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Smartphone Astrophotography

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#576 diegomesa91

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 10:54 PM

Hmmm...you're getting star trails, but not even regular star trails, more like they aren't lined up above each other. I'm afraid I don't know AS that well. It *seems* like it is not finding enough points of "overlap" between images to know how to stack properly. You might try the AstroPHotography folder, I think there is a sub area about just post-processing.

 

P.

i think you are right! but i cant get the program to stack the frames corectly



#577 DNA7744

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 03:20 PM

After a 6 year absence from this site (and astronomy)...I am back!  Here is a pic of the moon taken thru the eyepiece (25mm) on my 8" Skywatcher Collapsible Dobson which arrived via Fedex yesterday!  My wife gave me the go ahead to get back into the hobby as long as I don't ask her to step outside every 2 minutes in the cold to "come see this!".  (Look how far cellphone photography has come in the last 6 years).Moon 1.jpg Moon 2.jpg


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#578 DNA7744

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 05:28 PM

After a 6 year retirement from Amateur Astronomy I am back with my recent purchase of a Skywatcher 8" Collapsible Dobson.  (Prior to this I was very active and owned everything from the ETX series of Scopes, to the 10" LX200, Astro-Tech scopes, Williams Optics scopes, Astrophotography etc etc.  Sold all that off 6 years ago...retired...travelled with the wife...took up new hobbies...but always missed looking at the moon, DSO's etc.  Wife said as long as I don't drag her out in the middle of the freezing winter to "hey honey come look at this!"...I should buy the Skywatcher.  So I did...and it arrived via Fedex yesterday...and thanks to sunset being so early at this time of year I assembled the little jewel and had it out of the back deck pronto.  Here is a couple of pics with my Pixel phone!  (Wow...a lot has changed for imaging with the advent of the smartphone).  I am back in hog heaven!!!

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#579 DNA7744

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 09:24 AM

One of my favorite targets on the moon...the Straight Wall.  Taken with my Pixel smartphone thru 26mm Plossl, on my Skywatcher 8" Dob.  Sharpened in picmonkey.straight wall 1.jpg


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#580 JHollJr

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 01:47 PM

I’m amazed with what can be done with a pocket camera these days.



#581 Stardust Dave

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 03:55 PM

Strait wall very well placed , great composition.


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#582 diegomesa91

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 06:58 PM

One of my favorite targets on the moon...the Straight Wall.  Taken with my Pixel smartphone thru 26mm Plossl, on my Skywatcher 8" Dob.  Sharpened in picmonkey.attachicon.gif straight wall 1.jpg

Amazing shot. Is it a google pixel 3? And have you tried dso?



#583 DNA7744

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 07:04 PM

The straight wall was taken (hand held) with the original Pixel (1) smartphone!  A lot of the camera features from the Pixel 3 were made available for the original Pixel as well.  No DSO's yet...might have to try that using the "Night Sight" option recently added to the Pixel!


Edited by DNA7744, 16 December 2018 - 07:07 PM.


#584 Stardust Dave

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 11:32 AM

Strait Wall thru a straw.   
All I had handy was the 10 ortho with 8"SCT ,  iPhone 6plus 

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#585 eclecto-acoustic

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 05:35 PM

Cool to see this thread. Smartphone photography in general has not only come a long way, but I think it is set to get a whole lot bigger.

 

Even though the sensors are small and can only capture so much light, many of them are ridiculously sensitive and very very fast. Most of the limitations in terms of image quality come from the software side...other camera apps give you a LOT of manual control.

 

On top of that, basically every big hitter smartphone now has at least 2 sensors for their rear (main) camera. The Huawei P20 Pro has 3, including an optical zoom lens. A company called Light has made a point-and-shoot with 16 separate cameras in it, at 13 megapixels each. They have their sights set on smartphones. LG is releasing a phone with 9 sensors in a 3x3 grid as the rear/main camera.

 

My phone is coming due, and I am mightily tempted by phones like the P20.


Edited by eclecto-acoustic, 17 December 2018 - 05:42 PM.


#586 diegomesa91

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 05:42 PM

If i may, i will say that you should try to get a phone with a single camera lens to better focus the single lens in the eyepiece.

#587 eclecto-acoustic

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 06:37 PM

If i may, i will say that you should try to get a phone with a single camera lens to better focus the single lens in the eyepiece.

