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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Astronomy & Celestial Talk 
Thread started 19 Sep 2010 (Sunday) 12:38
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Canon 60D for astro, what do you think?

 
MintMark
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Sep 19, 2010 12:38 |  #1

I use a 1000D for astrophotography at the moment and I'm considering getting a 60D to do double duty as an astro camera and for normal photography (replacing a 50D)

Here are my thoughts so far... on the plus side

  • High resolution.
  • Good ISO performance.
  • Articulated high resolution screen.
  • Excellent battery life.
and on the minus side
  • Heavier than my 1000D.
  • Very large image files.
I really think the screen will be a big improvement, being more usable at awkward angles and being able to precisely judge focus with live view.

What I'm not sure of is how to work with the sensor... does anyone here use the 550D or 7D for astrophotography? How high can you routinely go with ISO... 3200, 6400? Does 18Mpixels help or is it just a lot more processing for little benefit?

Are there any considerations I've missed?

Thanks in advance,
Mark

Mark

  
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Nighthound
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Sep 19, 2010 16:32 |  #2

Mark, the 60D sounds like a nice upgrade for you but I don't know how much of a gain you'll get in astro as far noise, especially if you are going for multiple minute exposures. "Low noise" is a great feature to look for but keep in mind that statement is attached to less demanding tasks than deep sky imaging. Thermal noise creeps into the equation when extending exposures as we do and using live view to repeatedly check focus will compound the internal heat generated so it's best to keep viewing to a minimum. The Canon's from the 20D on up are really great performers for astro, especially when you consider they were not designed for this type of shooting. I used my 5D with impressive results for several outings and then it suddenly started producing higher noise than desired when shooting 5 minute sub exposures. Up until then it was performing perfectly. I see no difference in the daytime performance of the camera, only when pushing it for astro. Not sure what's up.

Noise can be controlled in a number of ways in your processing but you're wise to try and keep it down in any way possible, a camera up to the this type of shooting is certainly step one. Are your skies dark enough to tolerate ISO 3200 and 6400 without LP and sky fog compromising your data? As far as thermal noise goes I lean toward moderately high ISO settings during the warm months and push it up to 1600 during near freezing and freezing temps.


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MintMark
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Sep 20, 2010 07:07 |  #3

Nighthound wrote in post #10938199 (external link)
Mark, the 60D sounds like a nice upgrade for you but I don't know how much of a gain you'll get in astro as far noise, especially if you are going for multiple minute exposures. "Low noise" is a great feature to look for but keep in mind that statement is attached to less demanding tasks than deep sky imaging. Thermal noise creeps into the equation when extending exposures as we do and using live view to repeatedly check focus will compound the internal heat generated so it's best to keep viewing to a minimum. The Canon's from the 20D on up are really great performers for astro, especially when you consider they were not designed for this type of shooting. I used my 5D with impressive results for several outings and then it suddenly started producing higher noise than desired when shooting 5 minute sub exposures. Up until then it was performing perfectly. I see no difference in the daytime performance of the camera, only when pushing it for astro. Not sure what's up.

Noise can be controlled in a number of ways in your processing but you're wise to try and keep it down in any way possible, a camera up to the this type of shooting is certainly step one. Are your skies dark enough to tolerate ISO 3200 and 6400 without LP and sky fog compromising your data? As far as thermal noise goes I lean toward moderately high ISO settings during the warm months and push it up to 1600 during near freezing and freezing temps.

Hmm, plenty to think about.

I have typically been shooting at ISO 800 for 2 minutes at 344mm f/4.8 (through a LP filter) but I have a new non-reducing flattener now, so I'm at 430mm and f/6. In my last session I ended up shooting 3 minutes at ISO 1600, which isn't all accounted for by the longer focal length so it must have been a darker area of sky too (almost straight up).

So, although I can go for 3 minutes at 430mm the newer camera would allow me to use shorter exposures at higher ISOs or it might give me better quality at the same ISO 1600. I guess that's the experience I'm asking for here. If I pile on the barlows and try a planet then more ISO might be good to keep the exposure length down (minimising the inevitable tracking errors... it's all unguided).

Usually I only focus once at the start of my short imaging sessions. I might review an image every now an again to make sure things are still OK. Maybe the articulating screen will be better because you can position it away from the body, so most of the heat might convect away? :)

I don't know what the problem might be with your 5D... a different battery or something power related? Maybe you can check noise in bias frames as well as longer exposures... would that say whether it's thermal noise or read-out noise that has increased?


