Photographing Neowise with 600mm lens

Started 3 months ago | Questions
Mike Sandman
Mike Sandman Regular Member • Posts: 495
Re: Photographing Neowise with 600mm lens

Justme wrote:

Mike Sandman wrote:

Unless you're using a fast wide angle lens, you'll probably want to take multiple short exposures and stack them.

I am new to astrophotography. Mostly I have done Northern Lights. Why does using a fast wide-angle not require muliple shots and then stacking them?

Basically, an increase in focal length increases the magnification of incoming light to our camera. When we magnify an image, we similarly magnify the motion blur.  The motion is still there if you use a wide-angle lens, but it's not visible because you've captured a much wider field of view on your 36mm-wide full frame or 24mm-wide APSC sensor.  It's like lookat at an object with the naked eye vs. using a magnifying glass -- you can see more detail with the magnifying glass.

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Mike Sandman

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jch2103B Contributing Member • Posts: 646
Re: Photographing Neowise with 600mm lens

PHXAZCRAIG wrote:

I've also inquired as to a star tracker, but they seem too expensive for a one-off like this. I have a relative who was into this stuff, but he only has mounts for his Canon on his telescopes.

You may want to try a software sky imaging stacker program. No personal experience here yet, but seems promising: https://photographylife.com/night-sky-image-stacking

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SoupOrPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,070
Re: The 500 rule from PetaPixel

swimswithtrout wrote:

Justme wrote:

Bill Ferris wrote:

Hey Jesse,

Do you have shorter focal length lenses? Something in a 70-200mm f/2.8 or f/4 zoom or a fast prime lens will deliver better results. If not, don't let that stop you from giving it a go. The 150-600mm wide open at 150mm can make a good image.

Try 2-4 second exposures and don't hesitate to use high ISOs. Start at ISO 1600 and go as high as 12800. If your camera will be on a sturdy tripod, I suggest using the self-timer with a 5-second delay. Do you have access to a photo editing app that allows you to stack, align and blend multiple images? Shooting 6 to 9 frames with short intervals between exposures. Stacking and blending will reduce the visibility of noise...helpful if your best shots are at ISO 3200 or higher.

Good luck.

How to avoid star trails in your comet photos.

https://petapixel.com/2015/01/06/avoid-star-trails-following-500-rule/

xx

Don't even bother with that..it's as old as film cams or 6Mp digital..

This is by far the best calculator...

https://www.lonelyspeck.com/advanced-astrophotography-shutter-time-calculator/

The lonelyspeck calculator seems quite good. I just checked its recommendations with a number of Neowise test photos I took and it was spot on

It recommended about 4 seconds with an 85mm lens (on FF). The 500 rule gave 6 seconds--but the stars were distinctly not round (though fine without cropping).

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Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 5,677
Re: Photographing Neowise with 600mm lens

PHXAZCRAIG wrote:

Another possibility not mentioned is that I could drive to a better location with darker skies, though I suspect it might only buy me a stop. Currently I'm just standing on my balcony looking northwest from the edge of Phoenix.

Craig, if it fits your calendar, pay attention to the weather forecast around the state and look for a night when the monsoon activity is supposed to calm. A drive up to Mormon Lake, or up along 89 between Prescott Valley and Ash Fork would deliver significantly darker skies. Unfortunately (for comet viewing) the monsoon has kicked in and this week's weather on the plateau is looking pretty cloudy.

You could reach out to the East Valley Astronomy Club (EVAC) for recommendations on where to go within a reasonable drive for a good view of the comet.

I've been watching the visible and IR satellite animations the last few days and the southwest quad of Arizona is about the only area that's been consistently clear. I'm not complaining - we need the rain - but it would be nice to get one more clear night up north before the Moon brightens the evening sky.

Anyway, southwest of Phoenix that may be your best bet to get to a dark sky site with a view.

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PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 16,748
Re: Photographing Neowise with 600mm lens

I'm looking at the weather patterns and thanking myself that I got out (only to my balcony) to at least get something there.  It's looking grim for the rest of the week.

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Justme Forum Pro • Posts: 22,206
Re: The 500 rule from PetaPixel

SoupOrPhoto wrote:

swimswithtrout wrote:

Justme wrote:

Bill Ferris wrote:

Hey Jesse,

Do you have shorter focal length lenses? Something in a 70-200mm f/2.8 or f/4 zoom or a fast prime lens will deliver better results. If not, don't let that stop you from giving it a go. The 150-600mm wide open at 150mm can make a good image.

Try 2-4 second exposures and don't hesitate to use high ISOs. Start at ISO 1600 and go as high as 12800. If your camera will be on a sturdy tripod, I suggest using the self-timer with a 5-second delay. Do you have access to a photo editing app that allows you to stack, align and blend multiple images? Shooting 6 to 9 frames with short intervals between exposures. Stacking and blending will reduce the visibility of noise...helpful if your best shots are at ISO 3200 or higher.

