# 13 Jun, 2018 13:01
Good afternoon guys,I am hoping toget started in astrophotography and wonder if forum members can help me to get|
started. I am interested initially in the Solar System but would like to move
on to DSO’s later. So, my investment in equipment would have to cater for both.
I have a budget of around £1000 and thinking this would be about the cost of a
suitable guider system, reducer / flattener and main imaging camera.To help with myquery I already have the following equipment I use for visual observation:· CelestronEdge HD 8” 2032mm F10 · WilliamOptics Megrez, 90mm, 558mm F6.2 · CelestronMount AVX with Starsense· EOS50D + Olympus OM, both unmodded (thinking about a suitable ZWO or similar main imager
as well)· EyePieces. Tele Vue: Radian 5MM, Nagler 9mm
Type 6, Nagler 20mm Type 5. Meade super Plossl 26mm, Meade 2x Telegative
Barlow.· WilliamOptics 2” Dielectric Diagonal, Meade UHTC 2 “Diagonal, plus various 1.25 Diagonals.
The AVX canhandle either of the smaller scopes for eyepiece viewing at any one time without
much trouble but not both! I want tocontinue using the AVX, so I would like to know which scope is better for astrophotography.
To use either at any one time would be great but my budget is prohibitive, and
each scope requires different accessories for upgrading,For instance, theEdge weighs about 14 lbs and requires a Celestron .7x reducer. Faststar is out
of the question because of my budget restriction. With other additional
accessories this is near the limit the of the mount, probably too heavy as payload
capacity is listed at 30Lbs, which is never truly accurate. For guiding, an OAG
is an option in terms of weight and preventing flexure, but I’m not sure how
much advantage this is with the associated dimmed light?My favouredoption, the Megrez, on the face of it, seems the better option, as this weighs 7Ibs,
which is lighter on the AVX mount and might be more manageable with the extra
weight of accessories. For guiding, I would need a guider scope or OAG and guider
camera. The onlyproblem is the apparent lack of a suitable focal reducer/flattener. Those
listed as satisfactory for this scope are the William Optics 0.8
Reducer/Flattener AFR-IV and the Televue TRF-2008 Reducer/ Flattener. Unfortunately, I have had noluck finding these as the suppliers always seem to be sold out or awaiting new
stock. I suspect there is little or no demand for either of these items. If any
of the forum members can suggest a suitable alternative reducer/flattener, then
I would be most grateful! Another route is touse neither of the above scopes and instead go for the very popular Sky Watcher
Evostar 80ED DS-Pro or Esprit 80 ED Pro, but this would have to wait until I save
more cash.Any help appreciated!!
# 14 Jun, 2018 13:36
You already have great stuff. Start from there. There is no need to buy a different OTA. The astrophotography learning curve is steep enough, so start small and build up towards "more".|
To start, you might do like me, what I have done over the last two years… Make a plan and slowly buy additional gear…
A mid-range ±500$ camera that also later can be used as a guide camera is, IMHO, a good way to start. Don't spend all the money in one go with equipement that you might not need if your "future planning" doesn't meetup with were you stand at that time with your hobby.
# 14 Jun, 2018 14:28
A ZWO ASI 224MC will do double duty as both a planetary and guide camera, as will the less expensive 120mc. I also really like the ZWO 60mm guide scope!|
if I was in your shoes I would just use the refractor for DSO and the Edge with a 2x or 3x barlow for planetary. The Edge with 0.7x could work, but depends on the quality of your AVX. Some are good, some are not good 😐 So start with the refractor!
For a DSO camera, monochrome is the way to go but they cost more with the filter wheel and filters. A 183c or 1600mc + a Ha filter will let you image in Ha-RGB which is still quite nice. You also have the option of hyper star later on and Both of those cameras have a round profile that would work well.
if you have a steady hand I can follow detailed directions the Canon cameras are easy to modify, I have successfully done two already. The main issue is noise if the sensor gets over 20° C so you need to dither aggressively if you use the DSLR.
