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Astro Imaging Setup

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#1 Brad Greig

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 06:50 PM

So I've been wanting to tinker with AP for a while now. Below is what I'm thinking about purchasing. I would love to hear what you guys think about this. What am I missing, what could I do better? I don't really have a set budget, and don't want to purchase anything that I will have to sell and upgrade later (at least not until I really need or want to upgrade). I guess I don't want to go cheap to get a start, but don't want to waste money either.

I'm planning on using a DSLR at this point. I have a Canon T1i, 7d, and 5D3 currently. Would like to start with one of those. I'm honestly not sure if crop or the full frame is more appropriate. Suggestions?

I have purchased the ED80T CF, but am sending it back due to a chip in the CF on the dew shield. Just concerned that whatever caused that might have also damaged the internals of the OTA. I have considered the Stellarvue SV80 with the Feather Touch Focuser and the large field flattener upgrades (http://www.stellarvue.com/sv80st.html). Or should I just start out with my 100-400L Canon lens?

How would I mount the Awesome Autoguider on this proposed setup?

Anyway, sorry to ramble, just hoping to get some advice. And here is what I have so far. I'm good on laptops, PCs, iPads etc. I have that part covered.

Thanks in advance!

Orion ED80T CF Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
http://www.telescope...r-Telescopes...


Orion Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
http://www.telescope...-Atlas-Pro-A...

5 Amp AC-to-12V DC Power Adapter
http://www.telescope...er/p/102003.uts

90mm ID Orion Telescope Tube Rings
http://www.telescope...ings/p/7370.uts

8" Orion Dovetail Mounting Plate
http://www.telescope...late/p/7383.uts

Orion Awesome AutoGuider Refractor Telescope Package
http://www.telescope...cope-Package...

Thanks,
Brad

#2 terry59

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 07:39 PM

Hi Brad

I'd recommend that you get a Losmandy mount instead. They are easy to work on and parts are readily available. Parts for foreign mounts are more problematic.

I also recommend accessories such as rings, bars, etc from ADM Accessories. They are much better quality.

You also need a t-ring for the cameras and a field flattener. If you are in a light polluted area, a filter for that would be appropriate.

You'll need capture, stacking and processing software. BYEOS, DSS and Photoshop or PixInsight are standards.

#3 Brad Greig

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 10:08 PM

Thanks, Terry. Is there a particular Losmandy mount that would be comparable? Not necessarily EQ/ALT-AZ.

I will look into ADM Accessories.

I do have a t-ring, but used that for the Nexstar. So will need the adapter for the new scope.

Do you have any advice about the Orion vs the Stellarvue scope that I listed above? I really appreciate the suggestions. I want to do this right the first time.

I need to start learning the software. Thanks for the tips!

Brad

#4 mmalik

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:30 PM

Read this... thread for the APO [FSQ-106EDXIII...]. Look into ST-i Guiding Kit... for guiding solution. Mount is a tough one; if you have the money, look into Mach1.... Full frame is definitely better; go for modding 5DMkIII. Thx

#5 Samir Kharusi

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 12:31 AM

You already have decent DSLRs. I would suggest strongly that you simply ignore mid-price refractors. You already need decent lenses for your daytime use of the cameras. Canon tele-primes would beat any mid-price refractor OTA with nil hassle. Spend your money on Canon tele-primes, not zooms. These are competetive with top $ premium APOs for astro imaging. Comparos here and here. Zooms are often disappointing, and certainly not cheaper than tele primes, yet you still end up with inferior stars. You can struggle on with the semi APOs, looking for a flattener, autoguiding, etc. But why?

