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Newbie DSLR Settings, Wide Field, No Scope

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#1 Aeryck

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:31 PM

I have a Canon 1100D (EOS Rebel T3) and I also have a an intervalometer to use with it for the time lapse. So my question is, living in a Red Light area, and using the 18mm setting on the 18-55mm lens for it, what would be a good starting point for the ISO, aperture, exposure, delay settings?

I have looked through the forums and have seen a couple of other posts similar, as well as the one with a testing of settings, but nothing really definitive. I have an AC adapter to the camera, so battery life is not an issue, and since I won't be connecting it to the scope, I'm only interested in getting some wide field views of the sky.

I'm not new to either astronomy or photography, but have not really ventured into the realm of these wide night shots and would like to give it a go, so any suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks!

#2 Falcon-

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:48 PM

Exact settings should be tuned for your particular conditions but I can give you a few good guesses/starting points:

- For time-lapse you may actually want to shoot JPEG medium mode (however 99.9% of the time for astrophotography you will want to do RAW mode - this is about the only exception I can think of to this rule)

- Again, against all normal recommendations you may want to turn on Long Exposure Noise Reduction unless you want to do a star-trails image. (for anything *except* time-lapse you want this OFF).

- Set the ISO to 400 (I use ISO1600 on my 1000D and 350D but your 1100D has 14bit RAW so 400 may be fine)

- Set the aperture to f/5.6 (this is somewhat of a guess, but the optimum point for camera lenses is usually a couple stops down from wide open, and wide open for that lens at 18mm is f/3.5)

- Exposure time.... ok, this one is totally going to be a matter of trial and error. Try some exposure lengths to find out. Depending on light pollution levels and even how bright the stars are maximum useable exposures could be 10s or 3 minutes! Start out at 15s or 30s.

- Delay time: Does not really matter - up to you as to how you plan to do your time-lapse. I have done a couple time-lapse experiments where shot 1 image every 60s and others with shorter time periods.

#3 Falcon-

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:53 PM

Hmm... having posted that I am realizing I might have misunderstood. I assumed you are intending to make a time-lapse video out of your shots. If you are instead trying to do a wide-FOV single image the advice changes slightly:

- ISO400
- Exposure the same (use camera-back histogram to judge, expose so peak is 1/3 of the way from the left edge of the graph)
- Aperture to f/5.6
- Delay: none (or exactly the same as your exposure time depending on how your intervalometer works)
- Long Exposure Noise Reduction *OFF*
- Image mode to RAW

Have fun with it! :)

#4 Aeryck

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:59 PM

Great starting points for reference. Thanks! I don't have (to my knowledge with a T3 anyway) the ability to turn noise reduction off or on (correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think this camera has that ability).

This reminds me a lot of the days when I'd shoot pics of fireworks. However, that was film and the speeds were much different. :)

#5 Falcon-

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:20 PM

Yep - you do have both Long Exposure Noise Reduction and High Iso Noise Reduction. They are accessed from the Custom Functions screens.

http://www.imaging-r...ODS/T3/T3A5.HTM <- scroll down to the "Noise Reduction Options" section near the bottom.

In normal deep-sky imaging both want to be entirely off as taking your own Dark frames do a better job. If you do not plan to do Dark Frame capture this time around then you can have Long Exposure Noise Reduction on instead - just keep in mind the camera will take a pause exactly as long as the exposure was at the end of each exposure. (LENR has the camera take a single internal dark-frame and auto-apply it)

#6 Aeryck

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:36 PM

Aha! I found the noise reduction feature. Strike that last comment. :)

#7 srosenfraz

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 10:58 PM

So my question is, living in a Red Light area,


I believe a red light area is where one might find women of ill repute. I'd presume you're more likely imaging from a red zone - an area with a lot of light pollution.

:-)

Just kidding - couldn't resist.


and using the 18mm setting on the 18-55mm lens for it, what would be a good starting point for the ISO, aperture, exposure, delay settings?


As far as aperture - You'll want to try some short test shots (say, 30 seconds) wide open and then stopped down one or two stops. Look at the stars in the corner and decide what is acceptable to you. The kit lens is surprisingly sharp wide open, but can usually benefit a bit by stopping down a little. You'll just have to decide the tradeoff between sharpness versus more exposure time to offset higher f/ratios.

Sean's advice is very good - set your ISO for something like 400, and then try a few snaps at various exposure lengths until you have your histogram anywhere from 15% to 50% away from the left axis (preferably closer to the lower 15%). That will be quite workable exposures assuming your polar alignment and mount are adequate for that length of exposure.

One other thing - don't be overly concerned about ISO and exposure length. There are settings that will generally work better, but you'll find that you have to be WAY out of the norm before your data won't be quite usable. Again, look at your histogram - use that as a guide and don't worry about having those settings perfect.

Good luck with your first images - be sure to share them with us!

#8 Aeryck

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 11:27 PM

Oh yeah, red light zone. Talk about exposure and aperture! Lol. Of course you knew what I meant and my terms were not correct. Lol.

