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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3K

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#1 tim53

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 09:51 PM

Hey, it was cheap! $206 on clearance at Wal Mart (display model, complete and clean). Came with standard accessories and 14-42 zoom lens.

I've searched here, and haven't seen much talk about this camera or other 4/3s cameras being used for astrophotography. But am curious if there are any who're using this camera, what their results have been.

If it's a "loss" for astrophotography, I'm not concerned, as one of the primary reasons for getting it was to try adapting my Konica Hexanon and Exakta Zeiss lenses to a digital camera, and there are adapters that let me do it with this puppy.

"Flummoxed by Lumix",
-Tim.

#2 mmalik

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:11 AM

I've searched here, and haven't seen much talk about this camera or other 4/3s cameras being used for astrophotography.


What does that tell you :)


["Blown away by canon..."]

#3 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 08:41 AM

I've searched here, and haven't seen much talk about this camera or other 4/3s cameras being used for astrophotography.


What does that tell you :)


["Blown away by canon..."]


That says that most people are not willing to try something new and that is why Canon has sold the same camera for four years with just a new name every time. They know that most people in AP won't even consider that something else could be better.

That being said the GF3 is not the best choice for Astro Photography among the Panasonic m4/3s cameras. I believe it is one of the cameras that either doesn't have a bulb mode at all or has a bulb mode that is limited to 2 minutes and 8 seconds.

In addition it has the original 12 megapixel Panasonic sensor that really wasn't good for high ISO long exposures.

The original 14-42mm lens is pretty much the worst m4/3s lens they made. They have made 4 versions of it since then and the latest one is actually pretty good.

Overall that wouldn't be the camera I would have purchased even at $200. The GF1 can be purchased for less than that used on ebay and it will do 4 minutes and 16 seconds in Bulb mode and it has the exact same sensor. You can get the GF1 modified to full spectrum by lifepixel.com and do some really cool infrared photos and AP with it.

If you want to get into AP or everyday shooting with micro four thirds cameras then the upcoming GF6 that will be released next month is probably the best value. It simply is a much better camera than any of its predecessors and it has a somewhat reasonable price at $599.

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B00C97ZZ...

The Panasonic GH3 and Olympus OMD EM-5 are the best m4/3s cameras for AP. However, those cameras are much more expensive and probably overkill for what you want to do.

Here is a video I did about using manual focus legacy glass on m4/3s cameras. That should get you started with setting up your camera to use the old glass you have.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=7FPbqhFt_oY

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=1cZ-w1qWdJY

#4 ToxMan

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:54 AM

I've been using an Olympus E-PL3. Funny thing. I got it, thinking it would fit nicely on a Hyperstar lens with a C8. (A small camera body in a small obstruction cone.) I haven't gotten around to trying it. A buddy has the lens and is not using it. Just need to get it and set up to try it. Some day...

But, it has done a nice job on some subjects, ie transit of Venus, May '12 annular eclipse, partial lunar eclipse, Comet PAN-Starrs. For wide-field AP of the Milky Way, it seems ok for single shots, like 14mm, f4.0 for up to 2 minutes exposure. Then, noise becomes more of a problem. So, I keep the ISO to no greater than 400, usually using ISO 200. You can see these examples at my Astrobin gallery. My Gallery

Also, their zoom lenses cause star coma around the edges that is pretty bad. I've still got some experimenting to do with it for deep sky and stacking multiple images. My mount introduces tracking errors at higher magnifications. So, I've got "bugs" to work out. Some day...

The biggest drawback is not having something like Backyard EOS to operate the camera and get a live view on the computer. The best I can do is use the video cable for a preview on a TV screen. Then, I have to switch cables to the remote release. Not very handy.

As I see it. Canon seems to be the easiest to adapt and use. The other cameras have difficulties and challenges that some folks probably don't want to have to work through.

#5 nine44

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:00 AM

Hey, it was cheap! $206 on clearance at Wal Mart (display model, complete and clean). Came with standard accessories and 14-42 zoom lens.

