Astrophotography Beginners Equipment Help

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Astrophotography Beginners Equipment Help

Postby lil_eddie » Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:37 pm

Hi all,

I am sure you get this a lot, and I have read a few posts and articles about starting astrophotography and it seems it can be done step by step which I think I will need to do.

Basically, I can invest a bit of money at a time, but not all at once - I know I will have to learn and work towards those amazing DSO images and it's going to cost to get there.

I don't really have any kit currently, I have a 5 year old Kodak bridge camera and a Panasonic Lumix TZ70. Both have 24mm lenses but obviously they are not what I need. But can they work for a start?

I can probably afford to invest around £300 every 6 months while I start.

From what I understand, the tripod/mount is the main factor, so assume I should invest here first and use the cameras I have for simple shots - what kind of stuff could I expect? I have heard a lot about the Skywatcher EQ5 (most people suggest the HEQ5, but I don't have that budget), which can be got for around £250. Is there better options, or would I need any extras to make this work?

Down to telescopes, I see a lot of variations here. I am most interested in DSO's but the odd planet photo would be nice - guess a Newt. Reflector is what I need? Any suggestions? I guess this is something I could invest in after a few months of using just a camera and mount to get used to the software and things. It would be good to be able to use it by eye as well as just for photo's. I saw a couple of imaging-only scopes at a good price which are recommend but would like dual use of it. Again, initially would be looking around the £300 mark.

Cameras - I can get hold of a used Canon 7D for around £300 without a lense, but if there are any cheaper alternatives that will do just as good a job I'd be interested - I dont know the DSLR market currently.

I understand I may need both a mount and a new camera from day one, and a telescope once I want to expand what I can photograph.

I am not looking to get professional grade photos to sell and make money from, this is purely a hobby I want to start and would love to get DSO photos myself.

Thanks for any help!
lil_eddie
 
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Re: Astrophotography Beginners Equipment Help

Postby Gfamily2 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:29 am

Hi, and welcome.
You seem to have the basics sorted, and in principle you're looking at going at it the right way.
If you have a local Astronomical Society, you may be able to get some ideas from other members, as well as seeing other equipment that you may not have considered so far. Sometimes you'll be offered a loan of equipment that people have spare, so it can be a real bonus getting in touch with them. In addition, they may have good ideas of where in your local area has good dark skies.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Gfamily2
 
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Re: Astrophotography Beginners Equipment Help

Postby Gfamily2 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:27 pm

I meant to include a comment that if you got an EQ5 mount for about £250, it won't include any motor drives, so you'll need to include an RA drive at least if you want to use it for AP.

I appreciate that your plan is based building up a decent telescope, mount, camera setup, and that makes a lot of sense. However, you might also want to consider a motorised camera mount, as that can allow you to get good tracked images with the cameras you already have (so long as they allow for long exposure images - 30 seconds or more).

A lot of people are getting excited about the Star Adventurer, which is an equatorial tracking mount that comes in at about £300 - depending on what bits you get. You'll need a decent tripod and a Ball Head to mount your camera on, but you should be able to get good images up to 5 minutes exposure with that.

If you do a google image search for Nebulae Star Adventurer, you can see the sort of images that people are getting. Admittedly, most of these are with dSLRs, but you were saying you might be able to get one of those, and with a second hand lens you should be able to get some good wide field images (particularly if you have a pretty dark sky site).
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
(Not a moderator)
Gfamily2
 
Posts: 452
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Re: Astrophotography Beginners Equipment Help

Postby lil_eddie » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:01 pm

Thanks for the help, I'll look at that mount, as I hadn't realised the cheaper EQ5's I saw would be without a motor.

So, it makes sense to get a good motorised mount and get current cameras fixed to it first? Then upgrade the camera or the scope next (depending on which i want to do first).

That mount looks good, does it basically do what the EQ5 would do, just needs a separate tripod? I assume this isn't one I would need to upgrade for a while?

Which telescopes would you recommend for the set up? (Assuming some form of Canon dslr and that mount) again, in one go I could push £400.

Basically looking to split around £1k into 3 purchases over a year
lil_eddie
 
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Re: Astrophotography Beginners Equipment Help

Postby Gfamily2 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:59 pm

lil_eddie wrote:Thanks for the help, I'll look at that mount, as I hadn't realised the cheaper EQ5's I saw would be without a motor.

So, it makes sense to get a good motorised mount and get current cameras fixed to it first? Then upgrade the camera or the scope next (depending on which i want to do first).

That mount looks good, does it basically do what the EQ5 would do, just needs a separate tripod? I assume this isn't one I would need to upgrade for a while?

Which telescopes would you recommend for the set up? (Assuming some form of Canon dslr and that mount) again, in one go I could push £400.

Basically looking to split around £1k into 3 purchases over a year


The downside of the Star Adventurer mount is that it's definitely better suited to cameras rather than telescopes (though a friend mounted a TV65 scope on it and got some great images), not least because, as a mount, it's not got a massive payload.

I've got a 102mm Mak that I might try and mount on mine sometime, but for the moment I'm getting to grips with it just using my dSLR.

I suggested this as a camera and mount alternative to a telescope and mount; as this is one that you could start with just one purchase, i.e. without having to wait for multiple equipment purchases.

I was a bit hesitant about suggesting it, because I know it didn't obviously fit with what you'd planned from your original note; but I think it is a reasonable alternative route that would give you the chance to start making pretty good images with a minimal outlay.

My #1 suggestion is still to get in touch with your nearest Astronomical Society and meet up with people who are already doing AP to see what they're doing and what takes your fancy.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
(Not a moderator)
Gfamily2
 
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Re: Astrophotography Beginners Equipment Help

Postby lil_eddie » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:42 am

Thank you

Had a look on ebay and saw a Sky Watcher Explorer 200 EQ5 on a motorised EQ3-2 mount for £150

also a 10" Orion Europa scope with a GEM mount (no more info on the mount), currently at £80

Would they be good starters? For example instead of spending £400+ initially on a mount only, would spending £200 or less on these setups be a good start, I can then invest in better kit while still enjoying photographing.

Thanks
lil_eddie
 
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Re: Astrophotography Beginners Equipment Help

Postby lil_eddie » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:31 pm

I can't seem to find one near to Bristol in the UK, there is an Astronomy Society but they don't seem to go out with scopes based on their website.

Any one know of one in the area? Or where to look?
lil_eddie
 
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Re: Astrophotography Beginners Equipment Help

Postby Gfamily2 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:30 pm

lil_eddie wrote:I can't seem to find one near to Bristol in the UK, there is an Astronomy Society but they don't seem to go out with scopes based on their website.

Any one know of one in the area? Or where to look?


As far as I can see, the Bristol AS does observing both at their observatory site and also at other sites (for example at the National Trust site at Dyrham Park)
Details here
http://www.bristolastrosoc.org.uk/www/index.php

Alternatively, you could travel a bit further and link up with Bath Astronomers, who meet in the village car park at Wellow, south of the city.

The issue is to make contact with either and express an interest, I'm sure people will try to let you know if something is being planned.

As for the two telescopes you've seen, I've not got direct experience of either, but the EQ3-2 mount is inadequate for anything other than visual observing - it's not good enough for any serious attempt at AP. And whatever mount the Orion is on, it's not going to be good enough for AP. For a 10" scope I'd say you'll need an HEQ5 Pro at least.
As everyone will tell you, for serious AP, you start with the mount.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
(Not a moderator)
Gfamily2
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:38 pm


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