Re:DSLR Cameras

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Posted by M C Butcher at 11:20 on 2011 Nov 17

Gordon, Sorry I haven’t responded earlier but I have only just read your question on this Forum page. I live in the Inner Hebrides and use an unmodified Canon 40D as I refused to purchase more than one camera for all my domestic and astronomical needs. Prior to that I used an Olympus OM-4Ti film camera, I have no experience of any other cameras. I too have been intimidated by both the cost and the complexity of modifying a DSLR. I use my camera with a tripod (for Aurora, Noctilucent Clouds, startrails and general domestic photography) and inconjunction with my Meade LX-90 8". It has worked very well for all subjects except the fainter Emission Nebulae (where it works but the IR filter requires the exposure times to be either too long or for there to be an excessive number of sub-exposures), and detailed Solar System work, where the seeing (as I am almost at sea level) can be a severe trial. To control the camera I use the Canon TC-80NC remote controller. As I do not have an auto-guiding capability for my telescope the length of the sub-exposures can be a real problem when imaging deep-sky objects. As all my astronomy is conducted from home I usually use mains power to run my camera (and the LX-90 and the Dew controlling system).A disadvantage of the 40D is that it does not have a video mode, this would help a lot with getting over the problem of poor seeing with Solar System objects. One advantage of the 40D is that you can customise certain settings within the camera which then remain set (until you decide to change them), this means that you do not have to set all of the specific astronomical seetings into the camera each time you go out, all that is required is that you dial up whichever customised setting you want (the 40D has 3 and I have them configured for Deep-Sky, Solar System and Photometry work). For image processing I use a general photographic package (Photoshop CS5), an astronomical software (Images Plus) and a noise reduction software (Noise Ninja). For film astrophotography I used Michael Covington’s book on astrophotography (very good) and Jerry Lodriguss’ CD book on using Photoshop for astrophotography (also good). On moving to a digital camera I purchased Michael Covington’s book on DSLR Astrophotography and Jerry Lodriguss’ CD book on DSLR Astrophotography. In hindsight the latter which is pretty much my ‘bible’ was all I needed. Obviously we all work to budget of both money (to spend) and time (to devote) to our hobby and you must make your own choices. I am well aware of the limitations which my circumstances place on the astronomy that I do(most importantly the implications that the weather here has on what I can and can’t achieve), and I am content to operate within those limitations.Please ask if you have any further questions, I would be delighted to help in any way that I can.RegardsMartin Butcher