From your list of cameras, I can hazard a guess on the available budget. My suggestion is not to bother to upgrade your Atlas (more than good enough for shorter focal lengths at fast focal ratios) until you are ready to fork out the $ for an Astrophysics or Takahashi mount. Autoguiding? Not required if you do not overload the mount and you stick to camera lenses. Camera lenses tend to have faster focal ratios than typical astro OTAs, hence shorter subexposures are required. These are minimal subexposures you can get away with for various f-ratios:

1 minute at f2.8
2 minutes at f4.0
4 minutes at f5.6
6 minutes at f7 (your semi APO perhaps? Autoguider territory)

Look through your lens kit and bang away a 100 subs at your wide open aperture on that D3. All Canon tele-primes longer than 100mm can be used on astro wide open (or at f2.8 if you own one that's faster). You will get a great first result once you have sorted out the post processing. Do not cut corners; use darks and flats (blue sky flats are excellent for longer lenses). With that great initial result you will be ready to spend $10+k on upgrades and having one of your DSLRs modded :roflmao:

Any focal length lens can give decent deep sky images, so use whatever prime you already own or are keen to buy next.

#6 Brad Greig

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 12:44 AM

Read this... thread for the APO [FSQ-106EDXIII...]. Look into ST-i Guiding Kit... for guiding solution. Mount is a tough one; if you have the money, look into Mach1.... Full frame is definitely better; go for modding 5DMkIII. Thx


Thanks... Some great info here. But I think much of this would seem to fall into phase two (I know, I said I didn't want any thing that I would have to upgrade later)...

That telescope is awesome. I will keep that one one the radar. The guiding kit looks great. I will check that one out.

AP mounts are probably out of the price range at this point. And modding the 5D3 probably won't happen just yet. I might consider the 60Da, though.

I suppose I should have said that no set budget does not mean unlimited budget. But I tend to upsell myself. Thanks for the input! Now I just _have_ to have that telescope!

Thanks,
Brad

#7 Brad Greig

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 12:59 AM

You already have decent DSLRs. I would suggest strongly that you simply ignore mid-price refractors. You already need decent lenses for your daytime use of the cameras. Canon tele-primes would beat any mid-price refractor OTA with nil hassle. Spend your money on Canon tele-primes, not zooms. These are competetive with top $ premium APOs for astro imaging. Comparos here and here. Zooms are often disappointing, and certainly not cheaper than tele primes, yet you still end up with inferior stars. You can struggle on with the semi APOs, looking for a flattener, autoguiding, etc. But why?

From your list of cameras, I can hazard a guess on the available budget. My suggestion is not to bother to upgrade your Atlas (more than good enough for shorter focal lengths at fast focal ratios) until you are ready to fork out the $ for an Astrophysics or Takahashi mount. Autoguiding? Not required if you do not overload the mount and you stick to camera lenses. Camera lenses tend to have faster focal ratios than typical astro OTAs, hence shorter subexposures are required. These are minimal subexposures you can get away with for various f-ratios:

1 minute at f2.8
2 minutes at f4.0
4 minutes at f5.6
6 minutes at f7 (your semi APO perhaps? Autoguider territory)

Look through your lens kit and bang away a 100 subs at your wide open aperture on that D3. All Canon tele-primes longer than 100mm can be used on astro wide open (or at f2.8 if you own one that's faster). You will get a great first result once you have sorted out the post processing. Do not cut corners; use darks and flats (blue sky flats are excellent for longer lenses). With that great initial result you will be ready to spend $10+k on upgrades and having one of your DSLRs modded :roflmao:

Any focal length lens can give decent deep sky images, so use whatever prime you already own or are keen to buy next.


Thank you Samir. I've been looking for an excuse to buy some long Canon primes... You have certainly given me something to consider. I can't thank you enough for the input.

Then again, I can't believe I'm now looking at AP mounts. But since you just saved me money on the scopes...

#8 Samir Kharusi

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 02:54 AM

I'd suggest that you do not buy a lens longer than 400mm. My current lenses go through 2x increments: 14mm, 28, 50, 100, 200, 400. I used to own a 600mm also, great for astro and also for birding/sports. But the killer astro OTA is a C14 Hyperstar (675mm f1.9) and once I played with that, I decided to sell off the 600mm to a keen birder. I was not all that keen on birding myself and thus had little daytime use for it. But you may be a keen enough birder to plonk down $12k on the 600mm/4.0L II... You do not need to autoguide it for 2 minute subexposures at f4, so it remains a very attractive option for portable astro use in the boonies using a mid-price mount.

