Suggestions/Tips needed for night time sky photography

Started Mar 30, 2013 | Discussions
Anotherlab
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Suggestions/Tips needed for night time sky photography
Mar 30, 2013

I wanted to go out and take some night shots of the sky with my NEX6.  Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated.

I have the following with me:

tripod
SEL1650
SEL55210
Minolta 50MM F1.7 MD

thanks!

 Anotherlab's gear list:Anotherlab's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 35mm F1.8 OSS Adobe Photoshop CS6 extended Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 +2 more
Yezariael
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Re: Suggestions/Tips needed for night time sky photography
In reply to Anotherlab, Mar 30, 2013

What exactly do you want to get? I did some great star trails with 1650PZ...

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Sony SLT-A77 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony DT 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sony DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 Sony 35mm F1.4 G +7 more
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uhligfd
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Re: Suggestions/Tips needed for night time sky photography
In reply to Yezariael, Mar 30, 2013

You could :

1) search here or

2) go to your library and borrow a book; or

3) look at flickr etc for examples and discussions; or

4) wait till we reinvent the wheel, i.e., give you all the well documented information that wikepedia itself is full of or

5) just google !

No harm here, but just asking a broad question without any specifics is not a good way to gain knowledge. A bit of your own homework might be necessary here.

Otherwise: put camera on tripod, check that stars are out, expose and chimp the image you got, then adjust your camera parameters. This is as  easy as it gets to learn nowadays. Good luck.

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Astrophotographer 10
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Re: Suggestions/Tips needed for night time sky photography
In reply to Anotherlab, Mar 30, 2013

Nightscapes is something I tend to specialise in so I am happy to share my knowledge here.

I also have a Nex 6.

Here are some suggested setups:

1. Unless you use an astronomy mount to track the stars you will be limited in focal length and aperture. Generally the rule is 600 divided by focal length gives max exposure length before star trailing becomes distracting.

I usually use a wide lens like Nikon 14-24mm at 14mm and F2.8, 30 seconds and ISO 6400 long exposure noise reduction on. But you can use up to 50mm but then the exposure time is around 12 seconds tops.

So faster lenses are the go. F2.8 or better. Although I have found most fast lenses tend to have high chromatic aberration on nightscapes wideopen. I use live view to focus and magnify on a bright star ISO6400.

The EVF is good for this.

You will see if you have a fast lens like your 50mm F1.7 that wide open the star you are focusing on will probably have a red halo around it. As you stop down that disappears. My Samyang 24mm F1.4 for example has coma and chromatic aberration at F1.4 but by about F2 it has cleaned up and is useable.

The Nikon 14-24mm is useable at 14mm F2.8 (wide open).

F3.5 is a bit slow but you would still get some shots.

2. Of course you need a good tripod to make sure the camera is well supported and still.

So:

1. White balance to 4200K (that was for another camera so double check on Nex 6 but it should be about right).

2. Shoot in RAW for maximum flexibility in post processing (you can adjust white balance for example).

3. 30 seconds for 14mm, 20 for 24mm, 12 for 50mm lenses. Use lens at widest aperture before chromatic/coma aberration ruins it.

4. picture style to something vivid (not sure of Nex picture styles yet).

5. Long exposure noise reduction on.

6. I would tend to have noise reduction turned off and do any noise reduction in post processing as many noise reduction algorithims wreck faint stars.

7. Turn off oss.

You can also get a Vixen Polarie which is a really small portable mount for about $425. It is about twice the size of a Nex camera. These allow you to take longer exposures as it tracks the stars quite well and is easy to setup and use. Nex would be a good match for it as Polarie has a limited payload.

Nightscape time lapses are also fun. Just turn off long exposure noise reduction and oss and 20-30 seconds 16mm F3.5 ISO 6400 10 second intervals should give a nice result.

Of course you need dark skies for the above. If you are shooting from light polluted city areas then none of the above will work as sky glow from light pollution will exposre rapidly so you are much more limited in what you can shoot. Perhaps some star trails and not much more.

Greg.

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Anotherlab
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Re: Suggestions/Tips needed for night time sky photography
In reply to Astrophotographer 10, Mar 31, 2013

Thanks, I'll give that a shot.  I'll try the 50MM F1.7 and set it to F2 and try the kit lens at 16-20MM.

 Anotherlab's gear list:Anotherlab's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 35mm F1.8 OSS Adobe Photoshop CS6 extended Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 +2 more
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Astrophotographer 10
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Re: Suggestions/Tips needed for night time sky photography
In reply to Anotherlab, Mar 31, 2013

If you have access to dark skies I think you'll find the results very dramatic.

Greg.

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Anotherlab
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Re: Suggestions/Tips needed for night time sky photography
In reply to uhligfd, Mar 31, 2013

uhligfd wrote:

You could :

1) search here or

2) go to your library and borrow a book; or

3) look at flickr etc for examples and discussions; or

4) wait till we reinvent the wheel, i.e., give you all the well documented information that wikepedia itself is full of or

5) just google !

No harm here, but just asking a broad question without any specifics is not a good way to gain knowledge. A bit of your own homework might be necessary here.

Otherwise: put camera on tripod, check that stars are out, expose and chimp the image you got, then adjust your camera parameters. This is as  easy as it gets to learn nowadays. Good luck.

Thanks, I was looking for some tips for NEX specific settings.  Like turning off "Long Exposure NR".  The rest would be good 'ol trial and error.

 Anotherlab's gear list:Anotherlab's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 35mm F1.8 OSS Adobe Photoshop CS6 extended Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 +2 more
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offtraildog
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Re: Suggestions/Tips needed for night time sky photography
In reply to Astrophotographer 10, Mar 31, 2013

one of the most useful responses in this forum - thanks

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Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony a6000 +2 more
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