# 14 Jun, 2018 15:12
Indeed, your WO Megrez would be easy way to start. I started with what I had at that time, the SCT and AVX mount. From time to time the learning curve was painful, but… problems are more easy to identify. You won't notice mistakes that easily if you would use the WO Megrez (as a beginner that is).
That said…by making mistakes you learn (and are able to understand more clearly).
When you begin, and have the money to actually buy a good DSO camera, then it is a little bit the same. Color is "easier", mono-camera's need additional filters and a filterwheel. Most of the time compatible (if you are even able to compare) setup's, a single color camera or mono camera+accessories, pan out to be about the same amount of money.
…but give your self a bit of time before you up your game into fancy multi filter DSO photography…
In all I am not unhappy with my first shot color + Ha (HaRGB) picture of M16 (https://www.astrobin.com/350971) with what I have got currently. My WO Star71 setup would have maybe had nicer stars etc, but also would have been a widefield shot from a way larger area than my EdgeHD on f/7 (reducer). If you don't have the money for a 2000$ (and plus), mount, you will have to learn first how to guide
# 16 Jun, 2018 12:49
To MGralike, Robert Huerbsch,|
Thank you for the sound advice and recommendations to formulate a proper plan to get myself organised. In addition, over the past few days I have been getting some sound advice from other astro-imaging practitioners and as you can imagine, there are various views on whether to go down the SCT or Refractor route. As a result I have put together two possible medium term summarised scenario's based on the equipment I already have, as follows:
1. Concentrate on the Edge 8" / AVX combination at F10 and add 2x/3x barlows as required.
2. Buy ZWO ASI 224 or 120mm as a guide camera / planetary imaging camera.
3. Get a suitable Guiderscope (must work with ZWO) e.g. ST 80, ZWO or Evoguide - maybe PH guiding.
4. Concentrate on short planetary exposures initially.
5 Choose software as appropriate: Photoshop, Lightroom, Fire capture, Sharp Cap, Registax etc.
6. Move on to DSO's when confident enough. What extras required?
7. If the AVX guides well enough consider buying the 0.7x reducer and a compatible OAG, Hyperstar - very low priority.
8. If the AVX doesn't perform to satisfaction then put it aside until I can afford a better mount
1. Concentrate on the WO 90mm F6.2 Megrez. Start with planetary imaging.
2. Be mindful of the absent TRF-2008 compatible reducer as this means restricted to F6.2. This might hinder its potential for DSO's later.
3. Maybe start thinking about another refractor +/- £500 - £700 ED 80 with readily available and probably cheaper reducers / flatteners? (the unavailable TRF-2008 would cost about £300 even if I could get it!) I might save on buying a guider scope by using the WO but thats probably overkill!
4. Progress to DSO's as experience is gained.
5. Use accessories as listed above and appropriate i.e. camera (think about mono or colour), guiding, software etc.
6. Add necessary upgrades for longer exposures - Sequence Generator etc.
7. Invest in a better imaging camera.
8. What other filters, accessories required.
The question is, which way to go?
# 16 Jun, 2018 13:28
P.S. I hope my first colour shot of M16 is as good as that!
# 16 Jun, 2018 18:25
That one is after two years fiddling and learning…
I started with practicing on M42 for at least 3 months before I moved on confident enough I understood “the routine” and how to tweak/use stuff.
My first "DSO", M42 with the EdgeHD 8" at f/10 without the reducer: https://www.astrobin.com/327990/
# 16 Jun, 2018 19:26
Nevertheless, something for me to aim for. I guess practice makes perfect!!
# 16 Jun, 2018 20:24
I don't get this. You have two great OTA's to get started with. Of course I also would like to play with a Takahashi or Planewave OTA, who wouldn't but even with those, you will have a learning curve. You have nice OTA's, tweak and use them to the max. You have widefield with the Megrez and with the 8" SCT a good startingpoint regarding a long focalpoint (2000mm +). So learn to start with that first and decide what to do next while "you're on your personal astronomy road".
Everyone has a different point of view regarding what he or she like bests in this hobby (aka it also reflects different setups needed).
