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Complete set for deep sky astrophotography

22 Jan, 2018 21:03
Hello Everyone!

I am looking into building an entire set for deep sky astrophotography. I currently have a DSLR Canon Mark IV. I need help setting up an entire system that will be portable, reliable, high quality  and easier to navigate/use. I was looking into a  William Optics refractor, around $2.300 but I am opened to other suggestions. If possible I need help with every single item I will need (Including DSLR accessories) followed by a link. I also would rather spend a little more now than later.

Could anyone help? I would very much appreciate your time and efforts to help me!

Thank you!

Edited 23 Jan, 2018 05:28
23 Jan, 2018 06:28
What are your goals for this "deep sky" system?  What size focal length are you desiring to use?  The longer the focal length the more stable/robust your mount system needs to be in order to obtain long duration exposures..  It eventually becomes not very portable…
23 Jan, 2018 19:14
My goal is to be able to take photos of M31, M45, M81, M22, the moon, etc…  and have the image look as sharp as possible.  I am looking for  a focal length size somewhere in between 100 - 120mm.  Just looking for the most reliable and portable solution. - Thank you!!
23 Jan, 2018 21:01
I'm assuming you are referring to a Canon 5D mk IV camera. One thing you must be careful about with a full frame camera is that it has a ~43mm diagonal sensor which is larger than most telescopes are designed for. Most people use either APS-C (~27mm) or Micro 4/3 (~22mm) sensors, and that is the image circle that most telescopes cover. Unless the telescope you are looking at specifically says that is flat field for full frame, you must research the size and flatness of the image circle. Most telescope designs will require you to purchase a optional field flattener or reducer/corrector (corrector is just another name for flattener ) to make the field flat. These devices usually reduce the image circle, so you should be checking on the image circle of the specific combination of telescope and flattener your are interested in.

Three small scopes to consider that people have had good results using with a full frame camera and also travel well are:
Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC (also sold under Rokinon brand name)
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM
AstroTech AT65EDQ  (420mm f/6.5)

For beginners shorter is better because it is not that easy to find things in the sky.
23 Jan, 2018 22:04
What scale are interested in? Then choose a mount and optics.
24 Jan, 2018 01:45
OK - just to clarify though I think you might be confusing focal length with objective lens size.  A 100-120mm focal length is not really long enough to capture much detail in those Messier objects you mentioned.  In fact, that length is really nothing more than a camera lens.   I think you meant you are looking for a telescope with a 100-120mm objective lens size which would equate to roughly 600-900mm focal length….depending on the F-ratio/scope brand etc.
So if I am correct in my assumption then I think eventually you will find after researching that a scope of that size won't be terribly portable, once you consider the mount that will be necessary to support it along with a camera (full frame Canons are kind of heavy) along with a quide-scope which you definitely will need at that focal length, etc.  You'd need a hefty power supply and laptop to run all the software, with associated wires, etc.  it's gets rather unwieldy quite quickly.  You can save some weight with a carbon fiber scope, but I don't think William Optics carries those (Explore Scientific does though, and their scopes are pretty good and reasonably priced).  I have the Explore Scientific 127mm carbon fiber scope and really like it.  I have it on an Orion Atlas mount and just moving it from my office to the front yard is a chore.  I don't think I would enjoy packing it up in a car and taking it somewhere….
If you are just starting out - I'd recommend learning just using your DSLR and a quality lens - 50-200mm.  Get a solid tripod and something like an iOptron Sky Guider Pro for tracking.  Or even an Astro-Trac.  You can get some very nice wide field images with that setup.  If you really get hooked, then look into an EQ mount and telescope package - but I'd stay at an 80mm Obj lens type of scope at first - this will equate to roughly a 400-500mm focal length.  You'll need a guide scope as well at this point.  If you still have the bug, then move on to a larger scope….sell your previous gear to help pay for the larger scope.  But i think you'll find a 500mm focal length will keep you busy for years….best of luck. Go slow and learn as much as you can.  The capturing and processing are a large learning curve.
24 Jan, 2018 15:33
My goal is to be able to take photos of M31, M45, M81, M22, the moon, etc…  and have the image look as sharp as possible.  I am looking for  a focal length size somewhere in between 100 - 120mm.  Just looking for the most reliable and portable solution. - Thank you!!

