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just starting in DSLR AP....

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#1 dkbender

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 08:11 AM

I have 2 Nikon DSLR's.... a D700 & a D7000. I just ordered the CNC Supply True 2 integrated T-Ring + adapter. I'm familiar with regular photography image processing and realize I need to get some AP specific things like a stacking program, the Tether program and so forth.

What else do I need?

As you can see in my sig below, I have the 12" Dob that is unguided and the 100mm f/9 Apo on the AVX mount. At this point, I will probably try shooting a variety of things. For the Apo on the AVX mount, do I need a guide system? Or do I try shorter exposures and just stack? Is there any hope at setting up on the Dob?

Just trying to get some guidance from those that are experienced.

Many thanks!

#2 WillCarney

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 11:29 AM

You will need a Nikon remote controller so you don't have to touch the camera. I have a D40x and use the remote even to take shots with bulb. Deep Sky Stacker is free and good for most I have found it does not always work well. I've had plenty of pictures that would not stack at all under DSS but did stack just fine under Nebulosity3. It's not much cost and worth it. If you have a good polar alignment on your 100/AVX then shots up to a minute or greater can be done with no guiding. Guiding does help with a number of factors. Shooting with the large dob will not work except on the Moon or bright planets. Just too much motion with out drive. Nikon's are a good camera and I think actually have less noise than Canon. At least the one's I've tested and used. William

#3 GageCook

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 12:34 PM

I also am one of the few that use a Nikon... the D7000 actually. I'm also pretty new so we may be able to help each other out as we progress if you are interested. I tell you that it is much harder to find supporting software for a Nikon than it is for a Cannon. Nebulosity as far as I know will not work with Nikon. BackyardEOS will not work and many others. If you have the option and want to continue in AP, you may want to think about switching to Cannon. However, I have found some useful tools for Nikon. As mentioned above, you will need a hand remote so that you can use the camera in bulb mode. The best camera control software I have found for Nikon is ControlMyNikon. It is free for 14 days and only $30 to purchase. This will allow you to view the shot on your computer before you take the exposure. It also allows you to zoom in (digitally) to focus at higher levels. You can also change camera settings on the computer instead of touching the camera and potentially knocking it out of focus. Feel free to message me if you want.

#4 dkbender

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:45 PM

I should have mentioned, that I have the Hahnel Giga T Pro II, wireless timer control & remote. I use it for photography and it is excellent. Here's the manual pdf for the Giga T Pro II.... very programmable.

http://www.hahnel.ie...a T Pro II%2...

I have the AVX setup with a polar finder scope and I've mechanically centered it too. So, that works well. The AVX has some features I don't knopw how to use yet, having to do with periodic error correction. Not sure how that ties in. I also carry my GPS with me and load the precise long/lat into the AVX. I've thought about buying the Celestron GPS that just plugs straight into the control panel, just to make it easier.

I've got way too much invested in Nikon glass, to switch to Canon. So, I did a little snooping and found Image Plus supports my Nikon DSLR's.... http://www.mlunsold....eraControl.html

Here's freeware for tethering the Nikon DSLR to a laptop/notebook...
http://thephotogeek....ing-software...

The D700 has very low noise and the D7000 isn't far behind. Should be interesting to see how they do. Once I learn what I'm doing.

So, I figured the Dob was only good for Polaris and the Moon. ;-)

#5 mmalik

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:14 PM

...do I need a guide system? Or do I try shorter exposures and just stack? Is there any hope at setting up on the Dob?


Your Nikons will do but Canon will be better; once you get into serious imaging, you'll need to mod your camera for AP, but for now try what you have.

An example of a camera setup here...

You should be able to get by with short exposures, may be 10-20 sec for now; guiding will be needed for longer. ST-4 guiding setup overview in 'Appendix O' of this... doc.

APO will be better for imaging.

For the start, go just with the camera (no computer control), and a basic wireless remote, something like this...

Last but not least, some DSO settings in the 'Appendix J' of this... doc. Regards

#6 dkbender

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 05:27 PM

Thanks Mike!