I do not know whether you already own a macro lens. Toys, toys, toys! The 100mm/2.8macro USM and the 180mm/3.5macro are both great astro lenses. I do not know how the newer 100mm/2.8macro IS performs at astro though. So perhaps your next purchase could be a macro :question:

#9 srosenfraz

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 02:18 PM

Samir -

OOC, are you recommending the macros because they're fast lenses, or is there some other aspect of these macro lenses that makes them preferable for AP?

#10 mmalik

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:23 PM

Canon tele-primes would beat any mid-price refractor OTA with nil hassle. Spend your money on Canon tele-primes, not zooms. These are competitive with top $ premium APOs for astro imaging. Comparisons here and here. Zooms are often disappointing, and certainly not cheaper than tele primes, yet you still end up with inferior stars. You can struggle on with the semi APOs, looking for a flattener, auto-guiding, etc. But why?


I read your TV-60is vs Canon 400mm/5.6L shoot-out; was lost after reading it, especially the conclusion (shown below). So I ask the same; “but why” (birder lenses for AP?) Thx

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#11 terry59

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 07:32 PM

Too much soundbite advice :noway:

#12 nofxrx

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 10:20 PM

Get the AG package, you WILL use/need it eventually(or even right out of the gates)
Get the Atlas, as suggested by a wise man above, it is MORE than good enough for MANY years to come!!
IF, IF, IF, you find yourself down the road(possibly 5+years from now), and you want to get the best, THEN buy an AP Mach1GTO mount, or AP1200, or whatever...
But for NOW..?
You may not even like the hobby, may find that you never have time for it(that is definitely me!), or something may happen in life and you just cant do it/need to recoup some $/whatever...so why have $20k wrapped up in gear you may never use??
(I am not saying buying the best right from the start is not more economical/or even a bad/good idea. I am not saying anything negative about it..just that if it was ME, there is no way I would buy a(for example, my current dream setup): TEC140 APO, C14EDGE, FSQ106, and a new ME2 mount...)

Not sure about the 80ED(CF), it probably will not give you a very flat field on that 5D Mark III, which I HIGHLY suggest you use. Your 7D is not even worth trying. trust me. the noise from a 7D is its downfall. I would take 20x 60D's or any T2i/T3i/T4i over a single 7D any day of the week.
Your 5D3 will blow you away right out of the gates. period.
And that is even IF your scopes cannot utilize that massive sensor completely/successfully.
Meaning, even if you have to crop the images from your 5D3 down to APS-C sized images to get rid of coma/whatever, you will STILL have BETTER images(hands down, without question) than if you started with an APS-C camera..
make sense? lol

For scopes, a good newt is hard to beat. I would get the ASTRO-TECH AT8IN Imaging Newt. It will work wonderfully on the Atlas, WILL work PERFECTLY with the 5D3(assuming youre using the MPCC coma corrector. I produced this image *****HERE***** with my 5D2 and AT8IN a few years back, yes there is still coma present, but for a Full Frame camera to be used, very well IMHO, on a $500(NEW!) scope, that is amazing!!)
The AT8IN is perfect for capturing lots of data very quickly.
In fact, I would suggest getting the AT8IN AND a small APO...my suggestion would be the ASTRO-TECH AT65EDQ. It is small, puts out a PERFECTLY FLAT field(on a FULL FRAME sensor!!) via just the STOCK config, and is only $599(new)!!

My favorite scope, after owning dozens over the years, was the 65Q! And I regret selling it. But, rest assured, I will own another one soon. It IS that good, period!
Best $600 I have ever spent on this hobby, second was the 5D Mark II, it took my imaging(daytime and AP) to all new heights.(I never had a chance to use the 5D3 for AP though, and am sure it would have been even better!)

