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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Astronomy & Celestial Talk 
Thread started 29 Jan 2009 (Thursday) 17:26
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Which Telescope for Astrophotography?

 
Lee123
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Jan 29, 2009 17:26 |  #1

I humbly apologize for asking this question as I know it's been asked to death...but the more research I do, the more lost I get :(.

I want to give Astrophotography a go and don't want to be tied down to moon/planet shots so I guess I would need to be able to track?

This was a scope recommended to me by telescopes.com
http://www.telescope.c​om/control/product/~ca​tegory_id=reflectors/~​pcategory=telescopes/~​product_id=09738 (external link)
...but not sure I want to spend quite that much.

I also found a Meade Starfinder 10 EQ about 8 years old but in great shape for a little under $500.

Would any of these two be ok for astrophotography? Or would you recommend another?

Thanks :D


http://www.leeglide.co​m (external link)
1D3, 40D, 70-200 2.8 IS II, 24-70 F/2.8 L, Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro, etc..

  
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strgazr27
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Jan 29, 2009 18:31 |  #2

Lee,

That is a nice setup but if your just starting out I would rather see you go for something with a little less weight to start and a shorter focal length. I don't know what your budget is but the setup I would go with is the following:

http://www.telescope.c​om …escopes/~produc​t_id=09895 (external link) for the scope.

For the mount I would go with:

http://www.telescope.c​om …ssories/~produc​t_id=24338 (external link)

I would also recommend you get the autoguider package you will find here:

http://www.telescope.c​om …imaging/~produc​t_id=24770 (external link)

The above package with a Canon DSLR can provide you with years of hassle free performance at a somewhat reasonable budget. I run almost the same package at times and I love it.

Any other questions please don't hesitate to ask :)


Gripped 40D - 17-40L - 70-200 f/4L - Gitzo GT0531 Mountaineer - Astrotrac TT320X-AG
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Nighthound
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Jan 29, 2009 22:25 |  #3

The scope recommended to you would be fine for visual but not so fine for long exposure imaging.

The fact that it's f/4.9 is a good thing, the fact that it's 1000mm on that particular mount makes it VERY challenging for long exposure work. It would be a challenge at half that focal length to get multiple minute exposures on that particular mount.

Also you would need to replace the factory focuser with a low profile unit to allow your DSLR to reach focus. Don't get me wrong, I have a nothing against a Newtonian, I own one and replaced the focuser but it's 800mm and when mounted on my Losmandy G-11 requires the use of an autoguider/guide scope to achieve consistent quality long exposures.

I always feel like the bearer of bad news when mentioning these things but I'd rather you were aware of the challenges that the lower priced "package" rigs can present.

The very capable gear Bobby suggested (great set up) really is in the lower/moderate range for deep sky imaging. I don't discourage anyone from buying into the hobby at the price range they can afford, we all have a budget and I certainly didn't start out with what I own now. But I'd hate to see you get something not fit to do the job and you end up frustrated after spending your budget.

You're approaching this wisely, doing your homework and asking important questions. Keep in mind also that there will be expenses beyond the mount and telescope so it can all add up pretty quick.

There's always the possibility of buying a decent tracking mount and using your 70-200 for some nice widefield imaging. It would be a great way to break into the hobby and you could add a scope later like the one Bobby mentioned.


Steve
Canon Gear: 1D Mark IV | 1D Mark II | 5D | 20D | 500L IS (f/4) | 100-400L
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chris.bailey
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Jan 30, 2009 01:39 |  #4

ED80 and an EQ mount is a great starting point but has a very steep learning curve from standstill. Adding an autoguider is likely to add a significant further level of frustration and astrophotography is spelt frustration.

As steve says the 40D and 70-200 is a great starting point to dip your toe in the water. Add an Astrotrac and you will have an easy (ish) setup that is very capable.




  
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Jeff
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Jan 30, 2009 08:54 |  #5

I wish we could put a disclaimer on this section: Astrophotography - it's hard!


