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Looking to start out in Astrophotograpy

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#1 Raikyn

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 03:56 AM

Hi

 

Fairly new to this kind of stuff

 

I'm looking to give this astrophotography thing a go, and looking for a little bit of equipment advice.

 

I've a dslr + lenses I can use to start with, 16mm at the wide end, 600f4 at the long end and would like to use these.

I also have a skywatcher 200mm f8 reflector scope as well, also a non-motorised mount, and an adapter between scope and camera.

 

Basically I need a mount.

I would go non-guided to start with, but would like the capacity to guide in the future

 

I was thinking something like the skywatcher EQ6-R might be around what would be needed? And would be hefty enough to hold everything?

 

Not really into planet stuff, but will probably wandering around trying out different stuff.

 

Anything else major?

I'm fine on the computer end and can learn as I go.

 

Budget wise, enough to get a decent mount first time. NZ$2-3000 maybe, options are limited here.



#2 WadeH237

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 07:45 AM

I would go non-guided to start with, but would like the capacity to guide in the future...

This is backwards. You would be better off starting off guided, with the capacity to go unguided in the future.

 

Doing guided imaging is *much* easier than unguided.
 

Budget wise, enough to get a decent mount first time. NZ$2-3000 maybe, options are limited here.

I think that the EQ6-R is a fine option.  The various versions of the EQ6 have a huge installed base of users that are imaging successfully with it.  It shouldn't have any surprises, and there will be lots of people with first hand experience that could offer help.

 

As above, though, I would include some kind of guiding mechanism in the budget.  If you want to go unguided, I think that it'd work fine at the wide end of what you post above, as long as you have a solid polar alignment.  I don't think that you'd get great results with the 600mm lens, and a 200mm F/8 scope would be way outside of reasonable for unguided imaging.


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#3 Kendahl

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 07:53 AM

The EQ-6 would be a good choice. There are others, too. I bought an iOptron iEQ45 because it is much lighter for the same payload rating. (You should discount the rating by 30% to 50% for photography.)

 

Start out using your DSLR and lenses. Use a dovetail to put them on your mount.

 

Although people successfully use Newtonians for photography, yours is too big for an EQ6 and its focal length is too long. Tracking is easy at 600 mm but very difficult at 1,600.

 

Although you can acquire images without a computer attached to the camera, it's much easier when you have one. The software that came with your camera will be sufficient. If your camera is a Canon or a Nikon, I strongly recommend Backyard EOS or Nikon software. It's both excellent and inexpensive.

 

An autoguider should be your next purchase. Without one, limitations in the mount's tracking accuracy will limit you to short focal lengths or short exposure times. PHD is the default standard for guiding software.


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#4 MalVeauX

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 08:38 AM

Heya,

 

Whatever you think you are going to start with, add guiding & dew management to it. Buying a big heavy mount, setting it up, and then only getting seconds out of it with your big instruments is really disappointing for the purpose and performance of that big mount that is meant to track. These mounts don't have encoders. They require guiding to do this. So start with guiding. It opens the proverbial gates to everything for long exposure. The only reason to not bother with guiding, would be planetary/solarsystem/lunar/etc video lucky-imaging. But if you want to image deep space objects, get guiding.

 

EQ6 would be a great mount for your purpose. Don't go with anything less. But adding guiding & dew management.

 

Research Off-Axis guiding and look at inexpensive small guidescopes (50mm~60mm) with an ASI120MM "mini" or equivalent. It doesn't have to be expensive. But the whole point is accurate tracking, and that comes from guiding on these entry mounts without encoders, so consider it part of the cost. Adjust accordingly. But don't bother without guiding!

 

Very best,


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#5 Raikyn

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 08:48 PM

Been looking for a semi-local source for guide scopes

Would this be alright?

ZWO 60280 Guidescope + ZWO ASI 120MM Mini Guider for approx AUS$400

#6 cfosterstars

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 09:33 PM

Been looking for a semi-local source for guide scopes

Would this be alright?

ZWO 60280 Guidescope + ZWO ASI 120MM Mini Guider for approx AUS$400

You should add a 2X barlow to the guider. You want the image scale to be about 1"/pixel or there abouts. Adding a barlow is the easy way to get there.



