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Old 27-02-2011, 02:01 PM
Afro Boy (Carl)
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Camera selection advice ...

Hi folks,

I am looking into buying a camera for some intro astrophotography. I don't mind paying a little more for something that will last longer, but I can't spend too much. I'm looking at keeping it under around $800.

I've been looking at the following (either new or 2nd hand):
Canon
  • 550D - $800
  • 450D - $700-$800
  • 1000D - $600-700
  • 500D - $550 - $700

Other
  • Pentax K-x - $550 - $700

Aside from the age and a few minor tech differences (e.g. MPs), I can't tell them apart. Keen for some advice from folks who've used these. Anything I should be looking out for or avoiding?

Thanks,
Af.

Last edited by Afro Boy; 27-02-2011 at 02:30 PM. Reason: Added the Pentax
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Old 27-02-2011, 09:17 PM
stevous67 (Steve M)
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In regard to the KX, here are some photos taken without guiding:

http://www.mpas.asn.au/_astro/galler...g2_itemId=1934

The KX seems to have a wide IR cut filter, capturing more red neblousity than a normal DSLR.

But note, the camera has no ability to add a wire blub control.
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Old 27-02-2011, 09:53 PM
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[1ponders] (Paul)
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I've not used it myself but I know someone who has a 550D bought specifically for astro purposes and apart from the live view probably wishes they'd never gotten rid of their 20D. The Raw files cant be read by anything except Canon Digital professional and the colour noise is terrible.

Do your self a favour and keep your eye out for a second hand 30 or 40D.
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Old 27-02-2011, 11:27 PM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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IMHO A good 450D (or the cheaper 1000D) would be the way to go...ideally if you can also get one which has been modded for astronomy.
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Old 28-02-2011, 12:07 PM
Afro Boy (Carl)
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Thanks for the input so far fellas. Very useful stuff.

Steve, I'm familiar with some of Greg's photos with the Pentax Kx, hence my inclusion. I'll keep it on the list because I'm not too fussed that it doesn't have ability to be controlled from a computer. Remote/wireless trigger is ok.

Paul, interesting about the 550D. Good to know. Anyone else have a similar problem with this cam? I also hadn't considered the 30/40D because of the age (2007), but second hand might help save me a few bucks.

Merlin, when you say "modded" do you mean with the IR filter removed? The 450D / 1000D are at the top of my list as well as the Kx.

Cheers,
Carl
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Old 28-02-2011, 01:09 PM
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Wait a bit.. 600D is due to release later this year.. it has a flip out screen... UBER handy when imaging on a newtonion
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Old 28-02-2011, 01:29 PM
Chancellor (Jeff)
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Just to give you an idea of raw images from a 500D, the following directory has three subs, 1 minute, 3 minute and 5 minute. They are direct RAW to JPEG conversions using the Canon software, with no other editing done.

WARNING: They are each around 10MB in size.

http://completelyserious.com/pics/as...2/raw_samples/

Images were done using an unmodified Canon 500D, Scope: ED100. No filters and a Western Sydney light polluted sky.

Just a few other notes:
From memory, the 1000D is missing spot metering, which may or may not be important to you.

The 450/500/550D also has more AF points than the 1000D, if this is important to you. (9 in the 450/500/550D vs 7 in the 1000D)

The 550D also has some nice video functions, though this may or may not be important. I'm not complaining about video performance on the 500D, though it's not something I have used much or really looked into.

Last edited by Chancellor; 28-02-2011 at 01:35 PM. Reason: Forgot to include the link
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Old 28-02-2011, 01:48 PM
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tlgerdes (Trevor)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve000 View Post
Wait a bit.. 600D is due to release later this year.. it has a flip out screen... UBER handy when imaging on a newtonion
Why would it be handy for Astro-imaging on a newtonian?

