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DSLR photography for the upcoming eclipse

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#1 nimbulan

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:05 PM

Hi everyone,

Since the eclipse is coming up in 2 months and I'm lucky enough to live very close to the path of totality, I want to be prepared for it.  I have a DSLR here (APS-C sensor size, 1.52x crop factor) that I am planning on using to take some pictures.

 

I'm not an avid astronomer but I have an older Meade 6" Starfinder (Newtonian reflector) with a focal length of 1220mm.  I have two concerns about this telescope: Firstly when researching camera adapters, I ran across quite a few people who were unable to obtain a focused image using prime focus (I believe eyepiece-projection would zoom in too much) with a DSLR and a Newtonian reflector telescope. The manual for the telescope indicates that you can move the mirror to alleviate this problem, however. Secondly, this telescope is quite large, with an equally large and heavy tripod and I am not sure I will be able to safely transport it on eclipse day.

So I am looking for suggestions for a telescope that is much more portable than my current one, has a focal length appropriate for eclipse photography with my camera (I think ~1200mm is appropriate?), can focus properly with a DSLR without needing to adjust mirrors, and is inexpensive since I unfortunately don't have much of a budget.  I would say $500 max but I'd like to keep it as low as possible without being subjected to any serious optical defects.  I like the look of the Orion Apex/StarMax 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope but have no idea how good it is.  More expensive telescopes generally seem to have too long of a focal length for eclipse photography with my camera.

Any advice would be appreciated!



#2 Michael Covington

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:12 PM

If you want to photograph the corona, you need a focal length more like 300 mm.  Maybe a good telephoto lens!

A wide field also reduces the need for very accurate pointing during the hurry of totality.



#3 nimbulan

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:34 PM

I think I'd like to get a bit closer than 300mm would provide.  I don't even bother taking pictures of the moon with my 200mm lens because it doesn't get close enough to show much detail and I think I'd like to concentrate on the prominencesmore than the corona.  I do remember reading a while back that a ~1450mm telescope will just about fill up the image with the moon so I'm probably shooting too high, maybe something about 900mm would be more appropriate?  In any case, I'm having trouble finding any telescopes with a focal length between 500m and 1000mm.



#4 Guest_djhanson_*

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:45 PM

As some others have suggested, you might also consider a telephoto lens. 

Using a telephoto I photographed the 2012 annular eclipse near Page, AZ this way (about 0.5 miles from the centerline).  

My setup was a Nikon D300 (crop) + 400/2.8 with/without a 1.7x TC on a tripod with a Thousand Oaks solar filter:

 

 

For my tastes it gave plenty of reach to make a collage. 

Even a 300/4 could do nicely IMO.  (any TC would help of course)

 

For this upcoming 2017 eclipse I will use the same combo as well as a Lunt LS80 (just bit the bullet on this tonite actually).

 

Best of luck whatever you decide!  cheers, DJ


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#5 leveye

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 12:23 AM

Keep it around 300-600mm to capture the corona using s DSLR whatever you decide to get. I've been testing at 700mm and it's far too much focal length the get the outer wispy corona details.

 

Attached File  14088411_1217433238308756_3091661143474233897_n.jpg   17.28KB   7 downloads


Edited by leveye, 14 June 2017 - 12:25 AM.


#6 bobzeq25

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 12:25 AM

Hi everyone,

Since the eclipse is coming up in 2 months and I'm lucky enough to live very close to the path of totality, I want to be prepared for it.  I have a DSLR here (APS-C sensor size, 1.52x crop factor) that I am planning on using to take some pictures.

 

I'm not an avid astronomer but I have an older Meade 6" Starfinder (Newtonian reflector) with a focal length of 1220mm.  I have two concerns about this telescope: Firstly when researching camera adapters, I ran across quite a few people who were unable to obtain a focused image using prime focus (I believe eyepiece-projection would zoom in too much) with a DSLR and a Newtonian reflector telescope. The manual for the telescope indicates that you can move the mirror to alleviate this problem, however. Secondly, this telescope is quite large, with an equally large and heavy tripod and I am not sure I will be able to safely transport it on eclipse day.

