Author Topic: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.  (Read 4035 times)

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Tom C

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First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« on: Jan 27, 2008, 16:07:52 »
Ok, so as some of you know I'm looking at getting my first setup. My end goal is to do some astrophotography (much more interested in DSOs than planets/lunar).

At first I was looking at an 8" Newt reflector on the HEQ5 mount, but now I'm debating whether a refractor would serve me better for the imaging part.

I think I'm going to stick with the HEQ5 mount; it comes in three varieties a) standard £399, b) with SynTrek £549 or c) with full SynScan GoTo £669. From what I've read/heard from Mike, the SynTrek variety can be modded with EQMod to give you full GoTo with minimal costs, so I'm thinking of getting that one. 

Well considering my initial budget was £500 and the mount alone is £549...I gotta think carefully about scopes  :lol:.

I'm thinking perhaps the WO ZS66 SD which is £269 with a 1.25" dielectric diagonal. Although the small aperture worries me, but then again I have also seen some great images produced with this scope, people seem to think it punches above its weight.

As for the camera I will be using the Canon 400D I just got, hooked up with a laptop. As DSLR Focus doesnt seem to be compatible with this I will have to use ImagePlus Camera Control, which is £25. Plus I assume I will need a T Ring adapter, and shutter cable to do exposures over 30sec.

Also I won't have a guidescope (at first at least) so that limits things quite alot.   

So anyone got any comments/ideas/advice? Will I be better off sacraficing some aperture and going for a refractor in the long run if I want to do imaging? Or should I just go with the large aperture and get an 8" Newt?

Decisions decisions  :o :o :lol:

JohnP

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #1 on: Jan 28, 2008, 11:02:35 »
Tom,

A lot of questions & a difficult choice. I think my choice would be to go with the short tube refractor. I don't think aperture will be a big problem (at least initially) - like you have already discovered there are some fantastic images taken with this scope & a DSLR. One thing you will need though is a field flatener/ focal reducer. The WO 0.8X one runs around £120 (see Ian King's Webpage) & to minimise vignetting with the 1 1/4 inch setup you will be best to use a 2-inch nose piece & adapters to connect to the ZS66. You should also consider a light pollution filter (something like the Astronomik CLS) if you want to image from Bromley - You wuld need a 2-inch filter which isn't cheap (over £100 again....!). If you choose to change your setup at a later stage the WO makes a great guiding scope as well.. Without guiding you'll be limited to pretty short exposures (I'd say less than 1min depending on accuracy of your polar alignment etc.) so this will limit what you can image.

I've no experience with EQMOD but I know that there is a Yahoo Group for it & also Mike/ Chris have dabbled a little I believe.

Don't forget Astrofest exhibition in London is coming up very soon - if you are about to part with cash it may be worth waiting as suppliers often have special deals on during the weekend...

Hope that helps,

John

Rocket Pooch

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #2 on: Jan 29, 2008, 13:38:27 »
Hi,

EQMOD does work, but you will need to be kinda ok with PC's, I use mine with Carte Du Ceil and EQMOD, it replaces the hand controller and drives everything through a laptop or PC, you weill therefore need a laptop or PC as well, but I'd assume you will have one of these of you are going to image anyway.  You will also need a game pad and a couple of cables, this will add about £80 onto the cost of a syntec mount.

The £399 mount is not the one to go for because it does not have the upgraded stepper motors as per the Skyscan or Syntec, so avoid this model.

Personally I'm not 100% keen on the ZS66 because it does have some field curvature, I have one and have not used it in anger other than visually and with a large chip camera aka the EOS you will need the focal reducer/flattener, this will push the price upto £380 ish?  At that price you could get an 6" F5 or 8" F4 GSO Newt and MPCC or an ED80 OTA with AP focal reducer giving 600mm @ F7.5 or about 400mm with a FR, two scopes for the price of one.  The one thing I will say about the ZS66 is they are built realley well, esspecially if you buy a white and gold one, these are special.

can you be more specific on what you would like to image, it will have a bearing on the scope, for some DSO's you need a lot of focal length.

Regards



Chris

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #3 on: Jan 29, 2008, 16:16:18 »
let me know when you decide to sell the ZS66 then Chris...

Tony G

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #4 on: Jan 29, 2008, 18:48:11 »
The White and Gold ZS66 is the girly coloured one. The only other person that has these colours is Fay.
I rest my case. :)

Fay, this is not an attack on you, as you know, quite the opposite, I think the feminate colours of White and Gold suit you. ;)
 
Tony G

PS By the way the metallic orange one is quite nifty :)
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MarkS

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #5 on: Jan 29, 2008, 20:20:46 »

Ian King Imaging currently has the ZS66 with a bundled 0.8x reducer/flattener for £299. 
I'm seriously thinking about getting one as a guidescope and also for occasional widefield imaging.

Tom C

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #6 on: Jan 29, 2008, 21:03:03 »
Thanks for your plethora of advice guys :D it really is much appreciated :).

Ok so I'm swinging towards the refractor end of things...

I have just seen what looks like a fairly good deal on Ian Kings website he has the Skywatcher 80ED2 (is this identical to the Orion ED80?) on a 'mount of your choice'.

with HEQ5 its £709
with HEQ5 Pro GoTo its £1020

...no mention of the SynTec version  :-? I have emailed to ask about this.