I've searched here, and haven't seen much talk about this camera or other 4/3s cameras being used for astrophotography. But am curious if there are any who're using this camera, what their results have been.

If it's a "loss" for astrophotography, I'm not concerned, as one of the primary reasons for getting it was to try adapting my Konica Hexanon and Exakta Zeiss lenses to a digital camera, and there are adapters that let me do it with this puppy.

"Flummoxed by Lumix",
-Tim.


I think the resaon Canon is so common in AP is because a software community has formed around it. There are alot of really helpful software programs that interface with Canon cameras directly and make AP SO much easier.

For those who insist on charting a different path, new learnings may come out of the experience. But it is safe to say that the experience will be alot more frustrating than using the terrific software programs developed for Canon cameras. Frustrating to the point that many will just give up on AP.

#6 tim53

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:29 AM

I've searched here, and haven't seen much talk about this camera or other 4/3s cameras being used for astrophotography.


What does that tell you :)


["Blown away by canon..."]


That says that most people are not willing to try something new and that is why Canon has sold the same camera for four years with just a new name every time.


That's what it tells me as well. I've done limited astrophotography with my Canon T1i, and while it CAN take good astrophotos (I'm not experienced as many here, of course), it's a RPITA ("Royal") doing so. I actually find myself missing the days of film. My Konica TC is lighter and more compact than the Canon, and a lot easier to mount and balance on a telescope. And it's 40 years old!

They know that most people in AP won't even consider that something else could be better.

That being said the GF3 is not the best choice for Astro Photography among the Panasonic m4/3s cameras. I believe it is one of the cameras that either doesn't have a bulb mode at all or has a bulb mode that is limited to 2 minutes and 8 seconds.


I haven't gone through the manual or fully charged the battery yet because I don't have a memory card or the Exakta and Konica lens adapters yet (ordered yesterday), but one of the reviews I read says it can take bulb exposures up to 4 minutes long.

In addition it has the original 12 megapixel Panasonic sensor that really wasn't good for high ISO long exposures.


This is a big deal, of course. I may end up using the camera for daylight imaging then, or perhaps some planetary videography. But I like the concept of the ILCs without the damned flip mirror and the bulk, weight, and vibration that goes with it. So I'll still probably look toward replacing the Canon with an ILC with a more sensitive chip and greater exposure flexibility. Or a dedicated astro camera for that work (I do have an SBIG ST2000, and while it is a good camera, it's even bulkier and more cumbersome than the Canon, so it doesn't get used much on my "grab and go" expeditions to dark skies with small telescopes/mounts).

The original 14-42mm lens is pretty much the worst m4/3s lens they made. They have made 4 versions of it since then and the latest one is actually pretty good.


How do you tell them apart? Mine says "G Vario 1:3.5-5.6/14-42 ASPH. [phi]52 Mega O.I.S." My Konica lenses are a lot faster, the 50mm being an f/1.7 or 1.8. Even my Meyer Optik 300mm telephoto is f/5.6, and very sharp. It's huge, though. The Lumix will look like a marble on a basketball by comparison.

Overall that wouldn't be the camera I would have purchased even at $200. The GF1 can be purchased for less than that used on ebay and it will do 4 minutes and 16 seconds in Bulb mode and it has the exact same sensor. You can get the GF1 modified to full spectrum by lifepixel.com and do some really cool infrared photos and AP with it.

If you want to get into AP or everyday shooting with micro four thirds cameras then the upcoming GF6 that will be released next month is probably the best value. It simply is a much better camera than any of its predecessors and it has a somewhat reasonable price at $599.


I'll look at this. I've also been interested in the Oly OMD. Possibly mainly because of it's sensor IS, so even my old SLR lenses will be stabilized with it. Also interested in the Sony RX-1 because of its 35mm chip, though at $3000, I'm not likely to buy one soon, or even before a dedicated, cooled astro camera.

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B00C97ZZ...

The Panasonic GH3 and Olympus OMD EM-5 are the best m4/3s cameras for AP. However, those cameras are much more expensive and probably overkill for what you want to do.