I found your comment about Canon interesting, so I did a little searching and found a blurb in the FAQ's at Stark Labs about Nikon support for the software. It takes a lot more code. So, the Canon interface is easier to write code for. Not that the cameras are one better than the other, the aftermarket support is higher on Canon, because folks can handle writing code easier for it.

I've got the wireless Hahnel Giga T Pro remote for the cameras. I can even program intervals, do MUP and so forth.

I even have the Nikon TC-14e 1.4x teleconvertor that I can insert between the t-ring and the body.

I'll play around and see what happens.

I saw a post here from 2 yrs ago from Antimorris, where she used a D7000 to shoot M31 with 13x600s exposures and got a great image. First time out, only because her CCD was down and she wanted to image and had the camera available. She used no flats, no bias and typical post processing. I think that is a very good indication!

Here.... http://www.eprisepho...nikon-d7000.pdf

#7 waassaabee

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 07:04 PM

Forget AP and send me the money you would have spent.
You'll sleep much better....

#8 Falcon-

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 01:36 AM

I did a little searching and found a blurb in the FAQ's at Stark Labs about Nikon support for the software. It takes a lot more code. So, the Canon interface is easier to write code for. Not that the cameras are one better than the other, the aftermarket support is higher on Canon, because folks can handle writing code easier for it.


That seems to be a lot of why current-gen Nikon is still not as common as Canon in the AP world, but there is also a historical reason as well that created a lot of inertia in the community.

Back in the early days of DSLRs Nikon cameras had a built in noise reduction process that was automatically applied to all images and could not be turned off. Unfortunately this would sometimes decide that *stars* are noise and remove them. :foreheadslap: There are workarounds involving turning the camera off during the time the image is being written to the card, etc, but hardly easy or ideal to deal with. Combine that with Canon's already freely available SDKs and Canon's acknowledgement of the AP world with the 20Da and Canon DSLRs made up the vast majority of the DSLR-AP world.

At this point the Nikon cameras no longer have the "Star Eater" problem, image quality is on-par with Canon DSLRs for AP, and software to control Nikons is finally starting to become available (though still not as common or easy to find as Canon software) so there is no reason not to use your existing Nikon DSLRs.

If at some point in the futre you decide you want a modified DSLR (replacement UV/IR filter to greatly improve the red Hydrogen-Alpha response for emission nebulae) you may find it is easier to get a Canon DSLR modified (especially if looking at a used or pre-modified body) then a Nikon, but that is an entirely different topic. :)


So advice... The AVX and 100mm refractor should be a good combo. Get a good polar alignment (as already talked about) and you should be able to do short to medium length unguided exposures no problem. Getting a guiding setup down the road is certainly a possibility and will let you get longer exposures (deeper, fainter targets).

My main advice though is to make use of your camera lenses! Especially if you have any good sharp primes. There are *lots* of targets to be imaged with the wide FOVs that camera lenses provide. I regularly image using 300mm, 200mm, 135mm, 50mm and 28mm camera lenses myself.

Aside from there being interesting targets for those lenses, the wider FOV (shorter focal lengths) will also make minor tracking errors of your mount less noticeable so you will be able to use longer exposures without having to do guiding.

So what lenses do you have? :)

#9 dkbender

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 08:06 AM

Falcon,

Thanks for your response! That's what I needed to know.

I've been pretty good about getting a good polar alignment, especially since I mechanically centered the polar scope. It has the reticle with ursa major and for Polaris, the reticle has a little circle that you put it into. I think I can be fairly accurate about it. I've had the AVX mount out visually for 5 hours at a time and it's holding for that but I do realize, that imaging is a whole 'nother level of accuracy required.

Does the PEC work in conjunction with a guide star? I'm not familiar yet with how that works.

On the interesting Nikon lenses I have...

I have the AFS 300mm f/4D ED-IF. I shot the full Moon with it last year but I normally use it for birding.
Posted Image

That shot of the Moon was with just the 300mm but I also have the Nikon TC14E, 1.4x teleconverter that works really well with the 300mm for birding.

