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Anonymous
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Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new
      #189200 - 09/05/04 12:32 PM

I'm going to be getting into astronomy as a hobby in the very near future something I would like to try is astrophotography, especially of distant galaxies, nebulae, etc.
How much would a setup that allowed me to do this cost? As I'll be after distant objects I assume I'll need a decent mount with some sort of guidance motor? Will a basic telescope be enough or will I have to fork out for a large one?

From reading back through the forum archives, I see the main criteria is a manual shutter speed, is this correct?

Sorry for so many questions.


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Suk Lee
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Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: ]
      #189470 - 09/05/04 06:40 PM

(Also check out this similar CCD thread.)

That's a really "it sorta depends" kind of question. Astrophotography is one of those things where both the amount of effort and the amount of money you put into it pretty dramatically improve your results or at least potential results.

Less expensive equipment to start with means more initial effort and a steeper learning curve, because you have to work around some of the equipment idiosyncrasies, but that itself can be a very enjoyable pursuit.

Since you posted to the film forum I assume you want to try film. You'll need:

- a basic camera body, preferably with mechanical controls and "B" shutter setting: around $150 for an old Nikon or Canon or Olympus in beat-up but working condition

- a workable equatorial mount. If you assume you're starting off at short focal length prime focus shots, then a CG5 would be place to start. Since you don't won't a wobbly tripod, a Pier Mounted CG5 would be a good "starter" choice at around $625 including dual drives. Be prepared to potentially do some work on the mount head in order to smoothen it out. It's not mandatory to start out with, but you might find you want to do it eventually. The web reference on this is on Astronomy Boy's website. A much better mount choice is the entry level Vixen GP, around $1000 with dual axis drives, or better still, the Losmandy GM8 at around $1400 complete.

- a telescope. A short focal length refractor is the easiest telescope to start astrophotography with, and the Orion ED80, is currently the best bang-for-the-buck out there, $500.

- a way to guide your telescope. Off axis guiders are harder to use than guide-scopes, so an inexpensive guidescope package from Orion fits the ticket at $285. You can hand-guide, or use a webcam and "Guide Dog" (I don't have any experience with Guide Dog but there's a discussion about it in this thread).

So, taking the most inexpensive selections, you're looking at around $1600 (I believe you can basically double prices for the UK ). You can go more inexpensive still, but then you'll be working around equipment limitations a lot more. And literally the sky's the limit if you want to spend big bucks...

By the way, at this focal length you can get the large nebulae and big galaxies such as M31 and M33, but most galaxies will be far too small to show much. But there are lots of other great objects to start with.

Cheers,
Suk


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wilash
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Reged: 09/30/03

Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: ]
      #189473 - 09/05/04 06:41 PM

Start by buying Astrophotography for the Amateur by Covington and Wide-field Astrophotography by Reeves. That will answer many questions.

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Anonymous
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Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: wilash]
      #227668 - 10/21/04 01:10 PM

As far as cameras go, the Russian Zenit camera should be considered. It is totally manual, built like a tank, and performs well. Only drawback is that you can't see dim objects through the viewfinder. However, I do eyepiece projection photography where you focus the eyepiece and just always set the camera on infinity.

The camera is dirt cheap at $69.

You can investigate at www.rugift.com, look at the Zenit 122 model.

If you do decide to get one, anticipate a several week wait.

Clear skies!

PS: It does have a simple light meter which is battery operated. It glows when the shutter is open and can mess up your photograph. Since we don't need light meters for this kind of work, I just didn't bother putting a battery in it.


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Blueshark928
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Reged: 02/19/04

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Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: ]
      #227691 - 10/21/04 01:37 PM

That medium format Keiv looks like a good deal...

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Anonymous
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Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: Blueshark928]
      #227749 - 10/21/04 02:37 PM

Yes it does. Especially if you compare it to a Hasselblad!!!!!

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Synergy
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Reged: 11/18/03

Loc: Reading, UK
Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: ]
      #255596 - 11/18/04 12:04 PM

Hi There,

I started piggy back astrophotography, about 2-3 years ago with the EQ3 mount/tripod my Orion Starmax 127 came with and an Olympus OM-1. Initially, I took 45 second shots of the big dipper using a 28mm wide-angle lens, since then, Iíve gained a lot of experience and learnt a lot of stuff and as a result produced much better pictures, but with the exception of a clock drive Iím still basically using the same equipment.

I heartedly recommend the Olympus OM-1, itís easy to use and can be bought via Ebay at a reasonable price, particularly if you find one with a faulty light meter that you wonít need for astrophotography. The viewfinder is nice and bright, I can actually make out M31 with the standard focusing screen and a 100mm lens attached, which makes framing your subject easier.

Concerning the EQ-3 mount I wouldnít specifically recommend it for astrophotography, but it has given me good results and taught me whatís important about a mount and how to use one, particularly with respect to polar aligning. If you end up with one, sooner or later youíll discover its limitations, but not before learning a fair amount about astrophotography.


