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Old 01-09-2008, 12:47 PM
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Davekyn (David)
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Can I learn with a Kodak Z612 digi camera?

Can I learn with a Kodak Z612 digi camera:

Hi I was wondering if anyone could comment on the following camera and its ability to just take night shots of constellations. My sister has loaned it to me & I also have a camera tripod with a level and other accessories. I want to use this camera just to start learning is all? I know it’s no DSLR and has nowhere near the amount of settings required, to get anything decent, however I did find a site explaining it was possible to use a point and go digi camera for starting out. I hope to use this site to begin my adventures into digital astrophotography on a small scale.
http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/QUICK.HTM


Apparently my goal is to use a long a shutter speed as possible, at as wide an aperture as possible, and at as high an ISO as possible. No doubt I am going to have trouble as a complete newbie finding the relevant settings, if indeed I have them at all, and then how to use them. This is why I am ask my queries and hoping someone out there may be able to comment on this camera and possibly give some helpful info.

Here is a place that describes some of the important features well…Perhaps after skimming over this webpage you may be able to advise me of what I can expect to learn with this camera or if in fact I can practice night sky photography?
http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Kodak-EasyShare-Z612-First-Impressions-Review-/Control-Options.htm

A more detailed list of Specs:
http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=8826&pq-locale=en_US

I know I have to Learn Myself…and I intend to…this is my first step…I don’t expect any long responses…I’m simply asking those of who may be in the know and have the time as well as like helping us newbie’s out…I appreciate all responses.

Thank You
Dave

Last edited by Davekyn; 01-09-2008 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 01-09-2008, 03:41 PM
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Davekyn (David)
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I think I am half way there…I’ll try some camera forums:

So far my observations with the settings I need to worry about as per the instructions at the following website are as follows:
http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/QUICK.HTM
Remember my goal is to achieve:
…as long a shutter speed as possible, at as wide an aperture as possible, and at as high an ISO as possible.

“F/ratio”…I have it set to F/2.8……..As Wide an Aperture as possible.
“Shutter speed”…I can change this…but note it is dependent on the lighting conditions. I positioned the camera in a dark closet to see how long I could make the shutter speed. In the dark is seems to go to 16.0 @ F/2.8 ………As long a Shutter Speed as possible.
“ISO”…after messing around with this setting, the above settings changed on me…In the end I was only able to obtain an ISO of 400 with F/2.8 and a shutter speed of 5.0. The ISO is rated to go to 800, however I am learning most of these settings are dependent on the environment and will affect each other.
As for “Exposure”…I assume whilst I am in either of these manual modes PASM, that I am to leave the settings on …0.0…0.0…? I know how to change the values as I have been with other settings but have no idea where I should have them?
And last of all… “Focus”…? I have worked out how to enter manual mode for this, but don’t quite fully understand focusing to Infinity…. 0___I___8 …I assume the closest I can get a focus towards ___8 is best……….I do *Note…that there is an actual setting for focusing to infinity with an icon of mountains…should I just use that setting until I better understand the focusing technique?
OK moving on as the steps suggest.
White balance…I do have the option for tungsten so shall use that whilst in manual mode, however will have to access this option by using the menu button.
Self timer…
OK…I understand this is to allow for a steady shot when using the tripod or other steady device?
I’m curious…when using the self timer feature…or manual focus/infinity focus, for that matter…does one still take the time to slightly push and hold the shoot button half way before taking shot, or before engaging self timer?

Finally last of all…EXPOSURE TIMES:
How does one go outside and take a 10 second exposure of this and a 30 second exposure of that. Do you have to press the shoot button half way down to begin exposure and then estimate the times? Or does the exposure time start as soon as you point the camera at the target with lens exposed and no buttons pressed?...Is exposure time dictated by shutter spped?

No doubt NEWBIE questions…I guess I am feeling more of a grasp for having attempted a post on the topic of using this camera…If you can answer any of my queries or set me straight…please do so. There seems to be a few clear patches of sky and the sun is setting…with a bit of luck, I’ll sort out the settings and have a few pictures to experiment with tomorrow. I’ll sus out some Photographic forums as well. If ya don’t ask ya don’t know!
Dave

Last edited by Davekyn; 01-09-2008 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:48 PM
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jjjnettie (Jeanette)
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Hi Dave,
I've used my little Canon S3IS for photographing the night sky.
You won't be able to get a good picture from a single photo, you will have to take multiple images and stack them. It's not hard to do, and it's good practice for when you get your hands on a "real" camera.

