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01-24-2020, 12:37 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Coming In Hot

Hi all,

I've been reading this thread quite a bit because I will receive my Pentax K-70 w/18-55mm kit lens in a couple days. I've been using a Nikon D3500 (only for a couple weeks), but decided to take that back in favor of the weather sealing of the K-70. I do a ton of backpacking and camping and live in Utah where the skies are prime for AP.

Recently, we went out to Capitol Reef National Park (15 degrees at midnight w/wind and animals' eyes reflecting back at our headlamps) and captured the attached photo (Nikon D3500, ~20 second shutter, ISO 36000, f3.5). I really know nothing of post-processing and have only used Snapseed for that stuff... Anyway, I'll have another opportunity this weekend to point the new K-70 up to the stars and keep practicing. Any tips anyone has for a complete noob to AP and photography in general (just 5 hours deep into a 27-hour Udemy course, which is awesome btw) would be great! I have a tripod, the afore-mentioned camera/lens and that's about it at this point.

Thanks,

Hunter

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01-24-2020, 02:27 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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Welcome to Pentax Forums!
There are many astro enthusiasts here so I'm sure you'll learn a lot. The shot you've posted suggests you're already doing OK
01-24-2020, 03:12 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Hi and welcome!
That's a fine introduction and astro shot, looking forward to any more posts. As a frustrated AP, I envy your clear sky .
01-24-2020, 03:32 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Welcome to the forum from the Highlands of Scotland, enjoy your time spent here with us all.

01-24-2020, 06:59 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Welcome to the forum.
01-24-2020, 07:25 PM - 1 Like   #6
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welcome aboard!

another that envies yer skies!!! appears you are already well on track and experience will guide you further
01-24-2020, 09:11 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Welcome to the forum and that's a really nice image. I'll apologize right off for the wall of text.

Last April I needed a new roll of gaffers tape the next evening, so I drove over to the local camera store to pick up one. They had a sign advertising their up coming night astro photography class, for $99 taught by a photographer who shoots for Arizona Highways magazine. I signed up. Well, Arizona Highways offers their own 5 day class for $1700 - so $99 was a bargain. It was a 3 day/session class - one evening class, the next night shooting from 5pm to midnight, and the next night post processing the images. 35 in the class, of which 20 were really experienced astro photographers.

The night of the shoot - about an hours drive east of town, we were all out there shooting. The instructor had arranged folks into similar groups (kind of by camera types) - an experienced person with a beginner. No one shoots Pentax, so I just did my own thing. Long about 11pm a Jeep drives up slowly with out headlights and parks. Out hops a guy with his equipment. sets up and starts shooting. I needed some water so I was walking back to my truck to pick some up and we started talking. He had just picked up a K70 a couple of weeks before, just to shoot at night. His first DSLR. He was late getting to class, he had to work late (he is a coach for the local major league baseball team and their game just finished). His shots were the typical beginner, so he asked how to get better shots. We moved his location to where another guy had just left - who had the perfect view of the mountain with the Milky Way over it. I went back to my bag and picked up my Sigma 18-35/f1.8 lens along with the Pentax O-GPS1 astrotracer. Brought it back, setup his camera, calibrated everything up, took a couple of test framing shots at ISO 51200 at like 1 second. Then dialed down the ISO to 800, set the shutter to 70 seconds @ 18mm, f1.8 and he took his first really great Milky Way shot. He was telling me that he showed the night's images to the team's photographer on his smartphone. She flips through all the beginner shots and stops at this one and says - what happened here? You went from newbie to pro in one frame. He said that his response was Pentax Magic.

In shooting with Matt, I have come to really like the K70 for a lot of reasons.
  • The K70 has what is called the Accelerator Chip that kicks in at just above ISO 600 (actually at ISO 636 and above) that adds 1.5 stops of dynamic range. What this does for you is to keep the ISO low for low noise, but to soak up the star color - especially the blues and magenta in the Milky Way's core. So at ISO 800 the K70 equals the full frame K1 and lags a bit behind the K1 mark II ( which also has the Acceleration Chip).
  • Astro is one area in photography where lenses really do make a tremendous difference. The Sigma 18-35/f1.8 is excellent, but expensive (~$650). The Samyang/Rokinon 16mm/f2 is also excellent, at a lower cost (~$380).
  • In "B"ulb mode, you can dial in really any exposure time - well past 30 seconds.
  • The articulating rear screen makes shooting the stars so much easier.
  • The GPS astrotracer attachment does work very well.
  • The M50mm/f1.7 is an excellent lens (~$50) to shoot the Milky Way core with. Shoot multiple frames and stack them with Sequator (free). You can also shoot panoramas and stitch images together with Microsoft ICE (free download).
  • The StarStream mode that Pentax has, really works very well for star trail movies.
  • Pick up an external shutter release for the the K70. It just makes things go easier when shooting.
We have gone out together over a dozen times now over the last 10 months. My wife didn't like me driving out alone into the desert in the middle of the night. But now with two of us out there - she likes it a lot better. "The Bears are gonna get you" spoken with a New York accent. There aren't bears out in the desert. Well Coyotes then - she worries about the 4 legged variety, I worry about the 2 legged kind. --- A Story - Standing in the middle of the Road - PentaxForums.com

So, now when the team is traveling - I get messages from Montreal with images of the city lights, NYC down in DUMBO or the pier pilings with the shot of Manhattan skyline. In Miami - it's the Milky Way over the ocean from down in the Keys.


