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Old 18-08-2007, 11:31 AM
DJDD
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which tripod for a camera for astrophotography

Hi all!

I need to buy a tripod for our Nikon D80. I would like to photograph the moon (and lunar eclipse) and constellations.
As mentioned in another post, I do not think i would photograph star trails.
I do not want to spend too much and wonder which would be best:

a cheaper tripod from Teds Cameras, e.g. Velbon CX-440 for about $50? this would allow quick exposures only, i guess.
or go for an Alt-Azimuth mount like the AOE-AZ3 Alt Azimuth Mount with slow motion controls?
Or perhaps a light-duty equatorial mount?

sorry for the basic questions- i do not want to spend too much money or buy too much equipment (just yet)

cheers,
DJDD
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  #2  
Old 18-08-2007, 06:52 PM
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bojan
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Tripod: Sturdier, the better... It is also useful for other kinds of photography when you do not have enough light so you need longer exposures
And you will need barndoor mount eventually .... not to photograph star trails :-)
have a look here: http://www.homebuiltastronomy.com/barndoor/index.htm
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Old 19-08-2007, 07:52 AM
DJDD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bojan View Post
Tripod: Sturdier, the better... It is also useful for other kinds of photography when you do not have enough light so you need longer exposures
And you will need barndoor mount eventually .... not to photograph star trails :-)
have a look here: http://www.homebuiltastronomy.com/barndoor/index.htm
Hi Bojan,

thanks for the reply.

so, your suggestion is to get a sturdy camera tripod and build the barndoor mount at a later stage. that works for me as the tripod/mount would then do double duty.

cheers,
DJDD
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  #4  
Old 19-08-2007, 08:13 AM
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[1ponders] (Paul)
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What sort of focal length are you looking to use for your images? If you don't want star trails then you need a fairly short focal length when operating from a fixed tripod. A 50mm lens will give you about 14 sec of exposure before trailing, a 24mm nearly 30 sec. A 300mm lens will only give you around 2 sec. After these times your stars will start to trail and elongate.

You will also need a quick lens to be able to capture as many stars as possible in that short time, f1.8 - f2.8 would be good to start with.
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Old 19-08-2007, 08:55 AM
DJDD
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Originally Posted by [1ponders] View Post
What sort of focal length are you looking to use for your images? If you don't want star trails then you need a fairly short focal length when operating from a fixed tripod. A 50mm lens will give you about 14 sec of exposure before trailing, a 24mm nearly 30 sec. A 300mm lens will only give you around 2 sec. After these times your stars will start to trail and elongate.

You will also need a quick lens to be able to capture as many stars as possible in that short time, f1.8 - f2.8 would be good to start with.

well, all we have with the D80 is an 18-200mm (f/3.5-5.6) telephoto lens we bought as an addition to the body, so wide field shots would be possible (although the lens is not as fast as may be liked) without guidance. Shots of the moon may also be good, even zooming in, although perhaps during the eclipse it may not be ideal.

those comments assume I make the correct judgements from your comments. if so, then again, a tripod seems the way to go.

i can always see what is available in the secondhand market, although I would need to be careful when purchasing n older fixed length lens as I believe i may need to multiply the focal length by about 1.5 (hence a 35mm fast lens would be ideal). note that I am not completely up on the whole photography/lens thing yet.
my wife is the photographer in the family.



thanks for your advice,
DJDD
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Old 19-08-2007, 09:17 AM
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All you can do is give it a go. The 18mm closed down an f stop or two (to help reduce outer field curvature) should be alright for good 45 sec near the celestial equator and nearly a min near the pole and out about 30 deg each way.