 

Normally, yes...but that all depends on how the phone decides to use multi-lens setups, and the eyepiece you happen to be using. Some of them have different sensors for different purposes, others can choose between them depending on what they "see". The main thrust is that the hardware is a lot better than people give it credit for, because it has traditionally been gimped by simplified software. Now that is changing, and the variety of camera lens/sensor setups coming out on phones will allow them to do things that your garden variety DSLR cannot.


Edited by eclecto-acoustic, 17 December 2018 - 06:38 PM.

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#588 diegomesa91

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 06:49 PM

Normally, yes...but that all depends on how the phone decides to use multi-lens setups, and the eyepiece you happen to be using. Some of them have different sensors for different purposes, others can choose between them depending on what they "see". The main thrust is that the hardware is a lot better than people give it credit for, because it has traditionally been gimped by simplified software. Now that is changing, and the variety of camera lens/sensor setups coming out on phones will allow them to do things that your garden variety DSLR cannot.


Ok ok, so could you recommend 2 or 3 good smartphones?

#589 DNA7744

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 07:08 PM

Speaking of smartphone technology...here is an unprocessed shot taken of the Pleiades with my Google Pixel camera using the "Night Sight" setting.  No tracking on my 8" Sky-Watcher Dob...so you can see the star trails...but hey...I was impressed nevertheless!Pleiades.jpg


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#590 eclecto-acoustic

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 07:43 PM

Ok ok, so could you recommend 2 or 3 good smartphones?

The aforementioned P20/P20 Pro, provided you live in a place where you can get your hands on a Huawei phone. Almost any iPhone has a decent camera. The Pixel 3 is a favourite. The LG G5 and G6 both have twin cameras on the back that allow for some fairly wide angle shots, if whole-sky imaging is your thing. The OnePlus phones are great for photos as well.

 

But really, software is the king. The Huawei and OnePlus phones come with better software out of the gate. However, if you want better photos with what you have, there is an app for that. As they say. OpenCamera, Proshot and Camera FV-5 are good ones to look at.



#591 DNA7744

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 11:15 AM

Plato.jpg Had to post this one...love the shadows cast into the crater Copernicus.  Taken with a Pixel camera on my 8" Sky-Watcher Collapsible Dobson.


Edited by DNA7744, 18 December 2018 - 07:12 PM.

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#592 DNA7744

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 12:08 PM

Tycho...from last night using my Pixel smartphone and Sky-Watcher Dobson.  Decided to take pic using 3 sec timer to minimize shake when taking pic.  Seems to be a better process when holding camera to eyepiece.Tyco 1.jpg


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#593 GeezerGazer

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 06:01 PM

Hi all, this is a very active and long running thread, but I would like to add a twist to it.  I have never posted in this forum, but I might need to start.  I have been using iPhones with NightCap for more than a year now, but with night vision.  Not everyone likes NV or can afford it, but I purchased NV because I did not want to buy a larger scope for visual use; I'm 70 and don't want to lug around a big honker.  I used NV for a year before I took my first snapshot (M22) with an iPhone 6+.  That was all it took for me to become interested enough to start using NightCap.  My NV Phonetography became a slippery slope as I purchased a faster small scope and the fastest manual camera lenses I could find for an extra wide FoV, and upgraded from a manual alt/az to a goto/tracking AZ Pro alt/az.  But the results have been most gratifying and the efforts opened an entire range of astro subjects that I had been unable to see... which re-invigorated my astronomy passion.  I have some knowledge of photography from college classes I took 50 yrs. ago, but I'm not a photographer.  And I do not have interest in traditional AP or even EAA which requires extra equipment.  I like to keep things simple and compact when I observe because I almost always observe from a site 40 miles distant from home.  Last spring, I thought I might like to take these images with my larger Nikon D7100, but found that the APS-C camera required too much fussing, was heavy and much more difficult to apply for use.  I gladly continued using my iPhone.  Last month I upgraded to an XR iPhone.  

 

I am not trying to advocate NV, but I thought perhaps others here might appreciate the results of efforts using the same methods but with different equipment.  As some have stated in this thread, there is a learning curve to NightCap but good and sometimes spectacular results are possible.  In February 2018, two other NV users and I co-wrote an article about NV Photography which is in the CN Articles section.  Each of us has improved our results since that article because of changes in our equipment.  In January 2018, I was using a manual mount without tracking; by May, I was using a tracking mount and images approached and were sometimes equal to what I could see at the NV ocular.   Now, the images I take regularly surpass what I can see visually.  None of my images take more than 35 seconds; most are 8-15s, and a few are only 4-6s.  It all depends on the lens or scope aperture and focal ratio and the brightness of the subject/target.  Many of these images were taken at my green zone observing site, but a few were taken from the City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico, where I was lucky enough to use a friend's 20" Teeter w/Lockwood mirror (look for the Eagle Nebula with the Pillars of Creation clearly visible).  BUT, most of these images were taken with either an Orion f:5 short tube 120mm achromat or an Orion 150mm f:4 Newt... both smallish, inexpensive scopes.  A few were taken through a TEC 140 and some through various old Nikon camera lenses from 50mm to 300mm.  

