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Mars 10/6, 10/9, and 10/14 with 300mm camera lenses and stacked teleconverters

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#1 otoien

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 01:10 AM

Although I had not seen anyone providing Mars captures with regular camera equipment beyond small dots, I set myself out for the challenge of doing this with what I had (mostly) now that it was at its closest, and trying to learn planet stacking. I am posting here in the DSLR/Mirroless Imaging forum since these were made with ordinary camera lenses and camera body.

 

I found that stacking a 1.4x TC and 2x TC gave the best results with my 300mm lenses. I used my Nikon 1 AW1 with the FT1 adapter for the recording, since it has about 2.8um pixel size, a fully electronic shutter, and is capable of up to 60 raw frames per second.  I did however only use 15 frames per second for enough exposure at 1/60 sec at ISO 160.  It was released in bursts of 29 frames filling the buffer with a home made pneumatic remote release. I had the rig set up on my SkyTracker to help following the planet, but only pointed the tracker in a very approximate direction of true north as Polaris was hidden by trees at my locations. With best practice it would take about 10 min to fill a 16GB card with 1580 raw files due to the time needed to clear the buffer. Images were centered and cropped in PIPP, then stacked in AutoStakkert with 3x drizzle, typically using 15-30% of ca 1000-1580 frames per take, sharped with wavelets Registax, edited for contrast and brightness, and then had final edits and resize applied in Nikon Capture NX2. For animated GIFs, they had another trip through PIPP after straightening to keep them centered.

 

First out is at closet distance of Mars October 5-6. Since I did not have a 2x TC compatible with my Nikon 300mm f/4 PF then, my AF300mm f/4 ED had to do, one full  stop down with TC-301 and TC-14E stacked (for these to fit together I had to remove the baffle of TC-301). These were takes at about 1/2 hour intervals.
#1-3

p4029697538.jpg  p4029697551.jpg  p4029697599.jpg

 

 Much above my expectations and to my joy, I found that I could not only resolve some patterns on the planet, but also the south pole and something at the north pole that might have been ice or clouds. Then a few days later, October 9, a used TC-20E III that I had ordered for the occasion arrived. The TC-20EII was mounted closest to the Nikon 300mm f/4 PF which was stopped down 1/3 to 2/3 stop. The protruding front of the TC-14E fits nicely into the rear opening of the TC-20E III.

 

p4029697633.jpg

 

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p4029697674.jpg

 

 

 

Here are the animated GIFs from the same sessions + one from October 14 near opposition when seeing was a bit worse:

 

p4031120103.gif  p4031120102.gif

 

 p4031120101.gif

 

(The October 9 GIF has one additional take that was stacked from 50% of only 29 frames and started >2.5 hours before the next one - it was supposed to only be a quick test before my tracker got occupied with a deep sky target but the result was good enough to include in the GIF).


Edited by otoien, 27 October 2020 - 01:25 AM.

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#2 fishonkevin

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 06:53 AM

Very cool. I especially like the gifs.



#3 otoien

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 08:08 PM

Thanks for the kind comment Kevin. I was rather surprised how much came out of it considering the few pixels on I got the target compared the equipment that is usually being used for planetary targets in these fora.



#4 chanrobi

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 11:34 PM

Very cool dude, love getting results with 1/100 budget of expensive stuff



#5 otoien

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Posted 28 October 2020 - 03:05 AM

Thanks for the comment chanrobi. The challenge of getting as much as possible out of the equipment that I have is part of what I find attractive in this hobby. There is a lot of learning in reading these fora.



#6 Starman27

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Posted 28 October 2020 - 11:08 AM

Very fine images. Thanks for the detailed information. If you have Topaz Gigapixel available you may be able to enlarge and increase the detail.



#7 FebStars

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Posted 28 October 2020 - 07:52 PM

Really enjoyed them all.

 

Tom



#8 otoien

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Posted 28 October 2020 - 09:55 PM

Thanks Herman and Tom for the kind comments.

 

Out of curiosity I did a Gigapixel trial and while it is easy enough to use, it did not really do much to these images, and not much more for me with other images that an uprez and sharpening not would do, i.e. increase scale and attempt at pulling out more details at the cost of increased noise levels. I suspect the wavelets in Registax followed by a small amount of sharpening in CNX2 has pulled out whatever is possible from these files. It did a better job with a far away bird in flight against a gray cloudy sky, but for me the cost is not justified. For anyone considering trying it is worth noting that the download is >2GB, so there is multidimensional Giga here. shocked.gif  (My band width is excellent, so it was not any problem for me.)


Edited by otoien, 28 October 2020 - 09:57 PM.


#9 Ranger Tim

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 08:28 AM

Wow, great images from unorthodox technique!



#10 otoien

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 05:17 PM

Thanks for the enthusiastic comment, Ranger Tim.



