Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Beginner's Astrophotography: Can I use my unmodified DSLR?

  • Please log in to reply
27 replies to this topic

#1 the Elf

the Elf

    Gemini

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,111
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 01 January 2021 - 07:07 AM

It is often recommended to modify DSLR's for deep sky photography. It may be one of the first topics a beginner comes across and sometimes the recommendation sounds like modding is an absolute necessity. There are good reasons not to do it, for example the camera is used for daytime photography as well or the budget does not allow either to have an existing camera modified or get a modified one. I don't want to go deeper into it. I'm also not opposed to modified cameras. I just would like to show what can be done with an unmodded relatively low priced DSLR if modding is not an option.

Click here to view the article
  • Dave Mitsky, ArizonaScott, astrofun and 4 others like this

#2 the Elf

the Elf

    Gemini

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,111
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 01 January 2021 - 07:27 AM

Dears,

 

if someone whats to take a closer look on the image there is an html verion with links to fullHD sized images here:

http://www.elf-of-lo...Unmodified.html

 

clear skies and Happy New Year!

the Elf


  • hendric, ZeusB, GalaxyPiper and 5 others like this

#3 Avgvstvs

Avgvstvs

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 264
  • Joined: 10 Jun 2020
  • Loc: Australia

Posted 01 January 2021 - 09:54 AM

I think your images are amazing even without a modified camera.

I would be very happy with those images myself

Very nice work


  • ZeusB likes this

#4 ntph

ntph

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 99
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2012
  • Loc: Sudbury, ON

Posted 01 January 2021 - 04:41 PM

Wonderful explanation and demonstration, Elf. I think it shows two things:  one, how sensitive and productive "ordinary" digital cameras can be  and   two, how easily we can convince ourselves that unless we use the "latest and greatest and totally optimized", we won't get "good enough" results. To my mind, the results you have in this article  show that for all intents and purposes, most people would likely be highly satisfied with "good enough" results on a wide range of  astronomical subjects. Indeed, I suspect even expert imagers might be hard pressed to discern differences between images captured with an "ordinary" DSLR and LRGB images with high-end gear. I suspect it is much like a blind wine-tasting between bottles costing a few euros or dollars and those costing 10 times the price. Not everyone will be able to "taste" a difference and even if they do, taste is a very personal opinion. And for subjects well suited to "ordinary" DSLR capture (as you point out, lots of them available!), the image is not only  created by the camera but also significantly by the post-capture processing. It reminds me of the similar discussion about golf clubs. You can buy cheap ones or ones that will set you back almost as much as top-end astrogear. But a duffer will still be a duffer with the most expensive clubs. Tiger (or Rory, or pick your favorite pro) will still beat the pants off of mere mortals using your grandfather's castoffs. 

 

Hopefully your article will encourage those contemplating getting started in astroimaging to go ahead and use the "ordinary" DSLR that they already have, without feeling obligated to either modify it or purchase a dedicated camera. That may come later, but you have very ably demonstrated that high-qulaity results are certainly within their reach. 


  • ZeusB, Moontan13, Cosmo Geezer and 1 other like this

#5 yvinu

yvinu

    Lift Off

  • *****
  • Posts: 3
  • Joined: 29 Jul 2020
  • Loc: North texas

Posted 02 January 2021 - 10:07 AM

Well written! This article should be a must read for all beginners (like me) as there is a fair amount of hand wringing that will be obviated by the really illustrative point hits home. 
 

I have not modded my camera yet, and probably defer that for some time now thanks to this beautifully written vote of confidence. 



#6 the Elf

the Elf

    Gemini

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,111
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 02 January 2021 - 11:12 AM

Thank you. I'm absolutely not opposing camera modding. I just would like to show that there is a life before the mod. I'd also like to point out that on the long run the question is not whether or not to modify the DSLR. The question is whether to go for a modded or for an OSC astro or for a mono astro camera. The mono can be used to take Ha only and mix it into the color data taken with the DSLR or OSC. One needs to know all options to make the right decision. It often appears like using an unmodded camera isn't an option. That's just not true. Also it often sounds like the only way to use a mono is LRGB and narrowband. It is perfectly fine to use a mono for Ha only without a filter wheel and an OSC or DSLR to capture all the colors in one go. It's all about knowing the options.


