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Old 21-02-2016, 06:22 PM
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janoskiss (Steve H)
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Question What 2nd hand DSLR on tight budget?

Seeking advice on what DSLR would be good for dabbling in a bit of deep sky astrophotography. Budget is <$500, but <= $300 would be preferred.

Obviously for that money it'll have to be a relatively old second hand camera, but I have not kept up with developments since the Canon 450D/20Da were new, so I'm not sure what I can realistically expect and should be looking on such a tight budget. I'm also fairly ignorant about all the different makes and models and how wear and tear affects DSLRs (how to assess whether an old camera is still usable for astro). I know Canons are the most popular for astroph., but I haven't got a preference for any make or model. Just after best bang for buck. Camera body only would be fine.

I realise modern cameras are much better with much lower noise and better sensitivity, but I can't spend that much (even if I could get a 10x better camera for 2x the money). It's really just for a bit of fun and to gain some hands-on practical knowledge.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 21-02-2016, 10:00 PM
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You're in luck Steve, not only have DSLRs got quieter, but one of the
best of the budget level models that is eminently suitable for astrophotography falls well within your budget. You should find a used
Canon 1100D including the kit lens [or body only, if you don't need the
lens], for well under $300. Currently Canon are the most popular DSLRs
for astro because there is more software available for them than any other brand. This is changing, but will still apply for a while yet.
You might find a 1200D for under 300 as well.
raymo
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Old 22-02-2016, 12:48 AM
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Thanks for that tip raymo! I was just browsing dpreview.com and checking "completed listings" on ebay for what different cameras have been selling for. I've ruled out Nikons because they seem to demand more on the 2nd hand market than Canons of similar performance. I've just about narrowed it down to the Canon 500D and 550D but I would have missed the 1100D if you didn't mention it. That fits the bill nicely too. I don't want to over-analyse. Now it's just a matter of biding my time and waiting for a bargain to pop up.
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Old 22-02-2016, 12:58 AM
raymo
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I'm pretty sure that the 1100 and 1200 are quieter than the 500 or 550.
raymo
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Old 22-02-2016, 02:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raymo View Post
I'm pretty sure that the 1100 and 1200 are quieter than the 500 or 550.
raymo
I was looking at high ISO comparisons of the cameras and the 1100 seems to be somewhere between the 500 and the 550. Not sure how reliable an indicator these studio shots are of astro performance though... The 1200 is too new: no review or comparisons. I presume it's probably better than all of the rest. The specs seem on a par with the 550D.
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Old 22-02-2016, 07:03 AM
glend (Glen)
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Any of those cameras will do the job. Obessing about high ISO is not worth bothering about as noise will go up for all if them as ISO goes up. I would not shoot with an ISO higher than 1600 on any DSLR. And if you pick a camera which is easily cooled in a future mod then you gain exceptional capability through very low noise when the sensor is cooled to near 0C. Simply darks start to equal bias/offset frames at that temperature. Remember as well that when new cameras roll out ever karger sensor pixel counts this doesn't necessarily help with astrophotography, it is the pixel size and well depth that you need to be concerned about. Very small pixels in theory give better resolution but only if your scope can provide the high contrast, low obstruction, resolving power to deliver to the sensor.
For someone stafting out in AP with a DSLR, any if the the 12.2mega pixel Canons with Liveview is a good choice, as they are cheap to acquire these days, easiky modded, and have a good pixel size at 5.2. So look from the 450D upward in the model range. Learn to do the filter model, or have it done for you, to gain a full spectrum astro camera.
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Old 22-02-2016, 08:42 AM
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Steve, I purchased a Canon 600D three years ago new for $425 with full AU Canon warranty.
The reason I decided on the 600 over the newer model 650 was that the reviews showed that the 600 definately had less noise than the 650.
It might be a good idea to check reviews and comparisons on noise before deciding.
Barb
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Old 22-02-2016, 09:21 AM
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if you can squeeze a flex screen model in (refractors especially the camera is upside down when your target is at the optimum viewing angle!) - it can be very helpful at the initial stages for framing and focusing with 10x live view.

Less of an issue if you're looking at using something like byeos that can do live view framing on the PC.

Just a thought. Most of the basic canon's though will be fine. Lots of people using 1100d's with great results bang for buck!.

Last edited by jamiep; 22-02-2016 at 09:23 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 22-02-2016, 11:55 AM
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It seems that people have cottoned on to just how good the 1100D
is/was for the price. On ebay the going price for a used one seems to be
nearly $100 more than I paid for mine new, and there's not many of them to choose from.
raymo
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Old 22-02-2016, 01:27 PM
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ZeroID (Brent)
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450D, 1100D and the 1200D are your best options and value. Best low noise performance and the 1200D has 18 megapixels. Get BYEos and use Live View to focus, don't worry about flip screens, you still break your neck and you cannot guarantee good focus.
I can vouch that the 1200D is excellent and my 450D has been hacked and chopped many times and still works. If you can't get a 1200D or the 1100D then the 450D is still a good starting point and possibly cheaper although thye still seem to command a good price over here.
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Old 22-02-2016, 04:06 PM
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While I agree with the others that Canon is a better option (got 1200D myself recently) you could get a brand new the Nikon D3300 body for $256. I believe it is a very good performer for astrophotograpy.
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Old 22-02-2016, 10:32 PM
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I use the Nikon D5100 which has a very sensitive, low noise sensor. It also has a full swing/tip/tilt LCD which makes it a breeze to use at the scope. If you look at the forums at Cloudynights.com you'll that the days of Canon's monopoly on astronomical DSLRs has been well and truly broken. Lots of people there imaging with Nikon and Sony cameras.
Cheers,
Cam
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Old 22-02-2016, 11:07 PM
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Thank you to everyone for all the excellent advice. I agree with Cam, based on what I've learnt reading up on the topic over the past several days, that the D5100 seem at least as good as any of the Canons mentioned on this thread. But there seem to be fewer of them around and they tend to be more pricey on the 2nd hand market.

