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09-06-2018, 10:02 AM   #16
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I'd love to get into this...

Any suggestion on a lens to use?
I'm interested in those wide swooping milkyway shots...

I have the DA15, DA35macro, DA70, DFA100macro, and DA*300 + HD1.4xTC

Would the DA15 work? Or should I look at investing in something like a Samyang 24 F1.4?

Thanks for the article!
I can't wait to try some of these things out!

09-06-2018, 02:08 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
Any suggestion on a lens to use?
That's a good question and one many of us face. I understand the faster the better, as long as IQ is maintained.
If you are using astrotracer, slower is an option as you take one long exposure for the foreground without tracer and then multiple traced images and use the first as the mask (in Sequator).,
Shorter focal lengths give the option of longer exposures without astrotracer (xx/300) = seconds and if fast and short, well that nails it first time?

The DA15 is too slow and poor in the corners I think.
The DA70 is a PF monster for stars wide open.
I can't speak for the other lenses.

I am considering a Sigma 17-50 f2.8 for the versatility beyond astro, rather than get a single purpose dedicated lens.

---------- Post added 06-09-18 at 02:15 PM ----------

I should add, the new DA* 11-18 F2.8 has astro written all over it if you can wait
09-07-2018, 04:28 AM - 1 Like   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
I still struggle but no where near as much as I did. Now I struggle to get near the fantastic results guys like Pete_XL, DrawsACircle, VoiceOfReason, and others more experienced in editing can get, but I keep trying. My problem was I didn't know how wrong what I was doing was so I didn't know bad I actually was doing as it produced some results that on initial inspection looked OK. Once I got pointed in the right direction I saw a rapid improvement in the overall image quality even if the first few attempts didn't turn out all that great.
Would love to hear some of the things you were doing wrong and what you did to correct them so others can learn from it!

I'm just starting to get into this and need all the help I can get!
09-07-2018, 10:34 AM - 1 Like   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
Would love to hear some of the things you were doing wrong and what you did to correct them so others can learn from it!

I'm just starting to get into this and need all the help I can get!
Basically when I started I found some tutorials that focused on local changes and some tricks that produced some reasonable results for some things but quickly went off the rails and hit their limits. For a great example there is this thread of just how far off the rails things ended up. Looking back on that holy crap was that bad I am kind of embarrassed by the results. I have tried a couple times since to reprocess that image and I can get closer to what Pete_xl was able to pull out but I still get nothing for the horse head nebula other that something that looks like a bit more noise in that region.

I should be able to pound out a beginners guide to astro image processing this weekend as the wife will be away so I will be stuck with the kids and can't go sneak off when they are in bead. Even the park behind my house is going to be out because it will be mostly cloudy on the overnights here so I will have some time to fill. Having discovered wavelet decompose in GIMP I have been wanting to play some with that and astro images as a way to see about decreasing noise and highlighting detail but that seems like something that could also go off the rails quickly so I have stayed away from it for now. that won't be in the guide as it is something that will likely only cause problems for beginners.

09-07-2018, 11:13 AM - 1 Like   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
Basically when I started I found some tutorials that focused on local changes and some tricks that produced some reasonable results for some things but quickly went off the rails and hit their limits. For a great example there is this thread of just how far off the rails things ended up. Looking back on that holy crap was that bad I am kind of embarrassed by the results. I have tried a couple times since to reprocess that image and I can get closer to what Pete_xl was able to pull out but I still get nothing for the horse head nebula other that something that looks like a bit more noise in that region.

I should be able to pound out a beginners guide to astro image processing this weekend as the wife will be away so I will be stuck with the kids and can't go sneak off when they are in bead. Even the park behind my house is going to be out because it will be mostly cloudy on the overnights here so I will have some time to fill. Having discovered wavelet decompose in GIMP I have been wanting to play some with that and astro images as a way to see about decreasing noise and highlighting detail but that seems like something that could also go off the rails quickly so I have stayed away from it for now. that won't be in the guide as it is something that will likely only cause problems for beginners.
I'm interested to see a beginners guide!

When it comes to deep space objects I have no idea where to start, and rightfully so.

I'd like to see what my DA*300 can achieve though. It's always fun to explore new techniques and styles of photography
09-07-2018, 12:25 PM - 1 Like   #21
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If you want to go for a DSO a good 300mm f/4 lens is a nice place to be starting from. If you have darker skies than I have (you may even in Maryland) you should be able to do quite well. Right now M31 (The Andromeda Galaxy) is up and isn't too hard to find. When centered it will almost fill the frame but is pretty dim so if you are in a bright area it might only look like a dim orange smudge in the view finder with that lens. That is what I deal with but a couple of nights ago got some shots with reasonable results. Another thing that is up that is pretty easy to get in the view finder is M51 (the Whirlpool galaxy) as all you have to do is get the star on the end of the big dipper in the top middle of your view finder and then go 2 frames below it (of that is what I do on my K-3 with my 300mm).

If you have clear skies the next few days will be great for chasing DSOs as the moon is basically non existent which helps a lot.

Here is an example of what can be accomplished with a K-3, O-GPS1 astro tracer, a Sigma 300mm F/4 APO lens, 6 minutes of exposure, and a quick edit. Also all the frames for that picture were taken within 1 hour of sunset in a very light polluted area with a near full moon up. I have since taken an additional hour worth of exposure from the same spot and did a better job editing it and there is a lot of detail that comes out. I would imagine that you could get similar results with practice. Be sure to have a focusing aid and release cable as well as use the 2s mirror up delay off of a tripod. You will need to recompose every few minutes (3 to 5 typically) to keep the object in the frame. I would expect similar results with similar exposure and time when you are shooting.

As winter comes to the northern hemisphere you can get some really easy to shoot DSOs like M42 (the Orion Nebula) or M45 (the Pleiades) which are easy to find and photograph. These are really good starter objects as they are pretty big (not as big as M31) but are really bright and super easy to find in the sky. If you can be out late you will get better results than mine where I am shooting not long after sundown which is one of my problems because all the dark places near me require that I leave by 10pm.

Look at the link to the light pollution map I provided in the guide and see if you can find a Bortle Class 6 or darker near you and go there. For me that is a 45 minute drive and that only gets me to a darker Bortle Class 5 spot but that park closes at 10. A bright Bortle 7 is only a 15 minute drive but again there the park closes at 10 but even that offers a dramatic improvement over my backyard. My lake property is a very dark Bortle 3 but that is a two and a quarter hour drive and the weather never wants to cooperate when I could go there.
09-08-2018, 01:10 PM   #22
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Good stuff there MossyRocks

Well, on the wider end of the scale I have pressed my DA21 into service. It's not best suited to this but hey, use what you have to start out.
I used sequator and got some iffy results. Tonight I tried again and this time engaged brain and froze the foreground and set high dynamic range on (no dark image from this set) and this came out
9th Sept is looking good for cloud cover too and astro end is at about 9.30 so I may just get Andromeda with my SMC 200 if I'm lucky
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09-08-2018, 07:22 PM   #23
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I am very interested in your work and waiting for your beginners guide. I enjoy astrophotography but post processing is a real challenge for me. Great guide so far!

09-09-2018, 04:04 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kevin B123 Quote
I may just get Andromeda with my SMC 200 if I'm lucky
Probably, especially since it looks like you have nicer skies than I have. I grabbed 1.5 hours of exposure for Andromeda (M31) from my very light polluted backyard on friday night and got something not awful and managed to pull out some detail. That was with a 300mm f/4 and while a SMC 200mm would have a wider view Andromeda is pretty big. The area in the sky is about 6 times that of the moon so even smaller telephotos can get good shots of it. I've never gotten a shot of the milky way from my backyard, even pointed straight up with my 35mm wide open with a 60 second tracked exposure, there is just too damn much light pollution in my city.
09-10-2018, 10:02 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
Probably, especially since it looks like you have nicer skies than I have.
Well I went to a dark sky location in the hope really. The cloud forecast (generally reliable) was a bit off on the 9th, the cloud cover obscured too much. That was especially annoying as there was no wind at my high elevation (200M). I did not even get a decent MW shot
On the upside, I did get to use a Bahtinov mask on the SMC 200 and it seemed to work well. It shows infinity is a bit before the stop on my lens. Next time....
09-11-2018, 06:38 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
Probably, especially since it looks like you have nicer skies than I have. I grabbed 1.5 hours of exposure for Andromeda (M31) from my very light polluted backyard on friday night and got something not awful and managed to pull out some detail. That was with a 300mm f/4 and while a SMC 200mm would have a wider view Andromeda is pretty big. The area in the sky is about 6 times that of the moon so even smaller telephotos can get good shots of it. I've never gotten a shot of the milky way from my backyard, even pointed straight up with my 35mm wide open with a 60 second tracked exposure, there is just too damn much light pollution in my city.
These are the small, yet EXTREMELY useful, tips that I love reading on this forum!

I'm often curious what I'm capable of "seeing" with my 300mm lens before cropping.
I've always assumed these galaxies were so "small" as a viewing point that I'd need the equivalent of a 1200mm lens to see them; or extreme/1:1 cropping.

Sounds like I actually may be able to capture a decent image with the DA*300?!

Now I just need to find the damn thing in the sky on a clear, cool night...

edit: I found this graphic online that helps me put it into perspective:
https://stargazerslounge.com/uploads/monthly_09_2013/post-6762-137922477212.jpg
09-11-2018, 10:25 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
I'm often curious what I'm capable of "seeing" with my 300mm lens before cropping.
If you want to know what things might look here is a much smaller in the sky galaxy set called M51 (the Whirlpool galaxy) at a 100% crop that I took a few weeks back once the sky was clear enough to actually see some stars. It was taken with my Sigma 300mm f/4 and K-3 with astrotracer in rather poor conditions and was a very quick (5 minute) processing effort of 6 minutes of total exposure (18x20s).



I want to say Andromeda will come close to filling half the frame with the galaxy and you will get M110 and M31 in the frame as well. Anywhere I have been able to do night photography lately I have not been able to see it in the sky unaided and even through the 300mm f/4 it only appears as a very dim smudge. I end up star walking to it from the great square of pegasus as Andromeda is between Pegasus and Perseus. I have an image I have been working with that has about 1.5 hours of total exposure (around 180x20s) in similarly bad conditions that I need to get posted.
09-11-2018, 12:19 PM   #28
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Something is amiss here I think.
The lonely speck lens spreadsheet gives a 300mm f2.8 lens a score of just 64, the best score is 3827 for 16mm f1.4. So any long telephoto lens is pretty limited, hence the use of telescopes.
Also, is Andromeda really that large? Stellarium shows Andromeda as a tiny spec.
09-11-2018, 12:30 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kevin B123 Quote
Something is amiss here I think.
The lonely speck lens spreadsheet gives a 300mm f2.8 lens a score of just 64, the best score is 3827 for 16mm f1.4. So any long telephoto lens is pretty limited, hence the use of telescopes.
Also, is Andromeda really that large? Stellarium shows Andromeda as a tiny spec.
I think the lonely speck score takes into account the maximum exposure time without star trails. A 300mm lens suffers here hence the low score.

09-11-2018, 12:35 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by slartibartfast01 Quote
I think the lonely speck score takes into account the maximum exposure time without star trails. A 300mm lens suffers here hence the low score.
Interested_observer posted the link to the spreadsheet, it was actually from Pentapixel site - my mistake there.
Astrophotography Nightscape Lens Rating - Google Sheets
QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Astrophotography Nightscape Lens Rating - Google Sheets
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/367178-nig...ns-advice.html

Last edited by Kevin B123; 09-11-2018 at 12:38 PM. Reason: working link added
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