  • hendric, ZeusB, StevenBellavia and 1 other like this

#7 Mike in Rancho

Mike in Rancho

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 178
  • Joined: 15 Oct 2020
  • Loc: Alta Loma, CA

Posted 02 January 2021 - 09:41 PM

Thanks for the article and the link.  Beautiful images on that webpage.  waytogo.gif

 

I both bookmarked and printed it, as inspiration and also a really nice target list to point the scope at.



#8 atin4210

atin4210

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 5
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2010

Posted 03 January 2021 - 03:55 PM

Love your article! I am one of the newbies to astrophotography and am still trying to figure out the details for photographing DSOs. Until I get the scope, auto guiding, ISO speed and exposure times right with my unmodded Nikon D750, I should not splurge on a dedicated CCD/CMOS camera for the purpose. Your article has given me hope that I can do a lot with my existing setup!  Thanks for posting!



#9 the Elf

the Elf

    Gemini

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,111
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 04 January 2021 - 02:38 AM

Yes, you can do a lot with your existing setup. The trick for a good first image is to pick an object that is large and bright. Going to a dark place helps much more than any fine tuning of settings. The D750 can be operated at low ISOs. I'd use ISO 400. Ask other users what they do. For exposure time refer to this table:

https://youtu.be/3RH93UvP358?t=3027

You have to refer to the black numbers and multiply by 3. If you don't know what Bortle scale you have clearoutside.com will give you an estimation. Very likely your first processed image will not look like a Hubble image. Beginners cannot know if that is caused by flaws in the data or lack of processing skills. Thus I strongly recommend you upload your first stack to dropbox or Google drive and send a link in the forum. Friendly people will take a look at your data and give you feedback. Looking forward to your first image!


  • atin4210 likes this

#10 Tonk

Tonk

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,334
  • Joined: 19 Aug 2004
  • Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N

Posted 04 January 2021 - 11:01 AM

Comets light up and develop the fantastic tales when they are close to our sun.


Possibly because they have plenty of time to think up good stories ;)

Nice comet pic :)

#11 the Elf

the Elf

    Gemini

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,111
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 04 January 2021 - 11:44 AM

Ooooops! Spelling is not my strong side.



#12 atin4210

atin4210

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 5
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2010

Posted 04 January 2021 - 02:26 PM

Yes, you can do a lot with your existing setup. The trick for a good first image is to pick an object that is large and bright. Going to a dark place helps much more than any fine tuning of settings. The D750 can be operated at low ISOs. I'd use ISO 400. Ask other users what they do. For exposure time refer to this table:

https://youtu.be/3RH93UvP358?t=3027

You have to refer to the black numbers and multiply by 3. If you don't know what Bortle scale you have clearoutside.com will give you an estimation. Very likely your first processed image will not look like a Hubble image. Beginners cannot know if that is caused by flaws in the data or lack of processing skills. Thus I strongly recommend you upload your first stack to dropbox or Google drive and send a link in the forum. Friendly people will take a look at your data and give you feedback. Looking forward to your first image!

Thanks for the tips! In early Nov 2020, I photographed Orion Nebula wide field with my 102mm f/7 refractor at ISO 125 for 30s and it turned out pretty okay for my first try. I can't seem to upload it to my Cloudynights account or this article, to get feedback, but the stars seem far from pinpoint when magnified. My experience with Bahtinov masks is not great and I can't seem to get good focus with the one that I have. But now that I have a better idea about the parameters to shoot with, I'll give that a try the next time the skies are clear near Seattle.



#13 the Elf

the Elf

    Gemini

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,111
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 04 January 2021 - 04:16 PM

We are getting off topic. As it is my post I dare:

Bahtinov masks work great for long focal length scopes. With 1000mm + you only need something like 10 bars. If you go for a shorter focal length you need a mask with more and smaller bars. In the 200mm region and below they are no longer helpful. Without a B-mask use live view on the camera display and go for 10x mag and reduce exposure time until the star is dim. That is like 1/500s or so. I minimum change in focus makes it disappear. You can focus very accurate to maximum intensity with this method for a short focal length. For a longer focal length you have to correct focus now and then because a few degrees temperature change can bring you out of focus. I refocus after 1 hours and after that when the temperature has change more than 5°C with my longer ones. The short one does not need refocus at all.


