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01-09-2014, 08:24 AM   #1
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K-x and telescopes

I've got a K-x with a few lenses, and am starting to experiment with astro photography. I'm quite comfortable with what I'm doing, but want to take it further. As it's my birthday next month, my wife wants to buy me a telescope. I know pretty much nothing about telescopes, other than they let you see things that are far away!

Ideally I want to spend around 100 (GBP) or less, unless there's a big difference in quality etc. for slightly more money. I want to be able to mount my K-x to take photos through the telescope, and preferably be able to carry it with me (I live on the edge of a dark skies site )

Does anyone have any suggestions please?

Thanks in advance for any help

01-09-2014, 08:42 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tippon Quote
I know pretty much nothing about telescopes, other than they let you see things that are far away!
Well this is only part of the truth. For astrophotography, you will be as much interested in the light gathering power of the telescope. That means that larger lenses and more expensive telescopes are required for astro photography. Don't fall for those 50mm'ish aperture telescopes that promise you 600X magnification. You will surely be dissapointed!

Further, the mount is as important as the telescope - especially when we talk astrophotography. What you could go for within a limited budget might be a smaller equatorial mount decicated for carrying a camera and a telephoto lens. Perhaps something like this:

Astro Optics EQ 1 Equatorial Telescope Mount with Tripod Drive 1 4 20 Adapter | eBay
01-09-2014, 09:07 AM   #3
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I dont know a thing about it. My first stop would be to buy a book , or several books, and read up on it before spending a dime. Knowledge can save you cash.
01-09-2014, 09:43 AM   #4
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You MAY be able to get a 5 inch (127mm) reflector for that. Adapters are pretty easy. Remember though, when you take a pic of something you do need to do a quick shutter speed and stack images, unless you have a smooth auto tracking scope. Also, the images will not be as sharp as with a lens. I know because I shot through both my 5.1 inch (130mm mirror) and 8 inch (204mm mirror) telescopes, and my 150-500 lens seems to give me sharper images, though not as magnified.

01-09-2014, 11:42 AM   #5
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I recommend starting with this thread: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/6-pentax-dslr-discussion/113178-astrophotography.html

Also look at: Telescope Reviews | Cloudy Nights, and go to the forums. This site has a beginners section, as mentioned in post #4 of the above thread. There is also a large section on astrophotography, including using a DSLR. There being a LOT of information here, take your time wading through it. There is a lot to learn.

Stone G. has a good recommendation: start off using your camera lenses to get an understanding of how astrophotography works. An f2.8 lens is FAR easier to use than an f8 telescope. And a 28mm lens is also FAR easier to use than a 1000mm telescope. An equatorial mount lets you track the sky and get longer exposures, but a photo tripod with a wide angle lens can make some nice images of star fields and start your learning process. Don't frustrate yourself by jumping in too far at once. Smaller steps will make your trip much faster and more pleasant.

Don't get that telescope yet, except for visual (non-photo) observing. Read first, shoot the stars with your wide camera lenses on a tripod, read more, join Cloudy Nights (my home page), get an equatorial (sky-tracking) mount, shoot the stars with your longer camera lenses on the equatorial mount, read more, then you'll be at a point where you will know how to proceed further. Read more.

Astrophotography is a lot more detailed and equipment-intensive than regular photography. There is a lot of learning required to be able to get a great image of the Orion Nebula. It can be kept simple, with lower magnifications, or can get very involved, and costly, for higher magnifications.

Start simple, low magnification. Work upwards only as your learning progresses. Enjoy.
01-11-2014, 07:10 PM   #6
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Sorry about the slow reply. Thanks for all the advice so far

I appreciate that there's a lot to learn before I should buy a telescope, but if I don't get one now, I'll probably have to wait until next Xmas to get one, and I'm just too impatient for that! I've got a few 200 and 300mm lenses already, along with some teleconverters, so I may be able to get away with an equatorial mount for the time being. I've just had a quick look on eBay, and was hoping you could tell me whether I'm in the right ball park.