I love that people want to get the amazing pictures that are seen here but I don't think most realize what's really involved. Spending a lot of money in this sub-hobby is not the same as ditching your kit lens and buying a $1500 L lens. At least with that you can get some amazing pictures from the first click of the camera because you already have the knowledge to use it. You don't have to ask, "How do I connect my L lens to my camera body?"


In astro work there's a HUGE, and I mean HUGE learning curve. As in YEARS of reading, learning, practice, failure, success. There are HOURS of late cold nights, late hot nights, late nights with lots of bugs & even late nights with nothing usable the next day. There are hours learning & using the software involved to process those images from those late nights. You'll be learning what equipment is compatible with what and what accessories are must have and what accessories are for convenience.


So many people buy a cheapo telescope for Christmas or a birthday, use it a couple of times and then let it sit in a closet for years. I'd hate to see someone spend a lot of hard earned money on "the right" setup and then not use it. Many would probably realize that to get a nice studio type image they can (don't have to) buy the backgrounds, Alien Bees, reflectors, etc. but that after those shots are taken they'd rarely use that equipment again...so they don't buy it. Consider these as specialty shots.


You can spend the national budget of a small country on equipment. Please realize that none of us won a lottery (I don't think). Most people start off with a small scope and upgrade in steps as they see the limitations of that scope. Thus when you buy that $2000 scope or mount you're most likely selling a $1500 item and adding another $500. On the bright side, astro gear holds its value very well in most cases so you can generally get most of what you paid for an item. I'd be curious to know what everyones "first scope" was. Mine was a $200 4.5" reflector 10 years ago. That hooked me. Many get hooked just using binoculars. If you're entry level budget is higher, that's great. Better quality equipment with the right knowledge equals better images.


Keep in mind, you're esentially trying to learn 2 hobbies at the same time. Just the astronomy side can be mind boggling. Then the astrophotography part is so much different than daytime photography that it should be considered its own hobby all by itself.


I don't want to discourage anyone from getting into this arena by any means. I just want you to know that it's tough, tiring, and expensive. It's also hugely rewarding to be able to get & share beautiful images with others. In many cases those people don't know this stuff even exists.


So if you have a reasonable remaining life expectancy, start small, get some astro-buddies, join a club, use other's equipment. Come visit me, you can use my stuff. Get hooked. The stars aren't going anywhere.

If you're up there in years, blow your kids' inheritance. Have fun!

All my best!


Jeff
70D | Tokina 12-24 | Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 | Canon 28-135 IS| 430EX
Astrophotograpy: QHY9M, Optolong LRGB filters, Meade 10" SCT, Orion EON 110mm APO, iOptron CEM60 to keep it all off the ground.
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Adrena1in
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Jan 30, 2009 09:12 |  #6

Jeff wrote in post #7219609 (external link)
I'd be curious to know what everyones "first scope" was. Mine was a $200 4.5" reflector 10 years ago.

My first scope was a cheapo that I bought from Argos probably about 25 years ago. No idea what the specs were...it was probably one of these "750x magnification" pieces of crap! Was so poor I could see no stars through it, and could only just about see the moon. Used it once.

My first "proper" scope was a secondhand 4.5" SkyWatcher 1150 500mm Newtonian Reflector on an EQ1, onto which I added an RA Clock Drive, and while it was fantastic for viewing, I couldn't hook up the camera to shoot through it.

My first imaging scopes were the Phenix 102mm f/6 and 127mm f/9.5 Achromatic Refractors, which I bought together, with the EQ5.

My first APO is probably going to be the Williams Optics 66mm f/5.6 Doublet. :D


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Lee123
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Jan 30, 2009 10:25 as a reply to  @ Adrena1in's post |  #7

You guys are amazing. I can't thank you all enough for your advice.

After reading all your posts a few times, I think I am going to go with just a nice telescope that I can use to take a few shots of the moon and a few planets. My wife and kids will also be able to use it to enjoy the beauty that the night sky has to offer. We are always looking up in wonder.
Then if I still have the astro bug, I can invest in a better mount and maybe a tracking system and go from there.

Now I still have to figure out what telescope would be a great starting point.


http://www.leeglide.co​m (external link)
1D3, 40D, 70-200 2.8 IS II, 24-70 F/2.8 L, Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro, etc..