Special thanks to Glen for the very practical technical advice, and to Barb and David for the PM with extra useful info.

It is nothing short of amazing what a few $100s get you these days. Progress in camera/detector technology in the past decade or two has been like Moore's law of computing on steroids.
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Old 23-02-2016, 04:48 AM
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Well, I found a Canon 550D with a kit lens for $250 on gumtree from a seller near my place. Looks to be in good nick. Having a basic lens would be nice especially for being able to do much better videos (non-astro) than what I can with anything else I have. I've decided to grab it if it's not sold yet and checks out when I go to have a look at it. If anyone has any tips on what to look out for, it would be much appreciated!

Otherwise that Nikon D3300 body for $256 brand new is hard to pass up. Thanks for that tip, luka! I wouldn't have found it myself.

The only thing that concerns me about the Nikon is that I do all my work in Linux, so compatibility with that OS would be highly desirable (at least as far as being able to use raw format without too many hassles). I gather Canon is better supported in Linux...(?)
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Old 23-02-2016, 06:45 AM
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lazjen (Chris)
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Assuming you're using libgphoto2 or something similar under Linux, you're probably going to be ok with Nikon.

Plus this seems to indicate it's ok: http://indilib.org/devices/ccds/gphoto.html

If you're used to Linux, you can do all your astrophotography there too with tools like INDI/ekos, etc.
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Old 23-02-2016, 07:26 AM
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Thanks Chris, that's great. Sound like I'm sorted either way, Canon or Nikon.
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Old 23-02-2016, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janoskiss View Post
Well, I found a Canon 550D with a kit lens for $250 on gumtree from a seller near my place. Looks to be in good nick. Having a basic lens would be nice especially for being able to do much better videos (non-astro) than what I can with anything else I have. I've decided to grab it if it's not sold yet and checks out when I go to have a look at it. If anyone has any tips on what to look out for, it would be much appreciated!

Otherwise that Nikon D3300 body for $256 brand new is hard to pass up. Thanks for that tip, luka! I wouldn't have found it myself.

The only thing that concerns me about the Nikon is that I do all my work in Linux, so compatibility with that OS would be highly desirable (at least as far as being able to use raw format without too many hassles). I gather Canon is better supported in Linux...(?)
550d is a good choice if you are doing planetary as well it has a true video crop mode.
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Old 23-02-2016, 03:35 PM
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550d is a good choice if you are doing planetary as well it has a true video crop mode.
Can you briefly explain what that means please. How does it differ from the D3300? I read the specs and the dpreview details on movie mode but I still can't figure it out.
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Old 23-02-2016, 03:50 PM
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rustigsmed (Russell)
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Hi Steve,

Sorry I should be more specific, 1:1 pixel resolution for video including at 640x480 at 1:1 and at 60fps.

I can't comment on the Nikon. But here is some interesting info on the canons written by Jerry.

http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTRO...Resolution.HTM

That kind of information is hard to come by so not sure if you could find out for the Nikon.

but this is only of value for planetary imaging.

cheers
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Old 23-02-2016, 06:48 PM
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Thanks Russell. I don't think with that many pixels being downsampled to VGA should be a problem. (If anything it should show less quantisation noise...) I can appreciate how downsampling something like 1024x768 or even full HD to 640x480 is going to cause artefacts, but when it's around 100 pixels on the CCD for every pixel on the image, that's gotta be pretty damn good. Or maybe I'm missing something and don't fully understand how these cameras work in video mode.

Anyway, I've decided to go with the Nikon D3300 that Luka recommended. I haven't heard back from the 550D seller, and really for the same money a brand spanking new probably slightly better performing camera vs a 5-6 year old unit is rather appealing. I've read enough reviews on the D3300 to be convinced it's an excellent deal at the current discount price. It's ridiculous. I paid more for an old second hand film SLR 20 years ago and double that for a compact digital 10 years ago (and that's in those days' dollars).

I did the sign up to the HN spam in exchange for the $25 voucher and I was at the checkout ready to buy, but Harvey Norman's final "Proceed to Paypal" button does not work. It's a link to the same page that you're already on. I sent them a query about it.

The HN special ends at the end of this month and the $50 cashback from Nikon at the end of March. Thanks again Luka for the tip. I should pay you a finder's fee really.

Last edited by janoskiss; 23-02-2016 at 07:03 PM.
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