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First stab

Discussion in 'Astrophotography' started by RedLeopard, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. RedLeopard

    RedLeopard Mu-43 Regular

    34
    Jun 22, 2011
    Bolton, UK
    Hi, have come back to this forum after acquiring an E-M1 recently and I took it along on a recent trip to Lapland. Although mainly used for daytime activities I did have a go at some shots of the stunning starlit skies at night, including some aurora (although it was a quiet night for this).

    This was pretty much my first attempt at star photography and I used zoomed-in live view and a cheap loupe to manually focus on a bright star, but think more practice is needed here. Plus the exposures were probably a bit long too leading to some beginnings of trailing.

    Despite the dark frames I found the noise a bit too much to use it for all the aurora shots I was taking (and had taken my 40D to augment things in this regard). Any pointers or advice on technique or processing would be very welcome.

    Both shots ISO 1600, f2.8 for 20 seconds at 12mm:
    P3150022.

    P3150023.
     
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  2. rpringle

    rpringle Mu-43 Regular

    102
    Jan 9, 2014
    Those look quite good to me, I love the colors. The grain can be a problem I've found and usually I try not to go over ISO 800 with my night shots. It's always preferable to either go wider hence making star trails less noticeable and allowing longer shutter speeds, OR shooting with a larger f stop when possible. I love my 7.5mm FE for this because I can pull off a 30s shutter speed and still get decent stars with unnoticeable trailing. And I can flatten the image in post if I don't want the FE effect. I have also used the 17mm 1.8 for night shots and it does pretty well with 15s exposures shot wide open with ISO 800. I have to admit I didn't have much luck getting to a good dark site last year, the further you from the city the better.

    Here is a link explaining the "500 rule" if you didn't already know about it. Basically taking 500/focal length=usable exposure time without trailing. Now since we're using M43 it would actually be the "250 rule" since it's a 2x crop sensor. Not sure if that helps but it helped me when I started getting away from star trails.

    Good luck and keep the images comin.

    http://petapixel.com/2015/01/06/avoid-star-trails-following-500-rule/
     
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  3. peppermonkey

    peppermonkey Mu-43 Regular

    97
    May 20, 2013
    Toronto, Canada
    Does the lens release button trick for Panasonic GF1 work for Oly's? Or is it just for Panasonic cameras? Basically, pressing it focuses the lens to infinity...
     
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  4. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Noise is an issue, coming from APS-C or FF. I think the E-M1 is also a little bit worse with long exposure noise than the other latest 16 MP m4/3 sensors due to the PDAF sensors. Nevertheless, with these sorts of shots you can cheat a bit and stack multiple exposures in post to average out noise, and align stars to avoid trailing.
     
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  5. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    330
    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    Don't know, but there is another way (as long as you are not using a power zoom lens):

    - Go into the Menus > Custom > Menu A (AF) > Reset Lens = ON
    - In the same Menu, AF Mode > Still Picture = MF
    - Turn the camera off and on again

    The downside of this method is if you have a power zoom lens, Reset Lens also changes the zoom setting at power on as well.
     
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  6. rpringle

    rpringle Mu-43 Regular

    102
    Jan 9, 2014
    I read that the E-M1 has no low pass filter which will give you better pixel sharpness however for night shots it will also add a lot of noise to your images. This is why I didn't jump for the E-M1 as well as the price, because astro photography is important to me.

    The stacking would work unless you want the landscape to be sharp as well. In this case a larger lens aperture, higher ISO, or wider angle would be the only choice. IMO the landscape adds a great deal of interest to a night photo. That's not to say I haven't seen some telescope images that are stunning and interesting. If you are not interested in the landscape there are low cost trackers from Vixen and Ioptron that will compensate for the Earths rotation hence allowing longer shutter speeds and lower ISO. With those you could probably get stunning star fields with even a point and shoot camera. I had the Ioptron and it was good but again for me star fields by themselves don't hold my interest in terms of my own photography.

    I used to use my D7000 for night shots but it was so grainy and harse looking I moved to my E-P5 which tends to get auto WB right and gives me a more pleasant looking image. For me the sensor size really doesn't mean anything, many tele imaging cameras are glorified web cams.
     
  7. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I actually stack wide angle/fisheye shots with landscapes to get both stars and foreground sharp. Just needs a bit of Photoshop blending. See example here: https://www.mu-43.com/index.php?threads/74514/
     
  8. peppermonkey

    peppermonkey Mu-43 Regular

    97
    May 20, 2013
    Toronto, Canada
    Thanks. Will have to remember that one.