Astro Photography - shall I / shan't I

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Sdawes

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Astro photography has fascinated me for some time now but I have never taken the plunge and had a real go,but that moment is getting very close . I have been doing plenty of research on line and I already have a good wide angle lens and a sturdy tripod so I am thinking of giving it a go . One thing that I have never heard people mention who shoot mirrorless cameras is can you shoot astro with the silent electronic shutter or do you have to be in mechanical shutter mode and do you always shoot in single shot mode ?
Thanks
Steve
 

FowlersFreeTime

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I don't know much about the electronic shutter option, but I did a little reading up on how to take better pictures of the night sky.
While you can do a single exposure with appropriately wide aperture, high ISO, and an exposure time just long enough to get enough light without the stars turning into comas/streaks... I think the most impressive night sky photography is achieved by taking multiple images and stacking them. Do you need a star tracker to take those multiple shots? I don't know? I think @Astrnmrtom would be a good forum member to ask!

Regardless, why not just give it a go on the next moonless night? The next new moon is April 1st, so that would be a perfect time for some experimenting. Or even before then, you could venture out in the wee hours of the night. Try this calendar maker:
Select the city closest to your own (or where you will be shooting), date range, and select: astronomical twilight, moon phases, moonrise & moonset.

Another useful link to find somewhere the light pollution isn't a hindrance:

With your camera gear, I'd be really interested to see what you capture!
 
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Sdawes

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Thanks Chris , very informative , will take a look at the links , the star trackers enable you to take much longer exposures at lower ISO thus giving better noise performance and avoid any trailing of the stars as the earth moves . Without one I think the better results are achieved by taking a series of exposures at a duration short enough to avoid star trailing and then stacking them in post production , I believe there a re a few software programmes that are specifcally used for that purpose but I am a long way from that yet LOL
 

FowlersFreeTime

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I tried it for the heck of it when I was on vacation last year. I got a few test shots before the clouds decided it was bed time instead. Its a real eye-opener to see how much help those higher ISO settings were, even though I was shooting at f2.8. I have yet to try with my f1.4 lens... I find it hard to sacrifice sleep to go take pictures here in bug-infested Florida šŸ˜…
 
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Sdawes

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I tried it for the heck of it when I was on vacation last year. I got a few test shots before the clouds decided it was bed time instead. Its a real eye-opener to see how much help those higher ISO settings were, even though I was shooting at f2.8. I have yet to try with my f1.4 lens... I find it hard to sacrifice sleep to go take pictures here in bug-infested Florida šŸ˜…
Thats my major hurdle I have to overcome Chris ie giving up my sleep ! , all my photography all my life has been between dawn and dusk and the thought of getting up in the middle of the night to drive to the middle of nowhere and stand in the cold for a few hours is what has always prevented me from having a real go but I think the time is here !!
 

Kin Lau

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With many camera's, there's more limitations with electronic shutter, including how long the shutter can remain open, and increased image noise etc.

I always use mechanical with my A7S. Single shot makes the most sense as exposure times are in the 10-30 second range most of the time.

The image below is part of a time-lapse on my A7S + Viltrox 20/1.8. Jpeg straight out of the camera.

In fall, it's dark enough at 8-9 pm to get Milkyway shots and timelapses.
DSC02789.JPG
 

Kevriano

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I know that you will be limited with E Shutter as mentioned above. A friend of mine found that out the hard way when he went mirrorless and couldn't fathom why he couldn't shoot more than 30 seconds.
 
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Astrnmrtom

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For non tracking night sky shots be sure to follow the 500 rule. A good explanation is here: https://www.lightstalking.com/500-rule/

Another trick which is a little more advanced but still free, is to stack short exposures. Best done with shots with no foreground objects. This software is used by a lot of astrophotographers. http://deepskystacker.free.fr/english/index.html It's a little confusing to the beginner, but if you use the program defaults, and ignore darks and flats or bias frames and just stack the images, you'll get less noise and the equivalent of a much longer exposure. My recently posted images were done by stacking up to a dozen 30 second exposures. Some of the WOW! star shots with cool foreground objects is done by shooting the stars and combining the shot with a separate image of the foreground. Again, no extra equipment needed.
 

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