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02-05-2018, 08:26 AM - 1 Like   #1
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K-1 gets a recommendation

Five Questions: Meteors Showers, Pano Stitching, and Lots and Lots of Gear ? National Parks at Night

The blog post covers 5 questions asked by readers. The writer's response to question 4 about Canon, Phase One, Sony Options for Night Photography, includes:

"Another viable option you didnít ask about is Pentax. The Pentax K1 combined with the 15-30mm f/2.8 lens is an outstanding value and is excellent for night photography."

02-05-2018, 08:31 AM   #2
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Good to see - thanks for the link
02-05-2018, 08:51 AM   #3
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Interesting... he doesn't mention Astrotracer, but hey, how much can one guy know?
02-06-2018, 10:36 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Interesting... he doesn't mention Astrotracer, but hey, how much can one guy know?
Astrotracer is hardly an option for pro level photography. I like it, because I would not buy (and haul around) a good polar mount anyway. So I can live with astrotracer limitations. But it doesn't stand comparison with the real thing for reliability and exposure length.

02-06-2018, 10:52 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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I wasn't aware this article was directed only at pros. Now if you are saying the K-1 with asctrotracer isn't as good as a D810 without it on the same (not pro) set up, I might be all ears for a few seconds. I'm not buying a pro set up. I like doing star images and just ordered a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 to help capture them, so it's not like I'm unwilling to spend any money to improve my odds. For guys like me, astrotracer should have been mentioned.
02-06-2018, 10:57 AM   #6
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I find astrotracer introduces some streaking at the extreme corners of a frame with uwas, or maybe I'm not using it correctly. Stars in the center of the frame look like dots, no issues there, but far corners definitely show streaking. If anyone can suggest a way around that I'd be forever grateful
02-06-2018, 11:00 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by awscreo Quote
I find astrotracer introduces some streaking at the extreme corners of a frame with uwas, or maybe I'm not using it correctly. Stars in the center of the frame look like dots, no issues there, but far corners definitely show streaking. If anyone can suggest a way around that I'd be forever grateful
Since I've never used astrotracer and all my star shots have shown streaking everywhere I'm not the guy to help. If what you say is true, then I may have to take advantage of the extremely wide 14mm lens on the K-1 and just crop off the edges.
02-06-2018, 11:12 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Since I've never used astrotracer and all my star shots have shown streaking everywhere I'm not the guy to help. If what you say is true, then I may have to take advantage of the extremely wide 14mm lens on the K-1 and just crop off the edges.
I find the old 500 rule for streaking not really working well with high res sensors such as the one in k-1. For me personally I find around 15-20s exposures work best with 14-15mm lenses. Which means I need to bump up iso to 3200-6400, not the worst thing with such highly rated sensor for low light, but I did like clean files that 1-1.5 min exposures with astrotracer can provide. I can live with some streaking at the edges, I was curious if there's a way around that (I've tried calibrating the GPS at the location which improved things a bit, maybe I need to calibrate it further).

The app I use (photopills) for calculating exposure time for astro has two settings - the old 500 rule, and for high res sensors. With old 500 rule it suggests 25-30s exposures, and 15s with second option.

Still beats buying astro mount for casual use although I am tempted to get one in future.

02-06-2018, 12:11 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by awscreo Quote
I find astrotracer introduces some streaking at the extreme corners of a frame with uwas, or maybe I'm not using it correctly. Stars in the center of the frame look like dots, no issues there, but far corners definitely show streaking. If anyone can suggest a way around that I'd be forever grateful
I'd assume that the streaking is due to the distortion of the lens, that astrotracer cannot compensate for. It assumes that all stars move in a well-defined fashion (which they do) but lens distortion messes that up. Especially with very wide-angle lenses near the edge of the frame, it might not be too weird to see that, even if that lens is quite sharp at the edges. So apart from cropping off the edges, or finding lenses that have less distortion, I don't think there is anything you can do.

That is pure speculation from my side, I might be wrong.
02-06-2018, 02:37 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by awscreo Quote
I find the old 500 rule for streaking not really working well with high res sensors such as the one in k-1. For me personally I find around 15-20s exposures work best with 14-15mm lenses. Which means I need to bump up iso to 3200-6400, not the worst thing with such highly rated sensor for low light, but I did like clean files that 1-1.5 min exposures with astrotracer can provide. I can live with some streaking at the edges, I was curious if there's a way around that (I've tried calibrating the GPS at the location which improved things a bit, maybe I need to calibrate it further).

The app I use (photopills) for calculating exposure time for astro has two settings - the old 500 rule, and for high res sensors. With old 500 rule it suggests 25-30s exposures, and 15s with second option.

