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Canon T3i Lenses for Time Lapse Astrophotography?

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#1 AXAF

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:45 PM

Hi all:

I just picked up a Canon T3i with the 18-55mm kit lens. What would be a suitable lens to go with for time lapse imaging of the night sky? I'm thinking of fields of view which would capture wide fields of the summer Milky Way, for example. Any suggestions of decent zoom lenses, Canon or otherwise?

Thanks in advance,

Gary

#2 CA Stargazer

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:57 PM

That kit lens will do just fine for starters.
Have you been to Jerry's site? Great resource/sample images for all things DSLR astrophotography.
http://www.astropix....TROP/LENSES.HTM

When you're ready for some more advanced functions,
Research Magic lantern for your T3i.
Built-in intervalometer and automated exposure functions, including time-lapse video within the camera itself, no laptop required!

#3 vmsguy

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 12:05 AM

Gary,

I have the Tokina 11-16mm /f2.8 lens. It is a very good lens. I use Magic Lantern to control the camera. There is a mode to allow taking video at 1 frame / 5 seconds. This is a nice feature if you don't need longer exposures, because you don't need to build a avi from stills.

Here is an example of the Tokina and the FPS override feature of Magic Lantern.
http://www.youtube.c...1&v=abLib19kSQU

#4 AXAF

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 12:19 AM

Thanks for the great advice. And, yep, I just installed Magic Lantern. I can't wait to try it out. It has so many cool features!

~Gary

#5 Coliwabl

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:45 PM

It depends on how much of a view you want. Wide to narrow. The lens kit you have will work but you might have a difficult time getting well focused shots because the 18-55 is historically a lower quality lens. Your best bet would be to get an f/2.8 lens. Canon and Sigma make some great lenses in this category. They are expensive but as you get more serious about astrophotography you will be happy you have one.

#6 Dustin S

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:55 AM

The 18-55 is good for starting out. The only thing I can say is to stop it down to like f5.6 or 6. It will help make the stars sharper and have less color fringe. Also, if you're shooting in the cold, using dew heaters or making one from a battery and resisters will help you make the lens last longer before it frosts/dews over.

#7 AXAF

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:53 PM

Gary,

I have the Tokina 11-16mm /f2.8 lens. It is a very good lens. I use Magic Lantern to control the camera. There is a mode to allow taking video at 1 frame / 5 seconds. This is a nice feature if you don't need longer exposures, because you don't need to build a avi from stills.

Here is an example of the Tokina and the FPS override feature of Magic Lantern.
http://www.youtube.c...1&v=abLib19kSQU

Thanks, Brent. So what sort of software tools are required to process the frames to form the time lapse, if any? Nothing as costly as Photoshop, I am hoping. The Gimp, perhaps?

~Gary

#8 Alex McConahay

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 03:13 PM

If you are for sure going to use it only for time lapse, you may want to do the following:

Adjust the color balance to get good true colors. Simple daylight probably will not work. YOu need to experiment a little for your sky, but cool it down to the 3200-3600 range usually. Then shoot smaller jpgs and let the camera do the processing. You do not need RAWS because you are not, probably, going to do as much processing as you would do for regular deep space shots. And you simply do not need them that big.

Then Windows Movie Maker will do the rest of the job.

Now, there are plenty of fancier options, but the above will get it done on the cheap.

Alex

#9 vmsguy

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 07:39 PM

Gary,

For the Magic Lantern fps override there is nothing to do but play the video. If the camera "thinks" it is shooting 24 fps, the video will play back at 24fps, even though the ML fps override is set to .2 fps.

When I need longer than 5 seconds, the easy method is to use small fine jpg setting, and then use any of the free jpg to avi converters to stitch together the avi file. You can also shoot in raw if you want to preprocess the raws into jpgs if you want/need to tweak the still before making the movie.

Brent

#10 Toxic Coolaid

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 10:57 PM

I have the Tokina 11-16mm /f2.8 lens. It is a very good lens.


x2 I really like the Tokina. Great lens for the price.

#11 tclehman1969

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 04:44 AM

The kit lens is a pretty good lens for what it is. But, as mentioned by Dustin S, you should stop it down couple stops. I also have a 50mm f1.8 prime which is quite nice to use. I also recently purchased the 17-50mm f2.8 throughout the focal range by Tamron. At 17mm the field of view is quite wide and came out nicely for a quick test shot. The Tamron glass is also pretty good. It's a definite upgrade to the Canon kit lens.

On the T3i, a 50mm is about the equivalent of a 80mm in 35mm format, the 17-50mm about 27-80mm in 35mm format.

#12 AXAF

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 03:28 PM

All excellent advice. Now as a practical matter, how do you kep your camera powered in the field? If I need to take a few hundred frames, I gather that the battery will drain pretty quickly, more so if it's very cold. Do you use the Canon battery that ties into an AC source?

I played around with some dummy frames, and concatenated them into a short test film with a 24 frame per minute frame rate. So all I need now is for the weather to cooperate, and a way to keep the camera powered for an hour or two out in the field.

~Gary

#13 vmsguy

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 04:14 PM

Gary,

I can get 2-3 hours off of a single battery if I keep the LCD display turn off.
I use a 3rd party battery grip that gets me 4-6 hours depending on the temperature.

The grip also came with a tray that takes AA alkaline batteries in an emergency.

Brent

#14 tclehman1969

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 01:18 AM

Batteries are an issue. I don't take much in the way of time lapse which can be a battery sucker. I usually am taking several long exposures during the night, but if I feel the battery condition is such that it won't get through another shot, I'll change it. But, that is way different than time lapse when you don't want to see the foreground move if you had to unmount the camera to change a battery during a time lapse. Not to mention the frames missed while getting things swapped.

My battery does last a good couple of hours but that is taking less than 10 images of 5 minutes or so. A couple hours of time lapse is significantly different. I would suggest a couple of options -- either the grip as suggested above; switching to a larger amp-hour battery (I believe the Canon battery is 1100 miliamps. I recently purchased some Wasabi Power batteries off Amazon for cheap and they are 1700 miliamp batteries and seem to be pretty long life); third option is the Canon power adapter. For time lapse, I wouldn't want battery issues killing what can be a lot of work, so I would go with the power adapter, personally.

#15 snowcrow

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 03:15 AM

You could try to rubberband a "Hand Warmer" on the camera to if that helps with battery life!?






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