maybe we should try to stay on topic in the film forum and talk about film and leave the CCD/DSLR talk to their appropriate forums
Honestly, this thread probably belongs in the Beginning Imaging forums, but since it's here, how is he going to get the answer to his question when most here are film-only folks. "Get out of my forum digital folks" isn't exactly helpful.
The Mount lists for $12,500 and the scope for $4395. That's a $25,890 image.
Clearly Jay was trying to clear up a misconception here and made a comparison on the high end of both formats to make his point. Bottom line is there's a reason why professional observatories pretty much all shoot digital now.
This is getting way off track, and is not helping Rev. Keep it focused on the original question please.
I'm wondering if regular film is cheaper and/or easier to start with in astro-imaging
Quite. Here's my perspective. Film's a pain in the butt. If you're shooting 1 hour images and stay up all night every clear night, you can only get about 6 images max per night, meaning you have to shoot 4 full nights to fill up a roll. Around here that can mean several weeks due to weather, moon, or other obligations to fill up the roll. Once that's done you have to take it or mail it to the processor and then wait some more. Once you get them back, you throw out some of them because they didn't turn out, then you scan them and do some processing on them. Then if you want prints of the good processed images you send them to the processor and wait some more (assuming you want real photographic prints as opposed to an inkjet type print). In addition you're more limited in the types of processing you can do to the image. Stacking or flat frames (if possible haven't heard a verdict on this) would have had to be planned when you took the images possibly weeks ago and cost money for each stacked sub to get a final image.
With digital, I take my flats, my lights, and as I'm tearing down, take my darks. After I get home from work, I throw out the bad images, then process the good images. Finally I take the good ones to the processor and wait. I don't waste time and money on images that don't turn out, and I have feedback on whether or not I need to reshoot a target by the following night. If it takes a month to shoot a full roll of film, I may have to wait until the next year to get another chance; if it's a comet or other transient object, I may just be S.O.L.
So here's the way I would approach the question of which camera to get:
1) If I needed a good digital camera for general use, then get a DSLR and use it for both daytime and astro use. A used Canon 300D or 350D is really quite reasonable. They also don't HAVE to be modified as has been implied in this thread. Yes, objects that produce a lot of Ha light will pose a problem for an unmodified DSLR, but there are plenty of broadband objects (clusters, galaxies, reflection nebula etc) that come out very well; even a lot of emmission nebula photograph ok, it's just that they will be weak in the red. Also I don't believe people have been getting new DSLRs every 3-4 years because they break, but because the tech has improved dramatically and they're just looking for an upgrade. I believe the tech is rapidly stabilizing and the newer DSLRs are going to be competing on features instead of image quality, so the major incentive to upgrade is fading away.
2) If you've already got an SLR or you can't afford a DSLR then yeah, film is probably the best choice.
3) If you're pretty sure you're going to really get into astrophotography, then save up your money and get a good SBIG CCD camera. This will provide you with the best possible images and provide upgrade paths that are not available via the DSLR/SLR route. For example, active optics units, narrow-band filters, infrared imaging, fully automated systems, etc.
Hope that helps,