I've been doing astrophotography for well over a year now. Presently my set up is an Astrotech 72mm refractor with a Skywatcher EQ5 Pro mount. Camera is a crop sensor Sony A6500. I use a Polemaster for polar alignment. I'm loving the goto that my star tracker never had!
For processing I use DSS and Photoshop, although I have started dabbling recently with Pixinsight I still have much to learn there.
Most of my photos are taken in my Bortle 7 backyard. A light pollution filter has long been my friend, and I have an Ha filter on order. I'm targetting mostly Messier objects like M31, M33, M42, M45, M51, M87, M101 - I guess the 'low hanging fruit'.
I'm looking into the future and dreaming of a bigger telescope, using autoguiding, and a CCD/CMOS camera. I see adding each of these as a step along the way, and I am wondering what is the right order to proceed with these steps.
I think moving to a larger telescope would be the easiest first step, but I worry that it would make the next two steps more difficult. And also that the larger scope I might want now might not be the one I would want in my dream system.
Since my Sony camera is not well supported in the astrophotograhy software world, perhaps I should go first to a CCD/CMOS camera, and get familiar with it and some of the software it would need. Then I could add the autoguiding to the system and figure out to integrate its software in. At that point I could add a larger scope, if I still figure I would benefit from it.
Wondering what paths you have taken, and what you might recommend based on your experience and hard-won wisdom?
I started with an Orion ED80, an AVX mount, and a Canon 5DMKII, no mods, also with a Polemaster- so not loads of difference! What software are you using for acquisition?
I first moved on to a dedicated astrophotography camera. I've got nothing negative to say about using a DSLR, and I learned a ton from using mine, but to be honest I doubt I'll ever go back. Though pretty forgiving once it's freezing outside, the noise and hot pixels I'd have to fix in the subs from my Canon were numerous and unavoidable. Also a pain in the butt to match darks within 5 degrees or so. Also, got a bit too much vignetting on my full-frame. Also less sensitivity to Ha emissions. Also, from shooting in Bortle 7, light pollution from the city would produce difficult-to-deal-with gradients- a couple tries at different broadband filters only helped boost contrast a little, and produced annoying and difficult-to-fix color casts.
Shooting monochrome with an ASI1600mm fixed so many issues for me, and made the overall experience more enjoyable. Less weight on the imaging train, easier to balance, no problems matching darks perfectly, and light pollution became less of an issue. Of course that also meant getting a filter wheel, and filters (started with just LRGB to save money).
Guiding came next, and it was probably the easiest step in a major improvement in image quality, even for short subs. Keep in mind I was using an average AVX Very inexpensive asi120mm is still the guide camera I'm using, and I have no issues finding stars up to around 900mm in focal length. I started using a guide scope, but eventually sold it and went with an OAG. It was a pain in the butt to set up initially for sure, but I got a lot of help from folks on this forum, and once it's set up you don't really have to mess with it anymore- it just works, and no need to worry about flexure anymore (as long as your drawtube is solid!)
Next I upgraded to a CEM60 over the AVX, and it's just no comparison. An unexciting, but very much well-worth-it investment.
I'm not sure I have anything for you that qualifies as "wisdom", but I will say this: A good doublet is absolutely good enough for a long time. It's far less instant-gratifying to upgrade components rather than optics, but I found that skimping on the "boring" stuff always comes back to bite me in the end.
Edited by zakry3323, 14 November 2019 - 09:39 AM.