Getting Started with Astrophotography and the Pentax Astrotracer

Astrophotography made easy

By FozzFoster in Articles and Tips on Jan 8, 2022

Astrotracer is one of the most unique and impressive features available exclusive to Pentax DSLRs.

Pentax provides shake reduction in-body by mechanically floating the sensor. With most Pentax DSLRs, a GPS unit (either internal or external) is used to geo-locate your position and inform the sensor at which rate to rotate to keep the stars above your position stationary. This enables longer exposure astrophotography so that you can soak up as much light as possible without causing star trails.

Even the most simple equipment can create astounding Milky Way and other astro images.

Far away (I) - the Great Andromeda Galaxy (M33 , 2.600 light years away) imaged with the K3 II and a 480 mm refractor lensSample photo by Pete_XL - the Great Andromeda Galaxy taken with the Pentax K-3 II with astrotracer and a 480mm refractor lens

Although astrophotography usually recommends wide-aperture lenses along with composite images of stacking, blending, and stitching, the PentaxTips video below shows what Astrotracer can acheive using a single image and with minimal post-production edits. The simple setup includes a K-S2, O-GPS1 unit, tripod, and 18-55mm kit lens

What's increasingly exciting is the advancements Pentax has recently made in Astrotracer.

Exclusive to the new Pentax K-3 Mark III, 'GPS-less Astrotracer' appears to be upcoming via a simple firmware upgrade. Per the initial user testing, the camera sensor seems to calibrates itself by taking a pre-image and measuring the star trace speed and distance across the frame. Read more about early GPS-less astrotracer results and rumors on the forum.

Want to see more PentaxTips? Click here to see a Pentax K-70 Overview video.

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