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Telescope to use with DSLR

astrophotography beginner dslr equipment
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#1 amitshesh

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 05:09 PM

I have been reading various posts here about my new quest, but posting for the first time!

 

I want to buy a telescope for myself and my kids. I am interested in viewing planets and brighter DSOs. But one of the main requirements for me is that I should be able to take pictures using my DSLR and my telescope. I have just started in astrophotography (so far, taken pictures of the moon, Comet Neowise, Milky Way) using a DSLR and tripod and no tracking (Nikon D5300, 35mm f/1.8 prime and a Tamron 18-400mm lens). I am self-taught, but am reasonably comfortable with using a DSLR in manual mode and postprocessing.

 

I have read many posts here to understand what equipment I need, what will fit in my budget and what will get me most value. It is overwhelming! But I have shortlisted these telescopes:

 

1. Orion Spaceprobe 130ST.

2. Orion XT6 or XT8 (price difference isn't major, but will the extra cost + weight be worth it?)

3. I read only today from a forum here about Apertura AD8. There is also DT6. No idea how their image and build quality compares to Orion.

 

My thought process currently is to buy a telescope that is good at viewing planets and brighter DSOs, and take pictures using it and my DSLR. I'm also interested in a focal length that goes significantly beyond the 400mm of my telephoto lens. This way I can take good planetary images with the telescope, possibly some DSOs too, but fall back on my telephoto lens for larger DSOs that will be magnified too much by the telescope. I realize that both telescopes above are not good for long-exposure photography because I cannot track. For now, I am ok with stacking a large number of short-exposure photos. I might buy a small tracker (like Omegon Mini LX2/3) for my camera tripod and DSLR, so as of now I'm OK with not being able to track conveniently on the telescope.

 

My questions are:

 

1. Are the above good options (from the point of view of setup, and viewing)? I'm maximizing aperture, as suggested by many posts here, while keeping things below $400 (for telescope).

Any other suggestions that I should consider?

 

2. I have not been able to find consistent answers about how to attach my DSLR to either one of these telescopes. There are random YouTube videos, but all of them start with the caveat that DOB does not work with DSLR because of no tracking. I'm OK with pictures without tracking, as I said above. My main requirement is that I be able to capture with my DSLR what I can see through the eyepiece. I believe this is called eyepiece projection. Does anybody have experience with taking sharp photographs with either of these (or a comparable telescope)? What parts would I need to buy to accomplish this?

 

This requirement is a hard one for me. I am willing to look at other telescopes based primarily on the ability to do this. I prefer to use DSLR rather than a point-and-shoot, mainly because I have a DSLR and want to capitalize on it (resolution, ability to post-process RAW, etc.).

 

3. I see from forums here that for beginners like me, a Dobsonian offers many advantages. I see the point of stability, although the bulk is scary. But again, if there is a tripod telescope with comparable reach that is easier to work with a DSLR, I would be interested.

 

If it helps, I plan to do most viewing from my backyard or the park across the street. I live in a suburb of Boston, so light pollution is definitely an issue (I don't know where on the Bortle scale I am).


Edited by amitshesh, 25 September 2020 - 05:11 PM.


#2 idclimber

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 08:00 PM

A DSLR is simply not remotely suitable for planetary imaging. The sensor is much too large and download speed way too slow. More suitable would be a 1/3" sized sensor capable of doing 150fps or more. Even at a focal length of 6000mm that I can get on my 12" scope with a 2x barrow all the planets are relatively small. A DSLR will not allow you to take enough exposures to effectively use any of the modern luck imaging and stacking techniques that are in common use today. A dedicated $350 planetary camera will blow away any DSLR for this purpose. This would include the Nikon D850 on my shelf. 

 

The most common scope is probably an SCT 8" or larger. You can and many do use smaller scopes, but it just gets harder to do. A Dob will not provide any tracking. I think you will find it nearly impossible to manually keep it centered while imaging. I am sure someone here has succeeded in doing so. I my vernacular of mountain climbing, it is like climbing Mt Everest without O2. Certainly possible by a very select few, but well above anything I would attempt. 

 

The mount is not as important as it is for deep sky imaging where exposure durations can go up to 10 or 15 minutes. Many have had success with a stock ALT-AZ mount. I myself was not able to keep planets centered for this purpose and I abandoned this until I purchased a much more expensive tracking GEM mount. Now I can image, but have been plagued by inadequate seeing conditions. I hope to try again with Mars closer to the full moon. Jupiter and Saturn are simply too low for me at my latitude.

