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I agree

Astrophotography with small budgets

05 Feb, 2018 11:23

I have the idea to start a thread contributed to the idea of collecting information on setups for a small  budget, for beginners or generally for people who don't want to rise their investment too much. On the market you find much used equipment, cameras, lenses, smaller mounts - in Germany we have these days in the forums some interesting threads concerning the idea of creative solutions for such cases.

The invitation is to contribute your experinces of how to start with astrophotography with small budget, or how you started and what you learned - so the beginners of today can learn from and avoid unnecessary problems and disappointings.

05 Feb, 2018 20:37
The answer is pretty simple/pretty non-controversial.  Use a camera and a lens, not a telescope.  You can do interesting
stuff with just a tripod,  more with a tracker, either a DIY barn door for very low cost, or a commercial one for somewhat more.

Add in a telescope, even a small one, and the cost soars.  Unavoidably.

I have both setups, including a fine mount.  Still use the camera/lens/tracker some, sort my astrobin by date, there's a good example
with a 50mm lens near the top.

This book is a great guide to doing this.
Edited 05 Feb, 2018 20:40
06 Feb, 2018 01:50
Read Cloudy Nights, astronomical magazines, different forums - you could lear a lot there. I agree that the first setup shall be limited to tracker, good tripod and regular camera with 50-100 mm lense maximum. If you get astro-drive - you will go futher. If not - you can use it in regular photography, no big deal. But be aware: since you jump seriously into astronomy - you will be spending big bucks for setup and cameras  smile
06 Feb, 2018 06:38

thank you for the first contributions, it's not for me, I am in astronomy for some tenth of years, but for those who look for examples how others made their experiences, what equipment they used and how they approached imaging and data reduction. So I am glad for every further posting.

Kind regards
06 Feb, 2018 19:12
You can buy a used Canon 450 or 500D for $125-150 and then DIY modify the camera for full spectrum AP. It takes 1.5 - 2 hours and is not very difficult with those cameras. Then get a Skywatcher StarAdventurer or a used EQ5 mount for $300. You could add auto guiding later on for about $150 with a 50-60mm finder scope, and h-alpha clip in filters.

The Sigma/Rokinon/Canon prime lens 85/135/200 tend to be the best but the cheaper ones will also work. Just use whatever you have…
06 Feb, 2018 19:53
I just posted my first pic with a basic setup.

Meade Adventure 80 ($90)
ES Exos Nano EQ Mount ($90-$100)
Celestron RA Drive Motor ($30)
Family Nikon D70s
gphoto2 on Raspberry Pi to control the D70s.
DSS and Gimp 2.9.8 to process.

Just trying to figure out what I can do with what I have smile
Edited 06 Feb, 2018 19:56
06 Feb, 2018 19:58
Hi Robert,

do you know a good tutorial for modding the EOS?

06 Feb, 2018 22:45
07 Feb, 2018 13:33
Hi Joerg, there's already a AB group with a focus on low budget AP:
Andreas (moderated by me  smile )
08 Feb, 2018 09:58
Ok, found it!
15 Feb, 2018 23:37
While I understand the need and desire to not spend a lot, I always cringe at questions like this. All too often this results in not only frustration but also in spending far more in the long run if you stick with the hobby because you bought less than ideal money-saving equipment that you will eventually have to replace because you are not happy with it. Not only have I seen this happen again and again with other people, I did the same thing myself in the past. smile

Somewhere on the net a few years ago I found a site where the imager had listed all the stuff he had bought to save money and wished he had not. I can't find the site now but it was a good cautionary tale.
25 Feb, 2018 07:50
The answer is simple- stay ultra wide field and you won't break the bank. The more you want to zoom in, so to speak, the more you will
pay. I jumped in and spent $7,000.00 to get a decent entry level ED80mm scope setup with autoguiding etc. I wanted acceptable results
straight away or else what's the point. At the end of the day it's what you can afford vs what you want to achieve, just don't skimp on
what you do decide to do.
Edited 25 Feb, 2018 07:51
27 Feb, 2018 18:22
"Somewhere on the net a few years ago I found a site where the imager had listed all the stuff he had bought to save money
and wished he had not.  I can't find the site now but it was a good cautionary tale."

Here you go.

Classic case of the two biggest beginner mistakes, seen over and over again.  An inadequate mount.  Too big a scope.
These are surprisingly independent.

I do think the bottom lines are simple.  <$500, camera and wide angle lens on a tripod.  <$1000 camera/lens/camera tracker.
<$2500 small scope on a Sirius/HEQ5/iEQ30Pro.

Buying used or using an existing camera reduces those.
Edited 27 Feb, 2018 18:23
27 Feb, 2018 20:58
Hi Jörg,

I would like to give very clear suggestion what equipment you should start in my opinion.
This investment you can use partly for daylight too. And you can use it later when you buy larger equipment in parallel.

1) Tele lens. Best is Samyang 135mm f2 (for Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, …….)
2) DSLR (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic) I would recommend APS-C, but M4/3 is fine too. maybe second hand, or have one. modded would be fine.
3) start tracker. I can recommend  Star adventurer.
4) stable tripod. very important !
5) some rings to fix the tele lens

3) & 4)  you can combine to small GOTO EQ-mount.  ( EQ3- goto)

See a possible setup with star adventurer tracker how I use it and some links to pictures from my side with this setup.



regards, Marcus
Edited 27 Feb, 2018 20:59
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