I'm very much an astro-imager, i.e.: I still believe the best way to generate a high quality astro-image is to shoot multiple subs, align and stack them, and postprocess the heck out of the stacked image to get the best end result I can produce.
However, I also like to roam the heavens and watch the results on my hires monitor with 30sec (sometimes 60sec, sometimes 10sec) high ISO exposures.
I did both at the Alberta Star Party last weekend with an A7S and A7R, and a variety of lens and scopes. I used the A7R for deep sky shots (both single images, and images from several aligned, stacked and processed subs) primarily because it is full spectrum modded as well as the fact I was using a fairly short focal length telescope and wanted the highest resolution I could capture. I used the A7S (unmodded) for a variety of daytime and night shots with a 28-70mm zoom because it is the most versatile camera I own (or have ever owned). I've had a number of people comment that I must have shot most of the sky images at dusk or just after sunset to capture the brightness shown. Most the images were shot well after dark and it is simply the technology built into the A7S that makes it look like day, such as here, here or here.
I'm currently finalizing an album of single exposure images off the A7S using a Canon 200mm lens. This will give you a pretty good idea what the A7S will do as an EAA camera, and it has great potential...
I look forward to seeing the results of all of that.
Can you also give us some more info on a couple of things ...
- how you use the hi res monitor (and what monitor it is)?
- the work flow you use to handle the camera between viewing on the monitor and capturing some of the great images?
I think a discussion of the "how" part can fit in well with the EAA forum (something I hope there's more of for all the cameras used).
The monitor is an old ASUS computer monitor with an HDMI connector. It's default resolution is 1920x1200. I simply connect it directly to the HDMI output port of either the A7S or A7R. When connected it becomes the LiveView screen. I'm sure you could use an audio/video capture cable to feed the output from the camera directly into the USB port of a computer much the same as you would capture video off a Mallincam camera or any other video camera. I know HDMI capture cables exist but don't have one.
The A7S also outputs 4K video directly to 4K compatible recorders/monitors. This would be the ideal option for viewing the video output from the A7S. But I'm not too sure if you gain anything from this approach regarding LiveView??
I also used to have a battery powered, el cheapo, flat screen monitor I used at star parties (when I didn't have access to 110volt power). Being "el cheapo" it didn't last very long but worked liked like a charm with my Canon 60D camera while operational... .
Work flow... Not really anything special and it varies greatly depending upon how serious I am.
- setup and roughly polar align my Celestron VX mount. I normally just use the polar scope to get a reasonable polar alignment. Not much accuracy required for 30-60sec images. ~10 min. setup.
- I have a StarSense unit on the VX mount which does the mount's alignment automatically. So when it is complete its cycle I'm good to GoTo any target in the sky with targets nicely centered in most of the lens/scopes I normally use. ~3 min. setup.
- I then GoTo a bright star such as Arcturus, Altair or Vega and focus the lens/scope I'm using with a Bahtinov mask. ~2-3 min. setup
- I use Starry Night Pro and/or SkySafari Pro (on an iPad) for planning.
- I acquire targets in a number of ways:
- Simplest is to use the GoTo function built into the hand controller on the mount BUT it can be limited as to the target(s) I want, such as the IC catalog.
- Wired connection to a laptop running Starry Night Pro allows me to skew to any object in Starry Night's huge database.
- Wireless connection to my iPad running SkySafari Pro using SciFi to control the mount; my favorite remote approach, i.e.: allows me to roam the skies from a comfortable lawn chair.
- I normally use a wired remote timer. For EAA I simply push the shoot button to take a picture. I also have a wireless remote which allows me to shoot while in the lawn chair mentioned above.
- Of course, when I shoot a picture it is automatically saved to the memory card for later viewing/editing, etc.
- The monitor replaces the LiveView screen so I see everything I do on the camera on the monitor.
- almost identical to the above, except I program the remote timer to take multiple images.
- I also have a pier mounted, drift aligned, PEC programmed Sky-Watcher Az-EQ6 in an observatory that I normally use with higher powered scopes, i.e.: Celestron 8" Edge HD, Astro-Tech 8" RC, Televue 102 and a few others, when I want to get really serious about longer exposures and collecting multiple images for later pre/postprocessing. And I still shoot longer exposures, 2-10 min., on occasion at lower ISO's (800-1600) when I'm really serious about keeping noise levels at the minimum or want to go after some really, really faint object like the Cassiopeia A Supernova remnant (shot with Mallincam Universe).
- I also own a couple of CCD cameras for astro-imaging BUT haven't used them once since I acquired the A7R and A7S. The Sony A7 cameras are really SO good and much more convenient! Anyone who hasn't used an A7R or A7S for astrophotography simply does NOT know what they are missing! And most dedicated astrophotographers simply cannot get their heads around the fact the A7's (and similar cameras) have forever changed their world!
- prior to acquiring the A7's I guided almost every astro-image I captured, primarily because I was shooting 5-20 min. exposures. My guide system is currently collecting dust .
Just a few thoughts on the state of astro-whatever...