#11 vidrazor

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Posted 04 November 2020 - 06:57 AM

Pretty cool for stack-and-a-half teleconverters. So that's about 840mm with the two teleconverters, and 2268mm lens equivalent with the 2.7x crop factor, if I'm not mistaken. Which 300? Surprised you could have such a relatively high shutter speed at base ISO and whatever actual equivalent f-stop. I believe I have the same sensor in my J4, but I I'm not sure if I have the same exposure options. A J5 has a marginally better sensor. Although it'd be prohibitively expensive, it would be interesting to rent the 800m f/5.6 Nikkor and bypass the teleconverters and put the 800 right on the AW1.

 

Nice work!



#12 otoien

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Posted 04 November 2020 - 07:30 PM



Pretty cool for stack-and-a-half teleconverters. So that's about 840mm with the two teleconverters, and 2268mm lens equivalent with the 2.7x crop factor, if I'm not mistaken. Which 300? Surprised you could have such a relatively high shutter speed at base ISO and whatever actual equivalent f-stop. I believe I have the same sensor in my J4, but I I'm not sure if I have the same exposure options. A J5 has a marginally better sensor. Although it'd be prohibitively expensive, it would be interesting to rent the 800m f/5.6 Nikkor and bypass the teleconverters and put the 800 right on the AW1.

 

Nice work!

Thanks for the kind comment, vidrazor. The exposure I have used for Mars these days (1/60s at f/15 ISO160 at15 fps) has been exactly the same as for the quarter moon, it is/was that bright. The first three images was with the Nikon AF 300mm f/4 ED (with TC-301+TC14E [I]) stacked. This is the old screwdriver AF version of the 300 f/4. The next three was with the Nikon AFS 300 mm f/4 E VR PF (with TC-20E III +TC14E [I] ). The latter is a better lens, and particularly distinguished by almost non-existent longitudinal color fringing. The fringing was somewhat bothersome with the AF300, and I had to manually correct some of it along the edges. With respect to resolution in this case, I think it is mostly limited by seeing and not differences in the lenses. The 300mm PF results are also the first ones I processed, so it is possible I could tweak out a little more quality with the experience I gained under ways.

 

[It can be noted that Mars appears slightly larger with the AF300mm than the 300PF. This is likely due to slight differences in effective focal length between the lenses and not the effect of change in distance to Mars between the dates.]

 

The J4 has higher resolution than the AW1 (18 vs 14 MPix - AW1 is pretty much derived from J3), while having the same 60 fps max frame rate according to DPR. As with AW1, there is no utility for remote (other than the wireless transmitter that puts everything into a not very useful automatic mode). I built a pneumatic release for the AW1 that would physically push the shutter button without disturbing the rig. It just snaps into place when mounting it. The parts with the membrane that the actuator button is epoxied to came from a small broken membrane pump head I had lying around.

 

p4041140276.jpg

 

p4041140316.jpg

 

p4041140361.jpg


Edited by otoien, 04 November 2020 - 07:45 PM.


#13 vidrazor

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Posted 04 November 2020 - 11:19 PM



Thanks for the kind comment, vidrazor. The exposure I have used for Mars these days (1/60s at f/15 ISO160 at15 fps) has been exactly the same as for the quarter moon, it is/was that bright. The first three images was with the Nikon AF 300mm f/4 ED (with TC-301+TC14E [I]) stacked. This is the old screwdriver AF version of the 300 f/4. The next three was with the Nikon AFS 300 mm f/4 E VR PF (with TC-20E III +TC14E [I] ). The latter is a better lens, and particularly distinguished by almost non-existent longitudinal color fringing. The fringing was somewhat bothersome with the AF300, and I had to manually correct some of it along the edges. With respect to resolution in this case, I think it is mostly limited by seeing and not differences in the lenses. The 300mm PF results are also the first ones I processed, so it is possible I could tweak out a little more quality with the experience I gained under ways.

 

[It can be noted that Mars appears slightly larger with the AF300mm than the 300PF. This is likely due to slight differences in effective focal length between the lenses and not the effect of change in distance to Mars between the dates.]

 

The J4 has higher resolution than the AW1 (18 vs 14 MPix - AW1 is pretty much derived from J3), while having the same 60 fps max frame rate according to DPR. As with AW1, there is no utility for remote (other than the wireless transmitter that puts everything into a not very useful automatic mode). I built a pneumatic release for the AW1 that would physically push the shutter button without disturbing the rig. It just snaps into place when mounting it. The parts with the membrane that the actuator button is epoxied to came from a small broken membrane pump head I had lying around.