  
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Michael_Lambert
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Jan 30, 2009 10:56 |  #8

Lee,

Thats what i did, i ended up picking up a Sky-watcher 127m. Its a slower unit at F12 however for what i needed at this time ( shooting the moon) it will work great! Mounted it on one of my Video tripods and hopefully soon i will have a clear shot of the moon :D

Decided to start this way, using this scope for visual learning the stars and stuff so at a later time i can pick up a decent mount something like a goto mount i think would be nice do some basic track and then look to piggy backing my 1d and 70-200 2.8L for some deep space stuff.

I figured one step at a time.. start with what i wanted the moon and work from there.

here is my thread


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Rrdstarr
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Jan 31, 2009 03:30 as a reply to  @ Michael_Lambert's post |  #9

Nice synopsis Jeff! I have a fellow Co-worker who really enjoys astro-photography using film. What you said helps gel in my mind what he has been saying the last few months!

Thanks!


Rick's stuff!

  
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Jan 31, 2009 04:31 |  #10

chris.bailey wrote in post #7218307 (external link)
ED80 and an EQ mount is a great starting point but has a very steep learning curve from standstill. Adding an autoguider is likely to add a significant further level of frustration and astrophotography is spelt frustration.

As steve says the 40D and 70-200 is a great starting point to dip your toe in the water. Add an Astrotrac and you will have an easy (ish) setup that is very capable.

I totally agree! The Skywatcher or Orion ED 80 series on an EQ5 or EQ6 is the BEST bang for the buck by far!

The OTA is cheap (around $600 Australian) but still of fantastic quality optics.
The images are clean, clear and sharp with little or no chromatic abberation.

The EQ 5 and 6 mounts are "Out of the box" and are accurate, simple and steady.

I would recommend this as a starting bas to anyone who claims they want to get into astronomy and grow to take astropics.

Yes, astrophotography is hard, I have spent literally thousands on gear and still I find it full of challenges.

I seriously hope you consider the ED 80's on the EQ mounts.

Hope this helps.

Baz.


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Jan 31, 2009 04:33 |  #11

chris.bailey wrote in post #7218307 (external link)
ED80 and an EQ mount is a great starting point but has a very steep learning curve from standstill. Adding an autoguider is likely to add a significant further level of frustration and astrophotography is spelt frustration.

As steve says the 40D and 70-200 is a great starting point to dip your toe in the water. Add an Astrotrac and you will have an easy (ish) setup that is very capable.

I totally agree! The Skywatcher or Orion ED 80 series on an EQ5 or EQ6 is the BEST bang for the buck by far!

The OTA is cheap (around $600 Australian) but still of fantastic quality optics.
The images are clean, clear and sharp with little or no chromatic abberation.

The EQ 5 and 6 mounts are "Out of the box" and are accurate, simple and steady.

I would recommend this as a starting bas to anyone who claims they want to get into astronomy and grow to take astropics.

Yes, astrophotography is hard, I have spent literally thousands on gear and still I find it full of challenges.

I seriously hope you consider the ED 80's on the EQ mounts.

Hope this helps.

Baz.


Builds By Baz website http://www.buildsbybaz​.com (external link)

  
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TimberWolf
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Feb 03, 2009 00:54 |  #12

I have a Celestron SCT 11" CGE for visual work, but I recently picked up a used Televue NP-101 refractor for astrophotograpy. I am a novice at the photography end (about a month into it) but I have been able to take shots of deep space objects which have turned out fairly well for the time and effort I have put into it. I do have to admit to a fair amount of computer experience and have used Photoshop for many years. This has been a great help. Like Jeff above said, you can spend a ton of money getting it all together and then it take a lot of dedication and time, both in the dark late at night and at the computer processing images. It also helps to have reasonably dark skies.

I would hate to add it all up, but I have probably something like $10K of my kids inheritance tied up in all this. Plus I had to build my own observatory.

