I use Canon
camera's and lenses simply becasse they are what I started with
and as I have built up a selection of lenses it has become more
and more daunting to make a change to anything else, which would
most likely be different, but no better or worse. There is
tremendous debate on the Canon V Nikon usage and I refuse to get
drawn in on that. The lenses to me are the most important
feature, and once you have become comfortable with your setup
unless there is a specific need that your current camera does
not meet then there is really no need to change.
I use a Canon
80D, which is a crop sensor camera. When I purchased this camera
I chose it because it was simply the best crop sensor Canon
camera available. I already had some lenses which were crop
sensor specific so that helped my choice of sensor. The
1.6 crop factor that people talk about is actually a
misconception. A crop sensor does NOT increase the focal length
of the camera it is simply that the size of the sensor is
smaller therefore the image appears closer on your screen. If
you had a large enough screen for the entire images to display
at 1:1 you would find that they would be identical to look at if
all other factors were the same with the exception that the full
frame image would have a wider field of view and therefore cover
parts of the image that were missing on the crop frame.
contributing factor for me was weight. With landscape and
wildlife photography, there is often a lot of walking with a
number of heavy lenses. Weight was an issue.
landscape lens is the Canon EFS 17-55mm f2.8 USM lens. Its fast,
has a good wide field and is not overly heavy. It lives on my
camera almost all the time. I am not a fan of the wider lens
setups as I find the distortion that begins to creep in, takes
away from the image perspective I am trying to create. If I
have a need to go wider, then I simply grab three shots and use
the panorama feature in Lightroom to make a larger image which I
can then crop to size.
I also have a
seldom used, 100mm f2.8 macro lens, but it is there if I need it for a macro shot. My
telephoto does a lot of my close up work as it allows me to keep
further away from the subject. Appropriate rings will get it a
I have two
longer lenses for wildlife. A 90-300mm f4.5-5.6 zoom lens, which
is very light and is used mainly for landscape work when I need
slightly more reach than my wide angle lens provides. It is fine
at low focal lengths but it is slow and struggles at longer
focal lengths when lighting is poor. I have used it for some
wildlife when I have been unable to have my 300L with me but the
results are never as good.
prime lens is my main wild life lens. I have owned both an early
sigma 50-500 APO and a Cannon 100-400L but neither was as sharp
as my f4 300L even when using a 1.4 extender with it. I do
have some desire to aquire one of the new Sigma 150-600
contemporary lenses, but that will need to wait a year until
covid-19 departs and restrictions ease totally. I would choose
that over the sports model totally on the weight issue. In
the meantime, I continue with my f4 300L and the 1.4 extender as
I find this a very sharp combo.
use the stand alone lightroom version as I am not a believer of
the subscription model that Adobe has chosen to use. Eventually,
I will be forced away from lightroom as it is superceded by
other software. I am already using Luminar 4 and indeed I am
finding some great features that lightroom lacks but equally
there are features that lightroom offers that are missing in
Luminar4. Once these features appear it is likely that I
will make a complete transition.
important part of astrophotography is the mount. Everything
starts here. Exposures are usually in the 2-5 minute range
with multiple images taken over a period of hours or even days.
During the course of a session the earth is rotating at around
15 degrees per hour, with long focal lengths this evident within
a few seconds of exposure so it is imperative that the mount can
accurately track the apparent motion of the stars across the
sky. Further to that, there are errors with polar
alignment, tracking mount variations and altitude refraction
issues that all come into play. To successfully counter these
issues a second camera is employed to track a nearby star and
send pulse commands to the mount to counter an error that occurs
before it is evident in the image being captured.
My mount is a
Sky Watcher EQ6-R pro which is one of the most popular mounts in
its class. It is reliable, accurate and easy to set up. The only
other mount challenge is obtaining extremely accurate polar
alignment. My observatory setup requires me to erect my
telescope/mount for each session and therefore alignment is
required. From the Southern Hemisphere there is no handy pole
star to align to. The only option Southern Observers has is
Sigma Octantis which is faint and extremely hard to identify in
city conditions. In stead I use a piece of software called Sharp
Cap Pro which can have me accurately aligned using my
guide scope within 10 mins.
factors that come into play when deciding what scope to use are,
like traditional photography, are focal length and f ratio. The
focal length is the first consideration for me once I have
identified a target for my next project. I need to use the
right focal length to give me an image scale that is right for
the size of my camera chip. Targets can range from mere
seconds of arc up to many degrees making the range of focal
lengths vary large. For this reason I have focal length
combinations available from 17mm (using a Canon lens) up to
1500mm with a C6 SCT telescope. Often there is a balancing
act as long focal lengths normally come at the expense of slow
focal ratios coupled with high demands on mount tracking.
My three prime
A C6 SCT
fitted with a hyperstar. This results in a focal length of
285mm and a super fast f1.9 This is used for wide
field views such as the Horsehead Nebula and the Rosette
Sharpstar 80mm Triplet APO, with flourite glass and a focal
length of 500mm and a moderate f6.25 This is used for
larger, individual nebular and clusters where they are able
to almost fill the camera frame.
A GSO RC6
fitted with a 6.7 reducer. This produces a 900mm focal
length at f6. I use this set up for close up images of
galaxies, planetary nebula and other small objects.
I also have
the option to remove the reducer from the RC6 to move out to
1370mm fl or to remove the hyperstar from the C6 and move out to
1500mm. The problem with these focal lengths is that the f ratio
becomes f9 and f10 respectively. The extra guiding demands would
also require shorter exposures to reduce the number of lost
frames and this only servers to further compound the issue of
collecting enough light to obtain a satisfactory image.
The Cameras I
am using are:
183MC pro which is a one shot colour camera with cooling
ability. I shoot at -15 degrees C as I am always able to
achieve this temperature even in the middle of summer
monochrome camera with cooling ability. This camera is used
with either RGB filters to obtain colour images or with Ha,
Oii and Sii narrowband filters to aquire hubble pallette
images. Again, this camera is operated at -15 degrees C.
I use N.I.N.A.
software to capture my data and Pixinsight to process the
images. A laptop resides beside the telescope and mount and this
is accessed from my studio using Teamviewer.