I would juist buy a camera within your budget, and go from there. The combi OTA + camera already is good enough for planetary photography. A guidescope for the EdgeHD 8 SCT, should be minimum 60mm or longer in diameter due to the long focal point distance of the SCT.
Try here to mix and see: https://astronomy.tools/calculators/field_of_view/ (imaging mode)
The following might be to daring, but have a look at, for example, the differences regarding ZWO camera's: https://agenaastro.com/zwo-astronomy-cameras-buyers-guide.html#typesofcameras
# 17 Jun, 2018 03:27
I completely disagree that the AVX/C8 is a good way to get started. The weight may not be so bad, the long focal length is a killer. Also|
the slow optics. I study this issue a lot. No expert would recommend that setup. Neither do most all beginners who try it
(because they want to "use what they have".
Part of my study involves collecting quotes from beginners. Regret is the usual theme here.
"I regret spending the first 6 months trying to learn imaging with an 8" Edge on an AVX mount. I lucked out and got one of the good
AVX's, but with that scope/mount combo it was a losing effort. Fortunately got a nice little refractor, and not only have the quality
of my images improved but I'm actually enjoying the process of learning how to do it!"
"What the forum folks said annoyed me so much 3 weeks ago. And now I'm looking to do exactly as they said. I haven't successfully
captured a single image with the C8 on an AVX. I really, really wanted to prove them wrong. Alas, I'm looking for a small refractor."
"Of all the recommendations though, if you want to get into imaging then a short imaging refractor is probably the best one (IMHO).
I have a C8 and this was the scope I learned AP on. It was a long, tough struggle and I have no good pictures to show for it.
I could have easily saved a year by starting with a more image-friendly scope."
Etc, There's a lot of etc. <smile>
Yes, there is the occasional exception. But AP is often frustrating, you do not want to waste time (and money) to try to see
if you're the (rare) exception.
The two biggest beginner mistakes are skimping on the mount, and using too big a scope. The AVX/C8 does both.
"I started out with a CPC 800 on a heavy duty wedge and a Canon 450d. In hindsight, I'd have started with an 80mm refractor.
I would have saved a lot of money and gotten up the learning curve a lot quicker."
# 17 Jun, 2018 11:37
Hi Guys, thanks for the replies and advice. I started off this topic favouring my plan "B", mainly because of the many posts I've read regarding the struggle many people have had with SCT imaging. I bought the AVX/Edge combination because of the marketing hype at the time and have used it successfully for visual use only. At the time I didn't give any thought, nor did I have any interest in astro-imaging. It was only when I thought about imaging and started reading the advice on various forums that the extra cost i.e. Reducer, Guiding, Cameras,( Hyperstar - albeit low priority), a more capable mount, the learning curve time, that I began to realise the scale of the task ahead.|
Re: comment ' …But AP is often frustrating, you do not want to waste time (and money) to try to see if you're the (rare) exception'…, this is the last thing I want to do as I am now retired and want to enjoy my AP pursuit and not end up frustrated and disappointed!
Re: my plan "A" option, I guess I find myself starting out from the wrong place by trying to use the equipment I already have to make it work for me, with all of the associated pitfalls and problems! I do admire the dedication of the very capable SCT AP practitioners out there but I am now convinced that starting out with an SCT, especially with the lighter AVX mount, may only lead to undesirable results.
That takes me back to plan "B" and the Megrez 90 F6.2 + AVX! I guess my only hang-up is I won't be able to use the missing reducer/flattener which is no longer in production. Maybe I'm placing too much importance to this, as I have seen many good short exposure images taken with small refractor scopes in the F5, F6 and F7 range. These from 70mm to 90MM scopes with a DSLR / ZWO, CMOS systems. Some with/without using reducers and from short exposures. I may begin this way using the Megrez and the EOS 50D and then see about moving to a better camera, auto guiding, longer exposures and a bigger mount - 'small steps to learn to walk first'.
I'll see how I get on.
P.S I will continue to use the Edge for visual so it is still a useful tool and perhaps I will bring it into play for AP when the time is right!