 

My NV device uses a white phosphor tube, so the monotone color differences in my images results from changes I make to the white balance when using NightCap.  

 

If you are interested, you can see 30 or so of my gallery images here:

      https://www.cloudyni...59-geezergazer/

These are mostly nebulae because NV allows me to see them so well in H-a, but I have more than 100 images in 4 albums on my computer, filed by Messier, IC, NGC or Abell numbers.  To entice you, I have attached one of my favorite NV Phonetography images, the Rosette Nebula.  But all photos were taken with my iPhone 6+ or my very recent XR.  

 

Questions?  Seasons Greetings and Clear Skies.

 

IMG_E2568.jpg

This photo appears in my gallery where the scope and settings used are listed.


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#594 HeathM98

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 11:00 AM

Hey Geezer, I’ve got a question.

 

Could you shoot NV through LRGB filters and process them into a color photo, like they do with monochrome cameras?



#595 DNA7744

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 11:45 AM

Nearly Full Moon.jpg One more from last night!  Pixel phone and Sky-Watcher 8" Collapsible Dobson.


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#596 GeezerGazer

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 04:00 PM

Hey Geezer, I’ve got a question.

 

Could you shoot NV through LRGB filters and process them into a color photo, like they do with monochrome cameras?

I suppose that is possible, but would require a dedicated camera and computer programs... that I do not have, nor do I know how to use... and honestly, have no desire to acquire or use.  Someone else will need to pick up that mantle.  I use NV and phonetography to capture images which largely take the place of my notes.  But, as I explained above, the phone images now surpass what I can see at the eyepiece of my NV device.  

 

I am a visual observer at heart and never anticipated that I would enjoy this simple technique of AP so much.  I like NV Phonetograpy because it IS simple and does not intrude on visual observing.  I should add that stellar points of light are no problem for NV, so splitting close doubles and taking images of globs and open clusters is the easiest of all the astro subjects.  And, of course, taking excellent images of Luna, Jupiter and Saturn without NV has already been demonstrated by others here.  But NV allows the phone and scope to reach farther and deeper, and without resorting to ever increasing aperture which became a burden to me.  If all of my astro equipment was stolen tonight, my NVD would be the first thing I'd replace.  

 

Since NV is more productive with a faster focal ratio scope, I recently purchased an ASA (Kellor) reducer for use with a 6" f:4  Orion Newt... allowing it to perform at f:2.8 with a wider FoV.  But I intend to purchase either a C8 Cat with a 6.3x reducer or an 8" f:4 Newt for a little more focal length to improve images of the smaller subjects like planetary nebulae and galaxies. Although I can image them now with my phone+NV, the results are marginal, except for the largest/brightest like Sombrero.  Below are some examples (not in my gallery), all taken with iPhone 6+:

 

Sombrero seems bright enough taken through 140 refractor @2x, w/iPhone 6+  ISO 500, 1/2s for 15s, cropped and compressed to fit here

IMG_1140.jpg

 

M-51 Whirlpool also seems bright enough, 140 @2x, 6+, ISO 320, 1/2s for 20s

IMG_E1340.jpg

 

M100 as a face-on with lower surface brightness is a little too dim using the smaller apertures with short focal lengths.  This image taken with the ST 120 is quite noisy, taken at ISO 64 1/2s for 20s.  Taking a second image, I would increase the ISO for greater sensitivity, but using a longer FL for better scale would help most.  

IMG_E1342.jpg

 

These last two images show how the longer focal length helps on M33 Triangulum, the first was taken with the ST 120 at 2x which means the FR was f:10, ISO 32 1/2s for 20s.  The second was with a borrowed 8" Newt at 2x (f:7.8), ISO 125 1/3s for 10s... mainly, the scale is much better and IF I had used higher ISO, the subject might have displayed better detail.  But I like to keep the sky background dark, the way I see it through standard glass eyepieces, so normally I keep the ISO pretty low... which also helps to reduce noise.  

