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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:27 pm 
Hi,
First of all, I am an inexperienced photographer, having only owned a DSLR for about 4 months. Having said that, I am really enjoying it so far. Physics and astronomy are two things which interest me and I am quite interested in trying a bit of astro-photography. I own a Nikon D3100 with the kit lens only. (18-55)
I do not currently own a telescope, so which should I look at? I am after a budget model, but one with the ability to take astro shots.
Also, how do you go about taking the photos. I understand you need some t-mount/ring/adaptor things, but I am not really sure which I would need. I did watch Gordon's video on focusing when he used the 40D, which was helpful, but a little advanced. Also, one slight concern I have is when I take the lens off my D3100, it won't let me take photos and says "No lens attached". When it is connected to a telescope, will this still be displayed as the telescope is technically not a lens. And finally, if there is anything else I should know before I start, please please tell me! Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much for helping out a newbie :)


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:41 pm 
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Ranald wrote:
When it is connected to a telescope, will this still be displayed as the telescope is technically not a lens

That's actually not true. As long as an object can converge light into your camera, it can be called a lens. The telescope is basically a manual focus lens for the body. The error message you're getting is probably down to a mechanical failsafe triggering that error message. The adapter to connect to the camera ought to override that, allowing you to take photos.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:08 pm 
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Some cameras have a setting which allows them to fire without a recognised lens attached, while on others you may need to fractionally dismount the camera. Just press the lens detach button and turn the body the smallest amount, and you may find it will now work. Turn it too much though and will of course fall off, so be careful!

If you're starting out though, i'd recommend trying some photos with the normal camera lens - see the sticky thread in this section.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:14 pm 
Thanks for the advice. I have tried some shots with my normal lens, however none cam out that well - it was good fun though.
Can you recommend a budget telescope which has the ability to be used with my D3100? Thanks


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:33 am 
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Not a telescope, not at a small budget.
What you have to look at is an astro-mount. On such a mount, you can put a telescope, and on the telescope you can put the camera.

You say you tried simple astrophotography. You should have seen the stars become trails with longer exposures or longer focal lenghts.
That's because of the rotating Earth. If you want to do astrophotography, you need a mount which tracks the stars, against the movement of Earth.
You can buy a telescope for $10.000, but without a mount, no photography.

With simple lenses (also 35mm and telelenses) and a bit more expensive mount, you can do astrophotography.

I got a simple EQ3-2 mount with motors, it costed me $120. Bought a 135mm 2,8 with it, which costed me $15.
Here you can see what I did with it, for the first time I did astrophotography: http://www.cameralabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=24104
I havent uploaded many astronomy pictures, but at least I can let you see this onehttp://www.cameralabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=24536
Only 30s shots with a 200mm lens, with the mount you can get 2 mins with that lens.

So, what do I recommend you to do?

1) Get a mount. Look at the used market as they are new a bit too expensive, maybe. The EQ3-2 mount is the cheapest astrophotography mount, you NEED motors.

2) A remote control is handy, eBay has many at a very low price point. Buy via the ''support us'' page on this site if you want to give Gordon another breakfast :lol:

3) If the EQ3-2 doesnt have a polarfinder, you need too one.

4) Look on the internet for objects you can photograph with the lenses you have. The Milkyway galaxy and the Swan region are nice parts of the sky.

5) Download the polarfinder program, which lets you see where exactly the polarfinder is in the sky, for aligning the Earth-as.

6) Shoot in RAW only. Set the ISO almost the highest possible, at 3200.
Set the exposure on 30s, or if you have a remote: BULB.

7) Download the free DeepSkyStacker software, and look for a manual in your language. After stacking, you can edit the final picture too in DSS (DeepSkyS...).

And dont forget to have fun!

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Panasonic DMC-FZ18, Panasonic DMC-FZ28, Canon G5, Canon 350D, Canon 50D + BG-E2N
Tamron 17-50 2.8, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM,
Canon 18-55 II plus lots of Minolta MD/M42 lenses and bodies


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:21 pm 
Thanks Ruben, thats really useful. I will try your tips. Yes, I did get trails, but I actually quite liked the look of it! :)


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:12 pm 
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Some great advice above.

All I would add is to re-iterate the comment about the mount.

Astrophotography can be done with a stationary platform (i.e. a tripod) but, as Ruben has alluded too, you will be limited to short exposures before star trailing is apparent. The issue with Astrophotography is trying to maximise the amount of expsoure of an object as we are shooting, often, dim objects at night!

Here we have two problems, keeping the camera shutter open for long periods and tracking a celestrial object during its apparant motion across the sky.

Keeping the camera shutter open for longer than 30s is easily solved with a remote shutter, tracking can be a little more complex.

One option is to keep short exposures (if using a stationary platform i.e. tripod) and combine the exposures using Deep Sky Stacker to reveal more detail.

