Dark sky camera shots

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Dark sky camera shots

Postby gozzer101 » Sun Feb 20, 2011 7:16 pm

Ill start off by saying I'm a real novice when it comes to astronomy.

However I have a huge interest in it and the universe as a whole. I enjoy watching programs on the solar system and universe and have purchased a few dvd's, plus I have the subscription to the BBC focus and the BBC sky at night magazines, this has given me a basic understanding on whats up there.

Im coming on here to ask for some advice on purchasing a camera. I've seen photos of the night sky, without the aid of a telescope, in huge detail, where you can clearly see the milky way. I know you have to increase the length of the exposure/increase length shutter is open for, but I was wondering how easy is this?

I'm going camping with a few mates in Snowdonia in relatively dark area of the UK, and although we wont be taking a telescope we would love to take some great photos.

Any advice on how easy, how much it will cost etc will be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance
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RE: Dark sky camera shots

Postby darkside » Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:20 pm

hi gozzer, whats your budget? best camera for astro imaging is a dslr. most people use canon for imaging, the canon 1000d is a good camera for its money about £300 you would also need a tripod as well and a remote. as for settings it would depend on the lens you use, if you get a camera with a kit lens it would probley be 18-55mm set it to 18mm (wide) use the cameras manual mode and expose for about 30secs any more and you will probley get star trails. set the iso to 1600, the aperture as wide as it will go say f/4. you should get some good results in snowdonia with the dark skys out there. if you want to get into longer exposures which will cost more money[:@] you will need a tracking mount have a look on this site to give you an idea www.astrotrac.com regards ady[;)]
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RE: Dark sky camera shots

Postby gozzer101 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:33 am

Thanks for the reply.

I was looking for something under £400.

I looked at the tracking system on the link but at the moment I'll give that a miss.

Would I have to get a specific tripod for the camera you stated? Or are they typically universal?

Sorry if the questions I'm asking sound amateur but I'm really uneducated about all this, although I'm hoping to gain a significant understanding and the next step will be purchasing a decent but beginner telescope (£400 - £600). one step at a time though.

And finally I was wondering of what sort of images I can expect with a 30 second exposure in a dark sky on the canon camera or something similar? If you could link me to a google image of what I should get that would be brilliant.

Thanks for the help and advice
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RE: Dark sky camera shots

Postby gozzer101 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:40 am

Check link for the photo of the milky way.

http://www.newscientist.com/special/instant-expert-dark-matter

Is this something similar to what I can hope for?

Or possibly this? (less detail): http://www.flickr.com/photos/v4idas/5251185468/

Im looking at the canon 500d, think its a step up from the 1000d? the 500d has 15mp plus an increased iso from 1600 to 6400.

Worth the extra money?


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RE: Dark sky camera shots

Postby darkside » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:10 am

hi gozzer, the canon 500d probley is better than the 1000d if you can afford it ( though minimum), as for the iso settings i would still keep it at 1600 because of the camera noise (photos look grainy) as for the tripod something like the (jessops major carbon fibre tripod) would be an ideal starter tripod, priced at £99. dont forget the remote switch as well and make sure it fits the camera you buy! you should be able to get one for £30 again look on the jessops site. personally i would get the canon 1000d + 18-55mm kit for about £350 that would give you extra to get the tripod and remote for about the same as the 5000d would cost. its always good to have a good camera but if you ask me i would rather spend my money on a good lens, worth remembering in the future[;)] as for the links the first photo of the milky way was probley taken in a more southern country as that brighter part of the milky way is more south of the equator very low on the uk horzon and hard to image. the second link is more and likely what you would get from the uk and even then from very darks skys with a good fast lens. dont forget the milky way is probley best photographed about october time, i was in snowdonia then and the milky way looked stunning !!! though i dident image it that night [:@] one more tip keep reading on this and other forums for info on imaging regards ady [:)]
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RE: Dark sky camera shots

Postby worcspaul » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:50 pm

I got my 1000d from [url=http://www.camerabox.co.uk/products.asp?DepartmentID=3]Camera Box[/url] and tripod from [url=http://www.premier-ink.co.uk/photographic/-c-60.html]Premier Ink[/url] where I also got my remote shutter release and UV filters.

One of the best pieces of advice I've had regarding my camera was to fit a UV or lens protection filter. I'd advise you to do the same - it'll save your lens getting scratched, and should the filter get damaged it'll cost far less to replace.

I managed to drop my 75-300mm telephoto (in pouch) onto a carpeted floor a few weeks ago. I didn't notice anything until after I'd been taking some pictures of the Moon and went to change back to 18-55mm lens, when I noticed the filter had two cracks (which fortunately didn't interfere with the images)! The lens was OK [:)]

A couple of other points to note:

Use auto-focus to focus on a distant object (e.g. a street light) then switch auto focus OFF. Also, if you have Image Stabilisation, switch that off too.
If you can find a nice flat spot like a picnic table or rock you don't necessarily need a tripod. After focusing and switching AF and IS off (and carefully avoiding nudging the focus ring) lay your camera on its back and use the remote shutter release. 30s at ISO1600

The attached photo of the plugh was taken using this method (18mm, 30s @ f/5, ISO400)

[image]local://1254/2D6F2253FCA64CA0988C779980D94B9B.jpg[/image]
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RE: Dark sky camera shots

Postby philip pugh » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:13 pm

I doubt if you could get the Milky Way with a compact digital camera but constellations are certainly possible.
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RE: Dark sky camera shots

Postby darkside » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:40 pm

hi gozzer, when i get a min i will post a photo i took in india of the milkyway not the best photo but it will give you an idear what you can expect it, was taken about 3years ago in a darksky in goa with a canon 350d and a kit lens
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RE: Dark sky camera shots

Postby darkside » Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:00 pm

no post processing done on this image [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/50803134@N06/5474234612/]Image[/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/50803134@N06/5474234612/]IMG_8761[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/50803134@N06/]ady.spacephotography[/url], on Flickr
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RE: Dark sky camera shots

Postby jonnya » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:30 pm

I am also looking for a camera for the same reason, with the same sort of budget, and have found the answers given so far very useful. Thanks!

I have an extra question - if I later on get a telescope, are the two Canon cameras mentioned suitable for getting reasonable images of the moon and planets, and do they fit standard adapters to do so?

Ta.
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