I also have the famous AFS 85mm f/1.4G lens, for portrait work... but because it is so fast and razor sharp, I could see how it would be interesting.

For WA, I have their equally famous, AFS 14-24mm f/2.8G, which is an amazing lens!

So, please tell me, do you just piggyback the DSLR to the scope on the mount with one of these lens and have at it?

#10 Falcon-

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 01:47 PM

Does the PEC work in conjunction with a guide star? I'm not familiar yet with how that works.


PEC records guiding corrections so that they can be automatically re-applied throughout the session, so yes to record PEC in the first place you need to be guiding the scope. Honestly in my mine PEC does not really matter these days - it was crucial in the days of film photography and manual guiding, not not so much any more. To get your PEC recorded you would need to manually guide (long focal length scope, good crosshair eyepiece, and patience!) for at least one full worm cycle. Once recorded it will generally correct out the worst of the periodic error in the rest of the session. Now of course you could use auto-guide equipment to record the PEC.... but if you have autoguide equipment you do not need to use PEC because you can just autoguide! :p This is why I would not bother with PEC myself, when it comes time to get guiding equipment just get an autoguide camera/scope.


On the interesting Nikon lenses I have...

I have the AFS 300mm f/4D ED-IF. I shot the full Moon with it last year but I normally use it for birding.

That shot of the Moon was with just the 300mm but I also have the Nikon TC14E, 1.4x teleconverter that works really well with the 300mm for birding.


That 300mm should do very well! Much of my early imaging was with a borrowed Canon EF 300mm f/4.0 L IS USM lens (likely similar to your AFS 300 f/4 ED-IF?) and it worked very well indeed. These days I use a couple of Tair-3 (300mm f/4.5) lenses as some of my primary imaging tools.

I used a Canon 1.4x TC once on the 300 L but if the Nikon one is similar to the Canon one you are probably best off just sticking with the stock 300mm.

Right now you can shoot targets like M42, M31, M33, and M45 with that focal length.

I also have the famous AFS 85mm f/1.4G lens, for portrait work... but because it is so fast and razor sharp, I could see how it would be interesting.


Sounds like another good option! :) It would require long exposures due to the stock UV/IR filter but should be able to frame in the Flame Nebula, Horsehead Nebula, and Orion nebula all in one shot with that lens. With auto-guide a similar shot from dark skies would be a good way to capture the larger diffuse orion molecular cloud!

For WA, I have their equally famous, AFS 14-24mm f/2.8G, which is an amazing lens!


Hopefully that one performs as well for AP as it (apparently) does for daylight photography. Astrophotography, being a field full of point-sources, is a horrible torture test for a lens's optics (any aberration/distortions become obvious). If the lens does perform well then it would be a good one for milky-way shots and whole-constellation shots. I have a 28mm m42 mount I use for that myself

So, please tell me, do you just piggyback the DSLR to the scope on the mount with one of these lens and have at it?


I do both. When I first started in AP I used a CG-5 mount (the predecessor that your AVX is an improved version of) and a camera alone, I had no scope to image with. These days I quote often run two cameras, either two camera lenses or a telescope with a camera lens piggybacked.

For direct mounting (without the scope) all you need is a dovetail bar with a 1/4-20 bolt set into it. There are a couple of sources for that, the ones I am linking are from ADM accessories - not the cheapest, but very nice high quality stuff. One nice way to do it is with the CDUP7-CM part here (second preview image) as that combines a nice stiff 1/4-20 mount with the dovetail. Alternately you can just get a dovetail by itself and supply your own tripod head. Perhaps the 4" or 7" bar (check how long the saddle of the AVX is - you want the bar to be slightly longer then the saddle so you can shift it a bit for balance adjustments). If you get the bar by itself email Anthony (the AD of ADM accessories) and ask about including a 1/4-20 mount bolt with the bar - I have found Anthony to be quite easy to talk to about minor things like that when I have ordered parts from him in the past.

For cheaper options check out Orion and ScopeStuff, they have some dovetail and/or camera-mount options buried in their selections (as do other sources).