You're making two classic (and understandable) beginners mistakes.

For Deep Space Objects.  Underestimating the importance of the mount, overestimating the importance of the scope.  Putting a camera
behind a scope is nothing at all like looking through one.  AP of DSOs is magic because tiny pixels accumulate light over a very long
time, relative to your eyes.   Move the light around a tiny amount, and the magic goes away.  An inadequate mount will make
the quality of your scope meaningless.

AP of DSOs doesn't work because the camera is better than your eyes.  It works because the camera is different than your eyes.  That
totally changes the situation.

For DSOs you pick the mount first, spend at least half of your budget on that, then figure out what scope would work well with the mount.
Portability means different things to different people.  Perhaps an iEQ30Pro, 15 pounds head weight, maybe 25 with tripod.

It's $1200.  If that is too much money or too much weight, I'd use a camera and a lens on a camera tracker.   Spending a lot of money on
a scope, and then putting it on an inadequate mount for photography, just doesn't make sense, if your goal is sharp pictures.  Many
people use camera trackers as a portable setup.

For the Moon.  Underestimating how different imaging the Moon is, even compared to so-called "bright" DSOs.  The Moon is many
thousands of times brighter.  That requires different equipment, different techniques,  The Moon is in bright Sun, it's like taking a
snapshot with your phone.  DSOs are like taking a long exposure with a long telephoto lens.  At night.  From a moving car.
Edited 24 Jan, 2018 15:54
24 Jan, 2018 19:15
I would recommend to start from the basic Newtonian scope (yes, I like Newtonians despite constant re-collimation and coma), for example 130/650 or 150/750 and decent equatorial mount (Skywatcher HEQ-5 or 6), short-tube Orion guiderscope and guiding camera, Barlow2.5-5 and you are ready to go! Yes, your camera will have a significant vignetting due to the size of the matrix but you can crop the final image. This setup will be about $2000. You can observe, do planetary video-imaging and shoot DSO. You can choose small APO as a main scope, better to start with 80mm-420/480 mm f5-f6, but with flattener the scope only will be over 1200-1500 (again there are a lot of cheaper Chinese clones available). But more important: stop reading and start acting, clear skies! smile
24 Jan, 2018 22:14
i would suggest a good mount,like the SKYWATCHER AZ-EQ5 GT GOTO MOUNT with a PHOTOLINE 80 F/6 TRIPLET
 its a rock sollid mount, and still easy to handle.  the scope is a apo,and way better then the william optics.

your camera  will be a issue, it needs to be save some money for a cooled ccd..the  zwo asi 1600 mm is one of the finest i think.

and read allot before you but anything….it helps.And look here at the pictures,how they are made,the gear they use etc.

well keep on going.
25 Jan, 2018 17:06
THANK YOU ALL for helping me with this. I've been looking and reading about all your recommendations. Very Helpful! If any of you know of any video link that could be informative for my situation, please let me know. I rather watch something recommended by an expert than just watch anything that comes across. Thanks again! - R
25 Jan, 2018 19:09
THANK YOU ALL for helping me with this. I've been looking and reading about all your recommendations. Very Helpful! If any of you know of any video link that could be informative for my situation, please let me know. I rather watch something recommended by an expert than just watch anything that comes across. Thanks again! - R

This book by a very expert author is available by download.  It not only has equipment recommendations but much, much more.
On the webpage below, scroll down to his picture.  That's a Sirius (also sold as the HEQ5) mount with a 70mm refractor that's no longer made.
The scope is pretty noncritical, below is a very close approximation to the one shown.

Yes, the mount should make the scope look small.

Book and author picture (with credentials).


