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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Astronomy & Celestial Talk 
Thread started 13 Nov 2011 (Sunday) 18:02
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How to get sharp star photos...

 
Tony_Stark
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Nov 13, 2011 18:02 |  #1

This past summer I took my first shot at astrophotography and was very pleased with the results. However, I found that when taking shots of the milky way, nothing looked sharp. I manually focussed and tried to different ranges to see if anything was sharper than the other and got nowhere really. Any tips you guys can offer me? Here are the shots I was happy with :D Also, my theory as to why these may not seem sharp, is because of the long exposure, the stars slightly move which makes it seems like theyre not "sharp".

IMAGE: http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6065/6087110869_bb6d8ce441_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/gbucur/60871108​69/  (external link)
Day 93/365 - Milky Way (external link) by George.Bucur (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6061/6087657724_9f99b88beb_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/gbucur/60876577​24/  (external link)
IMG_2725.jpg (external link) by George.Bucur (external link), on Flickr

Cheers!

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robbo911
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Nov 13, 2011 18:11 |  #2

the only thing i can suggest is that you need to keep shutter speeds as quick as possible whilst still getting the desired exposure so as to prevent any star movement which appears as blur (unless you're going for star trails). What i would suggest is aperture wide open with the fastest shutter speed you can (any longer and there will be blur, there is some formula but ive forgotten it. I know that the formula depends on the focal length so you will get better results with a wider angle lens as movement is obviously less accentuated) and a high iso to facilitate this exposure (probably will be around 3200).


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Tony_Stark
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Nov 13, 2011 18:13 |  #3

So shooting at say f/1.4 instead of f/2.8 to get slightly faster SS would have worked better in this case? In the future, is it better to shoot these kind of shots with faster lens (primes, f/1.4 etc.) or slower zooms (such as 17-40 f/4 etc.).


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robbo911
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Nov 13, 2011 18:42 |  #4

yeh i would suggest so but im not sure if 50mm is the best lens to do it with, im sure you can get some great results but much easier with a wide angle. here is a poor attempt of mine, but ive just got a tokina 11-16 f2.8 so should be able to get some nice ones soon

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Tony_Stark
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Nov 14, 2011 17:14 |  #5

I guess with practise comes better results. Too bad I love in a major city and cannot see these types of gorgeous landscapes until I go up north for my summer vacation. Oh well, only couple more months till August ;)


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mckinleypics
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Nov 14, 2011 17:18 |  #6

What are your settings? I'd use ISO 6400. Don't go longer than 25sec on the exposure. Wide open is fine. Sharpen slightly in PP and bring the blacks up a bit.


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mckinleypics
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Nov 14, 2011 17:22 |  #7

Here's one at ISO 6400, f2.8, 11mm, 25sec. Other guys get better results. Your 5d should do better than this:

IMAGE: http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6135/6007113707_861dace761_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/22918854@N04/6​007113707/  (external link)
IMG_4845 - Version 2 (external link) by mckinleypics (external link), on Flickr

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Tony_Stark
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Nov 15, 2011 00:55 |  #8

Looking good! I like that shot!


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markweaver
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Nov 22, 2011 14:42 as a reply to  @ Tony_Stark's post |  #9

Shoot with wider lenses and the stars will not trail as much. I often shoot stars with a 10-22 (@10mm) for 30 secs and get almost pinpoint stars. The hard part is nailing the focus with an autofocus lens set to manual focus. You can't just peg it at infinity and shoot. The autofocus lenses have a little play in them and will focus past infinity.

I just recently bought a Zeiss 21mm that is tack sharp, but the best part was when you dialed it over the infinity, it was dead on at infinity. Not the widest lens on a crop but the stars were tack sharp.

http://flic.kr/p/aGRDC​a (external link)

The stars are trailing a little in this shot because the focal length is 21mm, but with a wider lens (10mm or even a fisheye 8mm) they will be points even at 30 sec.


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luigis
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Nov 22, 2011 14:58 |  #10

The trails of the stars depend on 3 things:

- exposure time (doh!)
- focal length
- distance to the celestial pole

The closer you are to the celestial pole (Polaris in the N. Hemisphere) the shorter the trails will be as the stars travel less distance in the sky per unit of time.