Still beats buying astro mount for casual use although I am tempted to get one in future.
The stars appear to move at different rates according to position, so you have to think about that when doing UWA rather than a normal focal length.
02-06-2018, 02:43 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
The stars appear to move at different rates according to position, so you have to think about that when doing UWA rather than a normal focal length.
I did think it's probably due to such wide fov, and not astrotracers fault. But it's something to keep in mind for sure, I for one did not hear about this issue when I was researching K-1 and it's use with wide lenses. Certainly not a big deal, even at 3200 image is quite clean.
02-06-2018, 08:18 PM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
Astrotracer is hardly an option for pro level photography. I like it, because I would not buy (and haul around) a good polar mount anyway. So I can live with astrotracer limitations. But it doesn't stand comparison with the real thing for reliability and exposure length.
Hardly an option? Why? Pros can get good sky photos without any tracking, so certainly the astrotracer can add to their toolbox. Stan Honda | Photographer shoots Nikon and Sony without any tracking mount. He's been artist-in-residence at several National Parks, runs workshops, and made NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day at least 4 times. If he shot Pentax why would the astrotracer not be an option?

The astrotracer is an alternative to something like iOptron SkyTracker Pro Camera Mount with Polar Scope 3322 B&H
Not a replacement for a 33 pound beast like Losmandy G-11 GFT Motorized EQ GoTo Mount G11GFT B&H Photo Video

Here's an example of what the astrotracer can do, in moderately light polluted skies.
02-07-2018, 01:55 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Hardly an option? Why? Pros can get good sky photos without any tracking, so certainly the astrotracer can add to their toolbox. Stan Honda | Photographer shoots Nikon and Sony without any tracking mount. He's been artist-in-residence at several National Parks, runs workshops, and made NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day at least 4 times. If he shot Pentax why would the astrotracer not be an option?

The astrotracer is an alternative to something like iOptron SkyTracker Pro Camera Mount with Polar Scope 3322 B&H
Not a replacement for a 33 pound beast like Losmandy G-11 GFT Motorized EQ GoTo Mount G11GFT B&H Photo Video
While it's certainly possible to get amazing, even award-winning images without any tracking mount at all, especially for landscapes, tracking can only help make images less noisy and bring out fainter details. I think it's analogous to the statement that a pro photographer can take amazing photos even with an old 6MP camera or phone. But more often than not going for newer equipment can pay off in terms of image quality.

There's no comparison between Astrotracer, which I largely think of as a gimmick, and even an cheap mount like the Skytracker. I haven't bothered with the K-1's astrotracer since getting a Skyguider Pro. Most Astrotracer examples I've seen are pretty awful, despite people constantly advocating for it. Even the decent ones show a good amount of trailing beyond 25% zoom, and only look good at web resolution.

That said, I agree with the article. The K-1 packs an excellent sensor and the 15-30mm is excellent as well.
02-07-2018, 04:57 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Hardly an option? Why? Pros can get good sky photos without any tracking, so certainly the astrotracer can add to their toolbox. Stan Honda | Photographer shoots Nikon and Sony without any tracking mount. He's been artist-in-residence at several National Parks, runs workshops, and made NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day at least 4 times. If he shot Pentax why would the astrotracer not be an option?

The astrotracer is an alternative to something like iOptron SkyTracker Pro Camera Mount with Polar Scope 3322 B&H
Not a replacement for a 33 pound beast like Losmandy G-11 GFT Motorized EQ GoTo Mount G11GFT B&H Photo Video

Here's an example of what the astrotracer can do, in moderately light polluted skies.
Any working polar mount is better than astrotracer - usually it is even easier to set-up correctly than the astrotracer. Sure the astrotracer is better then nothing. You can do series or 30s exposures and do miracles with it. It is the classic Pentax lightweight travel compromise solution. Few years ago I went to Tenerife with some astrophotographers. They had their heavy equipment, I had a K-5 with astrotracer. It took me longer to set it up and my photos were not as good, but it did save me some weight.
02-07-2018, 02:23 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by twomonger Quote
There's no comparison between Astrotracer, which I largely think of as a gimmick, and even an cheap mount like the Skytracker. I haven't bothered with the K-1's astrotracer since getting a Skyguider Pro. Most Astrotracer examples I've seen are pretty awful, despite people constantly advocating for it. Even the decent ones show a good amount of trailing beyond 25% zoom, and only look good at web resolution.
Last fall I went to a user group event that use astrotracers just to get a feeling on how I could introduce it into some of my nighttime photography. I mainly purchased the skytracker for time laps work but after using the skytracker during a practice run it really was not that had to setup and use. The first tracking I ran was 2 exposures that totaled 10min of tracking just to see how much drift occurred and when the images are stacked onto one and other there is very little drift in that 10 min of tracking.

The newer tracking hardware that has been released in the last few years has really reduced the cost and the weight of the equipment needed for astrophotography depending on the lenses you employ. 99% of the time the equipment I need for tracking is less than 600g. If I think of using a 400mm lens then I have to worry about counter weights some of the time.
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