The Pro version is a little out of my price range, when you take into account I will also need the focal reducer and a LP filter. But then again these can be added at a later stage. The LP filter is obvious, but I'm still not 100% of what the focal reducer is really about, could someone possibly explain it a littler further?

I'm just thinking that if I was to get the Syntec version, by the time I get all the bits and bobs to enhance it to full GoTo, I might well have spent near £1000 anyway, so maybe just getting the Pro version in the first place is a better idea.

Also, what do you think of this focal reducer here as an alternative to the William Optics one? Its only £44
« Last Edit: Jan 29, 2008, 21:35:10 by Tom »

Mike

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #7 on: Jan 29, 2008, 21:52:43 »
£1020 for a HEQ5 with GoTo !! Where the hell are you shopping!?!?!?!

£669 more like it.

Speak to Bern at Modern Astronomy - http://www.modernastronomy.com/mounts.htm
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Tom C

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #8 on: Jan 29, 2008, 22:03:16 »
 :lol: That was with the Skywatcher 80ED2 Mike :)

Which I thought was equivalent to the Orion ED80, but now I have just seen the 'Skywatcher Equinox-80 Pro Fluorite ED APO' so now Im wondering whats the differnce between that and the Skywatcher 80ED2, and how they relate to the Orion version....

ahhh confusion  :lol:


Tom C

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #9 on: Jan 30, 2008, 20:41:04 »
Ok, Ian King just got back to me with a quote for the Skywatcher ED80 on the HEQ5 Syntrek mount for £829.

So for about an extra £70, bringing it to £900 I could EQmod that to an HEQ5 with full laptop controlled GoTo :).

With that setup I could hopefully do some observing, get to grips with actually using a telescope and perhaps try a bit of imaging. Then add things like a LP filter, Focal Reducer and guide scope at a later date as I get more comfortable with things.

So other than the ED80/HEQ5 [with mod] and a T Ring will I need anything else to get started observing and imaging?

EQMOD does work, but you will need to be kinda ok with PC's, I use mine with Carte Du Ceil and EQMOD, it replaces the hand controller and drives everything through a laptop or PC, you weill therefore need a laptop or PC as well, but I'd assume you will have one of these of you are going to image anyway.  You will also need a game pad and a couple of cables, this will add about £80 onto the cost of a syntec mount.

Ok, the computing bit should be absolutely fine. I also have a laptop which should just about be up to the job. Could you possibly let me know which cables/chip I will need and point me in the direction of a UK/international supplier? Also whats the game pad for? I was under the impression I could use the Syntrek hand control (not that this is a problem, I have a couple old pads lying around, maybe I could even use my Xbox 360 one [its USB].....I love the thought of controlling a telescope with my Xbox controller haha  :lol:)
I have joined the Yahoo group, EQMod, but waiting for account approval.


Once again, thanks to every one of you for your input. I really hope theres some clear skies next wednesday on the obs night 8) 

Mike

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #10 on: Jan 30, 2008, 21:12:23 »
.....and point me in the direction of a UK/international supplier? ....

Don't bother with teh UK suppliers, from the US it is around £25 and from the UK it is around £40 - make sense of that when they come from the US anyway !!

Speak to Doug at Shoestring Astronomy in the states. Really nice guy - he makes the EQ-DIR device - or if you know a bit about electronics you could make one yourself (I figured for £25 was it worth the hassle?!)

The gamepad is to control the scope. It isn't neccessary and you could buy one later on - no the hand controller becomes defunct ones you have EQMOD. However, it will make life easier at the scope to use. You can pick up a wireless one for around £20.
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. Carl Sagan

Tom C

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #11 on: Jan 30, 2008, 21:25:33 »
Ah, great, I see he does the EQDIR for $39, plus the cable I think I'll need for $19....so like $60 ~ £30 plus P&P....sweet!

And I'll need a USB>Serial adapter from eBay - £5

Ok so I'm thinking to start with:
Skywatcher ED80 with HEQ5 Syntrek - £829
EQDIR/Cable - £30 + PP
USB Adapter - £5
ImagePlus camera control software - $50 ~ £25
TRing - £15(?)

Then in the future:
LP Filter
Focal reducer
Guidscope


Right, thats the hard part, I just gotta get togther the £900 now....  8)

Fay

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #12 on: Jan 31, 2008, 11:23:50 »
Tony, I thought the orange & blue one's were feminine. I only got white & gold to match my setup.

Tony, you cannot offend me in that way as I am not PC or a feminist!

See you Friday.
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Mike

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #13 on: Jan 31, 2008, 12:06:02 »
Sounds like a decent set-up to get you started. You won't be able to guide, but with careful PEC Training and accurate polar alignment you will be able to get decent length exposures.
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. Carl Sagan

Tom C

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #14 on: Jan 31, 2008, 13:25:27 »
Sounds like a decent set-up to get you started. You won't be able to guide, but with careful PEC Training and accurate polar alignment you will be able to get decent length exposures.

Excellent...would I be welcome at one of your imaging sessions Mike so I can see some of this in action?

It would be good to really see how this stuff works, reading can only give you a certain amount.

Its gunna be a month or so before I get the money together  :lipsrsealed:

Though I'm startin a new job in London on Monday with much better pay :D

mickw

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Re: First setup, with astrophotography in mind.
« Reply #15 on: Jan 31, 2008, 18:28:53 »
Tony managed to get a great M31 (as seen at the last meeting) on an unguided HEQ5 Pro - 4 minutes if I remember correctly.
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