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scorpius

So you want to take photos of the Universe - For Noobs

6 posts in this topic

The main answer to a question about which camera to use or which scope to use is as varied as the combinations that are available, the size of the scopes and your hip pocket. Having said that I started out with a 3" tin dobsonian from EBay, a cheap and nasty device with 3/4" plossls which I am sure the lens were made from plastic! and an el cheapo 2.5mpx point and shoot digital cam held against the view finder.  It was a picture of the moon and I was as excited as if I had used a multi thousand dollar camera on a 24" scope.  

I eventually gave that first scope to the kids next door, with the severe warning "Never Look anywhere near the Sun" Their parents said it will only be allowed out after sundown under strict supervision. 

I then graduated to an 8" dobsonian which I made from parts I found on various sites. It was a startling success and I was able to view the moon and actually see the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter.  I also "upgraded" to a 4mpx Canon A520 camera. one small leap :) Wow 

I have been interested in photography since I was 11 years old (c. 1945 I still have my original 'Box Brownie' by Kodak) It was not until I became interested in Astronomy that I changed from film to digital. Currently I run a Skywatcher MAK 90, my 8" home made Dob and a Skywatcher 10 Dobsonian, mounted on an EQ6Pro Equatorial mount. My current camera is a Canon EOS 500D.  Which is used in "prime focus".  That is, directly mounted into the focuser using either a 1.25" adapter or a 2" adapter. (No lens used)

To return to main question.  It is generally accepted that Canon, Sony or Nikon are the most popular and in recent times prices of a used Canon 300D has fallen to around $AU150. Since I turned digital I have had experience with the 350D 500D and 1200D. I have not used Sony or Nikon. However I would suggest when stepping into the DSLR era, to look at a camera that has similar features as the Canoon 500D also known as the Rebel Kiss X3. or the EOS Rebel T1i. It has what Canon calls "live view" that is a setting that you can view the scene you are taking, the 500D also has an HDMI mini output socket to enable you to display the scene on an external 10" TFT mobile monitor available on EBay for around $AU120.  This not only allows you to view the focus situation and tracking, but also the photo taken in greater detail.

Other essentials IMHO are you also need remote control of the camera by small electronic shutter release device and modify your focuser to be driven by a focuser motor (ie The Meade Focuser is reasonable priced and perfect for Crawford focusers.) A remote I use plugs directly in the remote control socket and the transmitter is the size of car alarm fob. They also have a combination security coding so you do not fire off some one else's camera ! Canons also have a dedicated remote control, the RC5 and the RC6 which utilises the sensor on the front of the camera.  This is not always convenient if the camera is pointing at the Zenith. You also have to "switch" on the remote in settings

Having a super priced, beyond belief Camera will not produce any better photo than a budget camera if you do not know what you are doing. I was brought up using the Famous Ilford Manual of Photography, The original bible of all film photographers. In fact I have the latest version which has stepped into the digital world.

Another set of books on using DSLR is the series by Scott Welby called the "Digital Photography Book" It comes in five parts and available from Amazon on-line book store. The complete set will set you back a bit over $100 USD plus shipping.  If you do not know much about cameras and their use, you will after reading this series.   To learn the hidden Secrets of the Canon EOS Rebel range There are some excellent detailed guides available from Lark Photography Books, under Magic Lantern Guides, these are not official guides but written by experts who have the  cameras, also available from Amazon book store. They also come with a couple of CD guides as well.

Some of my work and equipment is shown elsewhere on this forum.  I have been on a disability support pension for over 25 years and have taken up many hobbies.  The aim at the the start of each hobby is to learn, read as many books and obtain as much information as possible, either by buying books of visiting my local library.

If you know a bit about what you are doing and what you are trying to do, it makes life so much easier and so much enjoyable.  Keep within your budget and that will keep the "War Office" in the kitchen happy, better still try and get you partner interested as well. 

Check my web page at http://dsmithdale.net/  

Dave

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The Ilford Photography Manual is a blast from the past. I still have a ton of Kodak elite chrome 200 in my freezer. I loved film. CCD is great now to but it's a shame many budding astrophotographers won't ever know manual guiding or anything longer than 10 minute subs. Film added value and required a deeper understanding of equipment IMO. 

Ray

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Certainly is Ray, it was also very highly technical, formulae for processing films and prints. Light Values and so forth.  I used an old 1/4 plate camera as an enlarger fitted with a home made film holder (120) diffuser and light source.

My father had a full plate and a half plate camera. Genuine steam drive photography :) Somewhere I think I still have my old film developer tank.  Likewise in some hidden corner is my old Western MkIII light meter.  You never went out without that hanging round your neck. 

Dave

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Just blows my mind how much old film equipment must be out there sitting idle. I can't wait to fire up my old film cameras next time I go bush (hopefully someone out there still develops it though). 

Ray

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Film Cameras I have Ray,  Olympus OM1 - Pentax SP500 - Canon Eos 500 - Canon Eos 1000.  The Pentax was just about paid for in the early 70's when I scooped a picture of an MMA Plane at Broome which had overshot the runway and buried its nose wheel in the mud during the "wet".  I ran an entire film and gave it to one of the MMA Pilots I knew who took down to Perth to WA Newspapers.  I was running an Agfa Silette L 35mm film cam at the time. 

Dave

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I have a similar kit. An Olympus OM1, Pentax SP2 and a Nikon F2. I found the Pentax to be most suited to astrophotography (can't remember why). However I want to get a star tracker sometime soon and next time I take the kids away somewhere, I'll head somewhere dark and do some unguided widefield work. Just need to make sure I can get someone to develop it once I've taken some shots. 

Ray

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