I know this is probably a post that has been typed up a thousand and one times, but I am feeling a little overwhelmed trying to organize my thoughts and newfound knowledge on all of this. I've done a lot of reading about astrophotography, the different equipment needed, and just the overall recommendations within the field. Basically, all of my Samsung devices have had 20+ open internet browser tabs for the last two weeks. I have also been reading through several posts on here, but I think part of my problem is that sometimes, I'm not quite sure what to search for or what information I'm seeking for my particular situation. Basically, "noob" doesn't even cut it for me
Anyway, yes - this is one of those annoying "I'm new to this, please help" posts. Feel free to copy and paste previous comments you've made on other posts or direct me to specific threads/websites/videos. Additionally, if you just want to tackle one aspect of my post, that is totally fine; I know it's long. I'm not trying to make everyone regurgitate all of the same information over and over...
So, here we go: My husband bought me a fairly basic telescope for Christmas because I've always wanted one, and let's be real - I'm a huge science nerd. It's a Meade ETX80 telescope. The day after I got it, I realized that there was an adapter you could buy to attach a camera to the prime focus. Well, apparently that small realization has triggered a cascade of research and unwavering desire (obsession) to figure out how to get some of these amazing photographs that I've been seeing. I bought the T-ring and T-adapter that I needed and took my first photograph of the moon a few nights later. I was hooked!
Now, here I am trying to figure out where to actually start because I have now overwhelmed myself with information in the last few days. I have a Nikon D3100 and a Nikon D7000. I've read that Canon is much better for AP, but I am not looking to turn this into a major hobby of mine. I'm also not looking to dump thousands of dollars into all of this, if possible. I'm just interested in taking a few awesome photographs here and there and to see the hidden wonders of my light polluted sky lol (Central Pennsylvania). I will say though that my husband and I were bit by the "travel bug" after we got married last year, so we've been after dark skies and fantastic views through the US now. So far, Bryce Canyon and Acadia have been my favorite night skies! So, any setup that is very easily portable would be a huge plus since we do a lot of camping and hiking.
I guess my main question is: What is possible with my Nikons without completely busting the bank? I have the standard 18-55mm and 18-200mm lenses. I'd really like to get photographs of DSOs such as nebulas and galaxies, but I'm not sure if things like that are possible with just a DSLR and a certain type of lens (I hear prime lenses are much better than zooms?) or if I absolutely need a small refractor telescope with the camera, like an Orion 80mm. I do know that I need a good German equatorial mount, and I'm sure everyone has their own recommendations for that. I'd definitely take some recommendations on ones that don't bust the bank but also satisfy an intermittent astrophotographer.
Are filters worth it? I've read about light pollution filters and ones that help draw/cancel out certain wavelengths to aid in better images. I also understand that my Nikons require a DSUSB cable in order to do long exposures over 30 seconds. I'm under the impression that different Nikons require a different kind of cable though - anyone know which one I would need? And how exactly does it work - it then plugs into a tablet or computer where you can control the shutter release remotely? I know it helps to reduce vibrations and softness in the photographs.
I know that image processing is nearly half, if not more, of the battle with AP. Fortunately, I am very familiar with Photoshop and Lightroom from being in art school previously. However, I am not 100% confident in my skills since AP editing seems to be a different type of beast. I have been researching stacking and the different programs out there (any of them Mac or Samsung tablet compatible?) as well as trying to learn what dark, light, bias, etc. frames are.
Personally, I think a lot of this stuff I will be able to teach myself over time, such as the processing skills, learning the basics of stacking, and experimenting with ISO/exposure/f-stops etc. However, I think I need to be confident with and guided (no pun intended ) to the right equipment since that's where the money goes.
I know I have other questions, but like I said, I have successfully overloaded myself with information in the last few days, and I just needed a place to start organizing all of the information. Thank you to anyone who has lasted to the end of this novel and can provide any bit of advice and insight!