For now, perhaps. And I do have the Canon. It's just that I'm also primarily a Mac person, and the software available for AP with the Canon is rather limited and/or quite buggy.

Here is a video I did about using manual focus legacy glass on m4/3s cameras. That should get you started with setting up your camera to use the old glass you have.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=7FPbqhFt_oY

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=1cZ-w1qWdJY


Thanks! I'll check these out.

-Tim.

#7 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:42 AM


The biggest drawback is not having something like Backyard EOS to operate the camera and get a live view on the computer. The best I can do is use the video cable for a preview on a TV screen. Then, I have to switch cables to the remote release. Not very handy.

As I see it. Canon seems to be the easiest to adapt and use. The other cameras have difficulties and challenges that some folks probably don't want to have to work through.


The Panasonic m4/3s cameras and the Olympus OMD cameras have a much better live view for AP than the regular Olympus cameras do.

Have you tried a Panasonic m4/3s camera or the Olympus OMD? With all of them you can put it in shutter preview mode and control the live view duration up to 8 seconds and any ISO. That is similar to what Magic Lantern can do for some Canon cameras. However, it is much simpler to operate.

Personally I don’t like hooking the computer up to the scope at all. With the Panasonic cameras I can align, Polar Align, Set my focus perfectly, and observe all without ever removing the camera from the scope or hooking any computers up to it. Basically everything that is in Back Yard EOS is in the Panasonic m4/3s cameras. The Olympus cameras have some of that but not everything.

One of the biggest issues is that everyone seems to think that all cameras are created equal. They test one m4/3s camera and assume that they are all the same. In a lot of cases the older Panasonic cameras were better than the ones that came after them. That all changed with the G5 though. The newest ones are best in their class.

#8 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:43 AM

Hey, it was cheap! $206 on clearance at Wal Mart (display model, complete and clean). Came with standard accessories and 14-42 zoom lens.

I've searched here, and haven't seen much talk about this camera or other 4/3s cameras being used for astrophotography. But am curious if there are any who're using this camera, what their results have been.

If it's a "loss" for astrophotography, I'm not concerned, as one of the primary reasons for getting it was to try adapting my Konica Hexanon and Exakta Zeiss lenses to a digital camera, and there are adapters that let me do it with this puppy.

"Flummoxed by Lumix",
-Tim.


I think the resaon Canon is so common in AP is because a software community has formed around it. There are alot of really helpful software programs that interface with Canon cameras directly and make AP SO much easier.

For those who insist on charting a different path, new learnings may come out of the experience. But it is safe to say that the experience will be alot more frustrating than using the terrific software programs developed for Canon cameras. Frustrating to the point that many will just give up on AP.


Why would you want to hook up a computer and run all of the software when other cameras have everything already built-in to them? You just need to know which camera to pick.

#9 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:51 AM


I haven't gone through the manual or fully charged the battery yet because I don't have a memory card or the Exakta and Konica lens adapters yet (ordered yesterday), but one of the reviews I read says it can take bulb exposures up to 4 minutes long.

How do you tell them apart? Mine says "G Vario 1:3.5-5.6/14-42 ASPH. [phi]52 Mega O.I.S." My Konica lenses are a lot faster, the 50mm being an f/1.7 or 1.8. Even my Meyer Optik 300mm telephoto is f/5.6, and very sharp. It's huge, though. The Lumix will look like a marble on a basketball by comparison.

I'll look at this. I've also been interested in the Oly OMD. Possibly mainly because of it's sensor IS, so even my old SLR lenses will be stabilized with it. Also interested in the Sony RX-1 because of its 35mm chip, though at $3000, I'm not likely to buy one soon, or even before a dedicated, cooled astro camera.

Thanks! I'll check these out.

-Tim.


I checked the GF3 manual and it does not indicate that it has a bulb mode at all. There is one other place that I check. However, I think that you will find that you are limited to 1 minute exposures.