Thanks again for any help

CELESTRON 91509 CG-4 ASTRONOMICAL XLT TELESCOPE EQUATORIAL STAND MOUNT*TRIPOD*UK | eBay

Helios / Sky-Watcher Catadioptric Reflector Telescope D:130, F:1000, EQ2 Mount | eBay

Konus 45 (114mm/4.5") Astronomical Newtonian Telescope with Equatorial Mount | eBay
01-11-2014, 07:34 PM   #7
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See if you can score #2 for some starting astronomy.
01-11-2014, 07:55 PM   #8
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Thanks

I'll pass that on to the wife in the morning (almost 3AM now, waaaaay past my bedtime! )

01-11-2014, 10:20 PM   #9
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Item #2 is a complete telescope package, including a tracking motor. It will get you going visually, but I would recommend starting piggy backing your camera on top of the telescope rather than trying to shoot through the telescope. It does seem to have a camera mount on the back telescope ring. If the tracking motor is strong enough, you could use your camera lenses up to 300mm, but start with wide angles and work your way up. This mount is not very stiff, so avoid wind when using your camera. You may need to add extra counterbalance weight to account for your camera on top. The ebay pictures don't show clearly how many weights this package has.

Item #1 is a much better tripod, but has no motor or method to mount a camera. These would be extra. And with no actual telescope (with finder) included, finding desired targets will be more difficult. Better to learn the sky visually before trying to image it. Just not a complete enough package.

Item #3 is just not as good as #2, lacking a motor and having a longer tube that makes the whole thing more wobbly.

I would not guarantee that either of the packages (#2, #3) will enable your camera to come to focus using the telescope itself. Refractors and SCTs or variants, all with their long focusers, are usually used for astrophotography, with Newtonians and their variants (of #2 and #3) usually lacking enough infocus for cameras.
01-12-2014, 07:05 AM   #10
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That's great advice, thanks Ted

I'm tempted to buy the Helios now, rather than risk not getting anything before my birthday (beginning of Feb). Time to start trawling the shops to see what's available
01-12-2014, 07:42 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tippon Quote
That's great advice, thanks Ted

I'm tempted to buy the Helios now, rather than risk not getting anything before my birthday (beginning of Feb). Time to start trawling the shops to see what's available
Save your money and wait till you can afford something that is actually useful. Of the items you listed the #1 is only one fitting that category. Tripods on 2 and 3 are pretty much junk and my guess would be that they are barely OK for visual use.
01-13-2014, 11:00 AM   #12
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Thanks, but as I'm still undecided about astrophotography, I'm not going to spend a huge amount of money (yet!). My plan is to get something cheap and cheerful for the time being so I can try it out, then if I like it, upgrade my kit.

I've seen two relatively cheap kits that appear to do the basics that I would need, but would appreciate some input

Play.com - Buy online at Play.com and read reviews. Free delivery to UK and Europe!

Sky-Watcher Heritage-114P Virtuoso Computerised Reflector Telescope (10240) - Wex Photographic

The second kit seems to be better, but what do you guys think?
01-13-2014, 05:26 PM - 1 Like   #13
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The Celestron 127EQ Powerseeker at Play.com requires a separate motor for tracking the sky, so is not ready for your camera. See the reviews at:
http://www.amazon.com/Celestron-21049-127EQ-PowerSeeker-Telescope/dp/B0007UQNKY for the telescope, and at:
Amazon.com: Celestron Motor Drive for AstroMaster/PowerSeeker EQ Telescopes: Camera & Photo for the tracking motor.
Doesn't seem like the best use of your money.

The Sky-Watcher Heritage-114P Virtuoso Computerised Reflector Telescope at Wexphotographic.com is a better deal, with the clever camera pointing features. It is better explained at:
Orion StarBlast 114mm AutoTracker Reflector Telescope | Orion Telescopes and Binoculars
It seems to be rather new, as I haven't seen any reviews for it.