Good luck.

How to avoid star trails in your comet photos.

https://petapixel.com/2015/01/06/avoid-star-trails-following-500-rule/

xx

Don't even bother with that..it's as old as film cams or 6Mp digital..

This is by far the best calculator...

https://www.lonelyspeck.com/advanced-astrophotography-shutter-time-calculator/

The lonelyspeck calculator seems quite good. I just checked its recommendations with a number of Neowise test photos I took and it was spot on

It recommended about 4 seconds with an 85mm lens (on FF). The 500 rule gave 6 seconds--but the stars were distinctly not round (though fine without cropping).

If you divide 500/85 = 5.88 seconds exposure and if I recall, they say in a case like that, you should round down.  So, a 5 second exposure with an 85mm lens on a full-frame.

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Justme Forum Pro • Posts: 22,206
Re: Photographing Neowise with 600mm lens

Mike Sandman wrote:

Justme wrote:

Mike Sandman wrote:

Unless you're using a fast wide angle lens, you'll probably want to take multiple short exposures and stack them.

I am new to astrophotography. Mostly I have done Northern Lights. Why does using a fast wide-angle not require muliple shots and then stacking them?

Basically, an increase in focal length increases the magnification of incoming light to our camera. When we magnify an image, we similarly magnify the motion blur. The motion is still there if you use a wide-angle lens, but it's not visible because you've captured a much wider field of view on your 36mm-wide full frame or 24mm-wide APSC sensor. It's like lookat at an object with the naked eye vs. using a magnifying glass -- you can see more detail with the magnifying glass.

Thanks Mike.

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Justme Forum Pro • Posts: 22,206
I need the reach

I am not sure why people are saying a 600mm lens is too much.  I am using a 300mm lens and the comet fills a tiny portion of the frame on a 1.6x crop camera like the 7D MK2.

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Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 5,677
Re: I need the reach
2

Justme wrote:

I am not sure why people are saying a 600mm lens is too much. I am using a 300mm lens and the comet fills a tiny portion of the frame on a 1.6x crop camera like the 7D MK2.

You must be observing under some fairly bright skies. From a dark sky site, the dust and ion tails have been observed to extend to a distance of 20° or thereabouts from the nucleus. That's about 4-times the angular size of the FOV captured by an APS-C camera and 300mm lens.

A long focal length can certainly produce interesting images of this comet. If you have the opportunity to get to a reasonably dark location, I would encourage the effort. This comet is worth it...but not for long.

Comet NEOWISE and the Big Dipper

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swimswithtrout Veteran Member • Posts: 3,717
Re: I need the reach

Justme wrote:

I am not sure why people are saying a 600mm lens is too much. I am using a 300mm lens and the comet fills a tiny portion of the frame on a 1.6x crop camera like the 7D MK2.

I can't quite fit the comet in, using a 85mm lens on an APS-c. The tail is 20 deg long...

just Tony
just Tony Senior Member • Posts: 2,895
Late arriving advice for Craig

Sorry to be so late to jump in now that the comet is dimming. Maybe it could be useful on the next comet 😁

1. TC’s are a losing game for stationary camera astrophotography in a huge way. They simultaneously reduce your longest acceptable exposure time and increase your shortest acceptable exposure time. Bit of a paradox there.

1b. If you have a MFT camera, get a focal reducer for it! The opposite of a TC.

2. Post processing can pull out a significantly longer comet tail, by far, than what is apparent from a single sky fog limited exposure. The basic idea is to subtract a uniform amount of brightness from the entire frame. You end up with a much darker sky and a slightly darker comet. Don’t rely on only Exposure and Contrast, try also Black Point and Dehaze (if available).

3. Sequator is a free stacking program. Signal to Noise ratio is the problem, stacking is an elegant solution.

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Alen K Senior Member • Posts: 1,066
Re: I need the reach

swimswithtrout wrote:

Justme wrote:

I am not sure why people are saying a 600mm lens is too much. I am using a 300mm lens and the comet fills a tiny portion of the frame on a 1.6x crop camera like the 7D MK2.

I can't quite fit the comet in, using a 85mm lens on an APS-c. The tail is 20 deg long...

In my last image set for the comet on the 23rd, the ion tail goes beyond the long dimension of the frame with a 50mm lens on APS-C. That's in just a 30 second exposure at f/2.8 and with the comet's head positioned near the bottom of the vertical frame. I placed it there this time hoping to catch all the ion tail. No dice. That thing is (or was) enormous.

Alen K Senior Member • Posts: 1,066
Re: I need the reach

Bill Ferris wrote:

Justme wrote:

I am not sure why people are saying a 600mm lens is too much. I am using a 300mm lens and the comet fills a tiny portion of the frame on a 1.6x crop camera like the 7D MK2.

