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Camera recommendations for a beginner

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#1 samobot

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 06:12 PM

Hi!

I'm looking into buying a camera for my telescope to begin astrophotography. My telescope is an orion 8" dob. I know I probably won't be able to do very long exposure images because it's on an altaz mount, but I've seen promising results from stacking. I've dipped my feet in the water just by taking images and videos with my phone's camera but I have no mount for it so it isn't ideal. I was wondering what y'all would recommend as a beginner astrophotography camera. I'm leaning towards a DSLR because my mom wants to get one already for daytime use. Our budget is about $500 but buying used we might be able to get something a little better. I've also seen eyepiece cameras which seem a little cheaper but I haven't found much information about them.

Also what other lenses and extra equipment will I want/need? (Aside from a T adapter)

Edited by samobot, 25 February 2021 - 06:16 PM.


#2 Gipht

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 06:45 PM

Since your telescope is set up for visual,  it likely will not be able to come into focus with just a DSLR camera.  The camera sensor sits too far back in the camera.  Many of us have tried our dob's for photography and they will work for lunar photography with a DSLR and a barlow.  My Orion 8" would  come into focus with a DSLR and a barlow.  I was only able to take pictures of the moon, however, as the planets were too difficult  for me to keep  in the frame.  You might also be able to photograph a bright object like M42.



#3 bobzeq25

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 06:48 PM

Using a Dob makes the camera pretty irrelevant.  You could put your cellphone camera on with something like this.

 

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B013D2ULO6/

 

Before you buy anything, I'd read this book.  This business is a good deal more complicated than you think.  $500 is a _very_ low budget.

 

It's also wacko unintuitive, the antidote is knowledge, which you can get from the book.

 

https://www.astropix...bgda/index.html


Edited by bobzeq25, 25 February 2021 - 10:18 PM.


#4 samobot

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 07:15 PM

Using a Dob makes the camera pretty irrelevant. You could put your cellphone camera on with something like this.

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B013D2ULO6/

Before you buy anything, I'd read this book. This business is a good deal more complicated than you think. $500 is a _very_ low budget.

It's also wacko unintuitive, the antidote is knowledge, which you can get from the book.

https://www.amazon.c...14296609&sr=8-6


I thought I may have been out of luck having a dob. I knew $500 was on the very low end, but being a student I can't afford much more. Would it be better off staying away from a new camera and just trying to use my phone? You reference a book but both of the links go to the amazon page for the phone mount.

Thanks!

#5 samobot

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 07:23 PM

Since your telescope is set up for visual, it likely will not be able to come into focus with just a DSLR camera. The camera sensor sits too far back in the camera. Many of us have tried our dob's for photography and they will work for lunar photography with a DSLR and a barlow. My Orion 8" would come into focus with a DSLR and a barlow. I was only able to take pictures of the moon, however, as the planets were too difficult for me to keep in the frame. You might also be able to photograph a bright object like M42.


I do have a barlow so that's no issue if I need to use it. You mention not being able to keep planets in frame, is that because of the mount or something else?

#6 bobzeq25

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 10:17 PM

Sorry.

 

https://www.astropix...bgda/index.html



#7 hoagsobject

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 01:14 AM

I do have a barlow so that's no issue if I need to use it. You mention not being able to keep planets in frame, is that because of the mount or something else?

Yes. A Dobsonian, is a Newtonian reflector that sits on a manual Alt-Az mount, which means that you will need to manually move it. You would need to place your target into the field of view, and take exposures while it drifts. Because your target drifts, your exposures will need to be very short, which limits your target selection to very bright objects.

I think your $ might be better spent on a star tracker and a used DSLR, like Canon T3i. They are fairly cheap and you can astro-modify one yourself. I think this approach will give you much better results for the money. This is how I got started in this hobby.

Hope this helps.

Clear Skies.



#8 T~Stew

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 01:02 PM

Plenty of decent dSLRs on ebay for $500, heck that may get you a pro grade camera from just a few years back like a Canon 6D or 7DII used. This might be a bit much for newby to photography, but if you're serious the 7D II is a great camera for wildlife & astro. Watch the classifieds here you may even find astro-modified cameras in your price range. I'm not familiar with Nikon line or others, but plenty of good Nikons out there for astro as well.



#9 Sacred Heart

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 01:38 PM

Hi!

I'm looking into buying a camera for my telescope to begin astrophotography. My telescope is an orion 8" dob. I know I probably won't be able to do very long exposure images because it's on an altaz mount, but I've seen promising results from stacking. I've dipped my feet in the water just by taking images and videos with my phone's camera but I have no mount for it so it isn't ideal. I was wondering what y'all would recommend as a beginner astrophotography camera. I'm leaning towards a DSLR because my mom wants to get one already for daytime use. Our budget is about $500 but buying used we might be able to get something a little better. I've also seen eyepiece cameras which seem a little cheaper but I haven't found much information about them.

Also what other lenses and extra equipment will I want/need? (Aside from a T adapter)

If Mom wants to get a DSLR,  get a DSLR. 

