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Old 13-07-2017, 06:34 PM
Randomguy (Jedd)
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Camera for Milky Way photography?

Hi everyone,

I'm looking to get into astrophotography. I eventually want to work my way up to DSO photography, but I think it is best to start at the Milky Way without a telescope.

So I'm looking for camera and lens suggestions because I don't really know where to start with them. The budget for the body is $1000 and same with the lens. I've been told Olympus cameras are worth looking into but I'm not too sure. Also, open for suggestions for tripods if it's necessary

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Old 14-07-2017, 08:27 AM
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doppler (Rick)
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Hi Jedd, that's a big question, not sure if there is a "best" Dslr camera for astro photography. I have never come across any one using an Olympus for astro so can't comment on that one. The most popular camera's here are Canon followed by Nikon with a few Sony's and Pentax in the mix. Canon is the most popular possibly because of the abundance of software available for camera control and processing. If you look in the "nightscapes" section of this forum you will see a lot of canon full frame sensor camera's being used.

The most popular Dslr for deep space seems to be the canon 1100d. The canon 600d's /700d's are also popular due to their swivel screens, but the 1100d has larger pixels and so has a bit of an advantage over the 6/700d's in capturing photons. There is a newer 750d 24mp canon out, but don't know how that one compares. Of course what ever body you choose a quality lens is the most important part, the lenses usually supplied are average at best.

Probably best to read these forums and see what people are using, then google the camera / lens they are using.

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Old 14-07-2017, 09:46 AM
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omegacrux (David)
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Hi Jedd
I use a Olympus OMD Em10 for Astro pics , with a Lumix f2.5 14mm and get good results , also the Olympus have a stacking program in the camera 'live comp' , there's a few people who use Olympus for Astro on Facebook

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Old 14-07-2017, 06:50 PM
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I think Canon are king in this area. There are many that are very low cost. I have seen 1100D's for under $500. You could probably get a 60D quite cheaply and then a Samyang 14mm F2.8 also cheaply. Gert the Samyang from a store that takes returns as their quality control is atrocious and you are likely going to need a 2nd or 3rd copy to get a good one. Both those could be had for well under $1000.

Most modern cameras have quite low noise as ISO3200/6400 these days. APSc is a common sensor size and full frame is preferable but the costs go up a lot.
APSc is your 600D, 700D etc.

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Old 15-07-2017, 12:30 PM
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Nebulous (Chris)
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Hi Jedd, from a fellow newbie

You may already know much of this, so please excuse the length of it!

Your idea of starting with pictures of the milky way without a telescope sounds good. You can begin with very basic equipment and still get pleasing results. Pretty much anything can take pictures of the milky way, apparently even using an app on a phone.

The main requirement is to be able hold a camera absolutely steady for long enough for the camera to gather enough light. Using a remote shutter release will help reduce vibration too. You can take basic wide shots with pretty much any tripod, but it may help to hang some weight under it to improve stability. It is probably worth budgeting to buy a decent tripod though. A good quality solid one should last you pretty much indefinitely, and not need upgrading later.

The essential things to get right are stability and settings. In my experience so far, learning how to choose the optimum ISO, aperture, and exposure times, plus getting the manual focus spot on, were initially much more important than how much Iíd paid for the gear. For example, the sweet spot for focus isnít necessarily found by simply cranking the focus ring right round to the infinity end - itís often best when turned back a little. Of course, Iím talking about taking beginner star pics here, not shooting a supermodel for the front cover of Vogue. (I mostly use a basic old Canon 600D with a kit lens for astro shots but I do also have some higher end gear to compare it with).

My experience is with Canon cameras, but there would be other good options on the market. Entry level Canon DSLRs often come with an inexpensive 18-55 mm zoom ďkitĒ lens. These seem fine to get started with, and will allow you to test out a range of focal lengths without buying several much more expensive lenses. Camera geeks who have just spent a few grand on fancy lenses may look down on kit lenses, but Iíve found my Canon ones to work just fine and be good value for a variety of photography. (You can tell who the geeks are - they talk about their ďgood glassĒ whilst the rest of us just call them lenses). Google can find you some perfectly good astro images taken with the Canon kit zoom lenses, including some that were used on tracking mounts..

As you zoom the lens towards 55mm you will get closer views but the trade off is that you will get less time to take the picture before the stars start to go out of shape. Itís a double whammy - the longer the lens the less effective it is at gathering light quickly, plus the closer that the view becomes the more it exaggerates the speed of movement of the stars across the viewing area.

There doesnít seem to be a good reason not to start with affordable lenses and delay buying expensive ones until I know exactly what extra benefit I would be getting for the money. I.e I wonít waste money on a Ferrari just to go to the shops. Iíll wait until I know exactly when, where and why I can use it. They say that the most important part of a good photographerís equipment sits between their ears, not in the gear bag, so I feel thereís a lot to learn yet before I need to use more expensive eqiupment. And I donít want to waste money through inexperience at this type of photography.

