1. Reminder: Please use our affiliate links for holiday shopping!

astrophotography

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by kevwilfoto, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    294
    Sep 23, 2011
    Colorado
    I'd love to get some good shots of the Milky Way sometime, but my lenses are SOOO SLOW! I'd rather not use an ISO above 800, maybe 1600, if I can help it.

    What would be a good wide-angle lens for this kind of photography? Is the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 the obvious choice, or is there a better option?
     
  2. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    989
    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    The best lens is a tripod.

     
  3. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    First, if you do not want stars to trail, you are going to need some kind of mount that will track. You can stick to exposures under 20 second without a tracking mount, but what you will get will be very limited.

    Stars are hard to shoot because they are point sources. Any lens wide open will not make point images in the corners and vignetting will be a problem. You may not even need a wide lens for the Milky Way--the sky is really big, but things in it are not.

    This was a test with a 20mm lens on my E-P1 at ISO 1600 with a long exposure and on a tracking mount--you can see the tress are not sharp because of the motion. This image goes from the Pleiades to Orion.
     

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 1
  4. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    BTW, this is the summer Milky Way from my garden. Taken with a Pentax 645D, ISO 1600, 35mm lens (14mm on a m4/3), f/6.7, 5 min exp on an Astrotrac mount.
     

    Attached Files:

  5. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    294
    Sep 23, 2011
    Colorado
    Light doesn't pass through my tripod very well, and it's really difficult to focus. LOL

    Back to business - for example, focusing to infinity in the dark on a focus-by-wire system, how does that work? Has anyone had success with this? Are there any manual lenses with direct mechanical focus that would work?

    Are there any lenses better suited for this than the Oly 12/2.0? Faster & sharp wide-open, for example?
     
  6. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    294
    Sep 23, 2011
    Colorado
    Assuming I want sharp stars but have no tracking equipment, I would need to gather quite a bit of light in < 30 seconds. This is what I'm wondering, is it even possible on micro-4/3?
     
  7. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    294
    Sep 23, 2011
    Colorado
    Guess who hasn't figured out the reply procedure in this forum. :)
     
  8. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Do you have a m4/3 camera now? You should have very dark skies in CO. I would run some tests with the equipment you have to see what kind of results you can get with short exposures. Shoot RAW as there can be bit of processing involved. But m4/3 can be used for astrophotography. The 12mm should be very good and I would imagine the 7-14 Panasonic zoom, but neither can be used wide open unless you don't mind bloated stars.
     
  9. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    Hakari has it pretty much dead on. I've taken some shots at ISO 800 and 1600 with the 17mm f2.8. At 16s, I already get stars to streak. A tracking mount is really required. It doesn't have to be terribly accurate for wide field.

    My suggestion is to check out the cloudynights forums. They are extremely helpful when it comes to astronomy and astrophotography.
     
  10. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    +1
     
  11. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    294
    Sep 23, 2011
    Colorado
    I have a G3 and the 14-45/3.5-5.6. I haven't tried astrophotography with it yet, but I assume the G3 sensor is up to the task as long as I don't let the ISO get too far out of control.

    I'm inspired by some local shooters who get great milky way shots with no tracking equipment, but they have larger cameras with wider/faster lenses.

    Milky Way Meets Moon on Kebler Pass | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    The Pleasure of Pinon Juniper Forest at Night | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    The Ever Stellar Rocky Mountain National Park | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Winding Through the Universe | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    https://plus.google.com/photos/108234504729950216883/albums/5658252172801737601/5658252177847434274
    Garden of Eden, Milky Way, Arches National Park, Utah
     
  12. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    294
    Sep 23, 2011
    Colorado
    Yes, I'll definitely check that out! Thanks!
     
  13. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Gotta ask why not set the ISO where the camera has the highest dynamic range? No matter the ISO setting the amount of light captured is set by shutter speed (for a given lens). Boost levels in post - the images wil llook better (in terms of signal to noise).

    Nothing highlights CA, distortion and most every abberation like astrophotography so get ready for it.

