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3 Days Ago   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2020
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K-5 and Astrotracer issues

Hi Folks,

I am an old user of K-5 but new to astrophotography and for the first time I have found myself fighting my camera. I wonder if I just reached limitations or I am not understanding how it works.

firmware 1.16

1. I am trying to run multiple long exposures with autotracer but whenever I choose 'Start shooting' in Astrotracer menu I can only run single one. Subsequent presses of the shutter button or use of the external intervalometer just blanks the LCD and do nothing. I need to engage Astrotracer manu again to make another one. Is this the correct behavior? Any way around it?

2. It was never an issue before, but I found that LCD does not follow iso settings. I.e. it does not become more sensitive and I cannot see stars on it. With my poor eyesight I need multiple exposures at high iso to set focus. Again, is this how it is?

If this is correct, is there a 3rd party firmware to sort it out?

Best regards

2 Days Ago - 2 Likes   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Jersey C.I.
Posts: 672
Your multiple long exposure issues may be due to the camera performing it's "noise reduction" cycle. Unless you disable the noise reduction features, if you've just made a 30 second exposure, the camera can then spend another 30+ seconds processing the image before becoming available for another exposure. Experimentation balancing ISO against shutter speed can reveal a "sweet spot" with no delay, but will possibly require a wide-aperture lens to be of very much use.

Focussing and screen visibility can be an issue with low light subjects and smaller-aperture lenses. I've taken to focussing on a bright subject before repositioning for the final exposure. I've also used wide-aperture wider-angle lenses to align the camera before re-fitting a pre-focussed longer-focus lens for the final exposure. Using the "Digital Preview" feature (p.138 in the user manual) can save cluttering the card with unwanted images

Moving the Mode Dial from 'Bulb' to another choice can "encourage" the camera to "re-evaluate" it's circumstances and present a brighter, if somewhat grainier image. You may need to half-press the shutter button to re-activate the meter. Don't forget to change back to your preferred settings to make the exposure.

As with many of the unfortunately poorly-documented features on our Pentax cameras, "playing about" for an hour one afternoon (with the lens cap fitted to "fool" the meter, if necessary), can save endless frustration once out in a dark place with limited time to achieve the anticipated results.

You may find some useful guidelines here Pentax Astrotracer Guide and GPS Feature Comparison - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com

More good stuff here PENTAX: The choice for astrophotography / explore | RICOH IMAGING

Lots of useful information here and the subsequent videos.

Afterthought : Set up a "User Mode" for Astrophotography and save your preferred settings there.

Inevitably, YMMV - good luck

Last edited by kypfer; 2 Days Ago at 02:37 AM. Reason: Afterthought
2 Days Ago   #3
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2 Days Ago   #4
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Hey @pikor69,
i think you'll find that the inability to use any form of interval shooting with astrotracer is normal. I went down the same road and failed. Thinking about it, the sensor moving in AT mode can't keep sliding and resetting so I concluded that single shot in B mode is all that is possible until you trigger subsequent shots manually.
Cheers!

2 Days Ago   #5
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Join Date: Aug 2020
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Original Poster
Hey @grimmus,
I am coming to the same conclusion. And in article provided by @kypfer I have found "A system like the iOptron has benefits for astrotracking for time lapse images because the Pentax firmware does not allow sequential astrotracked images. And honestly, if there were one thing that Pentax could do to improve their astrotracking feature it would be to allow drive modes other than one image at a time."
What drives me crazy is the fact that to engage AT you need to go through the menu again despite the fact that AT mode is on (star icon in bulb mode after the first exposure). And it is a pain on K-5. So far I feel I should have spend my money on the mount instead .
1 Day Ago   #6
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Location: Newcastle (Aus)
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I have found it works OK with doing sequential AT exposures with the KP without diving back into the menus. On several occasions I have taken 2 to 5 exposures using AT and stacked later. Works well but produces blurry foreground of course. Cheers!
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