M6 / M5 Astrophotography

Started Oct 4, 2018 | Discussions thread
Marco Nero
Marco Nero Veteran Member • Posts: 7,041
Astro work with EOS M cameras (PICS)
25

jaadwa wrote:

i would be interested and appreciative of seeing any astrophotography photos and filter a special set-ups neccesary for the shot

A shot taken with the EOSM + EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens The Milky Way appears muddy from this lens due to the dim f/4 lens. A longer exposure would have produced star trails and higher ISO settings became too noisy with this lens.

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WHAT I'M often USING...

* [CAMERA]: EOS M (I'm now using the M6)
* [LENS]: EF-M lens of your choice (some will be more suitable than others).
* [TRIPOD]: One with vertical movement (the more sturdy, the better).

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The EOS M cameras are well suited to Astrophotography. They have a decent sized APS-C sensor that allows for enough light to generate reasonable images and you don't need to be stacking images or using special software to be able to capture amazing shots. The cheapest lens (EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is one of the best lenses to use unless you want to experiment with more expensive lenses or those manual-focus type lenses from Samyang/Rokinon.
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FOCUS:
This is something you need to nail. I bring a pair of magnifying glasses with me to look at the LCD of the camera closely. You need to enhage Manual Focus (only) on the camera via the menu. Pick out a bright star and then try to manually forcus the lens on the star. Use the camera's LCD display to see if the star is in focus. Now use the camera's "magnify" feature (*Lower right hand corner of the LCD) to zoom in on that star and try to refine the focus further. Too much one way or the other tends to produce a red or blue shift to the image. If you can't see a star, bump up the ISO until you can. While the ISO is bumped up, use the LCD to frame your shot. If you are happy with the composition, switch to M-Mode and select your ISO (try 1600) and then set your aperture and shutter speed as needed. Be sure to use the self-timer when you're ready to take shots than you want to keep. Check some of your images before continuing - in order to determine that your lens is in focus.
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FILTERS:
Filters are not necessary. I've experimented with the NiSi Natural Night Filter for some shots although I'm fond of looking for areas with clear skies (which is important) - preferably away from city light pollution. These filters are not essential and they cut out the spectrum of yellow commonly reflected from street lights in the city against particles of pollution overhead. But traveling to a dark-sky location or at least away from "light pollution" always results in the best results.
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EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM lens + 77mm NiSi Natural Night Filter with Step-Up rings.

NiSi Natural Night Filter with Step-Up rings. (43mm-55mm and 55-77mm)

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Exposures - range from 8 seconds to 30 seconds.
ISO can range from ISO 800 to 1600 or up to 3200 (depending on the lens and scene).
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Good lenses for Astro include EF lenses as well as EF-M lenses. The wider lenses with bright apertures are the best. Some of the lenses I have selected for testing and conducting Astro Photography with the EOS M system include:
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EF-M lenses for Astrophotography...
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* EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens. (very impressive results).
* EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens. (not ideal - too dim at f/4).
* EF-M 28mm f/3.5 IS Macro STM lens. (promising, only took one shot)
* EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM (suitable but not particularly wide).
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EF lenses for Astrophotography...
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* EF 24mm f/1.4L USM II (very good).
* EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM II (decent results - a little dim).
* EF 50mm f/1.2L USM (very good but narrow FOV).
* EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro USM (not particularly good... too dim).
* EF 135mm f/2 USM (suitable for comets and lunar landscape shots).
* EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM (Very impressive lunar photography).
* EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM + Extenders (suitable for lunar + planet shots).
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The EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens is a susprisingly useful lens for Astro Photography and it outperforms the more expensive EF 24mm f/1.4 USM II lens due to less coma and a sharper lens array when shooting at infinity.
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Setting up the EOS M6 + EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens for a shot (see image below)

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METHOD used for Milky Way shots with the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens....
* Use a free program like Stellarium or Skywalk to pick the best time to shoot.
* The Milky Way has different areas that are present at different times of the year.
* Watch the weather to eliminate days when the moon is in the sky
* Pick a time when the moon isn't in the sky.
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* Typically you'll want to be shooting 3 hours after sunset to avoid sky light.
* Bring a spare battery if it's an important event (eg Comet)
* Set up your camera on a tripod.
* Bring at least one flashlight.
* Set White Balance to either Auto (brown) or Tungsten (blue hues)
* Use self timer on camera to eliminate camera shake (2 seconds)
* Try ISO 1600 and then crank up to 2000, 2500 and 3200 as needed.
* Try 1/20 second exposure.
* Be aware of dew and ice formation which may occur on your lens and camera when shooting outside in the dark, depending on the temperature.
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EOS M6 + EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens - single exposure - processed to enhance the colors and finer details (dust lanes). This is a VERY good lens for Astro work. Tungsten WB was used. Note that ISO 2000 was used (!!) as well as an aperture of f/2.2 for 20 seconds.