The 200mm will be ok for moon shots, though the moon will be a bit small. Where the 200 will give you nice shots is when you frame the moon against some landscape feature, or for conjunction between the moon and planets.
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Old 19-08-2007, 11:17 AM
DJDD
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thanks, Paul, for your comments.
i think i will buy a tripod this week and test a range of focal lengths and f-stops on the weekend.

cheers,
DJDD
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Old 23-08-2007, 01:34 AM
Benny L (Ben)
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do yourself a favour and buy the best possible tripod you can afford.. mine cost me over $1500 ($660 for the head and $850 for the legs) and i wouldnt have it any other way...

btw i use this for holding a 400mm f2.8 with a 1ds so thats about 7 kgs of gear there
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Old 23-08-2007, 06:17 AM
DJDD
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$1500 tripod...that's dedication to the cause.
i don't even have a telescope yet so wonder if that may be a bit beyond the budget.

however, i do understand your point- the sturdier, better quality the tripod (or any gear, i suspect) the better the experience and longevity of the equipment. Just like any other tool, really.

thanks, Benny L.

cheers,
DJDD
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Old 23-08-2007, 09:17 AM
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DJDD, that's where you have to go if you are serious. But you have to start somewhere. I wouldn't start at the $50 tripods - move up to the $120 range for a Velbon. You'll get a tripod that your 10/50 binoculars should be happy on (except if you are trying to view towards the zenith) and you can start some wide-angle astrophotography (or star trails) with that. It will always be a good tripod for non-astro camera work, so it won't be a waste of money.
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  #11  
Old 23-08-2007, 09:28 AM
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I've just bought a Velbon CX686 from Bintel for $165.00 which I am thrilled with. It has the oil-filled fluid pan head which enables you to slew around with liquid-smooth motion. Tension adjustments allow you to overcome poorly-balanced camera/lens combinations such that you can slew to a position and let go - the camera remains in that position. Nice. Also great for video work if you ever need it.

The pan head features a quick-release top plate so that you can leave these attached to you several cameras or whatever and quickly swap them in and out as required without constantly unscrewing everything.

A good unit which is very steady at full extension yet also light enough to throw over you shoulder in its bag and walk around town on a photographic session.

Rated at 2.8kg - which I've pushed to 4kg at times without hassle..

Cheers
Chris

Last edited by Omaroo; 23-08-2007 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 23-08-2007, 09:56 AM
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Yes Chris, I have seen this one on special occasionally and am tempted with that fluid pan head - designed for video panning, I guess. The one I have (the 540 or something - in the $100-120 range) also has quick release plates and I bought a few extra for different cameras, binoculars etc.
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  #13  
Old 23-08-2007, 10:30 AM
DJDD
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I was looking at the Velbon range- initially the $50-$60 mark but perhaps I should invest a bit more heavily- break out and spend $100 or so!
I would need adapters for the bino's and our Nikon D80, which will add to the overall cost.

I think the CX-480 or CX-586 are the go for me, although the CX-480 is probably in my price range. It is a bit lighter than the 586 and holds less weight.

thanks for your comments, Eric and Chris.


DJDD
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Old 23-08-2007, 10:39 AM
Benny L (Ben)
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make sure the head that you get has a quick release plate, most tripods do now so it shouldnt be a problem.. that way you wont have to screw and unscrew the camera/binos every time you want to swap over
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Old 23-08-2007, 10:41 AM
Benny L (Ben)
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if you can stretch your budjet i would suggest this:

http://www.praimaging.com.au/d353-11...hoto-head.html
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  #16  
Old 23-08-2007, 11:30 AM
DJDD
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thanks, Benny L.

A friend, who is a professional photographer, has nothing but good words to say for the Manfrotto tripods but unfortunately the budget will not stretch that far.


DJDD
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  #17  
Old 24-08-2007, 08:43 PM
DJDD
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well, to close the thread off I bought the Velbon Sherpa 250R.

It was very sturdy, certainly compared to the CX-480. The CX-586 looked good , too, but i had already bought the Sherpa at another store so could not be bothered changing it. The Sherpa does not have a levelling bubble. I do not think it has a fluid-filled head, like the CX-586, but it still seems pretty smooth to me. The CX-686 *may* have been better but was an additional $40 so...

anyway, will test it this weekend and at the eclipse on Tuesday.

cheers,
DJDD
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