Since you are new, I would not recommend getting the 5D3 modified just yet.
If it were me, it would have been modified 2 hours after I opened the box after receiving it in the mail! LOL
But for now, you have a LOT of stuff to learn, to work on, and TONS of objects you can (EASILY) image with a stock camera.

And no, in case you were wondering if the mod would impact your daily shooting, it will not! I have been using modified cameras for PAID photo/video work for years and have NEVER, not even once, had the mod impact/impair my abilities/cameras in any way.
And that includes, but is not limited to: Canon: XS, XSi, T1i, T2i, T3i, 20D, 30D, 40D, 60D, 7D, 5D, 5D2, 5D3, 1D-Mark I/II/III/IV, 1Ds-Mark II/III, and Nikon: D50, D40/x, D70/s, D80, D200, D700, D600, and currently my D800(LOVE this thing! ;) )
NOT that I am bragging. Just trying to express that I have worked on/with/owned a LOT of cameras, and never has one been an 'issue' post-modification, for ANY purpose(short of user error of course, lol)!

Sorry, I ramble when talking gear and spending someone else's money! :roflmao:

You are in the right place, imho, for the answers you are looking for. Just wade through all the bs we may say and see what works best for you..
Good luck!

Oh, and when you do want to get any of your cameras modified, let me know! I may know a guy who knows a guy who can do this kind of thing! ;) :lol:

Cheers,
Brent

#13 Samir Kharusi

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 11:39 PM

Canon tele-primes would beat any mid-price refractor OTA with nil hassle. Spend your money on Canon tele-primes, not zooms. These are competitive with top $ premium APOs for astro imaging. Comparisons here and here. Zooms are often disappointing, and certainly not cheaper than tele primes, yet you still end up with inferior stars. You can struggle on with the semi APOs, looking for a flattener, auto-guiding, etc. But why?


I read your TV-60is vs Canon 400mm/5.6L shoot-out; was lost after reading it, especially the conclusion (shown below). So I ask the same; “but why” (birder lenses for AP?) Thx


A bit of my history may help. I owned a number of Canon primes for my daytime photography, and I also owned a C8 that I upgraded to a C14. Of course I used the Canon lenses for astro, but there are always deficiencies with any equipment, so, with credit card itching, I felt it was time to purchase the ultimate astro-imaging APO. Why an APO rather than a mirror OTA? Because these APOs cost so much that their owners end up being very fervent loyalists and frankly they make us all non owners crave for these mythical instruments that can stand magnifications of 50x per inch. So I got the best IMAGING APOs I could lay my hands on and pitted them side by side against my Canon lenses. Note that the two I used are not run-of-the-mill semi APOs. They have been designed specifically by the very well reputed manufacturer, TeleVue. My comparos are detailed in the referenced URLs, here for 140mm to 150mm aperture range and here for the 60mm to 71mm aperture range. Reaction from the premium APO-lovers crowd? "But you did not use Tak or Astrophysics APOs." No, I did not. But I had never heard of TV being disparaged for poor quality before either. So my conclusion was: "Now that I have carried out the above shoot-out, I do not miss owning a dedicated astro APO, something about which I have had some gnawing doubts previously."

Overall: for those keen on daytime photography, simply buy the prime teles that you dream of for your daytime use. They do work well for astro also. Especially noticeable if using full 35mm format. Beyond 600mm focal length go for a mirror scope. I suspect this advice would apply to most people on this DSLR forum, where the starting premise is dual use of the camera. So why not dual use of the optics? For those not interested in daytime photography or for those who use astroCCDs (often much smaller than 35mm format) then astro semiAPOs offer excellent value but with certain major shortcomings (need for autoguiding being particularly annoying to me, and the eternal search for a good flattener). For those with pristine skies and an open-ended budget it is of course very valid to go for a monoCCD, dedicated astrographs, etc. But then I would view it as somewhat silly to use a modded DSLR on an astroOTA+mount costing more than $25k. Why would one compromise on the camera after having spent so much on the mount and OTA? Horses for courses. Each tool has its role. Even semiAPOs make good starter visual+imaging OTAs. Ditto for alt-az mounted SCTs, but we soon learn the shortcomings, and upgrading step-by-step from these highly compromised starter packages generally ends up being more expensive than a jump-upgrade to less compromised packages.

