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Beginner Camera On A Budget

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#1 markymark

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 11:11 PM

Hi everyone!

 

First time posting. I started the hobby of astrophotography this past summer and I'm currently using my smartphone and a pair of Celestron SkyMaster 20X80 Astro Binoculars. I've been learning a lot, especially stacking images and post processing. I would like to upgrade to a regular camera. Question is I'm not sure what's best to purchase. I'm a beginner and on a budget so I'll be buying used. Intervalometer compatability is key. Any and all suggestions are appreciated!


Edited by markymark, 02 March 2021 - 11:16 PM.


#2 aeajr

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 11:14 PM

No imaging or AP questions in this forum, as it says in the title of the forum.    I will ask the mod to move it where you will be better exposure. 



#3 spereira

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 08:22 AM

Moving to Beginning Deep Sky Imaging.

 

smp



#4 abcdefghii

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 08:39 AM

Hi everyone!

 

First time posting. I started the hobby of astrophotography this past summer and I'm currently using my smartphone and a pair of Celestron SkyMaster 20X80 Astro Binoculars. I've been learning a lot, especially stacking images and post processing. I would like to upgrade to a regular camera. Question is I'm not sure what's best to purchase. I'm a beginner and on a budget so I'll be buying used. Intervalometer compatability is key. Any and all suggestions are appreciated!

How much are you looking to spend? Quite frequently used DSLR will pop up in the classifieds here for a reasonable price. You also have to ask yourself, do you want a modified camera or an un-modified one? You can get better results with modified, but it makes the camera not so suitable for daytime photography (there is an excellent article here by @the elf https://www.cloudyni...e it as it is!)

 

You may also need other equipment, a sturdy tripod, lens, mounts etc. 



#5 markymark

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 09:09 AM

How much are you looking to spend? Quite frequently used DSLR will pop up in the classifieds here for a reasonable price. You also have to ask yourself, do you want a modified camera or an un-modified one? You can get better results with modified, but it makes the camera not so suitable for daytime photography (there is an excellent article here by @the elf https://www.cloudyni...e it as it is!)

 

You may also need other equipment, a sturdy tripod, lens, mounts etc. 

Around $300.00 would be my ceiling. I wouldn't be using this a whole lot for daytime shooting, my cellphone will suffice. I've had some experience using my sister's Nikon D3400 as far as familiarizing my self with settings and setting it up for DSO shooting, however it doesn't have the capability to use an intervalometer, so I never got to use it. That's about the extent of experience I have with using a real camera for anything. 


Edited by markymark, 03 March 2021 - 09:10 AM.


#6 aeajr

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 09:27 AM

How do you plan to use this camera?   Are you going to use this on binoculars or in a telescope?  Or a camera on a tripod?

 

Why use a DSLR?  

 

If this is for a telescope, consider a purpose built astronomy camera that fits in the diagonal or one that replaces the diagonal?   Smaller, lighter and likely less expensive for an entry level model.

 

DSLRs are great, but if you are going to use it with a telescope and not going to use it for daytime shooting with lenses then it seem to be the wrong tool for the task.  

 

Perhaps a starter kit, like the Revolution Imager 2 would be a better approach.

https://www.revolutionimager.com/


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#7 ram812

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 09:29 AM

Hello, and welcome to CN, first time postergrin.gif! If that's your budget you may want to look at the Orion versions of OSC , like the G3. It comes with capture and processing software and ASCOM compatible drivers. It may not produce APOD type photo's ( You would have to be real good at processing!) but it's a great intro camera and real easy to learn on without breaking the bank. TEC cooled to -10/-40° C, no IR cut windows and connections to OTA's just like the more expensive versions. FWIW and my .02

CS, Ralph. Have fun!



#8 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 03:08 PM

Most DSLRs can use an Intervalometer.  Not sure why the D3400 can't, but it seems you're right.  If you can find a Nikon D5300, that model has been highlighted as one of the better ones for astrophotography use, and will give you a good base for later upgrading the optics and mount.  It is Intervalometer friendly, can be controlled by a computer via USB (important for future automation).  And it can take regular pictures, too.

 

Unless you're going after planetary imaging (small slices of the Moon, or images of Jupiter and Saturn), do not be fooled by the major telescope makers that market astro cameras "capable of" imaging just about anything.  The small sensors will severely limit your imaging opportunities for anything in the deep sky.  (I've got one in a box in the closet...)