 

If you are really stuck on a scope for this, I would suggest a used 8" SCT with mount listed in the classifieds here. When you inevitably get frustrated tryin to get images with a DSLR at least you can put a decent eyepiece in it and use it visually. 


Edited by idclimber, 25 September 2020 - 08:06 PM.


#3 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 08:51 PM

I have been reading various posts here about my new quest, but posting for the first time!

 

<...snip...>

None of those 'scopes are able to track..so you'll be limited to the moon only, there simply isn't enough focal length to shoot any of the planets...you need 2,000-4,000mm +++ to shoot them

None of those scopes were designed for AP , you won't be able get prime focus with a dSLR  as the focal plane built into the mount is to far inside the tube. Eyepiece projection could work...but not any better than simply holding up your cell phone to the eyepiece and no DSO's can be shot using "short exposure/stacking" and eyepiece projection on a static mount.

To take photos of any DSOs, you need a motorized EQ mount...and more specifically a mount that was designed with AP in mind, not simply slapping a motor on the one like the one the Orion Spaceprobe comes on...you're looking at ~$1,000 to $2,000 just to buy an entry level  mount...plus a telescope that actually achieve prime focus with a dSLR

SOOoooo,....you will be best off by just buying an 8" dob, that can actually deliver satisfying visual use...and snap the occasional cell phone shot of the moon..
 



#4 amitshesh

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 10:44 PM

Thanks for the feedback.

 

I should have clarified: by "short exposure stacking" I meant manually tracking the object. I have seen tutorials and videos online of people shooting Andromeda using just a tripod and DSLR without a star tracker. It sounds very time consuming and with a high failure rate, but people seem to have gotten it to work.



#5 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 11:13 PM

Thanks for the feedback.

 

I should have clarified: by "short exposure stacking" I meant manually tracking the object. I have seen tutorials and videos online of people shooting Andromeda using just a tripod and DSLR without a star tracker. It sounds very time consuming and with a high failure rate, but people seem to have gotten it to work.

At 100mm fl prime...

You can't do that at 500-800mm + eyepiece projection



#6 bobzeq25

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:04 AM

Thanks for the feedback.

 

I should have clarified: by "short exposure stacking" I meant manually tracking the object. I have seen tutorials and videos online of people shooting Andromeda using just a tripod and DSLR without a star tracker. It sounds very time consuming and with a high failure rate, but people seem to have gotten it to work.

Sure, with short focal length lenses.  As a rough approximation, take the focal length and divide 350 by it.  I've shot off a tripod with a 50mm.  The formula says 7 second exposures, I did 100X5" ; also bias, flats, darks, and got a reasonable picture of the constellation Cygnus, showing the milky way, and some of the brighter nebulae, North America, Veil, Butterfly...  Ha modified (essential) Nikon D5500.  Image below.

 

You mentioned Andromeda.  You could do something similar with Andromeda.  No Ha mod needed.  It would be about twice as big as the North America. 

 

Consider the XT6.  1200mm.  That means exposures of 1/4 second.  Hard to do much with those on DSOs.  Especially at F8.   I would have needed about 800 subs on the Cygnus at F8.  Even shorter exposures will work fine for the sunlit Moon and planets.

 

General principle.  For DSO imaging a good tracking mount, autoguided, is the most important part of the setup.  NOT the scope or the camera.  A big scope just magnifies tracking errors, and the large F number requires longer subexposures.

 

Cygnus V4 small.jpg


Edited by bobzeq25, 26 September 2020 - 01:31 AM.


#7 readkonrad

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:11 AM

A 8”-10” dob is a great visual scope, I’ve got one myself. It’s great for guests and kids because there really isn’t anything they can break or do wrong and it gives great views of the moon and planets, and on a nice night from the suburbs a lot more. However, as a photographic tool the ones in our price range are pretty useless unless you really really are a tinkerer (moving main mirrors and building an accurate equatorial platform). 
As you have/will learn, planetary and dso imaging are totally different activities. DSO needs steady tracking while planetary wants long focal length with a high frame rate camera. 
You are 2/3rds of the way there to intro DSO, a good camera (d5300) and a couple nice lenses. Add a ~$500 star tracker of some kind (Star Adventurer/SkyGuider Pro/etc) and you are set. Between Andromeda and Orion and M45 and so on, there’s enough to keep you going and learning for a while. It won’t entertain the kids tho. 
For intro planetary I’m not sure what can be done on a $400 budget. Maybe build an equatorial platform for a dob and a ASI224 camera? But almost no one here is doing it that way. Most likely for really good reasons. Your d5300 won’t be much help for planetary, other than the moon with your big lens. 
 