So I am looking for suggestions for a telescope that is much more portable than my current one, has a focal length appropriate for eclipse photography with my camera (I think ~1200mm is appropriate?), can focus properly with a DSLR without needing to adjust mirrors, and is inexpensive since I unfortunately don't have much of a budget.  I would say $500 max but I'd like to keep it as low as possible without being subjected to any serious optical defects.  I like the look of the Orion Apex/StarMax 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope but have no idea how good it is.  More expensive telescopes generally seem to have too long of a focal length for eclipse photography with my camera.

Any advice would be appreciated!

"Lessons from the Masters" recommends, with a Canon APS-C:

 

minimum 391mm, optimal 521, maximum 782.  The maximum works to capture the inner and middle corona, the outer corona is cut off.

 

In your budget, this looks attractive.  Light and portable.  Intended for use with a DSLR.

 

https://www.astronom...ray_p18452.aspx


Edited by bobzeq25, 14 June 2017 - 12:34 AM.

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#7 nimbulan

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 12:40 AM

Thanks for the advice everyone.  I had been looking at this guide http://mreclipse.com...lityCh12-2.html which has given me the impression of a longer focal length being better for my purposes.  Dialing it back will certainly provide me with more options.  Right now the longest camera lens I have is a 200mm and I don't think a 2x teleconverter will provide quite enough magnification.  I suppose I can always use a 2x Barlow to zoom in further (for instance for moon photography.)



#8 bobzeq25

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 12:47 AM

Thanks for the advice everyone.  I had been looking at this guide http://mreclipse.com...lityCh12-2.html which has given me the impression of a longer focal length being better for my purposes.  Dialing it back will certainly provide me with more options.  Right now the longest camera lens I have is a 200mm and I don't think a 2x teleconverter will provide quite enough magnification.  I suppose I can always use a 2x Barlow to zoom in further (for instance for moon photography.)

That guide is for a full frame camera, which can use more focal length.

 

LFTM numbers are 634, 846, 1268.

 

Piling addons on the 200mm lens will reduce quality, but if you don't want to buy a new scope...


Edited by bobzeq25, 14 June 2017 - 12:48 AM.


#9 nimbulan

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 01:06 AM

Yes I'm aware the guide was written for full frame and I have been applying my camera's crop factor to the numbers.

I think I'm in the position where I need to buy a new scope since my existing telescope is too powerful (not to mention completely non-portable) and my longest camera lens is too weak.

 

 

In your budget, this looks attractive.  Light and portable.  Intended for use with a DSLR.

 

https://www.astronom...ray_p18452.aspx

 

While that does look like a nice scope, I think adding on the cost of a mount and a solar filter to that is going to push me over budget.



#10 Cajundaddy

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 01:34 AM

I like the effective focal length to fall between 500-800mm for the best combination of solar disc and corona.  For a 1.5 crop that means shopping for a 300mm-500mm scope or telephoto.  Lots of good choices in that range.  This is a popular solar scope that doesn't break the bank:

 

http://www.highpoint...CFc-Ffgod-EQM1w

 

Or find a used SLT like this one.  It's a little long for ideal FL but light and easy to set up.  The Nexstar once aligned, tracks the sun great. 

http://www.highpoint...telescope-22096

 

FWIW I will be shooting the eclipse with a camera lens on a M4/3 2x crop.  Effective focal length will be 600mm at F5.6 and I will have it mounted on an SLT mount for tracking.


Edited by Cajundaddy, 14 June 2017 - 01:40 AM.


#11 nimbulan

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 10:49 AM

I'm curious, why is there so much focus on the corona?  I feel like it's going to be difficult to capture much detail of the solar disc at the shorter focal lengths where the solar disc won't even be 1/3 the height of the sensor plane.  I'm also not sure if I have the necessary experience or skill to capture the corona properly and since this is likely to be the only solar eclipse I ever see, I want to obtain the best pictures I am capable of.



#12 leveye

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 12:59 PM

I'm curious, why is there so much focus on the corona?  I feel like it's going to be difficult to capture much detail of the solar disc at the shorter focal lengths where the solar disc won't even be 1/3 the height of the sensor plane.  I'm also not sure if I have the necessary experience or skill to capture the corona properly and since this is likely to be the only solar eclipse I ever see, I want to obtain the best pictures I am capable of.

Go look at some of the wonderful captures especially the ones from Mr Eclipse himself. You'll see why.

 

http://www.mreclipse.com/



#13 Cajundaddy

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 01:42 PM

I'm curious, why is there so much focus on the corona?  I feel like it's going to be difficult to capture much detail of the solar disc at the shorter focal lengths where the solar disc won't even be 1/3 the height of the sensor plane.  I'm also not sure if I have the necessary experience or skill to capture the corona properly and since this is likely to be the only solar eclipse I ever see, I want to obtain the best pictures I am capable of.

Just take a pic of whatever interests you.  If the disc with prominences are your primary subject, shoot the disc at higher focal length.  Maybe even a 1500mm Mak for closeups.  The annular multi exposure in post #4 is certainly a cool effect and only requires a tripod and some careful planning.  

 

Understand that whatever your interest, photographing the eclipse and getting good results may be the most difficult subject we will ever shoot.  It is so demanding that many skilled photographers will leave their camera at home and simply go to observe without all the distractions a camera and telescope brings.  There is great wisdom in this train of thought... but I am unwise so I plan to shoot a hands-off time lapse with preprogrammed sequence and just see what I get.  I am doing significant planning and practice but if it all goes wrong at the last minute, I will write it off and just enjoy the spectacle.  If I manage to get some interesting shots, it will be icing on the cake.

 

This is kinda long but a great primer onwhat we are about to experience:
https://www.youtube....KnxE6yAuI&t=21s


Edited by Cajundaddy, 14 June 2017 - 02:09 PM.

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#14 Uzelessknowledge

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 02:46 PM

For just a dslr and lens to do a wide angle time lapse would you need a solar filter?


Travis

#15 nimbulan

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 03:18 PM

After looking through some of Mr. Eclipse's pictures where he primarily uses an 810mm FL scope, I think something in the 600-700mm range would suit me best.  I do like the look of that Celestron NexStar 102 SLT though it's available for $200 less without the NexStar.  How useful is that computer system during an eclipse?



#16 Cajundaddy

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 03:25 PM

After looking through some of Mr. Eclipse's pictures where he primarily uses an 810mm FL scope, I think something in the 600-700mm range would suit me best.  I do like the look of that Celestron NexStar 102 SLT though it's available for $200 less without the NexStar.  How useful is that computer system during an eclipse?

If you wish to track the sun automatically a Nexstar SLT mount will do it very well.  That is what I plan to use with my telephoto lens and camera.  I have been testing this and like the results so far.

 

"For just a dslr and lens to do a wide angle time lapse would you need a solar filter?"  

Most likely yes to avoid overheating and damaging your optics.



#17 rdking647

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 04:57 PM

look at keh.com for used telephotos.

 



#18 nimbulan

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 10:06 PM

 

After looking through some of Mr. Eclipse's pictures where he primarily uses an 810mm FL scope, I think something in the 600-700mm range would suit me best.  I do like the look of that Celestron NexStar 102 SLT though it's available for $200 less without the NexStar.  How useful is that computer system during an eclipse?

If you wish to track the sun automatically a Nexstar SLT mount will do it very well.  That is what I plan to use with my telephoto lens and camera.  I have been testing this and like the results so far.

 

"For just a dslr and lens to do a wide angle time lapse would you need a solar filter?"  

Most likely yes to avoid overheating and damaging your optics.

 

How difficult is it to align the tracking system during the daytime?  I'm not going to be able to do it the night before, unfortunately.



#19 SteveRosenow

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 12:54 AM

If you plan on using the camera during the partial phases, a solar filter is a *MUST* for your telescope or camera lens. Otherwise, your eyes or your camera will be irreversibly damaged.