    Tracking is a must for most any focal length. Simple barn door style is easy to make and for 1-2 minute exposures can be easily controlled but hand power.

    Barn door tracker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    A Simple Motorized Barn Door for Affordable Astrophotography
     
  14. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason

    A barn door would work. I thought about getting an astrotrac mount, but they are expensive. Another option which I thought would be just getting a basic EQ mount with a motordriven RA axis. I've seen some good results with this as well. I think they can be had for around 100 bucks.

    For me, on clear nights, my "want" for astrophotography gets sidelined with astronomy. Just a few weeks ago I was finally able to catch Jupiter with my 8" reflector for the first time.
     
  15. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    294
    Sep 23, 2011
    Colorado
    Interesting food for thought, but I don't think that's the kind of imagery I'm after.

    As in the sample images I showed, having a static foreground would pretty much negate the use of a tracking system over time. While a tracking system would allow low ISO / long shutter speed shots to work without blurring the stars, you'd have to be extremely careful not to have any foreground objects.

    Also, my camera only goes to two minutes shutter speed even in bulb mode (wtf, right?), trying to accomodate long exposures is probably not going to be fruitful. Perhaps someday I'll try a barn door tracker with a DSLR with a longer bulb mode.
     
  16. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

     
    • Like Like x 3
  17. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    And so it begins ...

    Long exposure with tracking and take multiple images that are averaged together to reduce the noise (effectively increase the dynamic range of the camera) and for the foreground take one image with a flash to light it up.

    All the amazing photos are done with such 'track and stack' methods - even the HST!
     
  18. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

  19. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
     
  20. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    989
    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Your current lens at 14mm is enough to get you started. See how it performs, and then come back and post any shortcomings, and we'll go from there. Notice on those links you provided that there's no free lunch; all of those photos have been post processed to give them that look.

    In the first photo, the photographer, Grant, says: "Thanks for the comments! I didn't use a tracker or long exposure. This was a stitched image, which allowed me to pick up more detail and more stars. "

    The second one is made with two photos combined, according to the user's description. The third has definite streaking and was probably taken with a very high ISO, look at the rocks. Here is a photo from that user that I can find with shooting info:
    Thars Stars Up Thar | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    "The keys for this shot were very little light pollution, no moon, high ISO (1600) wide aperture (F/3.2) and a relatively short exposure to prevent obvious star trails (30 seconds). A bit of reverse USM (30%, 60 radius, 0 threshold) and ACR clarity (you can open TIFFs as well as RAW in ACR if they are 16bit) helped to further pop the stars.

    The foreground was light painted with an extremely bright LED torch from Lowes (Task Force 2 C cell Cree LED flashlight). It was really too bright at 1600 ISO wide open so I had to basically turn it on and paint what I wanted super fast or it completely burned out. I should have probably taken a second exposure at a much lower ISO and could have taken my time light painting and had a much easier go of it. Then later in post combine the two. I think I was just on a kick to get it all in the original untouched shot for this one, whatever original untouched actually means heh."

    Here's another one:
    Pawnee Perseids | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    "This one was is a composite taken from over 257 consecutive 25 second exposures at f/3.2, 3200 ISO over the night of Friday, Aug 5th out at the Pawnee National Grasslands in northeastern Colorado. You can see four or maybe five meteors and fair bit of light pollution as well (the red glow in the sky)."

    Another:
    Narcissistic Orion | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    "Notes: Single 30 second exposure at 1600 ISO, f/3.2. It's interesting to me that the star streaks are more apparent/longer in the reflection than the sky."

    The last link says this: "To capture this shot, I took seventy shots and then stitched them together to create a 450 megapixel, 220 degree panoramic image."

    So, your kit lens should be fine to get you started, minus some streaking in the corners. Don't go running out to throw money at your problem just yet, although you can start with a used 14mm f/2.5 or 20mm f/1.7, if you really want the additional light capability. You can then sell the lens for about the same that you paid, As mentioned though, lenses have optical flaws that are pronounced wide open.