Mark

  
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hollis_f
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Sep 20, 2010 07:14 |  #4

I would love the articulated screen for doing live view manual focussing while the camera is pointing up at the sky. If I were more serious about astrophotography I'd even contemplate swapping my 50D (used as a backup) for a 60D just for that feature.


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VisualUniverse
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Sep 24, 2010 14:51 as a reply to  @ hollis_f's post |  #5

Yikes...3200 and 6400 ISO? Those will be some pretty noisy images. 1600 ISO is usually the max on astrophotography since you are doing long exposures and are inherently getting a bunch of noise already.


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fiveFPS
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Sep 26, 2010 11:35 |  #6

I saw go for it.. low iso should be a lot better on the 60d


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ChrisBeere
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Nov 18, 2010 12:11 |  #7

I have the 60D. Its SUPERB for astrophotography. You cannot begin to put a value on the articulated screen when it comes to focusing and framing. It makes the whole process much smoother and accurate, especially when imaging near the zenith. The array has super low noise and inspection of dark frames reveals very few hot pixels.

Unity gain on the APS-C chip is roughly ISO1600, which is what i use it to image at. Once you have stacked enough frames to get the SNR above the very low residual noise floor you can push the levels hard in post processing and get excellent results.

Awesome camera, end of story :)




  
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memoelizondo
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Nov 18, 2010 13:37 |  #8

Thank you Chris. Why shoul I preffer to buy the 60D instead of a more or less the same price for a ccd camera specially designed for astrophotography?




  
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MintMark
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Nov 19, 2010 02:45 |  #9

ChrisBeere wrote in post #11307062 (external link)
I have the 60D. Its SUPERB for astrophotography. You cannot begin to put a value on the articulated screen when it comes to focusing and framing. It makes the whole process much smoother and accurate, especially when imaging near the zenith. The array has super low noise and inspection of dark frames reveals very few hot pixels.

Unity gain on the APS-C chip is roughly ISO1600, which is what i use it to image at. Once you have stacked enough frames to get the SNR above the very low residual noise floor you can push the levels hard in post processing and get excellent results.

Awesome camera, end of story :)

I forgot I asked this question... I just wanted to say that I did get the 60D and I've had great results so far. Very pleased indeed. The extra resolution has let me capture features on the moon that I couldn't before and the 640x480 video crop mode worked very nicely for Jupiter. I have done some deep sky as well, but not processed those yet.

Chris, how do you determine the unity gain ISO level for the sensor? Is that something you can measure or is it in a technical document somewhere?


Mark

  
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Andromedeus
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Dec 13, 2010 06:47 as a reply to  @ ChrisBeere's post |  #10

Chris,

I bought a canon 60d but tried to use it tonight. The live view light was so bright that I could not see the stars of the big dipper. Were you able to use live view to see the stars?? If so, what were your settings??

Thanks,
Henry




  
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hollis_f
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Dec 13, 2010 08:32 |  #11

Andromedeus wrote in post #11443312 (external link)
Chris,

I bought a canon 60d but tried to use it tonight. The live view light was so bright that I could not see the stars of the big dipper. Were you able to use live view to see the stars??

I would guess that you need to disable Exposure Simulation - Page 158 of the manual.


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Andromedeus
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Dec 13, 2010 10:00 |  #12

Frank,
I quess you may have Canon 60D. Are you able to use live view to see the sky instead of looking through the camera when live view is off??


Henry




  
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hollis_f
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Dec 13, 2010 10:29 |  #13

Andromedeus wrote in post #11443945 (external link)
Frank,
I quess you may have Canon 60D.

I'm afraid I haven't got one, but I'm thinking of getting one.


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Andromedeus
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Dec 14, 2010 21:27 |  #14

Here are images I took this morning with the 60D:

1. Venus with an artifact that looks like a planetary nebulae but cannot be seen at this resolution with the Canon 28-135 mm lens is USM and Saturn was up to the right out of the frame.

2. Castor and Pollux - did not seen any Geminide meteorites except for one not in this photo

Henry


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hollis_f
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Dec 14, 2010 22:31 |  #15

Andromedeus wrote in post #11454078 (external link)
Here are images I took this morning with the 60D:

1. Venus with an artifact that looks like a planetary nebulae but cannot be seen at this resolution with the Canon 28-135 mm lens is USM and Saturn was up to the right out of the frame.

Were you using a 'protective' filter? Because that artifact looks like a reflection of Venus.


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Canon 60D for astro, what do you think?
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