#14 Samir Kharusi

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 11:52 PM

Samir -

OOC, are you recommending the macros because they're fast lenses, or is there some other aspect of these macro lenses that makes them preferable for AP?


Since the OP owned so many DSLRs, it's obvious that he is a collector of toys (like me). One day he will probably want to add a macro lens. The old myths were that macro lenses are lousy at infinity. True for the older designs, like the Canon 100mm/2.8macro nonUSM. However, the newer designs, like the two macros I mentioned are excellent for astro, specifically, the Canon EF 100mm/2.8macro USM (that I own) and the Canon EF 180mm/3.5L (that a fellow I trust assured me of). Reason I mentioned these focal lengths is that one also gets tempted by the much cheaper Canon EF 100mm/2.0 (most use it closed down to 2.8 for astro) and the Canon 200mm/2.8 L II but I hate doubling up on focal lengths, so if I have the macro I skip the other ;)

#15 srosenfraz

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 02:59 AM

Thank you very much for this info, Samir. Do I understand correctly that you're saying that the EF 100mm f/2.0 (stopped to f/2.8) is generally comparable to the EF 100m/2.8 macro USM for astro work, and that your recommendation for the macro is because it has increased versatility (i.e., it has the additional macro capability)?

#16 Brad Greig

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:19 PM

Thanks, Brent. I love getting different opinions.

I think I'm leaning strongly toward the Atlas. Sounds like 5D3 is a given. I've been curious about the imaging Newts I have been seeing over the years. Sounds like one of those should be on the list as well.

Since you seems to know a thing or two about modding cameras... How does an aftermarket mod on a 60D compare to the 60Da? Assuming it would be used for AP only.

Thanks again, I appreciate all of the advice!

Brad

#17 Brad Greig

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:26 PM

Since the OP owned so many DSLRs, it's obvious that he is a collector of toys (like me). One day he will probably want to add a macro lens.


You hit the nail on the head with that statement. I've been eyeing the 100L macro for quite a while, also.

I know you prefer primes, but have you ever tried imaging with the newer zooms? The first camera lens I'd be able to try to image with will likely be the 70-200L II. It's such a great lens, I'm hopeful the results would be decent.

Thanks!

Brad

#18 Samir Kharusi

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 08:26 AM

A long time back I decided that my nonserious daytime photography is best done using a Canon G-series camera. They are excellent value and using Raw produces excellent snapshots. I use my DSLRs for "serious" photography, and I do not wish to compromise on image quality by using a zoom, for daytime or astro, even though I do own a few of them. I have done a considerable amount of chart testing of Canon lenses. My conclusions are that any Canon lens for which the Canon MTF published chart shows 70+% at 30 lp/mm across the relevant image circle (43mm diameter for full 35mm format and 27mm for the 1.6x crop cameras) is good enough to produce a satisfactory A2-sized print from 35mm format DSLRs or an A3-sized print from a 1.6x crop sensor. Most of the long tele-primes deliver that MTF wide open, some struggle at 60 to 65% (thus indicating you may have to close down half an f-stop or even a full f-stop to get even coverage all over the frame). But very often we are willing to sacrifice the frame edges, hence we may choose not to close down, depending on subject matter. I find my conclusions applicable to all the Canon lenses I owned and checked, zooms and nonzooms. It's also notable that dead on-axis, at f5.6 or f8 practically all the Canon lenses deliver an MTF of 70+%. More on Canon MTF here. You will have to search Canon's websites for the more recently introduced lenses. E.g. the 70-200L II has its MTF data available here. Without ever having handled the lens I would expect that for astro I would have to close it down to f5.6 at 70mm and f4 at 200mm and also to be less ambitious with print size (perhaps at best an A3 from full 35mm format, rather than A2). In contrast, the absurdly priced 200mm/2L IS has much better MTF even at f2.0, here.






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