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Starting astrophotography

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#1 larsenyounes

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:10 PM

Hey all.

 

I've been wanting to get into astrophotography for a while, specefically capturing deep-sky objects (DSOs). Since I'm new, I don't know if it's a hobby I will stick with, so I wanna try and keep it as cheap as possible, while still being a decent starting point, in case I want to keep at it, and expand my equipment. I've made a list of the bare-minimum I could find to start taking DSO images, for as cheap as I could find.

 

Telescope:
TS-Optics 70 mm F6 ED Travel Refractor with modern 2" RAP Focuser – 309 eur
TS-Optics REFRACTOR 0.8x Reducer Corrector for 80mm f/7 ED - 2" connection – 145 eur

 

T2 extender and T2 ring:

TS-Optics T2 extension M42x0.75 - 8 mm length – 13 eur
TS-Optics Aluminium Fine Tuning Ring for T2-thread - thickness 1.0 mm – 8 eur

 

Auto guiding:
TS-Optics 50 mm Guiding Scope and Finder Scope with 1.25" Receptacle - 74 eur

ZWO ASI120mini Mono - compact Astro camera and sensitive Autoguider - 179 eur

 

Mount:
Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 PMC-Eight WiFi GoTo Mount - up to 7 kg - 399 eur

 

I bought a used Canon EOS 600D for 227 eur.

 

Total: 1.354 eur (or 1.493 USD)

 

How would this fair as a starter kit for taking DSO photos? Any feedback is appreciated.



#2 bobzeq25

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 08:02 PM

Hey all.

 

I've been wanting to get into astrophotography for a while, specefically capturing deep-sky objects (DSOs). Since I'm new, I don't know if it's a hobby I will stick with, so I wanna try and keep it as cheap as possible, while still being a decent starting point, in case I want to keep at it, and expand my equipment. I've made a list of the bare-minimum I could find to start taking DSO images, for as cheap as I could find.

 

Telescope:
TS-Optics 70 mm F6 ED Travel Refractor with modern 2" RAP Focuser – 309 eur
TS-Optics REFRACTOR 0.8x Reducer Corrector for 80mm f/7 ED - 2" connection – 145 eur

 

T2 extender and T2 ring:

TS-Optics T2 extension M42x0.75 - 8 mm length – 13 eur
TS-Optics Aluminium Fine Tuning Ring for T2-thread - thickness 1.0 mm – 8 eur

 

Auto guiding:
TS-Optics 50 mm Guiding Scope and Finder Scope with 1.25" Receptacle - 74 eur

ZWO ASI120mini Mono - compact Astro camera and sensitive Autoguider - 179 eur

 

Mount:
Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 PMC-Eight WiFi GoTo Mount - up to 7 kg - 399 eur

 

I bought a used Canon EOS 600D for 227 eur.

 

Total: 1.354 eur (or 1.493 USD)

 

How would this fair as a starter kit for taking DSO photos? Any feedback is appreciated.

The scopes are all fine, as is the autoguider.  And the camera.

 

The mount could be a problem.  Note that you're spending more on the optics than the mount.  That's dangerous, the mount is more important.  It may work, it may not.  No good way to tell without trying it.

 

I would definitely go with the shorter faster scope.  It's not all about weight.  Long focal length magnifies mount errors.  Slower speed requires longer subexposures.


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#3 SilverLitz

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 09:05 PM

I agree with Bob, that the iEXOS-100 is insufficient for AP with a telescope; it could be OK for a DSLR and camera lens.

 

ES says its total load for up to 19#, including counterweights.  Most load limits for mounts do not include counterweights, and most stated loads should be <50% for AP.  This mount comes with ~5# of counterweights, which is not much to offset a scope, camera, etc.

 

A MUCH better choice for an extreme budget would be the ES EXOS2 w/ PMC8, currently $700 on sale.  This has a much more substantial mount head, tripod, and the full blown PMC8 controller (like on my G11).  The PMC8 works well and is MUCH better than the earlier hand controller unit on older Bresser EXOS units, and smoother belt drive gear system.  This has about twice the load capacity of iEXOS-100, though you should keep the entire load (excluding counterweights) to no more than 14#, which will be OK for the gear you are looking at.  The issue is that it cannot handle much more.  A better budget choice with significantly more future proofing is the SW EQ6R-Pro at $1595; this is the budget mount king.


Edited by SilverLitz, 24 January 2020 - 09:06 PM.


#4 Devonshire

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:31 PM

I just took a quick look at the 'post your photo' iExos-100 thread, over on the PMC8 support forum, and to me, this config looks well in range for both mfr specs and field examples.  There's some nice work being done with this little mount, and some of it gets posted here on CN. 

 

Two thumbs up for the EXOS2 PMC8 as well. Very happy with mine.  



#5 Jerry Hubbell

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 11:53 AM

I agree with Bob, that the iEXOS-100 is insufficient for AP with a telescope; it could be OK for a DSLR and camera lens.

 

ES says its total load for up to 19#, including counterweights.  Most load limits for mounts do not include counterweights, and most stated loads should be <50% for AP.  This mount comes with ~5# of counterweights, which is not much to offset a scope, camera, etc.

 

A MUCH better choice for an extreme budget would be the ES EXOS2 w/ PMC8, currently $700 on sale.  This has a much more substantial mount head, tripod, and the full blown PMC8 controller (like on my G11).  The PMC8 works well and is MUCH better than the earlier hand controller unit on older Bresser EXOS units, and smoother belt drive gear system.  This has about twice the load capacity of iEXOS-100, though you should keep the entire load (excluding counterweights) to no more than 14#, which will be OK for the gear you are looking at.  The issue is that it cannot handle much more.  A better budget choice with significantly more future proofing is the SW EQ6R-Pro at $1595; this is the budget mount king.