The other option, and the one to seriously consider if you are spending any money is to get a sturdy dedicated mount.

A dedicated mount (which usually holds a telescope) consists of two things: The Tripod and the mount, referred to collectively as the mount. The tripod is, well err, a tripod and the mount is the special part. The mount is the interface between the tripod and the scope and for an EQ Mount contains two sets of gears and axii to control motion through the DEC and RA axis.

The thing with investing in the mount is that it will last. Moreover, you can hook your camera with a lens direct to the mount and try some widefield astrophotography. You could also try some modest telephoto shots with a decent zoom lens. Therefore you don't need to get a scope just yet.

At this time of year you don't actually need a big telescope to get some great images. Try googling the North America Nebula - you'll find a relatively large object which can be shot at around 70mm. There is also objects such as the Leo Triplet (google it)

So, I would get a mount with motors, hook you camera and lens to it, but before you invest in this you need to read up on Polar Alignment as a mount with motors is no good if its not polar aligned.

Also, have a look at getting this book called Making Every Photon Count by Steve Richards (I hope this doesn't contravene any forum rules, if so please remove it Mods :))

Ive actually drafted an article on getting into astrophotography which I've been meaning to speak to Gordon about and seeing if it can be (or indeed is worthy of) being posted here, so if Gordon checks back in we'll see.

I hope the above makes some sort of sense and helps you in your quest. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask away :)

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:33 pm 
Hi, thanks for your help. I understand most of it, but as I am a complete new comer, I don't understand all the jargon yet. I have looked at a telescope ( http://www.celestron.com/c3/product.php ... ProdID=427 ) and was wondering whether it would work with my D3100 if I got the right T-ring and mount (Which would I need?).
Am I right in thinking that just taking pictures of the moon, you do not need to worry about the earth rotating?
Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:55 pm 
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With that set you cant really photograph.

As we mentioned, look for at least the EQ3 mount, with motors.

You dont need a telescope the first year, Im very sure. With that budget you just cant photograph Deepsky with a telescope, that costs at least $900-$1000.
Youd better be buying an EQ3-2 mount with polarfinder, 2 motors, handcontroller and battery pack. New that costs around $500, but you cant photograph with a telescope on that mount. Used you have to pay $250 for that mount.
If you really want to photograph Deepsky with a telescope, youll be very disappointed with the results. Even with tele-lenses which have focal lenghts of around 200mm, I got many and many bad pictures. Guess what happens if you use 800mm of focal lenght.

I dont recommend that at all, I only recommend you to buy a good mount and start, just with the kit-lens. The EQ3 or EQ5 are great mounts, you MUST have to have a good mount for astrophotography.

Just forget buying a telescope for now. Only with enough experience OR money you can buy and really use one. Go get a good mount.

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Ruben

Panasonic DMC-FZ18, Panasonic DMC-FZ28, Canon G5, Canon 350D, Canon 50D + BG-E2N
Tamron 17-50 2.8, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM,
Canon 18-55 II plus lots of Minolta MD/M42 lenses and bodies


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:02 pm 
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Most scopes will work with a DSLR given the right kind of T Thread and T Adapter. One thing you may run into is the issue of inward travel, that is you cannot turn the focus knob far enough inwards to get focus on an object.

For a little extra than the Celestron costs you could get a Skywatcher 130P which has a larger aperture. Aperture is king for astrophotography.

Having said the above, I cant reiterate enough that its the mount that you need to be sturdy to prevent vibrations and keep the setup rigid.

Take it from me, I have had the experience with a flimsy mount and whilst I enjoyed it at the time it was no good for astrophotography and I soon found myself upgrading.

You are right, that for shooting the moon you dont need a mount that tracks.

HTH

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Lee Diggle
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:04 pm 
Okay, thanks. Can I ask what a mount actually does. I really appreciate your help, and I am sorry for knowing so little.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:30 pm 
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Dont worry, ask away, thats what the forum is for.

As I said above, the mount is technically made up of two parts.

1. The tripod;
2. The head or mount itself.

Here is the two: EQ3-2 Mount

As I said, the mount or head is the important part as it contains the two axii and is where the motors are housed to track the stars apparent motion across the sky. The Tripod holds it all steady, some people, who have the space like to mount their head onto a permanent pier but I wouldnt worry too much about that yet. Its also important to note that the head itself must be quite sturdy.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:19 pm 
Okay, so what do you put on the mount?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 2:41 pm 
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As I said above, you can put your camera on the mount with a lens attached and try widefield astrophotography. If you have some tele lenses you can also try these.

If you get on with this then you can buy a scope to add to the mount.

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Lee Diggle
My Astronomy Blog | My Photography Gallery


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:54 pm 
I see, so it's basically a very steady tripod? Can it be used as a tripod?


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