Liveview on a PC/Laptop works so much better than looking at 2.5-3in screen. Sit down in comfort is what i say.
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Old 28-02-2011, 04:50 PM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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Re mods to DSLR - there's two options
-remove the standard inbuilt filter completely to give a "full spectrum" mod. This will allow you to record from the UV to the NIR ( 370nm to beyond 700nm

- replace the filter with a Baader UV-IR filter -this improves the camera response to Ha but blocks the UV below 395nm and the IR above 700nm

The top image shows the spectrum of Vega with a standard DSLR
the bottom the extended spectrum with the filter removed. (courtesy Jack Martin)
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (Vega_jack_350_300mod.jpg)
10.6 KB16 views
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Old 28-02-2011, 05:28 PM
Afro Boy (Carl)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chancellor View Post
Images were done using an unmodified Canon 500D, Scope: ED100. No filters and a Western Sydney light polluted sky.
Thanks for that. The images you posted are in JPG format, is this was the Canon 500D outputs its RAW images as? (i.e. lossless JPG)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin66 View Post
Re mods to DSLR - there's two options
-remove the standard inbuilt filter completely to give a "full spectrum" mod. This will allow you to record from the UV to the NIR ( 370nm to beyond 700nm

- replace the filter with a Baader UV-IR filter -this improves the camera response to Ha but blocks the UV below 395nm and the IR above 700nm
Thanks to you too Merlin. Very useful info for me.


I think I may have narrowed it down now to the following, unless someone wants to throw something else into the mix?
  • 550D (same as the 500D but newer model)
  • 1000D (cheaper but still very popular)

The Pentax Kx is still in my sights given they are apparently quite good in lower light situations. I did however read that they have an automatic dark frame after 30" exposures which you can't turn off.

Thanks,
Af.
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Old 28-02-2011, 08:21 PM
Chancellor (Jeff)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Afro Boy View Post
Thanks for that. The images you posted are in JPG format, is this was the Canon 500D outputs its RAW images as? (i.e. lossless JPG)
The images came from the camera in RAW format, then I used the canon software to do a conversion. I don't think I have any jpegs anymore that came from the camera, at least nothing long exposure, and definitely nothing above 30 seconds.
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Old 28-02-2011, 09:46 PM
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jjjnettie (Jeanette)
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May I just say a big fat NO to the 550d at this time.
I'm not at all happy with mine for astro imaging.
The noise is horrendous and the darks won't remove it.
I can't get my windoze 7 puter to read the raw files either.
So unless someone else here has been able to tame the problem, I'd steer clear for now.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:05 PM
Afro Boy (Carl)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjjnettie View Post
May I just say a big fat NO to the 550d at this time.
I'm not at all happy with mine for astro imaging.
The noise is horrendous and the darks won't remove it.
In response to a similar question I posted on another forum, one person pointed me to some testing he had done on these cams with regards to noise levels. http://ghonis2.ho8.com/rebelmod550du...omparison.html The 550d definitely has problems.

So ...
  • 1000D
  • 450D - Bringing this back into the mix

Both are essentially the same. Same vintage (both 2008), etc. The 450D has a slightly larger viewscreen.

Any other differences people know of which may help tip the balance?

Cheers,
Af.
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:21 PM
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jjjnettie (Jeanette)
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Live View is awesomely fantastic.
Got to have live view.
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:18 PM
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dannat (Daniel)
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There was a thread a couple of months back which showed some high iso & noise testing & the 500d was the pick compared to the 1000d & beat the 550. I can't find it though
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannat View Post
There was a thread a couple of months back which showed some high iso & noise testing & the 500d was the pick compared to the 1000d & beat the 550. I can't find it though
I think this is what you're looking for.
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:16 PM
Afro Boy (Carl)
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Thanks for all the advice and guidance here, I've snapped up a 450D for a great price.

Now just to get a remote, t-ring, etc. etc. - unless someone has some spare hanging around?

Cheers,
Af.
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Old 06-03-2011, 06:12 PM
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Great going. You'll be able to do plenty with the 450, and Liveview is a real boon for focusing. Next thing is perhaps to think how you will be doing darks - either auto in the camera which will double your long exposures, or doing a "dark library". If the later, you'll need a thermometer to help you match dark library with lights taken at different temps.

Happy astro snapping!
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Old 06-03-2011, 06:21 PM
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Have a read of this from deep sky stacker. Multiple darks will always beat in camera noise reduction hands down.
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Old 06-03-2011, 07:10 PM
Afro Boy (Carl)
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Thanks Rob. I took a few shots with it last night and am very pleased so far. Much easier to focus with LiveView.
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