#7 JP50515

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 10:26 PM

Been looking for a semi-local source for guide scopes

Would this be alright?

ZWO 60280 Guidescope + ZWO ASI 120MM Mini Guider for approx AUS$400


That's exact setup I guide on with my eq6r pro and it works flawlessly.

Check out bintel if you're in New Zealand or Australia

#8 Raikyn

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 10:59 PM

Yeah was looking at bintel for those, couldn't find much local (i'm NZ)



#9 Phil Sherman

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 11:28 AM

An interesting option using your present equipment would be to mount the camera with a lens on top of the scope. Use a reticle eyepiece and your slow motion mount controls to turn the scope into a manual guider for the camera.

 

The EQ-6 is a great mount for imaging. Downloadable software from the web will give you full control of the mount and when you get into guiding, PHD2 integrates easily with the mount control software.



#10 Eddie_42

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 12:44 PM

I use the EQ6-R Pro mount, was my first as well. Its very solid, and easy to use/learn.  Highly recommend!

 

Alernative Opinion:

Regarding the guiding.....I am of the camp that says "it can wait".  I am new to the hobby (6months), but I view it like this.  You want to race a car, do you buy a turbo charged 650hp McLaren Spider?  No, you start small, learn and grow.  A lot of advise I find around the site here needs some of that filter.  Guiding is NICE to have, it is not required. Turbo is nice, but gas is required. Guiding helps, but if you cant get the basics under control, guiding is just another layer of frustration, you could spend nights fighting your guide camera when the problem is somewhere else in the rig. Another optic, another camera, another cable, another program.

 

I have no guidance system (YET), never have. But I am leaning towards getting one when my budget allows.  I take 2min subs without issue and have done some sampling at longer exposures that turned out fair. My scope's FL is 480mm, your longest is 600mm. Ball park closeness. I would venture that you could take plenty of images without the need for guidance with that 600mm lens. With the wider field lenses....you will be fine without guiding getting started.

 

I am not against guiding, just think its a "when you grow into it" kinda thing.  There is no "gotcha" if you dont buy the guide gear up front. You arent missing out, or setting yourself up for double the expense later. Everything you will need to add guidance to your setup now, will be the same later on.

 

 

Other Topics:

Take a look at this site for imaging ideas. https://telescopius.com/  (formerly Deep Sky Object Browser) Plug in your FL and camera dimensions and it will give you a decent idea how an object will fit the frame. Bear in mind the "map" is a sky survey, your image will not look like that, but the size and framing will.  

 

Newtonians (or most scopes) for visual use, and for photographic use are not interchangable. Size of the Secondary, how far the focal plane sits outside the tube, vignetting, sensor sizes, and a myriad of other challenges come into play.  Astrographs (newts for photos) are specially designed for this work. Also, the 1600mm FL is a tougher place to cut your teeth, doable yes, but again, its about the journey.

 

I bought this adapater to clamp my DSLR direct to the mount, also needed a 3/8" to 1/4" screw adapter (tripod mount screw to camera body size) YMMV

 

https://www.amazon.c...uct/B00YWPCNJU/

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B073XLH9T3/

 

Im sure you can find an equivelent selection in NZ


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#11 cfosterstars

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 12:54 PM

Autoguiding is not hard or really all that expensive. It just new and different. For me it was just taking the plunge and trying it. IT was not hard with PHD2. It stand for "push here dummy" for a reason since it is designed to be simple. If you are serious about AP, yes you can learn without it, but anything serious especially at longer focal lengths either requires it or will require a much more expensive mount.



#12 Stelios

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 01:45 PM

Alernative Opinion:

Regarding the guiding.....I am of the camp that says "it can wait".  I am new to the hobby (6months), but I view it like this.  You want to race a car, do you buy a turbo charged 650hp McLaren Spider?  No, you start small, learn and grow.  A lot of advise I find around the site here needs some of that filter.  Guiding is NICE to have, it is not required. Turbo is nice, but gas is required. Guiding helps, but if you cant get the basics under control, guiding is just another layer of frustration, you could spend nights fighting your guide camera when the problem is somewhere else in the rig. Another optic, another camera, another cable, another program.