The newest version of the 14-42mm is not out yet. That is the only one worth getting. All of the other versions did not have good optics. The original 14-45mm was excellent. Then they started making the lenses smaller and the optics really got pretty bad. However, the newest version is small, light, and has very good optics like the original 14-45mm did.

The built in image stabilization in the OMD camera is top notch. I wouldn't hesitate to get that camera for use with legacy MF lenses. It should be very good for AP as well.

#10 tim53

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 11:04 AM

Interesting. Well, I guess I wasn't expecting much with the 14/42 lens. For my T1i, I have the 18-55 (iirc) that comes with, plus a 70-255 (again iirc) that I bought subsequently. I find the full zoom positions to be awful for ap. the 200 has round stars at one corner, and progressively distorted stars across the field.

Tim

#11 tim53

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 12:05 PM

Why would you want to hook up a computer and run all of the software when other cameras have everything already built-in to them? You just need to know which camera to pick.


Someone (other than me! :grin:) should write a review or article for CN about this! I still don't feel bad having chosen the GF3 (it was the only ILC they had at the store, and was marked down a couple times since they were clearing out all their inventory), because for $200 I get to stick my toes into ILC photography and pull my Konica and Exakta lenses out of mothballs to play with again in the digital age. That alone is a huge plus for me.

But I know little about using modern digital cameras for AP. I do have an SBIG, as I mentioned, plus a number of firewire cameras, mostly machine vision cameras from Pt Grey, and a couple of DSIs. The Pt Greys aren't cooled, of course, but I can take 60 minute exposures with them using Astro IIDC to run them. And I have taken good images up to 5 minutes long with them at our dark sky site when it's been cold outside.

I don't mind tethering to a computer, but it would be nice to be able to leave the computer indoors at times. I like the idea that I might be able to do everything with the camera's LCD screen, because a lot of futzing with polar alignment and object centering via switching between camera and eyepiece, or flipping flip mirrors could be cheerfully avoided that way.

But I really would like to see some comparisons between ILCs available today (not just m4/3s, but even full-framers like the RX-1, though that's pretty expensive), so that when I "finally" do make a purchase specifically for AP (assuming I do that instead of buying another, smaller dedicated astrocamera), I'll have a better idea of how to make an intelligent selection.

-Tim.

#12 tim53

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:15 PM

Some lenses I'm eagerly anticipating using again:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

I even have a slide copier I bought for the Konica Autoreflex TC (probably a vivitar) not long before the winding mechanism in the body stripped and I replaced it with a Nikon 5005. So I never used the slide copier, but have thousands of slides I would love to be able to digitize, including some film astrophotos (if I can find them).


Posted Image
(I actually have two of these cameras - one inherited from my grandfather and the other I found at the swap meet a couple years ago.

[image]http://www.rockycameras.com/ekmps/shops/rockcameras/images/carl-zeiss-jena-flektogon-35mm-f2.8-lens-exakta-49.99-23517-p[ekm]500x375[ekm].jpg[/image]

This was my favorite lens until it developed a fungus on one of the internal surfaces, and I don't know if it can be saved.

Posted Image

I haven't looked at this lens in a long time, because I haven't had anything to mount it on, so I may be remembering it wrong (I thought mine was an f/5.6), but this is the closest thing to what I have that I could find on the internet. Years ago, I took pics of the head of comet Hyakutake with this lens on the Exakta VX1000, and I found it good for astrophotography. I should look to see if I can find that image somewhere, as I scanned it and posted it on a Comet watch page at the time.

My grandfather had a number of other accessories with his Exakta, including a macro lens attachment for the 50mm lens that I've fiddled with and found interesting for REALLY close up photography of flowers, bugs and stuff like that.

I'm just really glad I can use my old lenses again, rather than spending thousands of dollars on new ones to replace them.

ILCs make sense, DSLRs don't, frankly, since the mirror was only needed because you couldn't see what the film saw any other way. Now, of course, you can.

-Tim.

#13 tim53

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:18 PM

Those pics are from the internet, of course. When I get my adapters and start playing with the GF3, I'll post pics of it with my own lenses mounted on it!

