-alpha filter designed for photography (modifying spectral sensitivity), or, more versatile, converted to full spectrum (UV-IR) and said filter attached to lens, which can then be substituted with a visible range filter (called a hot mirror filter) enabling normal use, and enabling other applications such as infrared photography. This is a specialist modification, for which there are a number of suppliers: see the thread I also started yesterday Canon EOS-R mirrorless camera: drop-in filter adaptor & infrared photography.

One supplier in the US, Spencers Cameras, offers an optimised Astro conversion including a heatsink added to the sensor to further reduce noise, but I struggled getting responses from them when I was researching and so lost confidence in them. The other two suppliers I considered were Kolarivision and Lifepixel, using the first of these.

Apparently it is quite popular to convert a secondhand camera, not just a shiny new one, which of course can help with budget.

Then there’s lenses, or attaching to a telescope, to consider: if you don’t have a telescope, the cost of a decent one to capture anything requiring high magnification (e.g. planets) may be a lot more than the camera, but for things like the milky way or moon and, I understand, even some nebulae, standard camera lenses can be sufficient. However for fainter objects requiring long exposures motorised tracking will be needed.

When it cones to photographing through telescopes, I’ve seen some excellent pictures people have taken using quite basic cameras - e.g a webcam (i.e. cheap) - viewing through a motorised tracking telescope using multiple stacked images to effectively increase sensitivity and reduce noise.

Olympus have just announced the OMD EM1 mkiii which has many attributes plus the ability to cause the lens to be focussed at infinity. Plus it has inbuilt stabilisation of 7 stops so it can deliver shake proof images upto 7 times the exposure time you could achieve without image stabilisation.

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Damn, you beat me to it!

Dave

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Yes !

I should have sought advice from that clever chap who started “the Use of English” thread.

It’s astrophotography that my friend is interested in …

Cheers
Don

Indeed - you should know my sense of humour by now!

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Is this Astro photography as in though a telescope or not?

For not through a telescope and if you are keeping to a budget a second hand Nikon D800E and a fast (full frame) prime lens 24mm f1.8 (faster or wider is also good), a really sturdy tripod and a intervalometer or remote shutter of somekind would be a good place to start. For the lens a manual focus lens would be fine and save more money, you don’t need or even want Autofocus for what you need it for.

Dave

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I use a Nikon D7100, a Nikkor 35mm f/2 lens, tripod (gorilla pod when travelling for other reasons), and a remote control. That would probably be within budget?

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Just a reminder that the Nikon D810A was specifically made for Astro photography.

You should be able to find some good pre-loved examples available within budget.

ATB. George.

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Or the Canon 60dA…There is one on the bay at the mo…

That’s actually an ash tray

Hi Dave,

I’m not sure, I didn’t really ask too many questions.

I’ll feed back forum comments and recommendations and seek a bit more clarity.

Meanwhile, many thanks for suggestions.

Thanks Rod.

Nice pictures. I have a D7200 and a decent 24-80 lens. I might try a couple of shots using my tripod and see whether it would meet his aspirations.

That might be just what he needs.

Does the body and lens come as a combination ?

Body and lens sold separately - as a digital SLR, that’s the joy, any Nikon F mount (or compatible) lens can be chosen. That’s a good thing as different lenses for different uses (& budgets) is possible.

Think that’s the same case with the Canon (with Canon compatible lenses though) that @Jamiewednesday recommends as well.

The photography show is coming up in 14-17th March at the NEC in Birmingham - a great chance to get to see many of these recommended cameras under one roof.

ATB. George.