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Zoom lens vs telescope for eclipse photography?

10 replies to this topic

#1 Bill Kocken

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Posted 26 September 2023 - 08:52 AM

For next years solar eclipse,I’m trying to decide which optics to use. My choices are an Explore Scientific 102f7 carbon fiber apo (700mm fl). or a Canon 100-500L f4.5-7.1 with a 1.4x teleconverter (also 700mm, but at f10).  I’ll be using a Canon R6 on an Ioptron Zeq25 GT equatorial mount. I want to capture filtered photos of the partial phases and unfiltered photos at totality.  Baileys beads, prominences, corona etc. 

 

Telescope Pros.
Better optics designed for astronomy??

Faster focal ratio.

Focus may not drift as it warms up. (It’s carbon fiber).

 I can use it for visual astronomy on the nights before and after the eclipse.

 

Lens Pros.

Smaller, lighter (my mount struggles with the scope and camera combo).

Less to transport. (We will be making a long driving trip to get to Texas.)

Easier to focus. (I’m not that impressed with the scopes focuser. 

 

What are your nights or opinions?
 

 

 



#2 Couder

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Posted 26 September 2023 - 09:13 AM

One thing I've had happen is pointed up, the lens is heavy so it zoomed all the way out during photography. Be sure you have a way to prevent this.



#3 dcaponeii

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Posted 26 September 2023 - 09:16 AM

One thing I've had happen is pointed up, the lens is heavy so it zoomed all the way out during photography. Be sure you have a way to prevent this.

I was going to mention the same thing.  I have my Orion G10 mounted to my 80 - 200mm Zoom SLR lens and it can shift focus in some angles.  It's also very hard to dial in the focus without motor control I'm afraid.  I'll be using a reducer on my f/8 ACF to get most of the full disk images during the event (which fortunately happens in my back yard with both my observatory scope available for the event.  I'm very excited which means it will rain.


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#4 pretyro

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Posted 26 September 2023 - 09:23 AM

For next years solar eclipse,I’m trying to decide which optics to use. My choices are an Explore Scientific 102f7 carbon fiber apo (700mm fl). or a Canon 100-500L f4.5-7.1 with a 1.4x teleconverter (also 700mm, but at f10).  I’ll be using a Canon R6 on an Ioptron Zeq25 GT equatorial mount. I want to capture filtered photos of the partial phases and unfiltered photos at totality.  Baileys beads, prominences, corona etc. 

 

Telescope Pros.
Better optics designed for astronomy??

Faster focal ratio.

Focus may not drift as it warms up. (It’s carbon fiber).

 I can use it for visual astronomy on the nights before and after the eclipse.

 

Lens Pros.

Smaller, lighter (my mount struggles with the scope and camera combo).

Less to transport. (We will be making a long driving trip to get to Texas.)

Easier to focus. (I’m not that impressed with the scopes focuser. 

 

What are your nights or opinions?
 

  I've used an old Tamron Telemacro BBAR on  a mirrorless camera.  It is a 500 mm catadioptric lens with a 3" aperture.  It is certainly compact and easy to use and I've taken some nice shots of the moon with it.  But my 4" Mak does a better job.



#5 RedLionNJ

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Posted 26 September 2023 - 12:03 PM

Moved from Major & Minor Planetary Imaging - because it has no place there.


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#6 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 05:15 PM

For next years solar eclipse,I’m trying to decide which optics to use. My choices are an Explore Scientific 102f7 carbon fiber apo (700mm fl). or a Canon 100-500L f4.5-7.1 with a 1.4x teleconverter (also 700mm, but at f10).  I’ll be using a Canon R6 on an Ioptron Zeq25 GT equatorial mount. I want to capture filtered photos of the partial phases and unfiltered photos at totality.  Baileys beads, prominences, corona etc. 

 

Telescope Pros.
Better optics designed for astronomy??

Faster focal ratio.

Focus may not drift as it warms up. (It’s carbon fiber).

 I can use it for visual astronomy on the nights before and after the eclipse.

 

Lens Pros.

Smaller, lighter (my mount struggles with the scope and camera combo).

Less to transport. (We will be making a long driving trip to get to Texas.)

Easier to focus. (I’m not that impressed with the scopes focuser. 

 

What are your nights or opinions?
 

