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Looking to start deep sky astrophotography, anything I should change?

Astrophotography Beginner Equipment
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19 replies to this topic

#1 crumbbandit

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Posted 26 September 2021 - 08:28 PM

Mount: iOptron SkyGuider Pro Camera Mount Full Package

Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 61 II

Camera is an EOS D that I already own

Filter: SVBONY CLS

Adapter

Tripod (looking for cheaper alternatives)

 

Diagonal Mirror for viewing

Eyepiece for viewing



#2 petert913

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Posted 26 September 2021 - 08:46 PM

Get an intervalometer and a bahtinov mask for focusing.


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#3 17.5Dob

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Posted 26 September 2021 - 08:51 PM

Mount: iOptron SkyGuider Pro Camera Mount Full Package

Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 61 II

Camera is an EOS D that I already own

Filter: SVBONY CLS

Adapter

Tripod (looking for cheaper alternatives)

 

Diagonal Mirror for viewing

Eyepiece for viewing

You need a field flattener for the Z61...

 

You don't even need the Z61, if you already have some camera lenses....

Do NOT use any filters......Post processing is 90% of AP and a CLS will give you the worst color shifts possible, to have to correct later.

Do NOT look for a cheaper tripod. That's barely stable enough, as it is, for a mount + scope+ camera and you do not need the ballhead.....

 

What Canon "D" do you have ?

 


Edited by 17.5Dob, 26 September 2021 - 09:07 PM.

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#4 csrlice12

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Posted 26 September 2021 - 11:18 PM

Your mind?  Watch how fast your bank account disappears.  Deep sky AP is a money pit that you keep emptying the bucket in.


Edited by csrlice12, 26 September 2021 - 11:21 PM.

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#5 nicknacknock

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Posted 26 September 2021 - 11:38 PM

Moving this to Beginning Deep Sky Imaging as it is the best forum for this kind of topic :)



#6 imtl

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 12:00 AM

Change mounts

#7 idclimber

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 12:06 AM

Skip the scope and instead look for a used DSLR lens. Change the mount to an an equatorial mount like the HEQ5. The tracker mount you have listed will not track to the image scale with that scope. 


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#8 the Elf

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 04:06 AM

Spend as much money as you can on the mount. HEQ5 minimum, better go for an EQ6-R. The latter will serve you for many years while your scopes get larger.

Make sure you have a mount with PEC (periodic error correction) that is permanently stored in the mount memory. The EQ6-R is one. Do not buy the Celestron AVX. Although there are some copies that work well others are very problematic. I sold mine very soon. While the EQ6-R is "only" 50% more expensive you get a 2x heavier mount with 10x better performance. The mount is absolutely essential. Trackers are good for wide angle shots during a mountain hiking. Also make sure your mount has got a polar scope and you can see Polaris (the north star) from your imaging location.

 

I recommend the askar 180mm or askar 135mm mini telescope to start photography. Both are cheap and both come with a flattening reducer. The god old T3i (600D) is OK, the T7i is better if you go for Canon. Do not use a DSLR that was launched before 2010. Be aware of the fact, that some DSLRs cannot be used for AP, e.g. types that have rows of "special" pixels for video auto focus.

While many recommend "modded" cameras, that is replacing the internal IR filter, to collect more of the red glow I tend to recommend an unmodded (=stock) camera for a beginner because the colors come out right.

 

Stay away from light pollution filters unless you are in downtown Tokyo or New York. It is far better to drive to a darker place. The askar lenses benefit from the Baader Semi-Apo filter but it is not a must have. You can correct the blue stars in processing.

You need a mind set of long term projects rather than taking snapshots. A good photo requires 10h+ of total exposure time. You need two or more nights to collect data for a good image.

Inform yourself about "Auto Guiding". As soon as your focal length gets longer you need this stuff. For the time being stay below or at 200mm focal length and image large and bright objects.

 

Get the book "The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer" by Charles Bracken. Try free software Siril for processing.

Don't believe what vendors or sponsored YouTubes tell you. Always ask here before you make a purchase. I have sold _all_ my initial equipment within the first 2 years because I listened to the friendly shop assistant.

 

Further reading:

https://www.elf-of-l...ingStarted.html

https://www.elf-of-l...Art_FMA180.html

https://www.elf-of-l...t_600vs800.html

https://www.elf-of-l...Unmodified.html

 

Recommended videos:

https://www.youtube....h?v=9d0292TBMHo + Part 2 and 3

https://www.youtube....h?v=Qb1ceFM-DkQ

 

CS (clear skies)

the Elf

 

Hope this helps.