For piggyback that depends on how your scope is setup up. I have a second dovetail bar on the top end of my scopes and then use the VCM version of the camera mount to connect the scope. In this shot here you can see a Tair-3 300 f/1.4 piggybacked in that way on my AT6RC scope.

#11 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 02:07 PM

Your Nikons will do but Canon will be better; once you get into serious imaging, you'll need to mod your camera for AP, but for now try what you have.


Why would the Canon be better? Purely looking at image quality Canon is last on the list. Every other camera company is ahead of it. Some cameras like those from Olympus and Panasonic can do everything without the need for a computer at all. In addition ALL cameras can be modified so that is not an issue.

I really hope that someday new users will be told the truth about what works and what doesn't and not just that Canon cameras are better because most people use them.

#12 dkbender

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 04:24 PM

Falcon,

Thanks for the explanation of PEC! Sounds tedious and I see why folks pay for an autoguide system and be done with it.

My 100mm Apo has rings that are drilled and tapped for 1/4-20 on the top. My 300mm lens has a lens collar and I have a Feisol QR plate on it. I'll just buy another Feisol dovetail and screw it into one of the ring 1/4-20 holes.... done!

I looked at your shots and they are quite good! Are they cropped a lot?? I don't have a sense yet of the size of things and what we have to work with.

The 14-24mm is used fairly often for milky way WA shots. In the Nikon Capture software, you can select to flatten its field curvature. Or... you can leave it alone for that effect also.

For prime focus, I have the CNC Supply True 2 Nikon adapter showing up any day now. I hope I can get the scope to balance with the camera mounted. Otherwise I'll need a longer dovetail.

I have shot 10's of thousands of frames in RAW and am used to processing those. I'll just need to get a stacking package and start to learn that side of it.

I have a good sense of using ISO-800 or so, take some dark shots for cal and so forth. And as mentioned earlier, I have a really good wireless remote for the camera that offers a lot of programming. I also know to lock the mirror up. I'll play around and see what happens!

Thanks again!

#13 Falcon-

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 09:49 PM

Thanks for the explanation of PEC! Sounds tedious and I see why folks pay for an autoguide system and be done with it.


Yes, but much *less* tedious then manually guiding for hours upon hours!! :grin:

With a mount with very smooth easy to correct error a good quality PEC recording can be enough to go un-guided entirely. While the AVX does have "PPEC" (Permanent Periodic Error Correction) so it does not have to be re-recorded very single time even so I doubt the AVX's period error is smooth enough for PEC to beat out auto-guiding. Plus PEC is for RA only so it will not help you with DEC drift due to polar alignment.


My 100mm Apo has rings that are drilled and tapped for 1/4-20 on the top. My 300mm lens has a lens collar and I have a Feisol QR plate on it. I'll just buy another Feisol dovetail and screw it into one of the ring 1/4-20 holes.... done!


Sounds good. If you find the 300mm is to heavy and the rings want to shift then a dovetail bridging the top of the two rings will give you extra stability.

I looked at your shots and they are quite good! Are they cropped a lot?? I don't have a sense yet of the size of things and what we have to work with.


Generally speaking nothing on my site is cropped except for some of the planetary images.

It was surprising to me to learn just how big some of these things are on the sky - M31 for example is *6* times wider then the full moon on the sky!

It is useful to look at the sizes of objects in a planetarium program. Some of them even let you input your camera sensor size and lens and/or telescope focal lengths to show you a preview of how things can be framed up. I use Stelarium for that - it is not the most full featured program for this, but it is quite good for a free app. On the more simple side this site here will let you figure out the FOV of any given scope/lens along with the arc-seconds per pixel resolution.

The 14-24mm is used fairly often for milky way WA shots. In the Nikon Capture software, you can select to flatten its field curvature. Or... you can leave it alone for that effect also.


You will likely want to leave that uncorrected at least at first. Proper calibration with Darks and Flats requires totally untouched RAW files to work correctly. After Calibration though if the software can still apply those corrections it may be useful, especially for attempting things like a large mosaic.

For prime focus, I have the CNC Supply True 2 Nikon adapter showing up any day now. I hope I can get the scope to balance with the camera mounted. Otherwise I'll need a longer dovetail.