# 17 Jun, 2018 12:41
|My two cents here: ADV is a terrible mount, I had so many problems (replacement of motor, replacement of two (!!!) handsets and still a lot of mechanical problems. You cannot use it in Southern hemisphere untill you downgrade to old handset and software (odd) etc. This mount may be ok for planetary observation and imaging but not for shooting DSO, sorry. Leave ADV with SC for planetary imaging and buy decent mount for astrophotography, I could suggest Skywatcher HQ-5 Pro or more powerfull HQ-6, combined AZ-HQ 6 is also a wise choice. As to a scope for Astrophotography I would suggest small good APO 80-100 mm with focal lenght 400-600 mm, you can use flattener keeping the same focal lenght or/and reducer/flattener (x0.79) giving more widefield view. Forget about DSLR unless modified and cooled, buy nice CCD camera, I would suggest mono with electronic filter wheel allowing narrowband imaging and conventional LRGB. Atik, Sbig, ZWO - a lot to choose from. I came from large Newtonian scope (good scope for the begginers but heavy, prone to coma, constant re-collimation, dust on mirrors, dew etc etc etc) to 80 ED Meade triplet with Orion miniguider and Skywatcher HQ5 Pro, ZWO 1600 MM-Pro and quite happy with the final setup and the results. My two Netwonians and larger guider scope are collecting dust in my garage now Main idea- go ahead, stop asking and studing -start acting, practice is the only way to learn! Clear skies!|
# 17 Jun, 2018 23:10
It's fine to start out without autoguiding. I did for a couple of months. Big bright targets (the best to learn on, anyway),|
high ISO, 30 second exposures.
The DSLR is also fine to start out with, and get your feet wet. <smile> Do not, however, omit the camera calibration frames;
bias, flats, darks. If you do you'll most likely learn some bad habits in processing, and processing is crucial.
You'll soon see how autoguiding could help your imaging. There are reasons most all of us autoguide.
I strongly recommend this book, even if you're not interested in PixInsight.
# 18 Jun, 2018 02:50
I have no experience with the refractors for imaging and, although they're great in many ways, I also lean towards the SCT assuming you have the patience to deal with tracking (and/or guiding) with it on your AVX. I say "and/or" because, contrary to what many people will say, you can do very great things without autoguiding this setup if you have the patience and time (which is well worth it each night I don't have to set up autoguiding). See my profile; I have almost an identical setup as yourself (I have the 8se on the AVX without autoguiding) and I can get some decent results without it. Of course, it will allow longer exposures (or better/rounder short exposures), but this is up to your preferences. Three things I want to say:|
Time is precious. A dark site is necessary to save time in your life. I couldn't have gotten the results on M81 that I got with only an hour of integration time without an appreciably dark site and it's worth the 45 minute drive for me; it probably would take 5 or more hours of integration time to get what I got on this target from my backyard and I'm not even sure if it would've been possible at all.
Learn and completely optimize your mount if you decide against autoguiding and want to allocate the money elsewhere (which I recommend to begin). Definitely don't invest in one yet whichever way you go; you need to master the other aspects, of which there are many, before moving on to that additional difficulty. You might find you're doing fine without one. I have dialed in mine such that I'm able to get decent results at 120s without the focal reducer in good locations in the sky. This is great performance for this mount and it is due to meticulous aligning of the polar scope (to reduce the adjustment needed after the polar align process, which reduces error) and a serious usage of the PEC tool on the mount. Yes, it helps appreciably. One partially cloudy night, take the mount in your backyard and record a PEC session with a very magnified setup (barlow and extra tube distance) into your DSLR to guide manually. Download this result to your machine as a CSV with PEC tool. Do this 10 times, downloading to your machine each time. Average them all on the machine, reupload the result to the mount, and you'll get a very useful and smooth curve for your mount. This improved my mount's performance notably, contrary to what many say on the issue.