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Son't be afraid to experiment. An ISO setting and shutter speed combo with a particular lens will usually produce nearly identical results if the weather and sky conditions are the same. Higher ISO and a narrower shutter speed can often capture more details than a slower shutter speed and lower ISO settings. The signals-to-noise ratio is often better with higher ISO for astro shots but I draw the line at around ISO 3200 and keep all my shots at this ISO setting or lower.
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Remember to have either your phone of another flashlight with you. I once dropped my only flashlight in the dark doing a shoot and had to fumble around in pitch black darkness to find it again. I live in Australia so the ground in that area was covered in deadly snakes and spiders (and ants). Bring insect repellent if mosquitoes are a problem where you are. Bring gloves and a jacket, even if you don't think you'll need them.
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EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens - with frost and ice all over it.

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If you are shooting in the night in months where dew and frost are likely, buy an inexpensive "lend heater" online and a small USB Power Bank to keep it operating. My EOS M was mounted to the EF-M 11-22mm when dew formed on the lens and then froze. I attempted to thaw the lens out in my car with the heater but it didn't really help since the Milky Way had dropped in the sky and fog was beginning to form. I now carry a lens warmer with me in case I need one. It goes around the lens hood and is warm enough to keep moisture and frost from the lens.
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Good luck and I hope this is of use to you.
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Below are examples from SOME of the different lenses I've tried on the EOSM cameras.
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Comparisons showing unedited moon shots to demonstrate how each lens combo with the EF 100-400mmL II lens fills the frame differently.

Mars last month - taken with the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens on the EOS M6

EOS M + 135mm f/2 USM lens - moonrise

Comet Lovejoy - EOSM + EF 24mm f/1.4L USM II lens

EOS M + EF 135mm f/2 USM lens - Blood Moon (Lunar Eclipse)

EOS M + EF 24mm f/1.4L USM II lensTwo-shot panorama - Milky Way plus both Magellenic Clouds (Dwarf Galaxies).

Comet Lovejoy with EOS M + EF 135mm f/2 USM lens.

Orion Nebula - EOS M6 + EF 100-400mmL II lens (no extenders) - blurred from the Earth's rotation. Surprisingly this was Hanheld (very carefully) with my back against my car.

Large Magellanic Cloud with EOS M + EF 50mm f/1.2 USM lens

EOS M + EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens - Milky Way with Tungsten WB

Saturn and Moon taken with the EOS M + 24mm f/1.4L USM II lens on the outside of a Spotting Scope. This is a very tricky method to use. Self timer is essential to prevent wobble.

Milky Way over my car a few weeks ago - EOS M6 + EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens

EOS M6 + EF 100-400mmL II lens + 1.4x III + 2x III + NiSi Natural Night Filter.

EOS M + EF 24mm f/1.4L USM II lens (my friend about to turn off his phone)

Moon in the aternoon Sky - EOS M + EF 100-400mmL II lens (cropped).

Andromeda taken with the EOS M + EF 24mm f/1.4L USM II lens.

My first deliberate attempt to shoot the Milky Way.
Taken with the EOS M + EF 24mm f/1.4L USM lens.

EOS M6 + EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM - International Space Station + half-Moon.

100% crop of the Moon with Jupiter (and several of Jupiter's moons) - taken with the EOS M6 + EF 100-400mmL II + EF 1.4x III extender + EF12 + EF 2x III extender (1803.2mm equiv).

Mounting the EOS M directly to a spotting scope (Prime Astro) via a Canon T-Ring adapter.

EOS M6 + EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM lens - Blend of Auto +Tungsten WB - taken last week.

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Regards,
Marco Nero.

 Marco Nero's gear list:Marco Nero's gear list
Canon EOS M6 Canon EOS Ra Canon EOS R6 Canon EF-M 32mm F1.4 Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM +20 more
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