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Astrophotography - Tripods vs Motorized Mounts

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posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 06:05 PM
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a reply to: imitator

You never know. Nothing ventured, nothing gained of course.

Try doing the star shots with just the camera first.




posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 06:49 PM
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originally posted by: imitator
Great thread.... I've always wanted to get into astrophotography, but just never got around to it. I would need to save up on a good DSLR camera and dobson scope, as I haven't bought a camera in years since iphone came out.

I wonder what I can do with a cheap Canon PowerShot SX170, I think mine has ISO and f-Stop, I bet not a very good one. I also have one of those cheap telescopes Celestron PowerSeeker 60AZ sitting in the garage... Maybe I might tinker with it, though I doubt the pictures will be pretty.




Never doubt yourself. In another one of Eriks threads www.abovetopsecret.com... i posted some of my night time pictures. Ive got a Canon 450d DSLR camera that i picked up second hand and a telephoto lens second hand to try and expand my photography skills. Ive only been trying to take night shots only over the last couple of weeks. Usually im into my landscape and aviation photos but considering its winter and the weather not being so great i thought id try my hands at taking photos of stars

If you go to Eriks other thread you will see the pictures ive posted. Im a complete beginner and after a little of trial and error and a little light reading on my camera and how to take pictures at night, the pictures i took came out i think pretty well for my standards anyway

the only few tips i can give is .. find out how your camera works and just keep trying. since learning about shutter speeds, apertures lenses etc ive discovered there are so many variables in photography and how you can go about getting the pictures you wanted. Never give up and never doubt yourself just pick the camera up and head outside. If you take a few pictures that do not come out well then simply use google to find out how you can improve on them

at the end of the day no one is born a professional at anything its all about learning, yes its time consuming but keep at it



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 07:14 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

Well that was fast
Nice!
That's a very good shot of Saturn, I would be quite happy with that. What was the focal length, 1000mm?

I've also build a barn door many years ago, but the few tests I did didn't came out good(Probably because of bad polar alignment), shortly after I moved to another country so now it's picking up dust in the basement at my parents home.
The construction is pretty easy and straight forward so if you're somewhat handyman it shouldn't be a problem.

I knew there were 'cheap' tracking mounts but 180$ is really cheap for a motorized mount, which one did you buy if I may ask?

If you don't mind I would like to add something regarding tracking mounts.
You can use the same mount not just for astrophotography but also if you are into timelapse photography. You can use it for panning during the timelapse to create a moving effect. Pretty cool imo.

There are also mounts available that track the moon and sun, which you can use for photography or just for observing so you don't have to move your camera every 5 minutes.

A downside of a tracking mount(if you use it for wide field astro) is that you will get a blurry landscape, so you will need to take another photo of just the landscape without tracking and afterwards blend the images during processing.



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 07:21 PM
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Just took this about 20 minutes ago:



Single raw frame, no processing, no black frame, no stacking.

Lens at 55mm, f5.6, ISO 6400 for 10 seconds.

I was out doing 18mm shots, and decided to do this on a whim.



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 07:24 PM
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a reply to: intergalactic fire

Let's see, the Saturn shot....it was with my old 4.5 inch Newtonian telescope I had. I want to say the focal length was 1300 or 1400mm.

The new mount I'm getting is a EQ-1 made by Orion. Cheap, I know. I'll most likely have to baby it, as it will most likely start to fall apart the day it get's here.

But the price was right.

I'm open to suggestions.....unless those suggestions start going above the 500 to 1000 dollar range, hehehehehe.



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 08:23 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

If you can get a decent tripod, mount and motor for 130$ I wouldn't doubt to much either.