Fair warning; you might hate serious astrophotography with the focal reducer. I don't know if the Edge will be different than my 8se, but any time I use the focal reducer (which is great for the moon or visual) and stretch my stack, I get a disgusting ring of light around the whole image that cannot be removed with pixinsight's best background extraction, nor with the flats (because of the nature of this double reflection being intensity dependent). It is NOT due to internal reflections, which can be dealt with. I cannot get good results with mine (not an uncommon problem), and I have one of the best-reviewed Antares ones (tried a Celestron reducer with the same results).
Shoot me a message if you have any questions about this setup! Also, the SCT is the best do-it-all scope, especially if you want to start in solar system imaging. As someone said above, you have great equipment already. Save your money (except on the planetary imaging camera) for when you become as experienced as your already-great equipment will allow. Oh, also, one more thing. My biggest current nemesis is mirror flop and focus shifting throughout the night, which could be present on yours too (I forget if the Edge HD 8" has mirror locks, but my guess is not until you get the larger mirror sizes- I could be wrong). This problem is obnoxious and should be considered too.
# 18 Jun, 2018 12:27
Follow the great advice on the "other star gazer thread" you started with the same questions. Forget the moaning here about the AVX mount. Yes it has it limitations, but also is our budget. A combi with the WO and ADV has given me brilliant widefield pictures. If not only, for example, a EQ5 mount is very often almost immediately "modded" by their owners after purchacing it with a belt mod kit. You wonder why the supplier doesn't revise or build it immediately that way. ;-)|
Start with the WO and go from their (your plan B). Initially besides a camera to start with, you don't need much more and go from there. There is so much too learn, if not only pre-processing and processing skill of the movies or pictures, that there is already a lot of fun in that, especially when you improve over time. Forget the HyperStar. The skills and materials involved to make that work are not on a beginner level, despite that the tempting price. For example, you would also need the very fast (and expensive) corrected f/2 Baader filters for HyperStar. Also, I checked a while ago, indeed the Celestron OAG will not be in focus if you use a DLSR camera and Celestron reducer.
Before making huge budget decisions, I always look around here on this site. For example, the following combi seems to work with your Megrez 90: Televue TRF-2008, as used to make this picture: https://www.astrobin.com/276528. Okay, there are also an expensive mount and camera involved, but hey, the reducer seems a fit. And there is more regarding using a Megrez 90: https://www.astrobin.com/gear/217/megrez-90/. Not sure if this one is still sold, but Borg DGL 0.85X might also be an alternative: https://www.astrobin.com/290269/
# 18 Jun, 2018 12:59
Hi Anthony, do you have any lenses to go with that Canon? One of the easiest ways to start AP is to toss on a 50 or 100mm lens, do a good alignment, and with a cheap intervalometer, go take some deep sky photos. With my AVX, I’ve used up to a 200mm lens and 5 minute exposures with no need for autoguiding. This will get you started with stacking, using dark frames, bias, offset, etc., and processing.|
I would recommend using what you have already for both planetary and DSO. Just get a nice little CCD and little guide scope like the ZWO 60mm to keep your weight down, and you will be ready for autoguiding when you want to go there. I started out exactly where you are, and believe me, good AP is well within reach with this equipment.
# 18 Jun, 2018 16:58
HTH/M, Robert, bobzeq25, Adel, Pianoplayer55, Dave,|
Starting with re: '….that Canon? One of the easiest ways to start AP is to toss on a 50 or 100mm lens, do a good alignment, and with a cheap intervalometer, go take some deep sky photos' well, now you mention it, I do have an EF 40mm 2.8 STM, Tokina SD 11-16 F2.8 plus Canon timer remote controller so maybe there is something there to start with? 5 Minute exposures seems a good way to begin without autoguiding with the WO Megrez 90/AVX.
I was heartened to hear some good positive feedback about using the AVX/SCT & AVX/WO Megrez 90 combinations i.e '…A combi with the WO and ADV has given me brilliant widefield pictures ..'. and 'you can do very great things without autoguiding this setup if you have the patience and time'.. . Reading all of this, I shall endeavour to, sooner rather than later, to spend some AP time with the AVX/SCT as well to see what it can do. I also take on board the need for conducting a meticulous alignment process before I try anything.