FYI - The iEXOS 100 PMC-Eight has the same motor drive system as the EXOS 2 PMC-Eight system, so the weight limitation in the iEXOS 100 PMC-Eight is based on the tripod delivered, not the mount performance itself. We offer upgrades to the iEXOS 100 mount to use larger tripods and you can purchase extra counterweights as needed. Although we do not suggest going over 300 mm FL, our customers are using the iEXOS 100 at longer focal lengths > 700 mm and 80 and 102 mm refractors.


Edited by Jerry Hubbell, 27 January 2020 - 11:56 AM.


#6 Huangdi

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 12:13 PM

I agree with Bob, that the iEXOS-100 is insufficient for AP with a telescope; it could be OK for a DSLR and camera lens.

ES says its total load for up to 19#, including counterweights. Most load limits for mounts do not include counterweights, and most stated loads should be <50% for AP. This mount comes with ~5# of counterweights, which is not much to offset a scope, camera, etc.

A MUCH better choice for an extreme budget would be the ES EXOS2 w/ PMC8, currently $700 on sale. This has a much more substantial mount head, tripod, and the full blown PMC8 controller (like on my G11). The PMC8 works well and is MUCH better than the earlier hand controller unit on older Bresser EXOS units, and smoother belt drive gear system. This has about twice the load capacity of iEXOS-100, though you should keep the entire load (excluding counterweights) to no more than 14#, which will be OK for the gear you are looking at. The issue is that it cannot handle much more. A better budget choice with significantly more future proofing is the SW EQ6R-Pro at $1595; this is the budget mount king.


I wholeheartedly disagree laugh.gif

I use my iExos100 with 3 x1kg(+1 diy 300g) counterweights and have an ED80 weighing in at ~4.5kg on the other end. I've guided it successfully to 12min, pretty sure I can go longer as well. I'm shooting at the native 600mm with an aps-c sized sensor and the stars are pinpoint in 90-95% of my shots(at 10min subs).

OP's suggested scope also has a much lower focal length... Just because it's cheap, doesn't mean it's bad.

I do understand that cheap mounts USED to perform poorly, but as technology and human ingenuity are advancing, so are the products. Just look at Chinese phones... 10 years ago they were regarded as cheap and bad products. Now look at what for example xiaomi has become.

And especially when products such as the iExos100 are coming from a company with existing, well made products, judging them by their price, in my opinion, would be foolish.

To OP: I think you have chosen a great setup, the only thing I would perhaps reconsider is the scope. Before buying one, you should take into consideration what you want to be imaging in the future. The setup you chose is fairly wide, meaning it's great for large nebulae.

 

Not so good for galaxies or planetary nebulae. However large nebulae are by far the best objects to start out with  and there are a LOT of them, so you will probably never run out of targets to shoot with that scope.

In my case I went with a slightly larger and longer focal length scope because I planned on imaging galaxies as well. And while you ideally would want a way longer focal length for galaxies, I found this one to be affordable and flexible. With a Reducer I can fit most nebulae in it, while being able to image galaxies when I use the Flattener.

Just my 3 cents smile.gif

 

 

Small add on:

 

Don't forget about software. For Polar alignment, you will definitely want to purchase a sharp cap license (like 10€ a year) and you'll need something to process your images with.

 

If you have experience with Photoshop I'd suggest using DeepSkyStacker(free) to stack the images and Photoshop to process them.

 

If you do not own/know Photoshop I'd suggest taking a look at specialized astrophotography processing programs such as Astropixelprocessor or PixInsight. From what I've seen, all of those programs have a steep luring curve (like anything in AP), but the specialized programs will outclass Photoshop at some point. 


Edited by Huangdi, 27 January 2020 - 01:41 PM.

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#7 Stelios

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 03:48 PM

You are buying a reducer for F/7 and F/7.5 scopes, to use with an F/6 scope.

 

That is NOT a good idea. Get an appropriately matched reducer. 


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#8 NWAAstronomer

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Posted 28 January 2020 - 10:38 AM

The proof is in the proof. 

 

Here's an image of the Leo triplet posted on the PMC-Eight community on the groups.io platform. https://espmc-eight....o/g/MAIN/topics

 

Place:Near SCC East Pattaya Thailand (Bortle Class 3, Moon Phase 8.0%)

Date:2019/Nov/30 03:50

Telescope: WO Zenith Star 61 (61mm F/5.9)
OVL Field flattener
ISO 1600

Expose:30 Frames X 30 Sec Total 15 Minutes.

Mount:ES iEXOS-100 (No guide)

Camera: Sony Alpha 7Sii (Mod,APS-C Crop)

filter: Optlong L-Pro

Shot By Taro Seki

 

I can't get the photo to attach, so here's the link: https://espmc-eight....tachment/5296/0

 

The thread is here: It contains a mixture of DSLR/lens, DSLR/telescope, and astrocam/telescope.   https://espmc-eight....20,2,0,31936573



#9 asanmax

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Posted 28 January 2020 - 02:49 PM

I was able to push the mount to shoot at the focal plane of the Celestron C5 at the equivalent FL of ~1300mm. 

No problem with the weight of the telescope/DSLR/guidescope. Just needed to add one more counterweight.

As Jerry Hubbell mentioned, it's all about the tripod. The mount itself is as solid as a rock although I've always used it on the tripod that I got with the mount.




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