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Old 24-07-2020, 07:30 PM
Astroboy33 (Steve)
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How to take Astrophotography to next level?

I have been semi successful in Astrophotography of DSOs and have got quite excited and built a slide off roof observatory at our farm on the NSW Qld border.

My question is what to do next to improve? Any suggestions would be welcome!
Equipment is F4 200mm reflector, 60x280 guidescope an old NEQ6Pro mount Canon Eos 80 D camera. Typical tracking accuracy around1px or less

Should I try;
1. Better camera
2. Better mount
3. Better guide scope
4. Better telescope
5. More practice!
6. Better post processing

Any suggestions welcome -typical results attached
Thanks
Steve
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  #2  
Old 24-07-2020, 08:02 PM
wayne anderson (Wayne)
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Hi Steve, you already have some good imaging equipment good guiding and even a slide off roof observatory and you are getting good results.

In time a better camera would bring some improvements, but spending more time in perfecting skills in image aquisition and processing will give you much better results now and will be a great asset far into the future.

By only using the better quality subs taken in an imaging session and using dark frames and by using multible varied exposures 10sec, 30sec, 60sec, 2min etc and stacking each set can allow you to use processing to layer and blend to reduce blow out on brighter sections and bring out detail in faint areas.

There are many different software packages available and everyone has their favorites, i use Startools and gimp, i find the entropy tool in Startools great to bring out faint detail and the gradient and noise reduction tools very good.

Keep up the good work, Wayne.
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Old 24-07-2020, 08:19 PM
Imme (Jon)
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My suggestion......

Before spending money on more ‘stuff’, focus on what you can improve using what you already have.

Looking at the pics you have there I would say spend some more time refining your processing. Key point to remember (one that was drummed into me) is that the background of ‘space’ isn’t black. I think those pictures you have there could be stretched further to r3veal much more detail.’
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Old 25-07-2020, 05:33 AM
Astroboy33 (Steve)
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Thanks for the suggestions

Hi Wayne and Jon
Thanks for the replies
I agree with you - I have found that my photos get better with better technique rather than better equipment!
So I will spend this winter trying to improve the way you suggest
Thanks again
Steve
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Old 25-07-2020, 06:22 AM
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Slawomir (Suavi)
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Hi Steve,

You have some nice equipment and your images look good. What software are you using for data processing - for me personally the greatest milestone in my Astro journey so far was getting PixInsight and learning how to use it.

As for the rig, which means a significant investment, a mono camera with good filters and ideally with an OAG could be the next step. A premium mount does help to get the most out of your telescope and just makes astro-imaging less challenging.
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Old 25-07-2020, 07:34 AM
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In your case the biggest improvement would come from getting a ZWO camera to suit your setup.

Probably the ASI600mm Pro mono camera with filter wheel and off axis guider.

It would be a big jump from your DSLR. Your guiding seems fine.

Look at some of the F4 10 inch Newt and ASI1600 or ASI183mm images on this site. They are about as good as images get.

Greg.
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Old 25-07-2020, 12:09 PM
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ChrisV (Chris)
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Looks like aquisition is great. I would agree with others about processing and considering software such as pixinsight. Its a huge learning curve but brilliant. Background is too black and the stars have eyes. You could push that a long way before getting more gear. Plus it will might help you decide whether to stick with OSC if getting a dedicated astrocam or considering mono.
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Old 25-07-2020, 12:39 PM
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rustigsmed (Russell)
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i agree with Greg, a new camera would be my choice of progression. either a qhy or zwo with a mid sized sensor. i also assume your DSLR is not astro modified, so you will be missing out on the Ha signal.

i disagree with the view that paying for a different processing program will take you to the 'next level'. plenty of apods exist without it. i would put my money into the camera (cooled and wider spectrum than a dslr), and continue to practice your processing skills. once you get to a more accomplished stage in processing you may find you've hit a bit of a processing wall, then might be the time to invest there. I suspect the jump you're after will come with a dedicated astro camera.
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Old 25-07-2020, 12:39 PM
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Atmos (Colin)
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Long term I’d say a better camera and mount could make a difference but as others have said, if the general skills involved with astrophotography don’t allow you to get the most out of what you do have then you won’t see a big change with new equipment.

How long are your exposures at the moment? I’d estimate you’d best be with 120-300s at ISO 800-1600 to get the most out of each exposure. Then having good darks and flats allow you to extract the most out of a stack.

A better mount will make guiding long exposures easier but it may not make a big difference now. A new camera can decrease noise and make it easier to go deeper but if the other things aren’t in place then you may not notice a difference.

Processing is something that can be practiced at any time
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Old 25-07-2020, 08:48 PM
Astroboy33 (Steve)
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Thanks everyone. This forum is great! I have no-one in my area to talk to, so all of you comments are really appreciated.
I will work through the comments and I am sure I will be able to improve my photos
Thanks again everyone!
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Old 25-07-2020, 08:53 PM
Astroboy33 (Steve)
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I’ve been using an unmodded DSLR and using 8 minute subs and DSS/Photoshop for post processing. I have no idea what I am doing and follow Jerry Lodrigus’ post processing steps blindly.
I see I haven’t stretched the Triiffid Nebula properly so can definitely improve that.
Thanks again for the comments!
Steve
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Old 26-07-2020, 10:03 AM
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A cheaper option would be to get modified or try modifying yourself your Canon 80D.

Its a late model Canon and there is a lot of performance to be extracted out of it.

Access to dark skies helps of course.

Modifying the camera locally may only cost $400 or less.

My EOS R is currently being modified overseas replacing the low pass filter with a Ha friendly one like used in the EOS Ra model.
With custom white balance (you can do this easily yourself) the camera should be OK for normal use as well.

Greg.
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Old 26-07-2020, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astroboy33 View Post
I’ve been using an unmodded DSLR and using 8 minute subs and DSS/Photoshop for post processing. I have no idea what I am doing and follow Jerry Lodrigus’ post processing steps blindly.
I see I haven’t stretched the Triiffid Nebula properly so can definitely improve that.
Thanks again for the comments!
Steve
You might want to think jumping in the deep end and go for a ZWO cooled mono with a eight position filter wheel ..I have and it has been just so beneficial and I did not and still do not know what I am doing..one sub in HA will convince you that you made a great decision.
I use StarTools which I find excellent as although it takes a little while to use it successfully many of the settings you really do not need to change and alongside each process there is a question mark which you click and it explains what is going on and what moving the dial will do.
I had no idea how to combine the channels so I would use layers in Photoshop only to find out later that there is a feature LRGB in Startools into which you place your Luminance, S11, Ha, and O11 and it merges them and there are controls that you can adjust the ratio of the colours. I have just started with this but it's great. There is of course Pixinsite which appears to require a decent cash investment and many hours of reading to understand all it can do...I remember things that people say..like I purchased a book..or I have spent over a thousand hours on it ( but no doubt he would be rather expert but if not maybe another thousand hours)..I hope that by the time I find StarTools lacking I will be better equipped to understand the processes in Pixinsite ..so I say the zwo camera, filters and StarTools will take you to a new level for sure...and I am sure you will be very happy.
Good luck.
Alex
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Old 26-07-2020, 05:39 PM
Astroboy33 (Steve)
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Thanks Alex. I’ll add Startools to my list to research
And I was thinking of zwo mono options, so will research that also
Thanks again
Cheers
Steve
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Old 26-07-2020, 05:41 PM
Astroboy33 (Steve)
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Thanks Greg
I am blessed with dark skies where I live!
Will look into the modded options
Thanks again
Steve
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