The basic recipe for a good wide field photo
1. set focus to infinity
2. ISO 400 is better than ISO 800 which is too noisy, but experiment with ISO 800, if you take enough photos, stacking will reduce the noise.
3. take as long an exposure as you can. 15 seconds is fine
4. use auto white balance
5. take as many photos as you can, at least 20
6. after you've taken your photos, put the lens cap on and take the same number of photos with the lens cap on. These are your dark frames.
7. Don't use any Zoom at this stage.
8. If you can, set the camera for a 2 second timer so you don't get any camera shake when you press the shutter button.

Processing
1. Download a copy of Deep Sky Stacker, it's a free program.
http://www.deepskystacker.com/
2. Download the photo's from the camera. Sorting them into 2 files, one for Dark Frames, one for Picture files.
3. Open Deep Sky Stacker
4. Click on "Open Picture Files" and choose your picture files.
5. Click on "Open Dark Files" and choose your dark files.
6. Click on "Check All"
7. Click on "Stack Checked Pictures"
8. Wait for the computer to do it's thing.
9. You can use the sliders under the final picture to adjust it to your liking. This is the fun bit.
10. Click on "Save Picture to File" make sure you tick the box that asks if you want to save any adjustments you've made, other wise you'll lose it.
11. Open up your saved picture in the image processing program of your choice, PhotoShop, PaintShop, what ever and continue with your processing if you want to.


The only other advise I can add it that when you start to use the zoom on the camera, you will have to take shorter exposures, otherwise your star will start to trail. I've taken up to 74 images at 8 seconds each, to get a not too bad close up of the Eta Carina nebula.
It involves a lot of trial and error, but it's the only way to learn.
Good luck, and don't forget to post your images.
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Old 08-09-2008, 01:50 PM
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Davekyn (David)
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Thanks jeanette,
I have been a bit busy to check up on this post. Thanksyou for that detailed response...I have taken note! and stored it in My Docs".

I did have a play the other night, but only got a few stars to show. I think I need to go out of town to get a better shot...Basically when you view the pic in a windowed mode, it's all black, however when I put it on my desktop, I can apreciate the patteren of stars and was actaully happy...just not many stars.

My wife thinks I am crazy...but I have to start somewhere. I tried to explain about the light pollution, but when the my other kids look at my desktop and see it mostly black with a few specs of light on it, they also laugh at me. LOL I don't blame them...but I will show them some day, when I have a real camera and telescope.

Here....I may as well give you a laugh too...I'll upload it so you can see it too...
http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x...to1200X800.jpg
Thanks again for your response!
Dave.
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Old 08-09-2008, 09:23 PM
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jjjnettie (Jeanette)
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I had a look at your picture and our stars are nice and round.
I also a play with your image and managed to squeeze out a few more stars.
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (Daves stars.jpg)
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:20 PM
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Davekyn (David)
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Are you serious! You mean those extra stars you somehow got to appear where already in my picture I uploaded? How did you do that…Can I use paint shop pro to do that.
Please do tell J
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Old 10-09-2008, 07:04 AM
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I used Paint Shop Pro to do the adjustments.
Go to "Adjust", then open "Brightness and Contrast".
Start with adjusting "Contrast". Move the slider to the left a little bit.
Next adjust "Levels". On "Input Levels", there are 3 diamonds on the slider, move the right hand slider to the left. If the background gets too light, move the left hand diamond to the right. Play around with this until you get a pleasing image.
Next adjust " Curves" Moving the diagonal line up to lighten, down to darken.
"Histogram Adjustment" I usually only adust the right hand perpendicular slider "Midtones Compress".
That's about it.
It's easy to over process though. So small adjustments on each one is a good idea. You can always go back and readjust later.
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Old 10-09-2008, 07:26 PM
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Davekyn (David)
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Thanks for the TIP:
It WORKS
I'm hooked even more now, and I still dont have a scope. LOL
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Old 10-09-2008, 07:42 PM
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jjjnettie (Jeanette)
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Good o
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