Thanks for the advice, and once I get it out there and some images, I'll definitely share. Very appreciative!

#9 Aeryck

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 01:58 PM

just keep in mind the camera will take a pause exactly as long as the exposure was at the end of each exposure. (LENR has the camera take a single internal dark-frame and auto-apply it)


Makes sense. That's what I was reading from the other posts, and the reason behind making a longer pause between each shot than the actual previous shot itself, due to the processing time of the dark frame, yes?

Thanks for the advice!

#10 Falcon-

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 04:13 PM

Yes - the camera takes a second exposure (but with the shutter CLOSED) to create the single dark frame. The actual applying of the internal-dark to the exposure takes only a fraction of a second.

So if you are doing 30s exposures it goes something like this:

- 30s exposure w/ shutter open
- Read sensor, Write exposure to RAM (nearly zero time)
- 30s exposure w/ shutter closed
- Read sensor, write dark frame to RAM, subtract dark frame from exposure (small fraction of a second)
- Write corrected exposure to SD Card (0.5 to 1.5s)

This internal dark frame *does* help reduce pattern noise such as hot pixels so it is better then nothing, but it also introduces a bit of extra random noise.

This is why we take many dark frames. When stacked to become a Master Dark frame the random noise component is nearly eliminated leaving only the clean pattern "noise".

So in nearly all situations it pays to simply take Dark frames. Even only 4 or 8 darks will be cleaner then the single dark of the in-camera Long Exposure Noise Reduction. LENR does have it's place - when taking single shots not intended to be stacked for example.

#11 avarakin

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 12:20 AM

Honestly results from Red zone would be pretty boring.
Drive just a little bit to a darker place, wait until summer Milky Way rises and you will get really spectacular images after stacking and processing. Best constellations to shoot are Cygnus and Sagittarius.
Exposure at 18mm should be about 20" for Cygnus and 10" for Sagittarius.
Depending on light pollution, ISO can be from 400 to 3200.

Alex

#12 Aeryck

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 09:33 AM

That's definitely a plan, for sure, to get to a darker site. We have a house at Anna Maria Island in the Gulf that we go to throughout the year, and besides the distant St. Petersburg lights, we can get to some dark areas around the island with the Gulf as the underdrop.

I experimented last night in my backyard and got some decent results at around 10-15 seconds at 400 ISO and f/5.6 of Orion and the Big Dipper asterism. Points were not very sharp after about 10 seconds, it seemed, and mostly the lens was racked to 18mm in the kit lens.

#13 Aeryck

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 08:00 PM

So here are a couple of first tries...

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

These were done with 20 second, 10 second, and 30 second exposures. All were at 18mm and f/5.7

#14 srosenfraz

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 09:39 PM

An excellent start!

#15 Aeryck

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 11:31 PM

Thank you! I can't believe I've waited so long to get into actually doing this. I've been doing the old school SLR photography for years, just not in the work of AP. New vistas await, and I'm getting started with it at nearly 40. Lol

#16 Falcon-

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 01:34 AM

Congrats on your first AP shots! :grin:

#17 KevinS

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 05:36 AM

I'm a newbie to DLSR (at age 50) and I found these resources at the Canon Learning Center. I studied, printed them and out and stuck them in my kit.

I have a question for the forum...
How long after I bought my new gear will it take to stop raining?

http://www.learn.usa...graphy_techn...

http://downloads.can...Quick_Guide.pdf

#18 Falcon-

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:51 AM

How long after I bought my new gear will it take to stop raining?

Oh not too long, you should be able to do some imaging in a couple years or so.

Unless you do something silly like buy a filter.... then it will be closer to 5 years. :grin:

#19 srosenfraz

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 01:36 PM

I'm a newbie to DLSR (at age 50) and I found these resources at the Canon Learning Center. I studied, printed them and out and stuck them in my kit.

I have a question for the forum...
How long after I bought my new gear will it take to stop raining?



You just have to wait until your gear is no longer new.


http://www.learn.usa...graphy_techn...




FYI, this article is by Jerry Lodriguss. If you liked the content in this article, you might want to know that he also has two excellent CD Books for people starting with AP. You might want to look at them:

A Beginner's Guide to DSLR Astrophotography

A Guide to Astrophotography with Digital SLR Cameras


The second book is the more "advanced" guide. Jerry has sample sections and Table of Contents on those web pages, so you can decide which book(s) may be helpful to you. I would guess that there's probably more of us that started our learning with these books than anything else.

#20 Erskin71

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:00 PM

What you have to be aware of is this. It's not only what you buy but it's also everything anyone buys within a 1000 mile radius of you.

Nice 1st captures also.

+1 for Jerry's site and books. I learned allot from them when starting.

#21 jsines

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:15 PM

I'm a newbie to DLSR (at age 50) and I found these resources at the Canon Learning Center. I studied, printed them and out and stuck them in my kit.

I have a question for the forum...
How long after I bought my new gear will it take to stop raining?



When I bought my mount and scope, I wasn't able to use it for a month. Then I only had 2 clear nights in the first 2 months after I bought it.






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