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Milky Way with Vixen Polarie

Discussion in 'Astrophotography' started by Chris Malikoff, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. Chris Malikoff

    Chris Malikoff Mu-43 Regular

    104
    Aug 17, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    An early-stages Milky Way image from last night.

    OM-D & 12-50mm kit lens mounted on a tripod-mounted Vixen Polarie equatorial tracking system. A series of six images stacked and aligned in PS4 with mean average to SmartObject applied. Brought back into LightRoom and tweaked a little more. Way more data to come yet.

    Thanks for looking :)

    Stack1_levels1.
     
    • Like Like x 22
  2. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    I have no idea what you just said ....but that's an awesome image ;)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. newbert

    newbert Mu-43 Veteran

    292
    Jul 22, 2012
    Glens Falls, NY
    Wow! Would you mind sharing your shooting settings? (ie - ISO, SS, F-Stop, Focal Length)?

    And perhaps a brief review or comments on how you like using the Polarie?

    Thanks!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Beautiful!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. riverr02

    riverr02 Mu-43 Veteran

    258
    May 2, 2011
    New York
    Rafael
    Fabulous picture!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Chris Malikoff

    Chris Malikoff Mu-43 Regular

    104
    Aug 17, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks everyone :) Much appreciated. This is still very much WIP, and I'll try to put the final version up some time soon.

    @Newbert - This image is the result of a mean-average stack of six images aligned and grouped into a SmartObject in PS4. Each image was a 300 second exposure at ISO400. Lens was the standard, and I think very capable and underrated, Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5 kit at 12mm and f/5.6.

    The Vixen Polarie was purchased in the hope that it would relive me from having to lug a Losmandy G-11 mount and associated telescopes weighing at least 60kg around to take wide field photos like this. The Polarie sits on top of a standard tripod and weighs a kilo. Unbelievable. Complete portability! I have the cameras and Polarie stowed in a small Lowe back pack and I'm ready to pick up it and my tripod and run out the door with it all under one arm.

    To be useful, any mount needs to be able to track the rotating star field for at least a couple of minutes to allow your average modern digital camera to gather enough light to form an image with any real depth. From I've experienced with the Polarie so far, I can get five minutes (300 secs) without a worry - and that's just barely set up with a compass to true south (in my case) and an inclinometer set to my latitude (-34degS). When you use the Vixen polar scope which is an optional accessory, you might even be able to achieve double that. With 600 seconds to fool with - you can turn out amazing images at low ISO. Hope that helps! :)

    Here's my Polarie with the OM-D and 75mm f/1.8 mounted.

    Cheers
    Chris

    P9115569.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Great image. How does the dog like the Vixen Polarie?
     
    • Like Like x 3
  8. Chris Malikoff

    Chris Malikoff Mu-43 Regular

    104
    Aug 17, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Cheers :) Well, he guards it with his life, so I'm guessing he loves it. :thumbup:
     
  9. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    Very nice image. I've debated getting one of those or an astro track. Curious, what part of the sky were you pointed or constellation.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. David

    David Mu-43 Veteran

    303
    Jun 22, 2011
    Sydney
    I had no idea that this is possible with standard lenses. I thought it had to
    be special astro lens. Great work. Would love to see more.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Chris Malikoff

    Chris Malikoff Mu-43 Regular

    104
    Aug 17, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks :)

    M8 (Lagoon Nebula) and M20 (Trifid Nebula) are the two small purple-magenta patches smack-bang in the centre, and these two live in Sagittarius. The bright yellow star in the bottom left third is Antares, or Alpha Scorpii which forms the body of the constellation Scorpius. This is at zenith (directly overhead) at 9:00pm or so at this time of year here in Australia.
     
  12. newbert

    newbert Mu-43 Veteran

    292
    Jul 22, 2012
    Glens Falls, NY
    A Few Questions About the Set-Up

    Chris,

    I have a few questions about your hardware set-up if you don't mind. I presently own one tripod and it has a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head (with Quick Release Clamp) on it. My impression from reading thru the Vixen Polarie site is that I would need to acquire a second head of some kind - is that correct?

    The reason is that the Polarie unit attaches to the existing tripod head, but then you need another head to connect the camera body to the Polarie. Could you verify this and, if so, tell us what hardware (heads) you're using? Are there any other "hidden" hardware considerations or expenses to consider when deciding to go this route?

    Thanks!
     
  13. romzL

    romzL Mu-43 Regular

    109
    May 20, 2012
    romz
    wow awesome! how do you focus to infinity or where do you focus using the 12-50 kit? im having trouble using it during long exposures of star trails and this milky way shot. thanks!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Chris Malikoff

    Chris Malikoff Mu-43 Regular

    104
    Aug 17, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    What I do is ensure that I'm set to manual focus and then select the cross-hair reticle and switch to the EVF. Find a medium-bright star (not a planet!!!) and centre it in the cross hair. It's important to use a star in the centre of your field - not at the periphery. When you can see a star centred, zoom in to 14x. Manually focus the star to it's sharpest. If you see any hint of chromatic aberration - i.e. any purple fringing - stop down your aperture another notch and try refocusing again. You may still see the aberration just either side of proper focus. If you're doing star trails it's not such a huge deal. I usually image at f/5.8 or f/8 and ISO400.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Chris Malikoff

    Chris Malikoff Mu-43 Regular

    104
    Aug 17, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    That's right Newbert. You need either a (really strong) ball head or other solid head like a Manfrotto geared head to maintain its position holding the weight of both the Polarie and camera/lens combination. The upper ball head lets the Polarie hold the camera/lens. I use a Losmandy 3-axis camera mount (V Series Dovetail Systems) instead of a tripod head on the bottom because I had one and it is much, much stronger. For the top ball head I use an inexpensive Velbon QHD-33.

    Apart from that, there are no other expenses other than a good quality compass and inclinometer to set my direction to true south (north in your case) . If you're in the northern hemisphere, it's even easier - you have Polaris. The finder hole at the top right corner of the Polarie lets you sight Polaris through it and you're pretty-much there - good enough to start imaging wide fields anyway.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. romzL

    romzL Mu-43 Regular

    109
    May 20, 2012
    romz
    wow thats a nice technique! thanks! will definitely try that once i have some clear skies again in our place :wink:
     
  17. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    I am new to astrophotography, I was a little surprised to see your lens choice. The more I think about it makes sense, but would you mind explaining your why you chose that lens? Thanks.