In summary, I tell others who want to get into it to look for good used equipment whenever possible (like at Astromart and/or Cloudy Nights). Also a good APO refractor in the 80 to 120mm range is ideal for the beginner who wants some success without complete frustration. Canon used to make a 20a model which was ideal, I'm told, for Astro work but since they are no longer made, I bought a EOS STi (450D). I wish someone would tell be the difference between what it can do and what the 20a did? It is my opinion that the 450D is one of the best Astro DSLR's to come along since the 20a.

|CGE C11|TV NP-101|TV-60|Orion Starshoot Autoguider|Canon Hutech modified 450D|Intel MacBook|The Sky 6|Voyager 4.5|Stellarium|Photosh​op CS3| ImagesPlus|DeepSky Stacker|http://timberrock.goog​lepages.com/| (external link)




  
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ebann
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Feb 03, 2009 09:08 |  #13

There are basically two kinds of astrophotos... wide field and deep space objects. I suggest starting off with wide field because your 50mm f/1.8 will be a fine "telescope". Heck, 10-22mm at 10mm would give you amazing shots of the Milky Way! So right off the bat you costs so far is $0! What you really need is a good solid mount. Most people have spent more $$$ on a good mount than on a good telescope! A solid mount is required to avoid a flimsy support that causes motion blur due to wind. As suggested, the EQ5 is a good mount that will last you many years and allow larger lenses (400mm f/5.6L) or telescopes (6" Newtonians or 4" refractors). You can get by with an EQ3-2 for wide-field shots using normal camera lenses.


Ellery Bann
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renderwerks
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Feb 04, 2009 12:19 |  #14

True, some great advice here...

I am new at astro myself. I've loved photography for many years and first looked into doing astro a few years ago and scrubbed the idea when the initial info I found looked to cost thousands of dollars to get started.

I've since learned that many options are available to reduce the cost of getting started: Stationary wide angle shots of under 30 seconds under dark skies and startrails can be done by most with the equipment we already have.

I've seen the pictures from Hubble and thought images of these types of objects were not possible from earth. I had no idea that many were large enough to fill the frame at 600mm and less! I figured if I couldn't see them, I couldn't photograph them. I didn't know that a beautiful wide angle image of the milky way was possible with a DSLR and just a kit lens.

If you're handy with fabricating and building things, a barn-door mount can be made rather inexpensively to track with a camera and your shorter lenses that you already have.

I'm a Mechanical Designer and ex furniture maker and have designed what I think will be a really good barn-door tracker. I'd be happy to share the design and drawings with anyone interested (I have a thread here somewhere with some 3D renderings of my design). I'd prefer to build it first and see just how good it is... I'm STILL :mad: waiting on a motor to start building mine (another thread all together, yikes!).

I purchased my first scope a few months ago. A Celestron Onyx 80ED. It's 500mm, f/6.25, and is an APO with flourite glass. I bought it used on Astromart for $375. It's beautiful, sharp, and has a very high quality feel and look to it. It has since dropped in price and I have seen it for $399 new! When I looked at it, it was $699 new! For me, it can double as a super-tele for terrestrial work (as long as it doesn't move too fast, tough to focus on a moving object!).

A little later (after much research and question asking), I purchased a used Celestron CG5 mount (again on astromart) for $325. This was the minimum mount I could get away with for photography. I'm still at the bottom of the learning curve, and haven't had much success yet, but so far I've been able to get some 180 sec exposures that seem to be very well tracked. Others look like crap, but I'm sure it's a combination of my limited experience and skill along with the combination of a borderline mount. But, for a modest investment, I'm here and learning!


Rick-
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ebann
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Feb 04, 2009 13:32 |  #15

Good summary there Rick!

I myself am finding that my CG-4 clone (Astroview) is plenty good for my simple needs! It is borderline for my XTi+400mm/5.6L combo but awesome for any wide-field shots. I don't have any auto-tracking that the CG-5 has and it's a pain to polar align in the Southern Hemisphere! When I have more time to play with the WCS alignment software, I'll try to grab a few DSOs!


Ellery Bann
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6D | Rokinon 14 2.8 | 50 1.4
1D Mk IV | 24-70 2.8L | 70-200 2.8L IS | 135 2L | 400 5.6L

  
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Which Telescope for Astrophotography?
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