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 Post subject: Auto-focus work-around
PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2008 8:12 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 5:03 am
Posts: 44
Location: Nashua, NH
OK, this is an obvious no-brainer work-around, but I figured that I'd post it anyway. I am a TZ5 owner. In many ways, I am very satisfied with this camera; however, the lack of any manual control over the focus really screws me when taking astro-photography pics. The work-around, which seems to work quite well, is as follows:

(equipment)
ETX 125 with optional Electric Focus Motor
Universal DigiScoping Adapter
TZ5

Simply set up your scope and camera, get the camera zoom to the level you desire (in conjunction with whichever telescope eyepiece you choose), set the camera timer on 10 seconds, and take the shot. Now, assuming that my camera is not just defective, your on-screen results will be a blurry mess. However, the LCD will continue to relay incoming data (read: it does not freeze the image at the moment the shutter is pressed), so you now have 10 seconds to use your telescope focus to bring the image into sharp relief.

Using the Electric focus means you have virtually no movement upon adjusting, so you can spend the full 10 seconds just fiddling with the focus. In practice, I find this to be more than enough time to focus on local objects (the weather has not cooperated enough to test on actual astronomical objects, yet.)

So, hopefully, this method will solve my night-time woes. If anyone else has feasible work-arounds to auto-focus problems, please let me know.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:00 am 
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Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 5:03 am
Posts: 44
Location: Nashua, NH
Well, it's a bad time in my area to experiment on the moon, however, Saturn is pretty low on the horizon outside my bedroom window. This is taken with my ETX 125 sitting on my desk, with a 40mm wide-angle eyepiece, and the TZ5 zoomed in to about 5-6X. (besides being in an urban environment, I am still working at the very beginning of a learning curve, so don't take this shot to represent what a pro under dark skies can accomplish with the same equipment).

Image

Oh, I should also mention that I did not have my scope set up to track, so this is a very short exposure, to avoid blurring.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:54 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 3:32 pm
Posts: 9952
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Hi astroman, that's a cunning workaround you describe, and also a really nice shot of Saturn - I'm very impressed it was taken with a compact using eyepiece projection.

If you need the camera to focus at infinity, you could also try one of the scene presets - maybe landscape? Not sure what impact this would have on the other settings though.

As you know, the tricky thing about planetary photography is movement in the atmosphere which causes a shimmering, blurring effect. So it's well worth taking lots and lots of photos during a session in the hopes you grab one at the moment the atmosphere is steady. You can also then take the good shots and stack them using astro software to produce a sharper, more detailed image. There's discussions about stacking elsewhere in this section.

But again I'm really impressed by the shot!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:36 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 5:03 am
Posts: 44
Location: Nashua, NH
I am hoping that once I fix the tracking on my ETX, I will be able to get more, and better, shots. It's really quite frustrating to be trying to adjust by hand, as planets go speeding by. Added to this is the wobbly nature of the DigiScoping Adapter. I don't mean to complain, as I'm sure the movable parts add a certain expectation of "loose movement", but I really wish that there was a "clamp down" lever on said adapter. I find that when I, carefully, touch the camera to take the shot, there is quite a bit of movement, which sometimes settles back to the original position, sometimes not. I really wonder why more companies don't offer optional remotes with their cameras (it must be space, rather than cost, issues). Thanks for the advice about the picture stacking, I will have to check out that thread, once I have more than two pictures that I'm somewhat satisfied with.

The fact that I'm sitting on my butt, in my apartment, shooting through an open window, certainly doesn't help with the atmospheric shimmering either; perhaps I will eventually get comfortable enough in my methods to take the show outside.

-Kris

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:40 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 3:32 pm
Posts: 9952
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
That's taken from inside, through a window?!

Right, before you try any other settings, get yourself outside!

(seriously, it will make a big difference)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:26 am 
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Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 5:03 am
Posts: 44
Location: Nashua, NH
No doubt, but if you saw my neighborhood at 2 AM, you might not want to bring $2,000 worth of equipment out there either :shock:

Even worse, my window actually offers the darkest shot that can be found within a reasonable distance from my apartment building. Perhaps a picture is worth a thousand words; may I present: monstrosity.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/69/15604 ... 1db0_o.jpg

(warning very large photo, and it still cuts off 1/3 of the building)

Oh, and as for light pollution, well, I could tell you that this was a night-time shot, and still not be too far off.

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