 

I have no guidance system (YET), never have. But I am leaning towards getting one when my budget allows.  I take 2min subs without issue and have done some sampling at longer exposures that turned out fair. My scope's FL is 480mm, your longest is 600mm. Ball park closeness. I would venture that you could take plenty of images without the need for guidance with that 600mm lens. With the wider field lenses....you will be fine without guiding getting started.

 

I am not against guiding, just think its a "when you grow into it" kinda thing.  There is no "gotcha" if you dont buy the guide gear up front. You arent missing out, or setting yourself up for double the expense later. Everything you will need to add guidance to your setup now, will be the same later on.

You do a guiding polemic, when you've never used it. Your similes don't ring true. Nobody spends "nights fighting the guide camera"--there's nothing to fight, guide cameras just work, year in and year out. There's nothing "turbo" about getting round and non-bloated stars. There's no layer of complexity as would be in properly handling a turbo charged 650hp McLaren Spider.

 

You say you take "2 min subs without issue" at 480mm. Perhaps you got very lucky with your mount copy--but I wonder if a program that measures FWHM and eccentricity would agree. Also, unless your mount has no periodic error, unguided images will look good when the PE curve flattens and awful when it rises and falls. So you'll have some good subs and some bad subs. 

 

There's no "grow into it" thing. There's nothing to "grow into." It's not like buying a bigger scope to get a better image scale and resolution when that's the limiting factor. The periodic error (and other flaws) of a mount *IS* the limiting factor from the very beginning, given that one has learned to focus and acquired a tracking mount. It should be addressed early. The cost of a guiding system is trivial, the benefits are enormous. Even people with superb mounts costing $10K and up guide. Even people with absolute encoders guide. 


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#13 Eddie_42

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 02:35 PM

100% agree....guiding is a nice thing....its NOT a required thing

 

I will guide eventually. No doubt about it. even at my 480mm FL.  It just isnt required.

 

For a person (the OP) saying  "i have a camera and wider field lenses, thinking about a mount, what do i need?" Guiding isnt a NEED, its a nice to have.  Learn the mount, learn the software, learn the process, set up and tear down the gear 15 times. Then add a layer.  Im living proof you can do it without guiding.

 

My own two cents...feel free to disagree. I havent been doing this for years...im new....freely admitted at the top.  I dont come from a world where a $300 accessory is "trivial". My whole setup came in around $2500, thats a 10% upgrade, plus the flattener, plus, plus plus.  The hobby has is price, I know this, but I like to take it in chuncks and peices, Guiding (im my opinion) is a peice that can be added later, and not drasticaly hamper the results today.

 

The OP asked for opinions, I gave mine. Feel free to express your own or provide counter arguments, but dont berate me.


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#14 JP50515

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 03:12 PM

Yeah was looking at bintel for those, couldn't find much local (i'm NZ)

They ship to NZ and actually I heard something about how you kiwi's get a better deal than the Aussies buying from them due to some tax situation. 

Mention Dylan O'donnell sent you and I think you'll even get a discount. 

 

https://www.bintel.c...?v=4442e4af0916

 

https://www.bintel.c...?v=4442e4af0916


Edited by JP50515, 28 May 2019 - 03:12 PM.


#15 Kendahl

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 03:48 PM

Assuming wind isn't blowing the scope around and you've taken care of details like an east-heavy RA balance (to keep the gears meshed) and dragging cables, guiding fixes two problems. One is periodic error in right ascension due to production tolerances in the mount's gears. The other is drift in both right ascension and declination due to imperfect polar alignment. If you take pains with polar alignment, periodic error is the big contributor.

