Astrophotography setup - how much £$?
Posted 05 September 2004 - 11:32 AM
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.
Posted 05 September 2004 - 05:40 PM
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.
Posted 05 September 2004 - 05:41 PM
Posted 21 October 2004 - 12:10 PM
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.
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.
Posted 21 October 2004 - 01:37 PM
Posted 18 November 2004 - 12:04 PM
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, I’ve 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 I’m still basically using the same equipment.
I heartedly recommend the Olympus OM-1, it’s 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 won’t 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 wouldn’t specifically recommend it for astrophotography, but it has given me good results and taught me what’s important about a mount and how to use one, particularly with respect to polar aligning. If you end up with one, sooner or later you’ll discover its limitations, but not before learning a fair amount about astrophotography.
Here’s a link to the the first decent shot I took of the big dipper, it’s a 45 second exposure using a 28mm wide angle without any motor drives or guiding.
First big dipper shot
by comparison, here’s a link to the the best I’ve taken yet of a wide field of Cygnus. It’s 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
Posted 18 November 2004 - 12:44 PM
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...
Posted 19 November 2004 - 08:44 AM
Concerning the re-lubing of the EQ-3, I’ve done that using a Teflon grease, and like you say, after that it does perform quite well, however I’m currently on my fifth attempt to get a 30 minute shot of M31, using a 200mm lens, but I’m getting tracking errors mainly from the dec controls, so I guess I’m at the limit of the mount and my abilities.
Hopefully I’ll 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 I’ll have more success with.
Posted 30 August 2005 - 04:06 PM
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
Bought at the beginning of June, 2005.
Photos taken with this setup are at:
Posted 20 June 2006 - 02:44 AM
Posted 22 June 2006 - 01:33 AM
Posted 25 June 2006 - 09:38 AM
Posted 25 June 2006 - 09:40 AM
My first shots where of the moon.
That's cool. Did anyone help you?
Posted 25 June 2006 - 02:45 PM
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.