Uses of a DSLR for astrophotography

Started Nov 3, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Astrophotographer 10 Forum Pro • Posts: 10,598
Uses of a DSLR for astrophotography

I am deeply into astrophotography and have been for about 8 years. Generally speaking if you get deeper into astrophotography you will find dedicated astro CCD cameras that are very expensive, expensive telescopes, mounts, filters, filter wheels etc etc.

But DSLRs play a role in this field that dedicated astro cameras have trouble filling and also are very good for getting great images early on.

DSLRs are great for:

1. Widefield nightscapes.

2. Night sky time lapses.

3. Imaging of brighter objects like globular clusters of stars.

They are not well suited to long exposure deep sky objects without being modified but still can do quite well up to a point.

14mm lenses are great for nightscape images of Milky Way, etc. Also for time lapses up to 35mm.

Vixen makes a very clever portable small tracking device called Polarie. It enables you to take longer than 30 second 14mm widefield images at night or use it to create a panning effect for time lapses. It costs about $500.

Most telescope manufacturers have adapters to make various DSLRs fit onto their telescopes (usually called t-thread adapters).

For urban imagers faced with light pollution you'll need a light pollution filter. Hutech sells a range of these and they are reasonably effective.

Deep sky imaging with DSLR usually requires a modified DSLR. Canon 350D modified was popular and a good 2nd hand one can be picked up for around $350. is a place to find these things.

The usual UV/IR block filter blocks H alpha light emissions (a pink/red band of light). Nebula unfortunately emit in this band so your standard DSLR will not pick that up so well. Modified cameras (usually Canon EOS's) are very sensitive to that band and improve about 4 or 5X with a different filter installed - often a Baader, now there is an Astrodon replacement filter.

The original Canon 20Da was a model that worked in both daylight and astro imaging. Recently Canon released a 60Da model that is still current.

The mount is one of the most important parts of the setup as you will discover the stars whilst appearing motionless are moving rather fast as the earth rotates. Also being dark they require long exposures. So now we are imaging a dim object that is moving fairly quickly (15 degrees per hour).

Hence a highly accurate mount is going to be the main ingredient to happy imaging. Never skimp on the mount as elongated stars will be your constant battle. Getting round stars is step one. The rest is easy.

Feel free to ask me any question. I have been doing this a long time and know a lot about it and am happy to share my expertise.


 Astrophotographer 10's gear list:Astrophotographer 10's gear list
Sony Alpha a7R II Sony Alpha a7R III Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8 Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 +1 more
Canon EOS 20Da Canon EOS 350D (EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS Kiss Digital N) Canon EOS 60Da
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