The newly released Canon 200D apparently comes in a version with the 18-55mm lens for about $900 all up, so that might be worth checking out.

There is also the 750D at an OK price including the kit lens for only $100 more than just the body alone. Those are handy lenses for a variety of photography so, at that price, itís not exactly a big or risky investment!

Both appear to have better ISO range than my 600D.

All the best with your choice.



Shot taken at 18mm, using the old Canon 600D with the kit zoom lens. Reduced to a measly 140k size to post. Solid Manfrotto tripod, remote cable release, Image Stabilisation turned off and manual focus used. Exposed for 15 seconds at !SO 1600 and then further lightened on the computer in the photo storing software (one simple movement of a slider, no stacking or fancy post-processing). A few minutes later the cloud at the right rolled in and blanked it all out!

With the basic shots that I take thereís a fair margin for error. Just newbie stuff, nothing flash. i usually take darker shots (less stars, and only the brighter ones prominent) that I can use to crop out particular constellations to help me learn the patterns and identify areas of interest to observe later with a telescope. You can alter quite a lot on the computer. However, what I canít fix effectively is bad focus or out of shape stars because I got the settings wrong.
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Old 15-07-2017, 03:36 PM
DarkKnight (Kev)
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Full frame is, IMHO, the only way to go.

Firstly for the extra real estate a Full Frame offers over a crop sensor, and secondly it's bigger pixels have better light gathering ability, and that is what astro photography is all about.

Have a look here for a comparison of sensor sizes...

The two cameras I'd suggest looking at would be the Nikon D600/D610 and the Canon 6D. Both can be found in lightly used condition and with low shutter counts (< 10K) for around the $1200 mark. and their eBay store NoFrills often have factory refurbished offerings with 12 months manufacturer warranty.

Look here for a comparison on them ...

Don't be seduced by the low prices of the Gray Market offerings as they often have dubious heritage and warranty.

I second Greg Bradley's suggestion re the Samyang 14mm f2.8 as I have one and rate it quite highly.

Good luck in your deliberations.

PS: And yes, a stable tripod, quality ball-head and a remote release are mandatory.
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Old 17-07-2017, 02:56 PM
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I'm just going to be trite. The best camera is the one you use. You can photography with ANY camera, there is no such thing as the best camera for anything. Typically when someone asks this question they just want to throw money away. Until YOU start taking photos, find out if you are willing to learn how to process and just whats involved. $1k is nothing and will just get you something I doubt you'll actually use because it'll be garbage . What do you think taking astrophotography actually involves? learn and use what you have.
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Old 18-07-2017, 12:29 PM
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ZeroID (Brent)
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For astroimaging you don't need all the fancy doodahs that super expensive cameras have. As mentioned earlier one of the best Canon Models was the 1100D with an 18 megapixel sensor. It is a good basic low cost DSLR with a relatively low noise sensor. It has since been replaced in the new Canon lineup with the 1200D which I bought new for $500 on special and now it's the 1300D with similar specs. You can find good second hand offerings probably by now.
For the cost and technical capability with Live view and tethering to your PC etc it's a very good starting point. I haven't modified mine at all and it's still a very good DSLR regardless. Why pay for extras you don't even need.
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Old 18-07-2017, 12:57 PM
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I second that , my 1100D has been wonderful value for money.
I got the kit [18-55mm] for $297 on special.
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Old 18-07-2017, 11:37 PM
jimmyh1555 (James)

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I have a Pentax KP and I have bought an ASTROTRACER which fits on to where the flash goes. All you need is a tripod. I have taken 2 minute shots at f1.8 with Samyang manual lens ISO1600 24mm focal length. Great photos
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Old 19-07-2017, 11:30 AM
Hoges (John)
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I think the most important things for night scapes are:

Decent SLR with low noise sensor - most of the modern Nikon's & Canon's should be pretty good.

Good lens availability - I would stick with Nikon and Canon cameras because everybody makes lenses for them. I have a Pentax K50 - a fine camera but with much limited 3rd party lenses available.

A decent lens or two - and this is where you will spend the most $$. A zoom is great for daytime but I find it a bit of PITA at night as on some models the lens can 'creep' during the exposure depending on what sort of angle it's on.

Some lenses are good when stopped down a bit but can be crap when opened up to f2.8 - check for lens reviews and check out all the pics before you pull the trigger. There is absolutely no point in buying a lens for night photography that doesn't cope well when wide open - I have plenty of these!

There are some excellent reviews of Samyang lenses on youtube - the 14mm F2.8 would also be my pick as mentioned.

Definitely need a remote release and solid tripod - although you can set most cameras to a delayed release which will prevent the shutter-press vibes. Check your potential camera can do interval shooting too - I've often set mine up to do 15 second shots, 3 seconds apart for 20 minutes or so to get some nice timelapse night sky video.
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