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#9 AaronH

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 05:36 AM

Skip the scope and instead look for a used DSLR lens. Change the mount to an an equatorial mount like the HEQ5. The tracker mount you have listed will not track to the image scale with that scope. 

Agreed. Mount before scope.

 

My path was to take baby steps:

1. Buy an inexpensive star tracker with an EQ wedge (technically an AZ-GTi for me, but it's really in the same class and price bracket) and use existing camera lenses.

2. Learn how to control it all using a computer. Learn proper processing techniques.

3. Add a cheap guiding setup to increase exposure times, minimise failed sub-exposures, and generally learn how guiding works.

4. Take lots more images, push the setup to its limit.

5. Buy a small refractor and an astronomical camera.

6. Buy a proper mount (an EQ6-R) and mount the setup on that instead.

 

It was pretty much a perfect introduction to astrophotography... almost. Swapping 5 and 6 would have saved a whole lot of hassle.

 

In retrospect, buying the larger mount up-front would have been cheaper in the end, but I don't regret the tracker-and-camera approach, because I really wasn't sure if I'd actually enjoy astrophotography, so the low barrier to entry was great for dipping my toes in without too much cost, and with a really convenient setup that could be carried in one hand fully assembled.



#10 DJL

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 07:06 AM

I did not get a diagonal or eyepiece for DSO, so scrub those and add the $ to the goto equatorial mount budget - HEQ5 or similar payload iOptron - make a short list and snag whichever you find in stock.

 

It's possible to do DSO with a star tracker but it can be frustrating. It can take a long time to find the targets that you can't see with your eyes. A goto mount means that you just go there with a button press and actually spend more of a clear night imaging. 


Edited by DJL, 27 September 2021 - 07:08 AM.


#11 OldManSky

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 08:11 AM

Mount: iOptron SkyGuider Pro Camera Mount Full Package

Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 61 II

Camera is an EOS D that I already own

Filter: SVBONY CLS

Adapter

Tripod (looking for cheaper alternatives)

 

Diagonal Mirror for viewing

Eyepiece for viewing

Forget the "Adapter" (which, at 1.25" opening, will cut off light to your camera).

Get either the William Optics flattener for the ZS61, or this one from Astronomics: https://www.astronom...ical-tubes.html

Then get a 48mm "wide" t-mount for the camera.

 

That not only gives you an un-vignetted light path through the telescope, it will flatten the field of the ZS61 (it needs to be flattened!).

Good luck!


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#12 AaronH

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 08:11 AM

I did not get a diagonal or eyepiece for DSO, so scrub those and add the $ to the goto equatorial mount budget - HEQ5 or similar payload iOptron - make a short list and snag whichever you find in stock.

 

It's possible to do DSO with a star tracker but it can be frustrating. It can take a long time to find the targets that you can't see with your eyes. A goto mount means that you just go there with a button press and actually spend more of a clear night imaging. 

The AZ-GTi is actually a good star tracker alternative. When I was looking for the Star Adventurer, it was only $100 extra to get essentially the same setup with the AZ-GTi instead (on the local Australian market anyway), unlocking GOTO functionality and full EQMOD control.


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#13 acommonsoul

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 08:22 AM

If you stick with the mount, get a good, sturdy tripod. I had the same mount when I started and had it mounted to a carbon fiber Induro Stealth tripod, that I had for terrestrial photography. The tripod was too unstable by itself. I had to hang a 20lb weight from the bottom to keep it stable. BUT, like others have said, if you can afford an HEQ5 it will dramatically lower your tracking headaches. 



#14 acommonsoul

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 08:24 AM

Also, if you are in a really light polluted area, I would skip on the Svbony CLS and get a narrowband LP filter, such as the Optolong L-extreme or L-Pro.



#15 AaronH

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 08:37 AM

Also, if you are in a really light polluted area, I would skip on the Svbony CLS and get a narrowband LP filter, such as the Optolong L-extreme or L-Pro.

Also, if you’re not in a really light polluted area, I’d skip the CLS anyway.

 

With LED lighting becoming the norm, CLS filters are increasingly irrelevant. They don’t do as much to reduce light pollution anymore, so it’s debatable whether they actually deliver a net benefit in suburban areas. On the other hand, narrowband filters can produce stunning results even under dark skies by dimming star fields and allowing better separation of the different bands (e.g. applying a SHO-style palette). The money spent on a CLS filter is better put towards a narrowband one, regardless of how much light pollution you suffer.