 

IMG_E3144.jpg

 

IMG_E3194.jpg


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#597 Thomas Marshall

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 05:55 PM

GeezerGazer, - Incredible Gallery of DSO photo's from I-Phone and NV, - and thru Achromat 120mm. Thanks for sharing.



#598 diegomesa91

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 08:19 PM

I have a question. When you say:: "ISO 125 1/3s for 10s" the 1/3s is the exposure time but the 10s is what exactly? I have a huawei p8 that allows for manual configuration of ISO, saturation time and e.v. as well as focus and white balance but the "10s" eludes me.

Thank you and cleak skiea!

#599 GeezerGazer

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 10:42 PM

GeezerGazer, - Incredible Gallery of DSO photo's from I-Phone and NV, - and thru Achromat 120mm. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you Thomas, but it's not me... it's the technology!  And it is going to continue to improve.  

 

 

I have a question. When you say:: "ISO 125 1/3s for 10s" the 1/3s is the exposure time but the 10s is what exactly? I have a huawei p8 that allows for manual configuration of ISO, saturation time and e.v. as well as focus and white balance but the "10s" eludes me.

Thank you and cleak skiea!

 

Yes, the software/apps for iOS and Android are distinctly different and offer different solutions to the same problem.  A friend of mine in the EAA forum, Gavster in London, UK, uses a Huawei P20 Pro which is Android.  It allows manual control of camera settings out of the box and provides for a single exposure up to 32 seconds, which is more than ample time for a NV image.  When imaging with it, you can watch the image build during the single, long exposure, just like on most current DSLR cameras.  But iOS, in my iPhone XR, does not allow for some of the settings to be set manually, and the longest auto mode exposure is 1 second.  To control all settings manually on our iPhones, most of us use NightCap, a 3rd party app that has been discussed in this thread.  iOS/iPhone programming does not allow for an exposure time (shutter) that exceeds the limitations imposed by Apple.  And, for some reason, Apple has also not permitted manual use of the increased shutter exposure (1s up from 1/2s) by 3rd party application vendors.  So reality is that all of the new iPhones are limited to a 1/2s exposure in manual mode, using NightCap.  But the NightCap application is capable of averaging several images and the amount of time that the averaging process takes is set by the user, manually.  So in the example above, I set the exposure at 1/3s and the averaging (in Long Exposure Mode) was set for 10s... so roughly 30 exposures were automatically taken and averaged within the phone during the exposure process.  At the end of 10s, the image is complete, and like the single long exposure in Android, you can watch the image build on the iPhone during the exposure.  

 

Both Android and iOS provide for in-phone editing and I use that as my only means of post processing, usually adjusting brightness or increasing contrast.  But I also use two of the digital filters in the iOS editing program, Vivid and Dramatic.  These two filters are just a one-click procedure, but I have found that one or the other is often all I need to enhance the original image for an improved rendition.  My post processing is very rudimentary and usually only takes me 2-3 seconds to complete on the phone before I move on to the next image.  It takes me longer (4 clicks) to re-size the image to a square, than it takes to adjust the brightness or contrast if needed (2 clicks).  

 

The NightCap averaging algorithms for building a photo is often referred to as one that "stacks" photos, but it is technically not stacking the photos.  The terms averaging and stacking are easily confused because a stacking program can also average photos; but an averaging program does not stack them.  Yes, confusing.  Normally, photos that are stacked are individual frames that are digitally superimposed using a registration point that keeps stars round in the final image because the 1/2s images are each aligned.  Averaging programs don't use a registration point on the images to keep them aligned.  That's why a 10s averaged photo taken on a non-tracking mount shows star trails.  For instance, if you set up your scope with a camera attached on a stationary tripod, and took an image of a single star every 1/2s for 10s, you would end up with 20 images, each image showing the star in a slightly different position, in a straight line across a final, average image.  I hope that makes sense.  


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#600 HeathM98

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 11:04 PM

Those views are amazing. It makes me long for NV!

 

Since NV is more productive with a faster focal ratio scope, I recently purchased an ASA (Kellor) reducer for use with a 6" f:4  Orion Newt... allowing it to perform at f:2.8 with a wider FoV.  But I intend to purchase either a C8 Cat with a 6.3x reducer or an 8" f:4 Newt for a little more focal length to improve images of the smaller subjects like planetary nebulae and galaxies.

Man, if you’re considering an SCT and fast F ratio is important, you should seek out one of the old Meade LX-200 10” scopes that were offered at F/6.3! I’ll bet that thing paired with NV would let you see the Big Bang from NYC!


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