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#9 joeytroy

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 05:13 PM

Check out the bay I snagged my D5500 for 320ish I believe but no lens. Was a great camera when I started but moved over to a dedicated OSC at the start of 2021 as I have a full rig now and the camera was holding me back from 10 minute exposures. Also I highly recommend you check out this fine book for starting out

 

http://www.astropix....bgda_index.html

 

I built a handmade barn door from the book and was able to capture some great images with the stock kit lens I bought and a intervalometer

 

https://joeytroy.com...n-door-or-bust/



#10 CoHPhasor

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 05:36 PM

  Start by asking better questions - to yourself. waytogo.gif

You have a budget, and I wholly understand that, but where is the overlap in money you have to spend right now, and how much pain you will go through down the road because of it. (This applies to both budget, and "biggest monster possible!!" buys)

 

Ask yourself what you really want to shoot, what results do you realistically want.

(ALL of us want Hubble-grade images from a small scope we barely have to touch, but it isn't realistic)

At some point you reach the limitations of the equipment you have - how soon it is and how difficult it will be to transition will be based on what you do now.

Many people re-sell their original gear here, then move up - as you will notice DSLRs have flooded the classifieds in recent months.
(Good, well-priced astro cameras with APS-C have become available and the original tunes are changing)

 

Do you have a telescope now? What is it?

 

 An example I have is the ASI224MC - a GREAT planetary camera. Gets good shots, nice sensitivity, high speed - all you could want for planetary. First time I fired it up to point at a DSO I laughed at myself. The sensor is a spec, the FoV is non-existent because of it, and I couldn't find a d*** thing when my mount's model wasn't laser-sharp. After switching it out for an ASI2600MC..... it's a different story. cool.gif

 

 As for a DSLR - SOME do planetary well, but many don't have a 1:1 pixel sizing, and those that do have a fairly low framerate.

For DSOs, DSLR can take very nice images, though I'd prefer something cooled, even though calibration frames clean most of that up.
(That said, I know there are PLENTY of people taking way better pics than me on DSLR, so up to you)



#11 asanmax

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 05:46 PM

The basics for DSO imaging: a camera, a scope/lens, a mount/tracker. 

Camera: As already recommended, the Nikon D5300 has built-in intervalometer. Any Canon Rebel "i" series camera is a good one, probably better with a flip-out screen.

Scope/lens: On budget? Try finding some good old manual Takumar lenses, 135mm, 200mm.

Mount/tracker: You need one for your camera to follow the stars for long exposure images. There are some cheap star trackers available for light weight cameras, you can find one for just $200.



#12 markymark

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 06:05 PM

Wow, thank you so much for all of the responses! I'm reading them now and taking notes. There is a lot to process for sure


Edited by markymark, 03 March 2021 - 06:05 PM.

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#13 chummee

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 09:25 PM

You can consider using the Raspi HQ camera. It's only $50 and it's super easy to remove the IR cut filter. It's also relatively easy to cool if you are a diy type of person. Check out this thread and this thread. Post #92 of the first thread has some awesome examples of what you can do with this camera.

You didn't mention using a mount. You'll need one for astrophotography unless you are only photographing the moon. Good luck.



#14 markymark

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 09:53 AM

You can consider using the Raspi HQ camera. It's only $50 and it's super easy to remove the IR cut filter. It's also relatively easy to cool if you are a diy type of person. Check out this thread and this thread. Post #92 of the first thread has some awesome examples of what you can do with this camera.
You didn't mention using a mount. You'll need one for astrophotography unless you are only photographing the moon. Good luck.

I actually don't have a mount or a telescope yet. I'm currently using a smart phone and binoculars and I've been having pretty good luck getting detailed shots of the Orion Nebula with manually adjusting. I'd like the camera first, because I can still practice getting wide field shots of the Milky Way. If I can get something before summer, I can still try my hand at getting some shots of Orion. Tracking mounts are pricey, although someone replied with a model in the $200 range.

Edited by markymark, 04 March 2021 - 09:54 AM.


#15 markymark

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 09:56 AM

Mount/tracker: You need one for your camera to follow the stars for long exposure images. There are some cheap star trackers available for light weight cameras, you can find one for just $200.