There is no one scope for visual, planetary, and DSO imaging, especially at an intro budget. Dobs are amazing value for visual. A tracker plus what you already have will work great for intro DSO. Going beyond that gets expensive fast. 

Just my 2c. 



#8 idclimber

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:20 AM

Andromeda is huge compared to even the moon. FYI, here are the relative sizes. I have converted them to decimal degrees to make this easier to understand. 

 

Andromeda - 1 deg x 3 deg

Moon - 0.5 deg

Jupiter -  0.012 deg

Mars - 0.0016  deg

 

Andromeda is six times larger that the full moon. You need a very wide field scope to capture all of it. This is typically a scope with a focal length under 400mm but that does depend on the size of the digital sensor. 

 

To further illustrate the issue I entered a 6" f/8 scope that has a focal length of 1200mm into the software that I use for imaging. I also entered the D5300. The purple box represents the area your camera would photograph with this scope. The target is Jupiter as it is seen today. You can preview this yourself online at Telescopius.com

Attached Thumbnails

  • Screen Shot 2020-09-26 at 12.07.35 AM.jpg

Edited by idclimber, 26 September 2020 - 01:21 AM.


#9 BQ Octantis

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 02:55 AM

As 17.5Dob says, normal Newts can't work with a DSLR without lopping off a couple of inches off the tube and drilling new holes for the mirror so the focus can reach the DSLR sensor. If you're that hands on, go with the Orion Spaceprobe 130ST just for the EQ3 tracking mount. You can also hack the controller to add a guide port like I did my EQ2. Otherwise, here is an excellent $400 OTA designed for a DSLR:

 

https://www.telescop...pe/p/116530.uts

 

It is not good for planets. But neither is your Nikon.

 

BQ


Edited by BQ Octantis, 26 September 2020 - 03:10 AM.


#10 amitshesh

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 09:20 AM

Thanks everybody for your comments. Most of this confirms my own understanding, and further solidifies it. Photographing moon/planets and DSOs require very different setups, and its fruitless to look for that one telescope. This is not unlike finding a camera lens that works very well in all situations.

 

This is probably a question for the "No astrophotography" forums, but I'll ask here too just in case: many of these telescopes advertise that one can see most of the objects in the Messier catalog with these telescopes. On the one hand, they have higher apertures than any of my lenses so this could help in seeing better. But I seriously doubt how much better.

 

Given that, just what can I expect to see through just the eyepieces of an 8-inch DOB (like the XT8) when I point it at a DSO like M33? And whatever that is, are you saying that the best way to actually get an image of what I see is just to point a smartphone at the eyepiece?



#11 bobzeq25

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 11:33 AM

Thanks everybody for your comments. Most of this confirms my own understanding, and further solidifies it. Photographing moon/planets and DSOs require very different setups, and its fruitless to look for that one telescope. This is not unlike finding a camera lens that works very well in all situations.

 

This is probably a question for the "No astrophotography" forums, but I'll ask here too just in case: many of these telescopes advertise that one can see most of the objects in the Messier catalog with these telescopes. On the one hand, they have higher apertures than any of my lenses so this could help in seeing better. But I seriously doubt how much better.

 

Given that, just what can I expect to see through just the eyepieces of an 8-inch DOB (like the XT8) when I point it at a DSO like M33? And whatever that is, are you saying that the best way to actually get an image of what I see is just to point a smartphone at the eyepiece?

This book gives you a good idea of what many Messier objects look like, points out which need dark skies.

 

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/1108457568

 

Smartphones can work OK, particularly on the Moon and planets.  Check out the Electronically Assisted Astronomy forum, it's a technique specifically designed to capture what you see (but somewhat better).  Requires only a cheap mount, unlike traditional imaging.


Edited by bobzeq25, 26 September 2020 - 11:33 AM.


#12 readkonrad

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:00 PM

Take a look through the “Smartphone Astrophotography” thread. Lots of examples of what things look like on a phone held up to an eyepiece. 




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