 

Whether you need to guide depends on the image scale of your photographs and the size of tracking errors if you don't guide. Image scale with my refractor (783 mm focal length) and Canon T3i camera (4.3 micron pixels) is 1.3 arc-secs/pixel. However, I know from visual observations of the close pairs of Epsilon Lyrae that good seeing for my area is 2.5 arc-secs. Unguided periodic error for my mount is 20 arc-secs peak-to-peak over a period of 337.5 seconds. That works out to about 7 arc-secs per minute. Therefore, my unguided tracking error will exceed seeing in only 20 seconds. Since my preferred subexposure duration is 8 minutes, I clearly need guiding to correct the periodic error. On the other hand, with a 50 mm lens whose field of view is 25° x 17° (big enough to fit Orion or the Virgo galaxy cluster), image scale is 18 arc-secs/pixel. I can go 2½ minutes unguided before tracking error becomes an issue. With a 35 mm lens, image scale is 25 arc-secs/pixel, making peak-to-peak periodic error less than one pixel. At that image scale, it's irrelevant.

 

Autoguiding isn't dirt cheap but neither is it terribly expensive. I use a QHY 5L-II monochrome camera ($169 from OPT) and a 60 mm, f/4 refractor ($140 from Astronomics). Image scale is 3.2 arc-secs/pixel. (I suspect Stelios would recommend a 2x or 3x Barlow.) I wouldn't argue with anyone who prefers a different combination of camera and scope. Guiding software is PHD2. Guiding with an RMS of 2 arc-secs is pretty easy. Getting below 1 arc-sec takes a significant amount of tweaking.



#16 vidrazor

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 05:13 PM

"This is backwards. You would be better off starting off guided, with the capacity to go unguided in the future."

This comment strikes me as rather odd. When first starting out it would appear to me that honing in how to properly rig and balance a setup, and then properly align to Polaris (in the northern hemisphere) as more important. What good is using a guiider if you're not properly set up?

#17 WadeH237

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 08:40 PM

"This is backwards. You would be better off starting off guided, with the capacity to go unguided in the future."

This comment strikes me as rather odd. When first starting out it would appear to me that honing in how to properly rig and balance a setup, and then properly align to Polaris (in the northern hemisphere) as more important. What good is using a guiider if you're not properly set up?

The entire reason that I said it, is that it's completely counter-intuitive - but true.

 

The things that you mention are indeed things that you need to do starting out, but those super basic.  You need to be able to do them before you even put a camera on the scope.  Once you actually start taking pictures, you'll find that it's incredibly difficult to do reliably without guiding.

 

Going unguided successfully requires a decently high performance mount, a very rigid system, near perfect PEC programming, near perfect polar alignment.  And all of that's not even enough.  Even if you have a completely perfect mount, the sky doesn't track at a consistent rate.  The atmosphere is changing bending the light differently at different altitudes, and even the atmospheric conditions can affect it.

 

My Astro-Physics mounts are completely capable of unguided imaging, and sometimes I actually do it.  But the reality is that guiding is quite easy by comparison.  Enough so that I do it even on my high end mounts, because it's just an extra click in the software..  If I were to image with one of my AVX mounts (and I'm actually building an entry level imaging system around one), I wouldn't even consider not including a guider solution.


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#18 vidrazor

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 11:22 PM

Yeah, I'm in the process of setting up a portable system around a Skyguider Pro that I can hike deep into woods with, and although I will eventually get a guiding setup, the kit has to be bare bones. Nothing other than tripod, tracker, camera, and lens. No computer, software, computer housing, seating, etc. While I am not expecting more than 2-3 minute subs with this setup with my longer lenses (300-400mm), many have managed longer exposures with just the Skyguider and even longer optics than I will be using (600mm). It's certainly nice to have all the other stuff, but when you have to carry it far and deep, you gotta keep it simple. ;-)



#19 Stelios

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 01:12 AM

The OP asked for opinions, I gave mine. Feel free to express your own or provide counter arguments, but dont berate me.

Sincere apologies. I didn't mean my response to be berating, and I can see now how it could be taken that way. 



#20 Raikyn

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Posted 30 June 2019 - 08:27 AM

So, everything arrived, and i've kind of got everything working, but badly so far.
It's all good though, i'm going through articles and tutorials fixing stuff up.

Tonight got my first images, lagoon/trifid nebula, and the nebula in carina. So thats a positive step forward

Just single shots though, not great but it's a start, working my way through the process. Pleased to have anything at this stage.

48159452921_e859529778_c.jpg

cQsnZzWh.jpg
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