 

As for astrophotography,  it can and is done with what you have.  It is limited in what it can do. All levels of equipment has its limitations.    A dob and a DSLR.  That is OK.  Learn with it, invent ways to get images. 

   

What I am stressing here is patience.  Don't rush into anything just because.  Astronomy is fun, and frustrating.  Astrophotography is also fun and frustrating...on a different level.  Take time to learn the levels.   Astronomy is NOT an inexpensive hobby,  mistakes are plentiful,   not very many are cheap.

 

Take Bob's advice,  post # 3.  I said before astronomy is fun and frustrating, it is also a learning experience.  You always should learn from what you do or did not do.    In your time that you are learning, save for what you might want or need.  Remember, what you want now,  you may learn,  you don't need it later - you may need something else instead. 

 

 That is why I stress patience.   

 

Equipment is expensive enough, don't make more expensive by having to sell it later because you really needed something else.

 

Most of all,  whatever you do,  enjoy what you do.   Share it with others as well.        Joe


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#10 asanmax

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 01:51 PM

I wouldn't try combining a DSLR and a dobsonian, although there are folks out there that have had some good deep sky imaging results. But they also have ton of experience.

To avoid frustration, try using your smartphone and a telescope phone mount to shoot some nice moon images.

If you'd like to go deep and shoot some galaxies and nebulae, I'd recommend to by a used star tracker and a cheap DSLR with a lens.

For a budget camera, you can go ahead a buy a used T1i, T2i. Even better a T3i with a flip-out screen.

I'm pretty sure you can fit in your budget. Who knows, if you like it, you can always upgrade. One step at a time.



#11 mariemarie

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 01:52 PM

If you get a DSLR for daytime and nighttime use, get a intervelometer to fit the camera too (~$20) which you can program to take hands-free stacks of photos. And then if you have access to a regular camera tripod or can otherwise stabilize the camera well you can start taking photos of bright, large objects with just the lenses that come with the camera. "Prime" lenses (that is, only one focal length) are much better optically than zoom lenses.

 

With a basic kit of camera and lens, intervelometer, and tripod you can take photos of bright objects like the moon, the Pleiades, other constellations with exposures that are short enough that you don't have to worry about star trailing yet. You'll get a lot of experience with operating equipment in the dark, framing and collecting images, what types of calibration frames to take and how to do that, and get started with stacking and processing. I've started with my old mirrorless and had a bunch of fun and learned a lot. No telescope needed.



#12 bazookaman

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 02:05 PM

I was able to get my Canon 5 DSR to focus on my xt10 plus with a 2x Powermate fwiw. It wouldn't get close without it. ymmv.


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#13 readkonrad

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 02:17 PM

I was in your exact situation 2 years ago. Had an Orion dob and a cell phone. I got one of those inexpensive cell phone->eyepiece adapters and got hooked.
The dob is a great visual telescope but it really isn’t made to take pictures. As mentioned above, you will probably struggle to get a DSLR to reach focus. I wouldn’t recommend spending any more money and effort trying to image with your dob other than using a $20 cell phone adapter to snap quick pics. (This isn’t to say that imaging with your dob *cannot* be done, just know that you face some big obstacles. You might have to move your primary mirror, get a coma corrector, and/or build an equatorial platform to track the sky. You might be a tinkerer and builder by nature and love a challenge like that. I am not.) And once you add up the time a money trying to convert a dob, you might as well just...
Get a small star tracker. Paired with an inexpensive but good for astro DSLR (a used Canon T3i or Nikon d5300 would be good budget choices, do a search to find out which makes and models are recommended for astro at the different price levels). Just a tracker and a DSLR are enough to learn with and take some pretty impressive pictures as well. Some of the trackers can also act as intervelometers with an extra SNAP cable. Set the camera and tracker up to take pictures all night while you look through the dob!

#14 samobot

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 03:39 PM

Thanks for all the answers guys, based on this and more research I've done, a DSLR and star tracker seem like the best option for me. I'm excited to get started in astrophotography and branch into new areas of astronomy.

#15 samobot

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 08:31 PM

I've found a canon 70d, t6i, and t5i being sold nearby. Does anybody know have experience using any of these cameras and would one work well enough?

#16 asanmax

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 09:21 PM

I'd rank them as follows: 70D, T6i, T5i.

All of these are great cameras that you can modify down the road, do you think you'll have enough money left for the tracker if you buy one of those?



#17 Islander13

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 09:53 PM

Trevor Jones (AstroBackyard) and Nico Carver (Nebula Photos) just posted a shootout challenge on Youtube using trackers and unmodded DSLR and kit (cheap) canon lenses. Now they are pros's at processing - but it's still cool to see what they can get out of very affordable gear 

 

https://www.youtube....R7TVAOA&t=1725s

 

 



#18 Snowfun

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Posted 27 February 2021 - 11:07 AM

Sony A6000.
Cheap.
Noise reduction can be switched off.
Lots of remote and intervalometer options.
Tiny and lightweight.
I have two, one modified to full spectrum, the other more or less unused!


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