Last edited by interested_observer; 01-24-2020 at 09:24 PM.
01-24-2020, 09:12 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Welcome, enjoy that K-70. Good thought for the weather sealing, I would have missed a lot of photography without it. Snow, rain, and cold temperatures can bring some great photographic opportunities. Strangely, we haven't had a really decent snow yet this Winter.

01-25-2020, 09:43 AM   #9
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Awesome story and tips - thanks so much for sharing!

QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Welcome to the forum and that's a really nice image. I'll apologize right off for the wall of text.

Last April I needed a new roll of gaffers tape the next evening, so I drove over to the local camera store to pick up one. They had a sign advertising their up coming night astro photography class, for $99 taught by a photographer who shoots for Arizona Highways magazine. I signed up. Well, Arizona Highways offers their own 5 day class for $1700 - so $99 was a bargain. It was a 3 day/session class - one evening class, the next night shooting from 5pm to midnight, and the next night post processing the images. 35 in the class, of which 20 were really experienced astro photographers.

The night of the shoot - about an hours drive east of town, we were all out there shooting. The instructor had arranged folks into similar groups (kind of by camera types) - an experienced person with a beginner. No one shoots Pentax, so I just did my own thing. Long about 11pm a Jeep drives up slowly with out headlights and parks. Out hops a guy with his equipment. sets up and starts shooting. I needed some water so I was walking back to my truck to pick some up and we started talking. He had just picked up a K70 a couple of weeks before, just to shoot at night. His first DSLR. He was late getting to class, he had to work late (he is a coach for the local major league baseball team and their game just finished). His shots were the typical beginner, so he asked how to get better shots. We moved his location to where another guy had just left - who had the perfect view of the mountain with the Milky Way over it. I went back to my bag and picked up my Sigma 18-35/f1.8 lens along with the Pentax O-GPS1 astrotracer. Brought it back, setup his camera, calibrated everything up, took a couple of test framing shots at ISO 51200 at like 1 second. Then dialed down the ISO to 800, set the shutter to 70 seconds @ 18mm, f1.8 and he took his first really great Milky Way shot. He was telling me that he showed the night's images to the team's photographer on his smartphone. She flips through all the beginner shots and stops at this one and says - what happened here? You went from newbie to pro in one frame. He said that his response was Pentax Magic.

In shooting with Matt, I have come to really like the K70 for a lot of reasons.
  • The K70 has what is called the Accelerator Chip that kicks in at just above ISO 600 (actually at ISO 636 and above) that adds 1.5 stops of dynamic range. What this does for you is to keep the ISO low for low noise, but to soak up the star color - especially the blues and magenta in the Milky Way's core. So at ISO 800 the K70 equals the full frame K1 and lags a bit behind the K1 mark II ( which also has the Acceleration Chip).
  • Astro is one area in photography where lenses really do make a tremendous difference. The Sigma 18-35/f1.8 is excellent, but expensive (~$650). The Samyang/Rokinon 16mm/f2 is also excellent, at a lower cost (~$380).
  • In "B"ulb mode, you can dial in really any exposure time - well past 30 seconds.
  • The articulating rear screen makes shooting the stars so much easier.
  • The GPS astrotracer attachment does work very well.
  • The M50mm/f1.7 is an excellent lens (~$50) to shoot the Milky Way core with. Shoot multiple frames and stack them with Sequator (free). You can also shoot panoramas and stitch images together with Microsoft ICE (free download).
  • The StarStream mode that Pentax has, really works very well for star trail movies.
  • Pick up an external shutter release for the the K70. It just makes things go easier when shooting.
We have gone out together over a dozen times now over the last 10 months. My wife didn't like me driving out alone into the desert in the middle of the night. But now with two of us out there - she likes it a lot better. "The Bears are gonna get you" spoken with a New York accent. There aren't bears out in the desert. Well Coyotes then - she worries about the 4 legged variety, I worry about the 2 legged kind. --- A Story - Standing in the middle of the Road - PentaxForums.com

So, now when the team is traveling - I get messages from Montreal with images of the city lights, NYC down in DUMBO or the pier pilings with the shot of Manhattan skyline. In Miami - it's the Milky Way over the ocean from down in the Keys.

01-25-2020, 10:31 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Welcome aboard. Great fist post too.
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