  • Ed D and atin4210 like this

#14 Iamgr8er

Iamgr8er

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 25
  • Joined: 28 Nov 2020
  • Loc: Enumclaw WA

Posted 06 January 2021 - 03:23 PM

Thanks for the info

#15 Iamgr8er

Iamgr8er

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 25
  • Joined: 28 Nov 2020
  • Loc: Enumclaw WA

Posted 06 January 2021 - 03:23 PM

Thanks for the info

#16 Am33r

Am33r

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 250
  • Joined: 03 Sep 2015

Posted 06 January 2021 - 04:32 PM

Informative and professional.

 

Wanted to ask you, why didn't you add a link to a good site that explains what the modding is all about.



#17 the Elf

the Elf

    Gemini

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,111
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 06 January 2021 - 05:06 PM

Well, the topic of the article is what you can do with an unmodded camera. Isn't a link to modding somewhat misplaced here? Anyway, I do have a link to an excellent video that shows the process of modding:

https://www.youtube....h?v=7huA4R9rXrQ


  • Am33r likes this

#18 A. Brott

A. Brott

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 1
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2014
  • Loc: Redmond, OR

Posted 06 January 2021 - 07:26 PM

As a newbie, this is very interesting to me.  Are these pictures achieved by using a camera mounted on a drive to track the object?

 

Great pics by the way!

 



#19 RogerM

RogerM

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 115
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2020
  • Loc: California

Posted 06 January 2021 - 09:26 PM

Nicely written article with excellent examples of what can be achieved with an unmodded DSLR.  applause.gif



#20 the Elf

the Elf

    Gemini

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,111
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 07 January 2021 - 01:23 AM

Thank you.

A. Brott, the images are taken on a German Equatorial Mount, a Skywatcher EQ6-R with auto guiding. There is very little you can do from a static tripod.For deep sky objects you need a mount or a tracker.



#21 hendric

hendric

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 23
  • Joined: 10 Jun 2007

Posted 08 January 2021 - 09:52 PM

Thanks for the article!  I was surprised that even a traditionally "hard" subject like the Horsehead comes out pretty well with an unmodified camera. These are from my first real attempt at DSOs with my setup I bought years ago. https://hendric.smug...rop/i-cFb7P7W/A


  • the Elf likes this

#22 the Elf

the Elf

    Gemini

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,111
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 09 January 2021 - 04:11 AM

hendric,

 

nice images. Under dark skies you have a good chance to see dim objects. Alas many of us live under light polluted skies.



#23 FaramarzHidaji

FaramarzHidaji

    Lift Off

  • *****
  • Posts: 3
  • Joined: 08 Mar 2018

Posted 10 January 2021 - 04:34 PM

Thank you for the excellent explanations of why many objects do not require modding. You are quite correct that modding is not required for great astrophotos. I think that dark skies, good focus, and good tracking/autoguiding are more important. In urban skies however, I have had to resort to narrow band filters (H-alpha and OIII), and then H-alpha sensitivity (increased several fold by modding) becomes more important.


  • the Elf likes this

#24 gene williams

gene williams

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 211
  • Joined: 17 Jan 2011
  • Loc: Western Missouri

Posted 17 January 2021 - 02:16 PM

great article.  I have used an unmodded Canon 7D Mark II for awhile and am quite pleased with its results on H alpha, even without using a CLS clip in filter.  Will I ever modify my camera?  No, I will not.  I primarily use camera lenses, and they are optimized for unmodified cameras.  



#25 Yourjones

Yourjones

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 134
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2019

Posted 18 January 2021 - 09:07 PM

Hi Elf

 

Thanks for this encouraging article! Now I won't be overly concerned with my stock DSLR. And these images you share in the post become my next targets to try out.

 

On a different note, are there any negative effects in imaging celestial objects, other than for daytime photography, which DSLR modification (IR cut filter removal) could bring. I don't have a camera lens for daytime photos, so I'm still wondering if I should mod my DSLR just for astrophotography. But I don't hope to see problems this may bring which I have to compensate with more accessories, software, or modification.




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics