Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
12-23-2020, 12:58 PM   #1
Veteran Member




Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 347
beginning in astro photography with minimal equipment

I'm fascinated by the beautiful photos of galaxies, and my question: is it possible to do something similar with minimal equipment (analog Pentax and a tripod)?
Any suggestions for a beginner?

12-23-2020, 01:01 PM - 1 Like   #2
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
jatrax's Avatar

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Washington Cascades
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 12,991
Astrophotography 101: A Lesson Series on Photographing the Milky Way – Lonely Speck
12-23-2020, 01:36 PM - 1 Like   #3
Pentaxian




Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 673
Doing astrophotography on the cheap – breakfastographer
12-23-2020, 01:42 PM - 1 Like   #4
Pentaxian




Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 2,014
The thing is that you will need either a long exposure, or stacking.

For a long exposure, you will need either a Pentax body with astrotracer (only recent digital Pentax can do that, and often needs the O-GPS1 module ; that will make the sensor move to follow the stars) or a tripod with an equatorial mount, which is something that will move slowly the camera as stars move themselves.


For stacking, you will need many exposures and software on a computer... but foremost a digital body. You cannot do that with a film-based body.

If you have very few money to spare, I would suggest to buy an used digital Pentax body, even an old one (so you can use your current lenses), and use stacking.

12-23-2020, 02:08 PM - 1 Like   #5
Seeker of Knowledge
Loyal Site Supporter
aslyfox's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Topeka, Kansas
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 22,833
in addition to the excellent suggestions offered by the other posters

I would advise looking at this series of articles

QuoteQuote:
Astrophotography Part 1 of 6: Planning the Shoot
Getting ready to take pictures of the night sky
By K David in Articles and Tips on Mar 12, 2015
Read more at: Astrophotography Part 1 of 6: Planning the Shoot - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com

if the OP decides to go digital this article might be of interest as well

QuoteQuote:
Pentax Astrotracer Guide and GPS Feature Comparison
A look at the O-GPS1 versus in-camera GPS
By K David in Articles and Tips on May 10, 2018
Pentax cameras offer GPS functionality in two ways: either through the built-in antenna found in the Pentax K-1, K-1 II, and K-3 II, or through the O-GPS1 accessory, which works with most other DSLRs since 2010.


Read more at: https://www.pentaxforums.com/articles/photo-articles/pentax-astrotracer-guid...#ixzz6hU4JP6UU
12-23-2020, 02:12 PM - 1 Like   #6
Pentaxian
ecostigny's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Branford, CT
Posts: 545
B&H Photo also has some guidance on astrophotography: Astrophotography for Beginners: How to Photograph Stars | B&H Explora

You'll get better results if you can get away from city lights, so light pollution maps for your area can help. You'll also want good conditions for your photography attempts. The ClearDarkSky site is a potentially useful place to start: ClearDarkSky
12-23-2020, 02:50 PM - 1 Like   #7
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter




Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Tumbleweed, Arizona
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,595
You really need to define inexpensive.....

Film Camera

Let's say you score an old film body with a 135mm lens on the cheap - for free along with a tripod (thus no out of pocket capital costs). Then there is the reoccurring cost of film, development and digital scanning.
  • Color film - buy for $10 roll (36 frames), $5 for development (with scanning)
  • Black & White film - buy for $10 roll (36 frames) and you develop it yourself and scan it yourself (say buy a scanner for $100). But to get color images,you need to shoot 3 to 4 frames (with different color filters) and then stack them digitally (keeping track of which frame used what color filter)
Now, when you are shooting the frames, you need to shoot 8 to 16 frames per object and stack them in order to capture sufficient light so that they start to actually show up. Just for the ease of the numbers.
  • Color film - 1 roll per object so $15 per shooting the sky object.
  • B&W film - 3 rolls per object (RBG color filters), with you doing the developing and scanning, so about $30 per object (plus chemicals).
_______________________________________

Digital Camera

Using the lens and tripod you scored with the film camera for free - you will need to buy a digital camera potentially with a GPS tracker to extend the duration of your exposures. Let's use a K70 (you can find them for ~$450) and a O-GPS1 (~$120), which totals about $570. To really get longer exposures for deep sky objects, you will need an equatorial tracker like an ioptron (runs about $500+).

A friend shoots astro (Milky Way over landscapes) with a K70, O-GPS1 using a Sigma 18-35/f1.8, using a tripod and head. (an Rokinon 16mm/f2 is less). Here is his InstaGram page - Login ? Instagram

When compared to film - looking for the break even point ....
  • Color film - $570 / $15 roll (per sky object) = 38 sky objects with color film
  • B&W film - $570 / $30 roll (remember you need RGB color frames) = 19 sky objects with B&W film (doing your own development and buying a scanner)
_______________________________________

If this is going to be an ongoing interest of your, digital is the way to go, which is going to require some up front capital costs. This also pre-supposes that you use free post processing utilities, like GIMP, etc.

Take a look at this area here on the Forum -- https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/groups/135-astrophotography/

One of the favorite bodies for deep space objects is the K5 (~$150 used) on an equatorial tracker (~$500) with a 200mm to 400mm lens. [Note - the difference is with star color. If you are going to shoot deep sky objects, you are going to take many frames and stack them for the color, thus a K5 works very well (especially at ISO80. For the Milky Way over stuff, the K70 work better since you get immediate star color and really only need to shoot a 70 second sky frame using the O-GPS1 for tracking. Just my opinion]




Last edited by interested_observer; 12-23-2020 at 03:02 PM.
12-23-2020, 04:22 PM - 2 Likes   #8
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
MossyRocks's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Minnesota
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 2,181
Don't start out doing it with film. That will be an expensive lesson in failure.

One can start off fairly easily with a digital camera and yes even one without tracking abilities or an equatorial mount to stick it on. I did and with effort one can get some not too bad results. Here is something I wrote up a while back once I had started to figure out the basics of astrophotography to help get people pointed in the right direction.

If you want to start with deep sky objects on the cheap and don't have a camera with astrotracer built in I would just use the rule 200 for shot length, 200/(focal length )=exposure in seconds, and if this is somethign you really want to get into I would suggest skipping the O-GPS1 and go straight to a smaller equatorial. I like the sky watcher star adventurer as it will support a camera and fairly common telephoto lens (think 300mm f/4) and for about $400 you can get the pro pack that has everything you would need to get started. However this setup does work well with monster lenses as they are too heavy and unless you are great a getting a polar alignment there will be error with long lenses and somewhat longer shots. I can't run my 400mm lens on it but even at 400mm I can still make use of astrotracer but am really pushing with it is capable of at that focal length. I started off using the rule of 200 as it really lowers the barrier for entry but you will quickly hit the limits but it is a good way to start if you don't want to throw money at the problem right away.

If you have a camera with astrotracer built in you can get some good results with practice.

Last edited by MossyRocks; 12-23-2020 at 04:27 PM.
12-23-2020, 04:25 PM - 1 Like   #9
Otis Memorial Pentaxian
Loyal Site Supporter
stevebrot's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 41,219
QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Now, when you are shooting the frames, you need to shoot 8 to 16 frames per object and stack them in order to capture sufficient light so that they start to actually show up. Just for the ease of the numbers.
Or they can simply do the long exposure or do multiple exposures. There is no reason to do a dark frame or stacking with film.* FWIW, there is a long tradition of wide-field astrophotography using fairly ordinary film gear and an even longer tradition for deep space objects (well over 100 years).

Photographing the Milky Way on Film Lonely Speck

Lonely Speck's advice regarding ISO and times for digital Milky Way work translate nicely for film.
Milky Way Exposure Calculator – Lonely Speck

Astrophotography Part 4 of 6: Using Film - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com

Google: milky way astrophotography with film - Google Search


Steve

(...seriously considering giving this a try with my new Samyang 14/2.8...)

* Stacking would probably not even work given that almost no density on the negative does not get translated to adequate density by stacking in PP.

Last edited by stevebrot; 12-23-2020 at 08:46 PM.
12-23-2020, 05:45 PM - 2 Likes   #10
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Idaho
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,455
You stated "analog" Pentax. Does that mean you already have a film camera and don't want to invest in a DSLR or are you open to picking up a used DSLR to break into the hobby?

You won't get any pretty galaxy photos without a lot of work using film. Film has a nasty habit in that the longer it's exposed, the lower its effective ISO becomes (it becomes less and less sensitive as an exposure builds up). Newer emulsions are better but "reciprocity effect" is still a reality with film. Digital sensors, however don't have this issue and continue to accumulate an exposure evenly at the sensor's base sensitivity. That's why I would recommend starting with a digital camera and you want one you can control (ISO and manual shutter). To keep costs down, start with a used camera in good condition. ebay is a good place to start with recommendations from this forum.

Unless you have a tracking mount, you still won't be able to get good galaxy photos since they require extended exposures. Wide angle sky shots are possible but when you start putting longer focal length lenses on your camera (or using it with a telescope) for actual galaxy shots you will need a tracking mount. There are some lower cost ones specifically designed for just a camera (not a telescope). With a good camera, lens, and a tracking mount, you can get some outstanding photos though it will still require some work and experience.

Last edited by Bob 256; 12-23-2020 at 05:54 PM.
12-23-2020, 11:14 PM   #11
Veteran Member




Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 347
Original Poster
Thanks to all for the replies, I will look into all the info.
12-24-2020, 05:32 PM - 1 Like   #12
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: SF Bay Area
Photos: Albums
Posts: 798
QuoteOriginally posted by Reciprocity Quote
Thanks to all for the replies, I will look into all the info.
Thanks for starting the thread. I've been wondering too how to start in astrophotography. A lot of great info here, another thanks to all who replied.
12-26-2020, 12:28 AM   #13
Veteran Member




Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 347
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Biff Quote
Thanks for starting the thread. I've been wondering too how to start in astrophotography. A lot of great info here, another thanks to all who replied.
You're welcome.

---------- Post added 12-26-20 at 12:35 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Or they can simply do the long exposure or do multiple exposures. There is no reason to do a dark frame or stacking with film.* FWIW, there is a long tradition of wide-field astrophotography using fairly ordinary film gear and an even longer tradition for deep space objects (well over 100 years).

Photographing the Milky Way on Film Lonely Speck

Lonely Speck's advice regarding ISO and times for digital Milky Way work translate nicely for film.
Milky Way Exposure Calculator – Lonely Speck

Astrophotography Part 4 of 6: Using Film - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com

Google: milky way astrophotography with film - Google Search


Steve

(...seriously considering giving this a try with my new Samyang 14/2.8...)

* Stacking would probably not even work given that almost no density on the negative does not get translated to adequate density by stacking in PP.
Thanks for the remark and the links, I will study it more closely.
12-26-2020, 02:52 AM   #14
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Warwickshire, UK
Photos: Albums
Posts: 443
I will also be giving this a go. I have a KP and sourced a GPS module just need some dark skies now
12-26-2020, 03:28 AM   #15
Pentaxian




Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Cymru
Posts: 1,840
Excellent info above. I’ve also seen some mechanical trackers that look pretty nifty - no batteries required!
Pentax does lead the charge somewhat for amateur astro with the O-GPS1 however, as above.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
amazon, astro photography, bag, camera, density, details, equipment, exposure, film, google, lens, lense, night, pentax k50, photo, photography, speck, technique, thanks, tradition, tripods, weight
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Abstract Minimal exposure! chris sanchez Post Your Photos! 2 01-12-2020 06:39 AM
Architecture minimal monochromatic architecture ignath Post Your Photos! 5 10-21-2019 07:57 AM
Macro More From The Minimal Series Kerrowdown Post Your Photos! 8 08-30-2018 03:17 PM
June, 2015 Runner-up: Minimal zebra kgyd Winners' Showcase 14 07-31-2015 11:42 AM
The K-7 with a Prime or Standard Lens is the best combination for minimal VR brosen Pentax DSLR Discussion 5 10-26-2009 09:15 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:11 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top