You'll want to take your filter off for totality, however!


Edited by SteveRosenow, 15 June 2017 - 06:03 AM.

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#20 pierce

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 01:25 AM

IF I bring a scope and camera to the eclipse, I am thinking of bringing my 80mm Celestron/Vixen (1989-ish) on a SP mount, with a white light solar filter, and a prime focus attachment for my EOS (either M or 60D, both APS-C).  Going to take the solar filter off as soon as it enters totality and slap it back on when it comes out....    We're going on a 3 week road trip, camping, I don't really want to be hauling around a larger telescope for the rest of the trip.

 

I'm thinking of shooting video, actually, 1080p for like 2 hours before and after, then speeding that up in post.... that or shooting 1 second intervals until totality, then video, then back to 1 second intervals.   I dunno.

 

I've also got a pair of 40X binoculars on a fork mount that I've built a white light solar filter for...  they have a 2 degree field of view (ES 14mm 82 wide eyepieces).   I might just bring those and watch it, not photograph it.



#21 nimbulan

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 10:06 AM

If you plan on using the camera during the partial phases, a solar filter is a *MUST* for your telescope or camera lens. Otherwise, your eyes or your camera will be irreversibly damaged.

You'll want to take your filter off for totality, however!

I was actually looking at solar filters last night before I logged off but was having trouble finding an appropriate size for the Celestron NexStar 102 SLT.  Celestron only seems to sell filters for their 60 and 70mm refractors and I understand that the sizing between manufacturers is anything but standard.  Is the DIY route with a sheet of Baader film the recommended way to go?



#22 bobzeq25

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 12:16 PM

Baader sells this in every size imaginable.  I just got one, it's really well made.  Safe IF you take their advice and install the safety straps.  Otherwise...

 

http://www.baader-pl...m---150mm).html



#23 SteveRosenow

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 01:50 PM

Thousand Oaks Optical sells filters for every objective size imaginable. I have one of their 'SolarLite' filters on my LX200. Quite a fantastic filter.

#24 Cajundaddy

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 03:32 PM

 

 

After looking through some of Mr. Eclipse's pictures where he primarily uses an 810mm FL scope, I think something in the 600-700mm range would suit me best.  I do like the look of that Celestron NexStar 102 SLT though it's available for $200 less without the NexStar.  How useful is that computer system during an eclipse?

If you wish to track the sun automatically a Nexstar SLT mount will do it very well.  That is what I plan to use with my telephoto lens and camera.  I have been testing this and like the results so far.

 

"For just a dslr and lens to do a wide angle time lapse would you need a solar filter?"  

Most likely yes to avoid overheating and damaging your optics.

 

How difficult is it to align the tracking system during the daytime?  I'm not going to be able to do it the night before, unfortunately.

 

That all depends on the mount you choose and how precise you need to be.  Exposures will be reasonably short so you don't need DSO precision but if you get a GEM mount level at exactly the right latitude setting, just point your N tripod leg to true north with a compass and known magnetic deviation for your location.  Engage your drive and use the sun to run a final drift align.

 

A Nexstar mount is a snap.  Enable the sun as an alignment point in your setup, input your Lat/Lon, exact time, and choose Solar System align,  Point the scope centered on the sun and select align. Done.  

 

My Nexstar SLT mount keeps the sun in the scope for at least 30 minutes without any adjustment.  Plenty long enough for my needs. 



#25 pierce

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 03:45 PM

I've got an 'Astrozap' for my 80mm refractor, these come in every imaginable size, with either baader film or glass filters.

 

this was the venus transit in 2012, shot with a EOS 60D on a f/11.3 80mm (fl=910mm), and a superpolaris.   the tint is photoshop, when I contrast tweaked it to enhance the solar spots,  it looked pinkish, so I color shifted it to yellow/orange because it was more pleasing.

 

IMG_3501-X3.jpg

 

 

 

note, I was using a 80s vintage Vixen SuperPolaris (aka Celestron SP), which I polar aligned strictly by magnetic compass... the sun stayed in the FOV for an hour or more at a time.


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