In general you can start with something like 600/ focal_length to guesstimate the amount of time you can expose without trails but as it depends on what are you shooting the best approach is to start with an estimation, check the LCD with 10x magnification and adjust.


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goatydude
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Nov 29, 2011 05:27 |  #11

mckinleypics wrote in post #13399599 (external link)
What are your settings? I'd use ISO 6400. Don't go longer than 25sec on the exposure. Wide open is fine. Sharpen slightly in PP and bring the blacks up a bit.

Im realy new to astro/night photography but I would say this is pretty good advice for settings. But Id be more inclined to say shoot wide open for no longer than 25sec (I do 20 at 17mm) and use whatever ISO gets you those that. 2.8 might get your ISO down to 3200 or less for 1.4. My typical settings are 17mm f4 20sec ISO6400 on a 1d4. As far as focus set on infinity and try, but like already stated it may be a fair bit out, just shoot and then zoom right in on the lcd and check.

But you should have a look here but shush keep it to yourself ;) http://forum.timescape​s.org …viewtopic.php?f​=17&t=4423 (external link)

Cheers
Daniel


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Cygnusx1
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Dec 01, 2011 23:36 |  #12

I played around with all the settings tonight and they seem to fall in line with what you guys are saying.

IMAGE: http://dcer.smugmug.com/Photography/Sky-Stuff/i-NG2CTvq/0/X2/IMG0115-X2.jpg

Daniel, thanks for that link. Now I drool over tracking systems, and must learn stacking.

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Dec 05, 2011 12:36 |  #13

Looking good, Cygnus!


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jkdjedi
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Jul 29, 2014 20:42 as a reply to  @ archer1960's post |  #14

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This is my first feeble attempt of the Milky, I had planned this trip 6 months back to shoot it at it's peak (June/July) with the least amount of light pollution (Joshua National Park) and did not expect it to be so HUGE, it literally covered the entire sky, anyway things went South quick when I realized that I needed more practice at night photography skills as the stars were not coming out TACK SHARP. 30 second exposure at f/2.8 ISO3200 Canon6D, Tokina 16-28. I'm thinking of going out tonight and try some shots here locally, I found an interesting article that reveals how to shoot the Milky in light polluted areas. http://petapixel.com …polluted-skies-singapore/ (external link)
I will take the advice of this 4 year old thread and shoot at ISO6400. Wish me luck!:D
Bonus Add. I think I found the ANSWER! ----------> https://play.google.co​m …zendroid.hyperf​ocal&hl=en (external link) HYPERFOCAL (Google it)

http://www.fernandezim​ages.com/ (external link)

  
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hollis_f
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Jul 30, 2014 04:16 |  #15

jkdjedi wrote in post #17064945 (external link)
Bonus Add. I think I found the ANSWER! ----------> https://play.google.co​m …zendroid.hyperf​ocal&hl=en (external link) HYPERFOCAL (Google it)

Afraid not. While the idea of hyperfocal distance sounds like a magical panacea for all focussing problems - it isn't.

The theory of 'depth of field' and 'hyperfocal distance' depends on the concepts of 'acceptable blur' and 'circle of confusion'.

Your lens can only perfectly focus light from a single plane (for a well-designed rectilinear lens). Light coming from objects in front of, or behind, that plane will be blurred - with the degree of blur becoming greater the further the object is from the plane of focus.

A depth of field calculator (like the one to which you've linked) works by deciding how much blur would be too small to notice on your particular camera (i.e., when it's smaller than the circle of confusion). Objects close enough to the plane of focus will produce 'acceptable blur'. The depth of field extends from the closest of these object to the farthest.

The hyperfocal distance is calculated as the closest distance to enable the depth of field to extend to infinity. Which does sound perfect for astro work (hey, if our subjects aren't at infinity - what is?). But remember, objects at the edge of the depth of field are just barely 'acceptably' blurred - but they're still blurred. And the degree of blurring that seems 'acceptable' when shooting landscapes really doesn't produce a result that's 'acceptable' for the bright points of light we expect to see when shooting stars.

I went through this procedure when I first started to shoot stars. I soon discovered that depth of field and all associated concepts just didn't apply to stars. The only way to get sharp images, without using fancy tools, is to do it manually. The development of LiveView and twisty LCD screen with x10 magnification has made this a lot easier.


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How to get sharp star photos...
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