As I said in the other thread, haven't got a lot of experience with tracking mounts as I just received one a couple weeks ago.
After years of reading, on and off, I recently picked up the trail again and read some more and more and decided the best choice for me for the moment is the Skywathcher Star Adventurer. It has some pretty neat timelapse options so came in handy for my 'normal' photography work.
Comes with a build in polar scope and counterweight and has a payload capacity of 5kg which is enough to support my heavy 80-200 2.8 + camera. It also has a port to connect a guiding scope and you can connect it to your pc to set up personal tracking modes.

My impression for now is positive, polar alignment is very easy. Takes just a couple minutes and you of to go.
I'm also happy about it's tracking capabilities.
Managed to get proper tracking at 200mm for 2min and 15sec.
Only tested a couple of wider shots with exposure of +5minutes. No trailing visible in the stars.
single exposure at 28mm f4 / 602sec ISO800


There is always bigger and better but for a beginner I believe this is a good option.
There are a few more small trackers(like the vixen polarie or the ioptron skytracker) but with less options, less payload capacity but maybe a bit better tracking accuracy.

Ow yes and the price, I paid 335 euros for the whole package.



edit on 15-2-2017 by intergalactic fire because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 08:25 PM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ1000 costing USD700 in amazon isn't too shaby either thanks to its 16x zoom.




posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 08:37 PM
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a reply to: intergalactic fire

Googled the Skywathcher Star Adventurer package. Looks like prices range from $320 USD to $329 USD (about 301 to 309 euros).

Not bad considering the extras it comes with (multiple tracking speeds, DSLR shutter control, etc).

Hmmmm......I had to talk the wife into the 180 I'm going to spend....wonder if I can convince her to let me double that, hehehehehe

I'm off to buy flowers!




posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 08:40 PM
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a reply to: glend

Excellent detail on the Moon there!

Interesting choice of music for the video. Made me feel like I was at an Order of the Arrow ceremony that my son does in Boy Scouts.



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 08:50 PM
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originally posted by: eriktheawful
a reply to: intergalactic fire

Googled the Skywathcher Star Adventurer package. Looks like prices range from $320 USD to $329 USD (about 301 to 309 euros).

Not bad considering the extras it comes with (multiple tracking speeds, DSLR shutter control, etc).

Hmmmm......I had to talk the wife into the 180 I'm going to spend....wonder if I can convince her to let me double that, hehehehehe

I'm off to buy flowers!



You are 2 days behind!!


Have to mention it doesn't come with a tripod(at least not here) so if you don't have one that will be an extra cost off course.
I use a normal manfrotto tripod for the mount, doesn't have to be a special telescope tripod.


edit on 15-2-2017 by intergalactic fire because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 08:56 PM
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a reply to: intergalactic fire

I just did a search for ones made by Mead........some are up to $4,500.00

Took me a while to find my eyeballs that fell out of my head.



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 09:47 PM
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originally posted by: eriktheawful
a reply to: muzzleflash

Here's an image I took of Saturn, many years ago with a telescope, not exactly the best:




That's awesome! Thank you for sharing that.

How much did it cost you for the equipment you used to get that photo?
I personally think it's excellent considering you're on a budget and down here on Earth.



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 09:52 PM
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originally posted by: eriktheawful
a reply to: intergalactic fire

Let's see, the Saturn shot....it was with my old 4.5 inch Newtonian telescope I had. I want to say the focal length was 1300 or 1400mm.


Nevermind the above post.
Thanks for sharing the specs!

Great thread btw!



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 09:57 PM
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a reply to: muzzleflash

It was about 600 dollars over all. That included the telescope mount, telescope and at the time I used this really cheap CCD camera that was made for the telescope but died after only a few uses.

Still have the telescope though.



posted on Feb, 15 2017 @ 10:37 PM
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See, here is a great example of one of my failures. This just happened tonight and is perfect to show how when I try things they sometimes (strike that: many times) go FUBAR.

I wanted to make a star trail shot, so I set the camera up with the lens set to 18mm, f3.5, ISO 800, and opened the shutter for 45 minutes.

I have special firmware called Magic Lantern that I installed on my camera that allows me to open the shutter longer than the 30 seconds built in by the factory.