#16 Rasfahan

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 11:23 AM

What the Elf said, almost all of it. I found DSO photography with an unmodded DSLR made a lot of nebula inaccessible or need a huge amount of integration time. So if you can swing it, go for a modded DSLR (or a dedicated, cooled camera). The most important thing is the mount, though.

Or, to dip your toes in, use that sky tracker and do widefield shots, 100mm FL max. Getting a star tracker to carry a 60mm scope well enough for an unmodified DSLR is just piling up the obstacles.

Or just buy the mount (Heq-5, EQ-6R) and use the lenses you got - works far better than the telescope on the tracker.

A narrowband (or CLS) filter will not help you much on an unmodded DSLR.


Edited by Rasfahan, 27 September 2021 - 02:03 PM.


#17 ngatel

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 01:28 PM

Maybe start at the beginning?

 

What does the OP want to accomplish with astrophotography? I've never used a star tracker. I started with an stock DSLR, ZenithStar 61ii with flattener, and a CGX mount. The mount choice was based on the desire to learn, then image with my C8 on it. A little advanced planning.

 

Some will say my CGX and scopes are crap and I need a top of the line AP mount and a Planet Wave scope and a ASI6200 if I want to capture nice images. Buy I am imaging for my pleasure, not theirs.

 

If a star tracker is crap, explain to me why the images taken by Nico Carver and Trevor Jones with a star tracker and kit DSLR are much better than what I see produced by so many folks using equipment costing thousands more? See the video 

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=WoSnR7TVAOA

 

I propose the person behind the camera is the most important component of your astrophotography kit. Give me Ansel Adams' equipment and the results would be crap compared to his.

 

If one starts with a star tracker, DSLR, camera lens or small telescope they might learn much more about astronomy and astrophotography than someone whose first purchase is a turnkey $10,000 go-to mount, a $6,000 camera, a $7,000 scope and the best imaging and processing software available. If one spends a year or two diligently learning with a star tracker, they may become APOD level astrophotographers, although they might need a step up in equipment after their initial apprenticeship with a modest system.

 

For nearly 20 years, in my last job, I traveled a lot, if 100,000 air miles per year is a lot of traveling. I sometimes spent up to 150 nights a year in hotel rooms. Looking back, I wish I had invested in a modest system, such as the OP proposed, and taken it with me on all these trips. I would be a much better astrophotographer today.



#18 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 01:33 PM

You'll be fine with the skyguider and Z61; they will pair well together.  I use a 60mm scope with the star adventurer tracker.  It works great and I really enjoy it.

 

That being said, the calls for you to consider investing in a mount (instead of a tracker) are worth thinking about.  A tracker does not give you the accuracy of a true mount, nor does it give you GOTO positioning.  That last bit is really important.  Unless you enjoy star hopping and learning the night sky (which I do), you may not like the experience of using a tracker.  With a true "mount" like the HEQ5, it will point the telescope at your target for you.  That can be a game changer for some people.

 

Additionally, the Z61 is the largest scope you'll want to use on a star tracker.  You might be able to eek an 80mm scope on there, but I doubt it will perform well.  If you buy a real mount like the HEQ5 you'll be able to upgrade your scope several times before you outgrow the mount.

 

Also, you don't need the adapter or the CLS filter.  And you'll need a flattener like OldManSky said.


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#19 bobzeq25

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 06:20 PM

Mount: iOptron SkyGuider Pro Camera Mount Full Package

Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 61 II

Camera is an EOS D that I already own

Filter: SVBONY CLS

Adapter

Tripod (looking for cheaper alternatives)

 

Diagonal Mirror for viewing

Eyepiece for viewing

Pretty good.  But...

 

Lose the ancient CLS.  So-called "light pollution" filters don't magically filter out light pollution.  They distort color and reduce signal.

 

They work some on emission nebulae. ONLY.  The modern LEnhance is justifiably popular.

 

Processing is at least half the game.  I recommend Astro Pixel Processor.  The "free' alternaives are not free in terms of time, image quality, frustration.  APP will help you learn to process better, it's a skill needed to master.


Edited by bobzeq25, 27 September 2021 - 06:23 PM.


#20 Kullas

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 07:11 PM

I'm starting out the same way with a dslr and tripod. I have a star adventure on the way. Everytime I go out I learn something new. The tripod from sky adventure for the sky adventure looks pretty good and is cheaper than the one you listed.


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