Thanks for all of the feedback re: the AVX and its limitations, both positive and negative, this has helped me to understand just what I can /can't expect from it!
Many thanks for looking around the site re; various reducers/flatteners for the WO Megrez 90. Great what can be achieved with them! Unfortunately, none of these WO, Borg or Tele-Vue compatible items can be found in the well known retailers shops, all seem out of production with no availability planned! I shall keep a watch for second hand items just in case!, however, I know now I can probably get good images with the WO at just F6.2.
P.S In answer to the question '…I forget if the Edge HD 8" has mirror locks…' Yes it has , so this, at least this shouldn't be a problem.
Thanks guys once again.
# 18 Jun, 2018 21:39
Glad to hear you have mirror locks. Your equipment is ready to go then (I envy your lack of focus shift ). And yes, I hadn't read all of the hatred above for the AVX, but I must disagree. It has excellent capabilities and if you already own one, in my opinion, you have no business abandoning it for another mount until you've reached your limit on this one. It's a great piece of equipment for the price. Adding an autoguider to it could approach the weight limit, however. I would learn as much as you can with my PEC advice above (you'll want PEC running even with autoguiding to minimize corrections) on your current setup before purchasing anything else. Get a dark site found and take some images! Then decide where you want to go as it's never obvious at first. I've gotten months, and probably a year or more in the end, with my current setup and weather is the limiting factor. I almost bought an autoguiding setup months ago and now I'm glad I didn't. You can see what's possible without it on my profile despite what many say about the AVX. I will admit the necessity of PixInsight for those results, however…|
Also, what has been said about using a somewhat large focal length lens is absolutely true. You can get unbelievable results without even using a telescope to begin! My images of Andromeda and the Orion Complex only required a 300mm lens piggybacked on the telescope without even using the OTA for imaging. This is another great way to begin without spending extra money, and there are far fewer issues with focusing. You have a great setup so I wouldn't look elsewhere anytime soon, especially for the combination of planetary and DSO imaging.
# 19 Jun, 2018 02:02
Pianoplayer55Pianoplayer55, with all respect, I keep my negative view on ADV - I had enough troubles including numerous conversation with Celestron' s technical support, these guys have no idea what they are doing, sorry.
# 20 Jun, 2018 07:21
Adel KildeevPianoplayer55Pianoplayer55, with all respect, I keep my negative view on ADV - I had enough troubles including numerous conversation with Celestron' s technical support, these guys have no idea what they are doing, sorry.
Actually I don't disagree with you, they have multiple ridiculous issues (outdated software, poor power connectors, inefficient button allocations etc.) and they're not adept at quickly fixing them. However, that doesn't mean the mount isn't usable (or even "good" ) for astrophotography. You can see my profile. It can be done.
# 20 Jun, 2018 11:07
|I agree - it could be done, I did it too, but with great costs (both financial and moral) 🙀|
# 20 Jun, 2018 23:14
Yes, an experienced imager can image with that setup. But…|
It's a miserable setup to _learn_ astrophotography on.
See my post above for quotes from people have tried to learn with a C8 and regretted it. A number then found success by going to a small refractor.
# 21 Jun, 2018 05:01
|No doubt, I had the time and passion to pour hundreds of hours into perfecting this setup (short of fixing mirror flop) which can be expected for such a long focal length and heavy setup. I'm sure AGF can learn a ton from his current setup for free (since he already owns it), however, without too much pain All about personal goals and preferences at that point.|
# 21 Jun, 2018 15:27
The debate goes on….. Disagreements about the equipment apart, I must say I agree wholeheartedly that I have and will continue to gain from all of the comments made. mainly because I already own the equipment, as has been said - so I am already familiar with it in some respects, albeit using it for visual only. AP will be a challenge but one made so much easier with what I now know and the extra confidence that gives!
P.S Pixinsight looks interesting and then I heard about and saw the rest of the vast amount of recommended software available… but that's the subject of a future posting.
Thanks again Guys
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