-Tim.

#14 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:47 PM

I had a bunch of Konica glass. I had a 57mm F1.4, and a few others. I had trouble with the Konica to m4/3s mount though. It seemed like there wasn’t anything to lock the lens to the adapters I had. If you turned the focus ring it would unscrew the lens from the mount.

I am not sure if there was a problem with my lenses, my adapter, or just a general design malfunction. However, I never used those lenses because of it. Even though I knew they were fantastic glass.

Manual focus with M4/3s is great. I used to for video and stills for years. However, they finally came out with a 45mm F1.8 and 35-100mm F2.8 native m4/3s lenses so I just couldn’t justify using manual focus anymore. The good m4/3s lenses are not cheap. However, they make everything so easy that I couldn’t resist.

Ironically, I sold all of my m4/3s lenses to a camera store in exchange for my telescope. Best trade I ever made.

#15 nine44

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:52 PM


Why would you want to hook up a computer and run all of the software when other cameras have everything already built-in to them? You just need to know which camera to pick.


Wow. Do the Lumix cameras plate solve an image, automatically calculate the mount position and then communicate with the telescope mount to slew automatically to a target like AstroTortilla does?

#16 tim53

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 04:04 PM

Astro who?

See? There's a lot I don't know about!

-Tim.

#17 tim53

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 03:53 PM

Hokay, I had a chance to play with this camera in a dark sky this past week when I went to our property in Milford, Utah for some AP through my Tak Epsilon 130.

I couldn't adapt the Lumix to the 130, so I mounted it piggyback and shot through that really nice old Konica 135mm telephoto

Here's my best random sky shot, taken somewhere around Sagittarius, resized to load here. I don't know how to turn off the in-camera noise reduction (assuming I can), so I have done nothing to the image other than a curves and levels stretch and color balancing.

The GF3 can only take up to 60" exposures in Manual mode. There is no bulb mode.

My main AP focus (pun intended) was on learning how to use BYEOS, which I downloaded recently to run in Windows 7 via VMWare Fusion on my Macbook Pro. I really like that software. Makes imaging as much of a breeze as it can be. I'd like to know if you can do automatic dark and flat correction in BYEOS or if you need to do that with other software and later. I just downloaded version 2.8 of The Gimp, and it seems to have a dark frame correction feature, but I couldn't get it to work.

Anyway, my overall feeling about these two cameras is that I wish the software was available for the mirrorless ILC cameras like it is for the Canons. I find the Canon works reasonably well, but it's a big clunky dinosaur - bigger than my Konica film cameras (though lighter, perhaps). Having the mirror flipping open and closed seems archaic in the digital age. For daylight use (or for AP without a computer) it's nice to have a viewfinder for focusing (I'm 60 and even my bifocals don't let me get my head closer than a foot and a half or so away from the viewscreen, so critical focus is time consuming with one on the Canon and the Panasonic).

I much prefer tethering the camera to a computer where I can more easily zoom in to focus. But I can see where there might be times one wants to travel light by taking only a scope and camera. My Tak 130 is on a 1985 EM-1 mount that I ran off 4 D-cell batteries for 4 nights at about 4 hours/night average, and I never had to change batteries. Both cameras made it the same length of time on one charge. Though the Lumix started without a full charge, it only gave me the low battery warning on the last night when I was switching to the Canon through the scope anyway.

Focusing is a pain with either camera, though. I found I needed a fairly bright star to focus at all, which usually required swinging to a focus star and then back to the object I was interested in imaging. If there's a way to increase the exposure time of the focus frame in BYEOS, I didn't find it. The brightness and contrast buttons did nothing but brighten the background to gray when I tried those.

That the Lumix can take old lenses from my film cameras is a gigantic plus for me. I will probably upgrade from the GF3 at some point to a micro 4/3rds camera with more capabilities (especially exposure duration) and keep the GF3 for daytime uses and planetary video imaging (where I suspect either camera will shine, but I haven't tried that yet).