A prime lens is generally going to have better optics than a zoom lens.

 

That being said, you should still get great photos with a zoom lens.  What you need though is a LensBand to lock the zoom.  I have a LensBand on every zoom lens.


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#7 edwyun

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Posted 23 October 2023 - 08:26 PM

I would recommend using the R6 with the RF100-500L at f8.0 with no TC.  Depending on your framing, use of the TC (700mm) may cut off parts of the corona emission lines during totality.  Also, I wouldn't worry about zoom lens creep.  Just set the RF's friction setting correctly.  I prefer using a zoom because it makes it a lot easier to locate the sun at 100mm and then zoom into 500mm (or less).  YMMV.


Edited by edwyun, 23 October 2023 - 08:26 PM.


#8 Craig P

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Posted 24 October 2023 - 10:03 AM

In 2017, I used a Canon Prime lens (300mm F2.8) with a 1.4X Teleconverter on a 1.3X crop camera (1DMIV).  I shot at F4.0 and hand held at 1/80th of a sec at ISO 3200 (will not be doing that again).  These were shot with absolutely no solar filter on the lens....do not look or shoot until the final 20 sec before and after totality.

 

Here are a few of the results;

https://www.flickr.c...th/36039646863/

 

In 2024 I will have the same camera body with a Canon 500mm F4 prime on a tripod with a gimbal head.  I'm hoping to turn down the ISO a notch (1600 target).  I'm hoping that adding the tripod, removing the teleconverter, and lowering the ISO will render some magic.  Now I just need clear skies.  Luckily, our family's house is in the path of totality near Indianapolis. 

 

I will have my 10" Dob fitted with a solar filter for casual viewing (before and after).  Anyone recommend a decent solar filter for that size dob?

 

Craig P



#9 edwyun

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Posted 24 October 2023 - 06:54 PM

When I imaged the 2017 TSE, I used a Canon 5D3 and EF 100-400, f4.5-5.6 ii.  I used a tripod and ballhead and did not use a tracker.  It was a pain adjusting framing every now and then with the ballhead.  Doable but a pain.  For the 2024 TSE, I will be using the same but tracking using the ZWO AIM5 mount.  Tested the setup during the recent annular eclipse and it worked perfectly.  Love advancements in technology.


Edited by edwyun, 24 October 2023 - 06:56 PM.


#10 Cajundaddy

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Posted 05 November 2023 - 02:03 PM

For the 2017 Eclipse I used a 100-300 Panasonic Zoom with M4/3 camera, (EFL of 600mm) and it did a good job but with some noticeable flaring.  I did tape down both the zoom and focus once I had a sharp image at infinity.  Celestron SLT mount bought used for $100

For the 2023 annular eclipse I used my AT72ED f6 with a6400 Sony crop sensor for an EFL of 645mm.  Again using the Celestron SLT mount set for solar tracking and it did a fine job.  We are shooting fast shutter speeds so a highly precise AP mount is probably overkill for an eclipse.

Of the two setups I greatly preferred the AT72ED for its prime optics, zero flaring, precise locking focus, and finder mount.   I think anywhere between 500mm-700mm is ideal for eclipse photography with the exception of a Druckmuller style composite where you are chasing the faintest tendrils of outer corona at the edge of the frame.  In this case, a 400mm might be a better choice.  

Cheers!



#11 dghundt

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Posted 09 November 2023 - 09:00 AM

For 2017 I had a Canon 600mm f/4 which gave a great field of view for the corona.  I had to set it up with a cheap GEM (small size, easy fit in trunk with tripod) to make the photography feasible due to the limited time of totality.  I used some gaffers tape to hold down focus.

 

The Canon 100-400mm has a zoom lock knob.  Optics are good, but I might consider not using a teleconverter unless you test it on the moon or jupiter compared to without a teleconverter.

 

My only question would be how long you would need for your exposures at a high f-stop since you are not going to be tracking with a GEM.  You may have to compensate with your ISO to avoid motion blur.  Post processing stacked corona shots introduces a lot of noise.

Testing on the moon as the sun sets is a good simulation.  I also had to use mirror lock up for shutter speeds around the +/-1 sec  mark or you'll get vibrations affecting the image. It was easy to see with jupiter moons during testing.


Edited by dghundt, 09 November 2023 - 10:03 AM.




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