That's a fascinating setup. I thought the AW1 was part of my J4's generation. I was looking at Backyard Nikon, which has a driver for the Nikon 1 V3, which shares the same sensor as my J4, although I don't know if the J4 can be equally controlled. I may try to pick up a V3 and experiment with it for DSO. It would be great if the N1 cameras would all respond to the BN command set, but I suspect not (although the J5 may respond, as it has a similar built-in intervalometer to the V3). It would be interesting to see what you could get if you hooked up your rig to an RC scope. :) 



#14 otoien

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 06:15 AM

Thanks, out of curiosity I connected my AW1 to the computer via the USB port. I already had DigiCamControl installed as I had played with that for my D500. To my surprise I was able to release the shutter from the program, and shutter speed, ISO and aperture was retained from the manual mode setting on the camera. But no live view was available and no settings could be changed. And what matters most for this case: even if it was initially set to 15 fps it would only capture a single frame at a time. So it would not be able to replace the pneumatic release for me. If one where able to hack the USB protocol to create a hand-held release, it would likely only do single frames, so not much point.



#15 vidrazor

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 10:56 AM

Thanks, out of curiosity I connected my AW1 to the computer via the USB port. I already had DigiCamControl installed as I had played with that for my D500. To my surprise I was able to release the shutter from the program, and shutter speed, ISO and aperture was retained from the manual mode setting on the camera. But no live view was available and no settings could be changed. And what matters most for this case: even if it was initially set to 15 fps it would only capture a single frame at a time. So it would not be able to replace the pneumatic release for me. If one where able to hack the USB protocol to create a hand-held release, it would likely only do single frames, so not much point.

Hmm, interesting. So is it set to a video mode yet it fires single frame? Other than not being able to record video, it may be useful for shooting subs, if it can control the camera past the 30 second internal maximum exposure time. Was the app still set to your D500 when you tried that? There are no N1 cameras on the supported camera list on the website. Perhaps try a different body on the list? Does the AW1 have an HDMI port? Perhaps you may be able to monitor through that, hooked up to a small LED screen. I'll have to download the app and see if it can control my J4. That would be awesome if I can get the J4 to shoot past the 30-second mark.

 

Edit: Well, I tried the app, but I got an error message the moment I started it, whether the camera was connected or not. It said it needed .NET 4.6, I have a later version. Rather strange, won't even come up. Oh well...

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  • digicam.jpg

Edited by vidrazor, 06 November 2020 - 11:35 AM.


#16 otoien

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 10:57 PM

Hmm, interesting. So is it set to a video mode yet it fires single frame? Other than not being able to record video, it may be useful for shooting subs, if it can control the camera past the 30 second internal maximum exposure time. Was the app still set to your D500 when you tried that? There are no N1 cameras on the supported camera list on the website. Perhaps try a different body on the list? Does the AW1 have an HDMI port? Perhaps you may be able to monitor through that, hooked up to a small LED screen. I'll have to download the app and see if it can control my J4. That would be awesome if I can get the J4 to shoot past the 30-second mark.

 

Edit: Well, I tried the app, but I got an error message the moment I started it, whether the camera was connected or not. It said it needed .NET 4.6, I have a later version. Rather strange, won't even come up. Oh well...

Actually the 15fps that I use is not a video mode, just high speed stills shooting (available up to 60fps which is quite impressive). It will save raw frames if set to raw mode, but buffer is limited to 29 12-bit raws.

 

With the FT1 adapted, shutter speeds are limited to about one second, however if the contacts to the adapter are blocked or the adapter twisted a bit, it will actually indicate shutter speed up to 30 sec and also bulb mode from the shutter release (but it reported error at the end of test bulb exposure). However I could not make bulb mode working from the digiCamControl software.

 

Video modes will use the whole width of the frame at max HD resolution, so it is not very interesting for planetary imaging.


Edited by otoien, 06 November 2020 - 10:58 PM.


#17 vidrazor

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 12:07 AM

Actually the 15fps that I use is not a video mode, just high speed stills shooting (available up to 60fps which is quite impressive). It will save raw frames if set to raw mode, but buffer is limited to 29 12-bit raws.

 

With the FT1 adapted, shutter speeds are limited to about one second, however if the contacts to the adapter are blocked or the adapter twisted a bit, it will actually indicate shutter speed up to 30 sec and also bulb mode from the shutter release (but it reported error at the end of test bulb exposure). However I could not make bulb mode working from the digiCamControl software.

 

Video modes will use the whole width of the frame at max HD resolution, so it is not very interesting for planetary imaging.

Oh OK, I see now. Yeah I know, the buffer in my J4 is only good for 1 second's worth at 60fps. I guess your buffer appears to be half of mine. The V3 can do 2 second's worth.

Yes, the FT1 limits the camera to 1-second, or 1/3 second on my J4, don't remember. I simply bought a third-party F-N1 adapter with no connections, which costs about $15, and I can go up to the 30-second limit, but annoyingly does not allow you to zoom the video for focus. I literally use a loop on the rear screen to focus, which works better than I though it could. smile.gif If I can rig the J4 to shoot, I'll fine-tune the focus with a Bahtinov mask.

Attached Thumbnails

  • F-to-N1.jpg

Edited by vidrazor, 07 November 2020 - 12:08 AM.



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