Educate me on Pentax

Started Mar 3, 2016 | Discussions thread
pixelsmithy Contributing Member • Posts: 540
Regarding the AstroTrack...

I have not yet gotten to test the AstroTrack on the K-3II. It may be a bit better than before because the SR system of the K-3II is improved over previous models (and probably similar components to the ones used in the K-1). However, I had the same technology in the Pentax O-GPS1 model that I used with my previous K-5.

First off, nobody has anything like this. It is ingenious in concept. Taking long exposure astrophotos with only a tripod mounted camera is the stuff of science fiction, but Pentax did it. Also keep in mind that ANY astrophotography gets more demanding with longer focal lengths. So if you are interested in doing Milky Way astrophotos, you will probably get a higher percentage of "keepers" than you do with a 135mm or 200mm lens. Secondly, with AstroTrack, the more focal length you use the shorter your longest possible tracking times will become.

Secondly, if you know about digital astrophotography in the 21st Century, you probably know that good astrophotos are generally made by aligning and stacking subexposures to bring out detail. DeepSkyStacker is one such tool So you take exposures as long as you can, without getting star trails. Fortunately, you can get some really good astrophotos by stacking short exposures in software. I've shared this before, but here is a set of 6 subexposures, each of them 45 seconds to 1 minute, stacked in DSS. This was taken with a 135mm lens on a tripod mounted K-5 using the AstroTrack built into the OGPS-1.

People are amazed when I show them this and tell them that no telescope was used.

You don't have to mess with polar alignment using AstroTrack, but you do have to do a Precise Calibration of your camera. This can be fiddley & frustrating at times. Once you've got it, don't turn off your camera or you will have to do it again before resuming AstroTracking. I think that AstroTrack is a great "gateway drug" into more serious Astrophotography, but it is nice to know that you have the capability built into your camera where it is always available to you.

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