You must be observing under some fairly bright skies. From a dark sky site, the dust and ion tails have been observed to extend to a distance of 20° or thereabouts from the nucleus. That's about 4-times the angular size of the FOV captured by an APS-C camera and 300mm lens.

A long focal length can certainly produce interesting images of this comet. If you have the opportunity to get to a reasonably dark location, I would encourage the effort. This comet is worth it...but not for long.

Comet NEOWISE and the Big Dipper

Wow, I like that one! A perfect juxtaposition of comet and asterism (Big Dipper).

There was bad weather here on the 21st. By the time I could get to the comet again on the 23rd, it was much farther past the Big Dipper and not nearly as well positioned to get the two of them together in the same shot.

Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 5,677
Re: I need the reach

Alen K wrote:

Bill Ferris wrote:

Justme wrote:

I am not sure why people are saying a 600mm lens is too much. I am using a 300mm lens and the comet fills a tiny portion of the frame on a 1.6x crop camera like the 7D MK2.

You must be observing under some fairly bright skies. From a dark sky site, the dust and ion tails have been observed to extend to a distance of 20° or thereabouts from the nucleus. That's about 4-times the angular size of the FOV captured by an APS-C camera and 300mm lens.

A long focal length can certainly produce interesting images of this comet. If you have the opportunity to get to a reasonably dark location, I would encourage the effort. This comet is worth it...but not for long.

Comet NEOWISE and the Big Dipper

Wow, I like that one! A perfect juxtaposition of comet and asterism (Big Dipper).

There was bad weather here on the 21st. By the time I could get to the comet again on the 23rd, it was much farther past the Big Dipper and not nearly as well positioned to get the two of them together in the same shot.

Thank you. This was a due to a bit of luck with the weather. The monsoon has been settling into place over the last week but on Tuesday we got a brief break from the clouds...good for one night and a dark sky run.

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just Tony
just Tony Senior Member • Posts: 2,895
Re: I need the reach

Justme wrote:

I am not sure why people are saying a 600mm lens is too much. I am using a 300mm lens and the comet fills a tiny portion of the frame on a 1.6x crop camera like the 7D MK2.

It overfilled my full frame camera with an 85mm lens.

The secret is that in the last couple of weeks the tails didn’t  end anywhere remotely close to what you might think. There is a lot of fading, the farther you go from the head.

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just Tony
just Tony Senior Member • Posts: 2,895
Bravo!

Bill Ferris wrote:

Justme wrote:

I am not sure why people are saying a 600mm lens is too much. I am using a 300mm lens and the comet fills a tiny portion of the frame on a 1.6x crop camera like the 7D MK2.

You must be observing under some fairly bright skies. From a dark sky site, the dust and ion tails have been observed to extend to a distance of 20° or thereabouts from the nucleus. That's about 4-times the angular size of the FOV captured by an APS-C camera and 300mm lens.

A long focal length can certainly produce interesting images of this comet. If you have the opportunity to get to a reasonably dark location, I would encourage the effort. This comet is worth it...but not for long.

Comet NEOWISE and the Big Dipper

That is precisely the shot I would have tried to make if only the weather hadn’t interfered. So glad that somebody got it, and got it you certainly did.

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Justme Forum Pro • Posts: 22,206
Re: I need the reach

Bill Ferris wrote:

Justme wrote:

I am not sure why people are saying a 600mm lens is too much. I am using a 300mm lens and the comet fills a tiny portion of the frame on a 1.6x crop camera like the 7D MK2.

You must be observing under some fairly bright skies. From a dark sky site, the dust and ion tails have been observed to extend to a distance of 20° or thereabouts from the nucleus. That's about 4-times the angular size of the FOV captured by an APS-C camera and 300mm lens.

A long focal length can certainly produce interesting images of this comet. If you have the opportunity to get to a reasonably dark location, I would encourage the effort. This comet is worth it...but not for long.

Yes, lots of light polution here in a major city in eastern Ontario.   I sue an PSC camera and NO tracker.  I definitely need to get  atracking device as I can only take short exposures or will get streaks in the stars.

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PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 16,748
Re: Late arriving advice for Craig

stacking would have been my best option, at least considering where I'm shooting from.  (My balcony, inside the Phoenix city limits).

I'm reasonably competent at post-processing, where I picked up a lot of techniques from shooting underwater.  But I don't have the specialized knowledge for this subject.

Still, I've enhanced the differences quite a bit from the original, using contrast (+), highlights (+), shadows (o, or -), black point (-) in Lightroom to try to bring out the whites an darken the blacks at the same time.   Trouble is, on a lot of my images, there is just a lot of background glow (and pollution, and haze) bringing down the contrast on a very dim object to start with.

Attempted to process in some more tail...

In the above image, perhaps the best one of my last night photographing Neowise, the area around the tail is just about as bright (I assume haze in the air) as the tail.

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