But seriously, is there any software out there to tether and control an ILC to a computer? (Both the "pict bridge" and "PC" USB options seem to get me straight to iPhoto for downloading the images).

Thanks in advance,
-Tim.

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#18 Falcon-

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 04:06 PM

I'd like to know if you can do automatic dark and flat correction in BYEOS or if you need to do that with other software and later. I just downloaded version 2.8 of The Gimp, and it seems to have a dark frame correction feature, but I couldn't get it to work.


BYEOS is a capture tool only, so you will have to do the calibration in other software. GIMP however is *not* that software! There are a quite a few options but here are the three I use or have used

- Deep Sky Stacker (aka DSS): Windows only, FREE, nicely automated. Does calibration and stacking only, no post-processing.
- Nebulosity: Windows or Mac OS X, inexpensive, not as automated as DSS but does have some post-processing abilities
- PixInsight: Windows or Mac OS X, medium priced, high learning curve but very powerful in both calibration and post-processing

I am fairly sure all three of those work with dcraw under the hood so they may be able to use the Lumix RAW files and they certainly suport the Canon RAW files. Both Neb and Pixinsight have demo/trial versions so you can give em a try. :)

Alas none of those solve the tethered shooting ability gap for the DMC-GF3K.

#19 tim53

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 05:53 PM

Interesting.

I have nebulosity and used it some last year when I last used the canon for ap. I couldn't figure out how to lock the mirror up and so I'd accented to use the "hat trick" to take pics without getting squiggles for stars. It would constantly flip the mirror even while focusing. That also drained the battery quickly.

I'll need to experiment in town some more. I live close to downtown LA, so mostly I image planets.

Tim

#20 ccs_hello

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 07:28 PM

Panny's Lumix division has not released a SDK for tethered control/shooting/capture.
Users pressure / feedback to the factory is the way to make things happening.
Until then ...

#21 tim53

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 09:09 PM

How about Sony or Oly?

Tim

#22 ccs_hello

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 09:17 PM

Tim,

Sony is the same story.

However, Oly does have one:
http://developer.oly...om/cameras.html But seems to be DSLR only.
But I am not familiar with any program (do not have an Oly MILC yet :) )

E-P5 (Wifi tethered shooting is an exception...)


Clear Skies!

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#23 Falcon-

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 12:49 AM

Tim: I was actually suggesting Nebulosity for it's processing abilities rather then it's capture abilities. BackyardEOS does beat Neb for capture no doubt. :)

Annoying about the lack of remote shooting (and in some case lack of long bulb mode exposures) on all those nice little mirror-less cameras 'eh? I think that lack in the Canon EOS-M is particularly egregious given they would likely have to make an effort to disable that ability. <muttering> Stupid market segmentation driving product crippling....

#24 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 01:57 PM

Tim: I was actually suggesting Nebulosity for it's processing abilities rather then it's capture abilities. BackyardEOS does beat Neb for capture no doubt. :)

Annoying about the lack of remote shooting (and in some case lack of long bulb mode exposures) on all those nice little mirror-less cameras 'eh? I think that lack in the Canon EOS-M is particularly egregious given they would likely have to make an effort to disable that ability. <muttering> Stupid market segmentation driving product crippling....


The biggest problem are generalizations like this “on ALL those nice little mirror-less cameras”. While it is true that MOST mirrorless cameras lack a usable bulb mode. There are a select few inexpensive Panasonic and Olympus cameras that can do up to 4 minutes and 16 seconds of bulb time which is usually sufficient.

The Panasonic GF1, G2, and GH1 can do up to 4 minutes and 16 seconds. The Panasonic GH3 and all of the newest Olympus cameras can do much longer exposures.

#25 Falcon-

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    Aurora

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 03:25 PM

Travis: True, I should have said "so many" instead of "all" - generalizations do tend to a good way to be incorrect.

That said the two most common exposure lengths I shoot at are 5mins (for f/6 optics) and 10mins (for f/9 or f/10 optics) so for me 4min16s is alas not sufficient :(






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