That should work fine. Long term you may want a field flattener or a flattener/reducer for your scope to improve the star images at the edges (and with a reducer to get a wider FOV and faster focal ratio). If your scope does not balance as is you could also just add a bit of weight to the front of the tube somehow as a temporary fix.


I have shot 10's of thousands of frames in RAW and am used to processing those. I'll just need to get a stacking package and start to learn that side of it.

I'll play around and see what happens!


Best idea yet! :grin:

Have fun getting into AP!

#14 Falcon-

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 09:56 PM

Oh, one more tip for your camer lenses.

As I said AP is rather demanding of lenses - almost no lenses can be used well wide-open, most must be stopped down a few notches for best performance. Where that point is for your lenses depends on the specific lens design so you might have to do some experimenting to find your sweet spot.

For some of the lenses I have used:

Canon 50mm f/1.8: best at f/4 or f/4.5
Canon 300mm f/4 L: Actually worked fine wide open or at f/4.5!
Tair-3 300mm f/4.5: Best at f/6.3 or f/8

#15 SuperBlueNova

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 11:00 PM

It is useful to look at the sizes of objects in a planetarium program. Some of them even let you input your camera sensor size and lens and/or telescope focal lengths to show you a preview of how things can be framed up. I use Stelarium for that - it is not the most full featured program for this, but it is quite good for a free app.


What are the best apps for this? I have used Stelarium and believe it leaves a lot to be desired.

#16 terry59

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 05:49 AM

Hi Dave. You've gotten some good advice so far and very little Canon only drivel. The best program out there right now to control a Nikon is Sequence Generator Pro but it does much more as well. BackyardNik may well be great also when it comes out.

#17 dkbender

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 08:46 AM

Falcon,

You have been a fantastic help of getting me up the learning curve!

I get the PEC, PPEC thing now and I think when I'm ready, I'll just skip to Autoguide and PHD and be done with it.

I'll play around with both piggybacking and prime focus and report back as soon as I can when the hardware and software come together and I get my head around all of it.

The 14-24, at the 14mm end, probably can do most of the sky, if pointed straight up. I may not need to worry about mosaic with it. ;-)

In normal photography when we focus on a subject, we usually want the beautiful bokeh to make fore & background to melt away, so as to not distract from the subject. In AP, you want everything in focus. So, to your point, in my case the 300mm starts to get quite good at f/5.6, is much better at f/6.3 and is razor sharp at f/8. The 85mm f/1.4 is superb above f/2.8 and peaks at f/4. The 14-24mm is actually quite excellent at f/2.8 and then peaks at f/4.

Really excited about capturing some images now in these beautiful autumn skies.

I currently use Stellarium, don't know anything else at the moment but will look around. I actually have liked Stellarium up to this point but that is coming from a newbie.

Terry, thank you for alerting me to SGP! I have been on their webpage looking it over and for $99, it seems to be a no-brainer! I am also very close to pulling the trigger on Images Plus 5.5.

By the way, I downloaded DSLR Shutter last night and I also ordered the Shoestring DSUSB interface and cables I needed for both of my cameras. So, using some manual, primitive methods, it should at least allow me to capture some subs. I just need to find a image stacking app yet.

Thanks for all your help! I had posted a few weeks ago, my introduction in the CN Beginners section and explained my past love affair with astronomy from my early days. Today, I am able to jump back in now and I'm amazed at the evolution of the hobby over the last 40 years. Truly wonderful times now because of technology. Which is my career background in microelectronics. Nice to see how it pays off!

#18 Orion58

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 10:21 AM

Forget AP and send me the money you would have spent.
You'll sleep much better....


:lol:

#19 dkbender

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 07:10 PM

I got the Nikon D7000 with the 300mm f/4 lens piggybacked on to the 100mm apo today....

Posted Image

#20 Red Brick

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:39 PM

With a little practice I am sure you will do OK. Try different photo softwares and find what you are comfortable with. I am thinking of upgrading to a Sony simply because of its low light and low noise capacity. Keep at it.

Ed






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