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09-24-2018, 07:51 PM   #1
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Astrotracer Info Needed from Experts

Hello All

I have purchased Pentax K3II camera and 3 lenses
  • 50mm
  • 55-200mm
  • 18-135mm

I wanted to try the astro tracker functionality and also take some good photos of moon and other planets ( for my kids sake )

I need help in getting right settings for capturing the photos, if any one else can share even any other lenses need to be purchased kindly do suggest me please.

09-24-2018, 09:26 PM   #2
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Astrophotography Part 1 of 6: Planning the Shoot - Articles and Tips |
Astrophotography Part 2 of 6: Equipment Selection - Articles and Tips |
Astrophotography Part 3 of 6: Making a Barn Door Tracker - Articles and Tips |
Astrophotography Part 4 of 6: Using Film - Articles and Tips |
Astrophotography Part 5 of 6: Working in Post - Articles and Tips |
Astrophotography Part 6 of 6: Reducing Image Noise - Articles and Tips |

And there are more on the site. The question is very broad and hard to respond to. The moon can be taken with a 20mm lens or a 2000mm lens depending on what you want to show. Similarly planets can be dots or have some detail if you have a large enough telephoto and a very stable mounting platform. Stars and galaxies and nebula can be captured in many ways as well.

Can you narrow this down a bit? What are your initial goals and your dream if $ were no object and how important is it to progress in that direction?
09-24-2018, 10:13 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by srinivasmd Quote
Hello All

I have purchased Pentax K3II camera and 3 lenses
  • 50mm
  • 55-200mm
  • 18-135mm

I wanted to try the astro tracker functionality and also take some good photos of moon and other planets ( for my kids sake )

I need help in getting right settings for capturing the photos, if any one else can share even any other lenses need to be purchased kindly do suggest me please.
Here's a recent guide on how to set up and use the feature:
O-GPS1 vs Built-in GPS Guide - Introduction - In-Depth Articles

The calibration is the most important step.

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09-25-2018, 02:14 AM   #4
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Hi! Am no expert but since I've been in your shoes :

0 : what age range are your kids?
1 : do you have a tripod with decent head? You will need that.
2 : Astrotracer is not useful for the Moon and Planets, as it will compensate the Earth's rotation in respect to the celestial sphere (the stars), but Moon and Planets move independently from that.
3 : the Moon is actually so bright you might consider a light reducing filter. But @200mm it won't be that big (you can even try handheld to get a feeling of it)
4 : provided you can get clear skies, you can use the 18-135 @18mm with the Astrotracer to capture the Milky Way, that can be very impressive.
5 : with your other lenses and Astrotracer you can aim for close-ups of the Milky-Way and some Nebulas, but the hardest part is probably framing those. Since you have built-in Astrotracer you have the option of putting a finder on you hotshoe.

6 : depending on if you want to stay compact and extra budget available. A small scope with decent mount is very nice for educational purposes. Allows for spectacular close-ups of the Moon with my kids. And depending on the model, you could either have you camera piggy-back on it or use it as a lens with a T2 ring. But that's entering anot her vast field...

09-25-2018, 03:24 AM   #5
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For the moon, look up “loonie eleven” rule.

A place to start for wide angle Astro Exposures is f4 iso 3200 for 60s - adjust accordingly.

For planets / stars figure out how you will focus to infinity... in the dark.. with no AF or confirmation aid. By the way - Astro photography works best with no moon. Check moon cycle tables.

Best advice for astrotracer is to get out there and use it. Expecting great results from an apparatus you have never used before is a bit unrealistic.
09-25-2018, 06:25 AM   #6
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Here is a beginners guide I wrote up last month to get people who want to start with astrophotography pointed in the right direction. It is far from comprehensive but is meant to get someone out and shooting things quickly.

When it comes to astrotracer practice calibrating it and keep away from power lines, vehicles, or large amounts of steel and iron as they throw it off. Also the suggest maximum time it gives is really optimistic, I usually stick to under 1/4 of the recommended time and I get good results chasing deep sky objects. when using astrotracer point it more up or more out as it does worse at an angle 45 degrees.

With what you have planets will appear as slightly larger points or on the long end small disks. In a good case you could get Saturn with ears and should be able to get Jupiter and the Galilean moons. With Jupiter and Saturn astrotracer works surprisingly well as those planets move very slowly through the sky, so a 10 second exposure using astrotracer is good enough provided astrotracer is calibrated correctly.

I would suggest starting out easy by shooting the moon and get comfortable operating your gear in the dark. The moon is pretty full now, is fairly large in the sky, and is really bright so practice the basics on it now. Then either go for milky way pictures with wide side of things, or go chase deep sky objects like the bright Messier Objects once the moon is not up or anywhere near as full.

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