DSLR or ASTRO Camera

DSLRs are fantastic for astrophtography. Dedicated astrocameras are fantastic for astrophotography. So which is best… well they have different strengths. If you live somewhere that is light polluted then it is possible to shoot nebula (not galaxies – I’m afraid – just nebula) with light pollution filters but annoyingly the light pollution filters don’t work very well with regular DSLRs because regular dslrs block the very deep red wavelengths with their in built ir cut filter and letting  these wavelengths through is critical for making these light pollution filters work. So some folks get their dslr’s annoying ir cut filter removed but that then makes their camera shoot overly red pictures in the day time. There is a solution to this (an OWB filter) but it gets messy.

An astrocamera doesn’t have an annoying ir cut filter (or at least it has one which is much less aggressive) and many of them can be cooled, which really helps when you shoot with these light pollution filters (or when you shoot somewhere really dark) and best of all astrocameras are really easy to hook upto computers and then you can use one of my recommended free astro programs to control it and your mount. The only problem with astrocameras is that the sensors tend to be quite small unkess you’re willing to spend more than a grand. I have a list of my favourite astrocameras here.The problem with astrocameras is that they tend to have smaller sensors that DSLRs (unless you buy an expensive one)  and that means you catch less photons. 

My advice is when your starting out use your dslr, if you get hooked then think about switching to an astrocamera or modifying your dslr.

⬅😱 my first ever YT video 

I used an old canon 1000d from my roof in London. The results were great.

Once you’ve chosen your mount you have to decide on your camera and this decision should be made in conjunction with what kind of telescope your going to use.  You could marry a sensitive astro camera with a smallish sensor together with a smallish apo refractor. This is a classy, simple to use set up which has the advantage of being light. And if money was no object then this is probably what I’d buy. The following camera, scope, reducer set up results in each pixel capturing 2 arcseconds of sky.

ZWO ASI2600mc PRO Cooled Camera

This is the colour camera I would love to own (update I have this now )

Best price in USA http://bit.ly/asi2600US

Best Price in UK http://bit.ly/asi2600UK

WILLIAM OPTICS GRAN TURISMO 81

A  fine apochromatic triplet.

Best price in USA  http://bit.ly/WOgt81US

Best price in UK http://bit.ly/gt81UK

 

I did think of putting in the even better televue NP101is here but they cost nearly 4 times the price…

 

WILLIAM OPTICS FLAT6III FLATTENER/REDUCER

A flattener is essential for astrophotography with these triplets

Best price in USA http://bit.ly/WOreducerUS

Best price in UK http://bit.ly/WOreducerUK

Or…

… you could do what I did in my £600 vs £6000 video and make use of the fact that relatively cheap newtonian telescopes when combined with relatively cheap coma correctors are able to produce pin point stars across large pixel full frame DSLR’s. This set up is larger but will produce a similar image at a much cheaper price. 

 

A Skywatcher 150pds with a full frame camera such as a canon 6D  and the 0.9x coma corrector makes each pixel cover 2 arcseconds of the night’s sky.

Skywatcher 150pds

Best price in UK

http://bit.ly/150PDSUKnew

Skywatcher 0.9 x coma corrector

Best price in UK

http://bit.ly/skywatchercomaUK

Baader MPCC mark III coma corrector can be used with either the TPO f4 or Skywatcher f5 newtonian

Best price in USA

http://bit.ly/baadercomaUS

Best price in UK

 http://bit.ly/baadercomaUK

TPO 6 inch f4 combined with a canon 6d (which I recommend) will result in each pixel covering 2.25 arcseconds of the night’s sky

Best price in USA

http://bit.ly/TPOnewtUS

Collimating a badly collimated newtonian is a skill… happily most newtonians bought from the factory only need a little tweak with the laser collimator but a badly colimated newt can’t be fixed with a laser collimator alone. If you watch this video all the way through you will be a colllimation expert.  FYI I’ve never touched the collimation on my big newt big Bertha. It is entirely possible that you won’t have to with your newt either. Be wary of cheap laser collimators as the lasers are probably wonky and can’t be straightened. Here is a a video about checking the collimation of your laser collimator

 

Laser collimator

Best price in USA

http://bit.ly/newtcollimatorUS

Best price in UK

http://bit.ly/lnewtcollimatorUK

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To achieve minimal wobble both set ups will need a guide scope and a guide camera. Modern guide cameras have small pixels and this inturn means the guidescope can be very small.The kind of set ups we are using here will work just fine with these dinky and light guide scopes. The most important thing is to make sure the guide camera and guide scope are mounted super securely to your scope. In fact this is such a big deal that sometimes I use larger guide scopes simply because they are easier to secure  Also note that most planetary cameras double up as guide scope cameras.

 

The ZWO ASI120mm is fantastically sensitive.

Mini guide scope

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