Hereís a link to the the first decent shot I took of the big dipper, itís a 45 second exposure using a 28mm wide angle without any motor drives or guiding.

First big dipper shot

by comparison, hereís a link to the the best Iíve taken yet of a wide field of Cygnus. Itís a 20min manually guided exposure using a 50mm lens. The mount had a clock drive but the Dec was corrected by hand. If I try anything more demanding than this, the mount tends to let me down.

Best wide field yet

Cheers

George


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Suk Lee
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Reged: 10/07/03

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Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: Synergy]
      #255656 - 11/18/04 12:44 PM

George:

That's a really nice picture of Cygnus, I particularly like how well you got The Coathanger. Pity about the lack of red response though, what film did you use?

FYI, after dismantling, smoothing, adjusting the worm play, and re-greasing, I'm actually quite happy with my EQ3 even up to around 180mm on film. It's actually possible to jury-rig for auto-guiding and under light loads does quite well.

I'm thinking about getting the dual drive and driving the DEC axis as well...

Cheers,
Suk


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Synergy
sage


Reged: 11/18/03

Loc: Reading, UK
Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: Suk Lee]
      #256558 - 11/19/04 08:44 AM

Thanks for that Suk, I used Fuji Superia Xtra 400 for that shot, which Iíve been using from the start. Iíve noticed that most pictures I take come out quite green and need the colour balance tweaking, so I guess I should probably start using slide film, but I just canít stand the wait for developing!

Concerning the re-lubing of the EQ-3, Iíve done that using a Teflon grease, and like you say, after that it does perform quite well, however Iím currently on my fifth attempt to get a 30 minute shot of M31, using a 200mm lens, but Iím getting tracking errors mainly from the dec controls, so I guess Iím at the limit of the mount and my abilities.

Hopefully Iíll be ditching the EQ-3 shortly for a CG-5 and am holding back from getting the dual axis drive, so I can get it for the CG-5, which, hopefully Iíll have more success with.

Cheers

George


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Chris Wilcox
super member


Reged: 10/22/04

Loc: New Jersey
Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: Synergy]
      #280130 - 12/13/04 12:22 PM

Great shot of Cygnus area.....absolutely beautiful.

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ClownFish
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Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: Chris Wilcox]
      #580828 - 08/30/05 05:06 PM

Here's my setup.

Meade LXD75 8" SN AT UHTC - $1200
Orion 910mm Guidescope package - $300
Extra Counterweight for LXD75 - $50
Olympus OM-1 used - $50
T-Ring - $20
STI Steletto Focuser - $220
Cable Release - $15
Total: $1855

Bought at the beginning of June, 2005.
Photos taken with this setup are at:
www.PetesAstrophotography.com

CF


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Synergy
sage


Reged: 11/18/03

Loc: Reading, UK
Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: ClownFish]
      #813826 - 02/07/06 12:10 PM

Just wanted to update the links in my post so they work again, here's the new ones as i can't edit my original post.

First big dipper shot

Best wide field yet


Cheers

George


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ZachK
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Reged: 08/21/05

Loc: Israel
Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: ClownFish]
      #1007751 - 06/20/06 03:44 AM

Clownfish, your website has been suspended, you might want to take a look at it.

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ClownFish
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Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: ZachK]
      #1007788 - 06/20/06 04:46 AM

Oh oh.. that last post by me has an OLD URL. I just edited it. The new one is: http://www.petesastrophotography.com/

CF


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Carbon Star
member


Reged: 10/05/05

Loc: Sunny Calif
Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: ClownFish]
      #1010731 - 06/22/06 02:33 AM

Wow, you have a great web site and M31 is my favorite. I Just got into this Hobby 2 yrs ago. I love to view planets but after seeing your work I'm really motivated to start shooting some of the other things this great universe has to offer. My first shots where of the moon. Anyway I will definitly be coming back to your web site for tips, and I also want to say Mr. Suk Lee has great tips as well.

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Daniel Mounsey
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Reged: 06/12/02

Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: Carbon Star]
      #1015175 - 06/25/06 10:38 AM

I think Suk just bought a Tak from what I heard but I may be wrong. If this is true, I'd like to see his pictures with it.

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Daniel Mounsey
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Reged: 06/12/02

Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? new [Re: Carbon Star]
      #1015177 - 06/25/06 10:40 AM

Quote:

My first shots where of the moon.




That's cool. Did anyone help you?


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Suk Lee
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Reged: 10/07/03

Loc: Pleasanton, CA
Re: Astrophotography setup - how much £$? [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #1015539 - 06/25/06 03:45 PM

Quote:

I think Suk just bought a Tak from what I heard but I may be wrong. If this is true, I'd like to see his pictures with it.




Nope, warn't me, must be some other lucky soul.

Cheers,
Suk


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