Some problems: it is a table-top telescope, meaning it has no tripod. Unless you want to kneel on the ground to use it, you need a method of raising it up (eg, use boxes or a camera tripod that is sturdy enough). Orion has such a tripod (needs a 3/8" mounting screw to fit), extra cost of course.

The big problem for astrophotography of any serious nature is that the mount is an alt-az, meaning that it does not derotate the Earth's spin. It only points the telescope at the same point in the sky, and tracks that point, but does not rotate the whole telescope so that the field that the camera sees doesn't rotate. Imagine pointing this scope at the pole star. The mount will happily keep the telescope pointed there all night, but while the pole star will only make a tiny little arc on your image, stars at the edges of your camera field will be making great arcs across the camera field. That's "field rotation". Only an equatorial mount will not have this problem. A common type of equatorial mount is the funny-looking mount of the Celestron 127EQ Powerseeker, for example. The problem will become more noticeable for longer camera lens focal lengths. Note that it is NO problem for visual observing, but will limit the length of exposures you can make, getting worse the longer the lens. Elongated stars in an image really suck.

Do you have an astronomy group of some kind near you? They will be able to give you information much faster than I can. Or try cloudynights.com, where there is a great deal of information already available. It's really hard trying to answer questions about this or that telescope one by one. I still recommend that you read more and learn more before jumping in. If you want to jump in anyway right, the Skywatcher will be fun for visual, and you can add a goto controller to it later, doubling its cost. It does lack in photography capability, however, because of the field rotation, but should give you some interesting wider-angle star shots, even allowing panoramas by stitching together shots.

Jumping in now will likely result in replacing your telescope rather than upgrading it. That may not be a problem for you, and if so, go for it. You will learn a lot if you get something that does not totally frustrate you right off the bat, and that knowledge will get you to a new telescope system that is tuned to what will really work for you.
01-13-2014, 06:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tippon Quote
Thanks, but as I'm still undecided about astrophotography, I'm not going to spend a huge amount of money (yet!). My plan is to get something cheap and cheerful for the time being so I can try it out, then if I like it, upgrade my kit.

I've seen two relatively cheap kits that appear to do the basics that I would need, but would appreciate some input

Play.com - Buy online at Play.com and read reviews. Free delivery to UK and Europe!

Sky-Watcher Heritage-114P Virtuoso Computerised Reflector Telescope (10240) - Wex Photographic

The second kit seems to be better, but what do you guys think?
O.K. This is what every aspiring astro photographer should build, before jumping headfirst into equipment buying spree. You make one of these, next to nothing investment and when it works, a great satisfaction of your handiwork.Barn door tracker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
.
01-14-2014, 03:42 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by TedH42 Quote
The big problem for astrophotography of any serious nature is that the mount is an alt-az, meaning that it does not derotate the Earth's spin. It only points the telescope at the same point in the sky, and tracks that point, but does not rotate the whole telescope so that the field that the camera sees doesn't rotate.
That's a bit cheeky. The ad makes it sound like it's suitable for beginners, and that it can rotate. Thanks for pointing that out


QuoteOriginally posted by TedH42 Quote
Do you have an astronomy group of some kind near you? They will be able to give you information much faster than I can. Or try cloudynights.com, where there is a great deal of information already available.
Funnily enough, I found out today that a new group started up yesterday. They're running an eight week course for beginners, so I'll join that to get a bit more insight.


QuoteOriginally posted by Ex Finn. Quote
O.K. This is what every aspiring astro photographer should build, before jumping headfirst into equipment buying spree. You make one of these, next to nothing investment and when it works, a great satisfaction of your handiwork.Barn door tracker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
That's great, thanks

I remember reading about these about eighteen months ago, when I first started reading about astrophotography on here, but because I wasn't thinking of using a telescope at the time, I forgot all about them. Building one of those might keep me out of trouble for a while
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