Here was the result, don't be too blinded by it:



As you can see, it looks like I caught a nuclear blast.

I was able to pull some data from this mess to make this:



So it looks like the CCD chip saturated. I'll have to experiment more to find out why.



posted on Feb, 16 2017 @ 12:04 AM
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a reply to: eriktheawful

a reply to: ThePeaceMaker


You guys inspired me to sit out in my lawn chair, using my old Canon PowerShot SX170. I was surprised how well it worked.

This pic is from tonight, out of 88 shots this was my favorite: 15 second exposure (f/3.5) and ISO at 1600. I took out some of the grain effects in PaintShop Pro, at 1600 it gets pretty grainy.....

I've found a new use for my old camera..... and a new hobby! Maybe next week I'll figure a way to mount it on my scope.

close up





edit on 16-2-2017 by imitator because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 16 2017 @ 06:34 AM
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a reply to: imitator

Good for you! And great job!

I'm glad we might get some people to try this.

Or at the very least: give them something other than political threads to read, hehehe.



posted on Feb, 16 2017 @ 07:08 AM
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a reply to: imitator
Nice work ! I'm actually pleased you went out and attempted it. 88 shots? Once you've got the idea and begin learning what settings I guarantee the shot count will go down as you begin to getting better pictures straight away
Keep up the good work!

I've been meaning to get out more as well but the weather here in the UK, well for my area is meant to be overcast for the next few days

I see in the bottom left of your second pic you caught yourself a plane

edit on 16-2-2017 by ThePeaceMaker because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 16 2017 @ 07:21 AM
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a reply to: eriktheawful
Where did I left my sunglasses??
The nights never were so bright




So it looks like the CCD chip saturated. I'll have to experiment more to find out why.

Mainly because of the light pollution I believe. Just too much light.

In the OP you showed 2 photos of startrails, I believe the first one is a single exposure around 5min shutter.
The second one I believe are multiple exposures stacked together to create the startrails, I'd guess around 30 photos of each 1 min exposure.
There are more advantages taking multiple expos and stacking them later on. You get 2 for the prize of 1.
It allows you to come up with a final result of one shot with very long trails or you can make a timelapse with them.
It is also a lot easier and faster to adjust your settings for right exposure and don't have to wait 45min to make adjustments.
If you're interested I can link you a free software to make startrails and timelapse. The program is just 1Mb in size and does the job pretty good.



posted on Feb, 16 2017 @ 07:31 AM
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Well after some research, thinking and sleeping on it, I come to understand the mistakes I made with my star trail shot that turned out horrible and that I posted here:

www.abovetopsecret.com...

Here are the mistakes I made:

1) My camera is a Canon Rebel T3 (1100D) Digital SLR camera. NOT and FILM camera. It uses a CCD chip which will build up thermal noise over time during exposure. While yes, I did know this, I applied the old way of exposing the frame (I did it like you would with film).

2) ISO was set way too high for really long exposure times. An ISO of 100, not 800, would have been much better, but the shot most likely would still have ended up saturated being exposed for 45 minutes.

3) Most people when doing star trails that are long, actually take multiple frames that are only exposed for 3 to 5 minutes (not one at 45 minutes). This results in much shorter star trails, but, reduces the amount of thermal noise that can saturate the CCD chip. You then take all those frames and stack them with your stacking software (something I have not covered, nor anyone else yet). The final result will be long star trails, and each frame after the other will add to the trail, as long as you do not wait for longer periods between each frame.

4) I need to see if my cameras software has a timer that will automatically take each frame for me, as the less you touch the camera during this time, the better, else you can cause vibrations or bump the camera enough to where the trails will look like they are zig zagging......which might make for a cool pic later on, but I want to get one right first, then experiment later, hehehehe.

So for those of you starting out: Don't get discouraged. We learn more from our failures (and you will have them) sometimes than from our successes.



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