Yes, you spend significantly more for the mount than for the scope.  It's more important.
Edited 25 Jan, 2018 19:24
26 Jan, 2018 06:50
An important specification that you did not quantify, is what do you mean by "portable"? Reading the various recommendations above, I realized that different people have made a good recommendation for different assumptions of what is portable. A good guideline for categorizing basic operational weight including scope, mount, guiding accessories, finding and calibration accessories (e.i. GoTo, polar scope, etc.), mount hardware (i.e. tripod, pier, etc.), cameras (i.e. imaging, guiding, etc.), and control hardware (e.i. personal computer, controllers, communications, etc.); but excluding cases, furniture (i.e. tables, chairs, stands, etc.), and vehicles (i.e. trailers, vans, RVs, etc.). Is under 50 lbs. (which is considered air portable by many people only because you can't do this with much under 50#), under 100 lbs. (which is an entry level weight class), and under 200 lbs. (the beginning of high quality equipment). At star parties I meet lots of people that haul around imaging systems way over 200#, and they think that is portable.

I assumed under 50# and "100mm" meant focal length, so I recommended camera lenses, which would work with other people's recommendations of trackers  such as the iOptron Sky Guider Pro, Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer, or Astro-Trac.

Other people assumed under 100# and "100mm" meant objective diameter, and made recommendations  such as the  iOptron iEQ30Pro, Sky-Watcher HEQ-5 and AZ-EQ5.

Finally, there are a few under 200# recommendations such as the Sky-Watcher EQ-6.

While most mounts are rated by payload, the real issue is moment of inertia. An 8" SCT can have a smaller moment than a 6" Newtonian or a 5" APO refractor. A short, fat SCT has most of the weight concentrated around the primary mirror; while a long, thin Newtonian or refractor has the weight concentrated on the two ends, glass on one end, camera on the other end, and air in the middle.
Edited 26 Jan, 2018 08:16
26 Jan, 2018 08:02
For focal length between 100 - 120mm is easy to handle with a Samyang 135/2 (or a lower but bright photo lenses - but best  no zoom lense)  and as Tracker Sky Watchers "Star Adventurer".

On a dark sky and with F/2 you need about 1 Minute at ISO800 to get enough light. And with a little experience on your FF Sensor camera you should be able, to align good enough that you get round stars.
It's getting much  harder  if you have a "slower" Lenses, because you need more Time/ISO ……

There are a lot of Regions at the sky where 100-300mm is very reasonable - you find here at AB :-)

With this cheap, but very good solution you  should be able to sample many good frames to start the major challenge:  Picture processing

Edited 26 Jan, 2018 08:07
26 Jan, 2018 23:44
Well suggest Newton 150 or 200 with F5 they cost nothing, 150 is much more portable, mount - HEQ5, thats about 1800 $ then you will need power tank thats another 149$ + you need camera adapter thats another 30$ + youll need guide scope or offaxis, suggest offaxis - less weight,  much cheaper than guide scope = starting from 90$ + youll need guide camera  i use cheapest - zwo asic 120m nice camera for a price of 200$ in total thats about Your price
p.s. sugest a 1 cm ring for guidecamera, because it need longer focus than provided with offaxis dye to difference in sensor sizes, thats another 30$ still close.
p.s.p.s. in my opinion best choice, newton need collimation if transported brutally, but once u know how to do it, its easy with collimation cap (can make yourself) or by later collimation laser.
p.s.p.s. need a remote for camera to work in bulb mode (on Ebay costs 9$) + suggest to buy another battery for camera, because best time is in winter when it is cold, and in cold those damn cameras lasts only for 40 - 50 minutes (-15 C)
So i think thats all you need + about 20 nights to learn how to use all that  smile Good luck, will follow Your progress!!  smile
27 Jan, 2018 16:37
I have the same opinion- Newtonians fot the beginners are the best! And do not forget power adapter for camera, replacing your battery to DC - you would be amazed HOW fast your  battery will be depleted making long exposition shots. Clear skies  smile
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