All of the mounts I look up are in the 600-700 range. Do you know the models for these budget mounts?

#16 asanmax

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 11:45 AM

All of the mounts I look up are in the 600-700 range. Do you know the models for these budget mounts?

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer, iOptron Sky Tracker, Vixel Polarie. You can buy those at good price used.

https://astrobackyar...trophotography/


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#17 joeytroy

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 12:05 PM

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer, iOptron Sky Tracker, Vixel Polarie. You can buy those at good price used.

https://astrobackyar...trophotography/

Be careful with these mounts. I went with the iOptron Skyguider Pro when I started using my RedCat51 and Nikon D5500. After upgrading to the the vixen bar I overloaded my tripod with weight so I was going to need to buy a another tripod and by then I had way to much in the mount

 

iOptron SGP w/iPolar - $598.00

William Optic Vixen bar/Extension bar- 229.00

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB - 119.30

Total: 946.30

 

I ended up sending it all back and upgraded to the Sky-Watcher EQM-35 Pro for $725 which has been a great mount and has allowed me to upgrade little by little. I have more information in my blog if you care to read about my journey.

 

AP is a lot of fun but it's difficult to do it on the cheap depending on what it is you are trying to accomplish. As always YMMV.


Edited by joeytroy, 04 March 2021 - 12:07 PM.

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#18 asanmax

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 12:42 PM

Be careful with these mounts. I went with the iOptron Skyguider Pro when I started using my RedCat51 and Nikon D5500. After upgrading to the the vixen bar I overloaded my tripod with weight so I was going to need to buy a another tripod and by then I had way to much in the mount

 

iOptron SGP w/iPolar - $598.00

William Optic Vixen bar/Extension bar- 229.00

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB - 119.30

Total: 946.30

 

I ended up sending it all back and upgraded to the Sky-Watcher EQM-35 Pro for $725 which has been a great mount and has allowed me to upgrade little by little. I have more information in my blog if you care to read about my journey.

 

AP is a lot of fun but it's difficult to do it on the cheap depending on what it is you are trying to accomplish. As always YMMV.

I think if a person has some DIY skills then it will be easier for them to deal with the learning curve. 

I worked on a budget AP setup using a $350 iExos-100 mount and squeezed a lot out of that mount.

It sometimes looks impossible what people do with their budget setups.


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#19 joeytroy

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 12:56 PM

I think if a person has some DIY skills then it will be easier for them to deal with the learning curve. 

I worked on a budget AP setup using a $350 iExos-100 mount and squeezed a lot out of that mount.

It sometimes looks impossible what people do with their budget setups.

Agree 100% hence why I posted "YMMV" waytogo.gif When I started I was taking 1 minute subs using a kit lens with the D5500 and a barn door with a manual crank before I moved to a more powerful setup. Again it depends on the goals of the OP and where he wants to go and what he can squeeze out of his budget to get there.


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#20 asanmax

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 01:22 PM

Agree 100% hence why I posted "YMMV" waytogo.gif When I started I was taking 1 minute subs using a kit lens with the D5500 and a barn door with a manual crank before I moved to a more powerful setup. Again it depends on the goals of the OP and where he wants to go and what he can squeeze out of his budget to get there.

Hehe, a barndoor tracker is the "budgetest" setup :)


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#21 abcdefghii

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 01:25 PM

Be careful with these mounts. I went with the iOptron Skyguider Pro when I started using my RedCat51 and Nikon D5500. 

The OP does not have a scope currently though, so for wide field Milky Way shots, the SkyTracker Pro with a DSLR will be fine. With careful PA and depending on the weight as well, he can even try some DSO objects, I was able to get reasonably (given the limitations on the lens I was using) good shots of Orion with a 300mm lens on the SkyTracker. 

 

I do agree though that it is well worth really thinking about the end goal. I sold my SkyTracker Pro, picked up a SkyGuider Pro, quickly realized that I was wasting too much time trying to find a target and really should have gotten something with GoTo. So ended up selling the SkyGuider Pro and picking up a used CEM25P. Thankfully, selling used equipment in the current climate is a snap and so I lost very little selling the used equipment. 

 

But, were I doing it again, I would spend a bit more time thinking about what exactly do I want and saving a bit of time. 


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#22 chummee

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 09:52 PM

I bought a used CG4 fot $120 and then motorized it using OnStep. 




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