Worth attempting Astrophotography with what I have?

Janice

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I'm a hobbyist just getting into photography. Would like to dabble in Astrophotography. Am thinking of a trip to Sendona, AZ. I hear it is also declared a "Dark City" and great for Astrophotography. Is it worth my time hanging around for darkness to fall and trying to capture the sky with any of the lenses I have?
I don't have a wide aperture lens ... yet. I have the following: a 3.5-5.6 16-50mm, a 3.5-6.3/18-200, and an E 4.5-6.3 70-350 G OSS.

Would the 3.5-5.6 16-50mm work? Am I just wasting my time because I don't have a 1.8 or 2.4 lens? I'd hate to leave my visit with extended family to hang out 2 hours away waiting for darkness without the chance of success. What do you experienced Astro shooters think?
 
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FowlersFreeTime

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Chris Fowler
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I'm no experienced astro-photographer, but I can share a sample of a picture taken with a kit lens during the comet appearance last year and a few thoughts.
DSC03875-5x7_v2 (1).jpg
  • ILCE-6400
  • E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS
  • 28.0 mm
  • ƒ/4.5
  • 15 sec
  • ISO 2000

This was far from "dark sky" territory, so you can see the light pollution (and an airplane) in the lower part of the image. 15 seconds at an f-stop of 4.5 and ISO 2000. So not a great pic, but not terrible. Things I would have done differently now that I've tried it:
  • Go to a "dark territory" well after sunset
  • Use an app like sky map to find an area of interest to photo (planet?/constellation?/milkyway?)
  • Use a longer exposure
  • Use a higher ISO, but not too high (maybe as much as 3200?)
  • Glass matters. Kit Lens can do better than I showed above, but any lens with a larger aperture (even if its manual only) will do even better than that. Sigma 16mm f1.4 is supposedly great for this kind of thing.
 

Janice

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I'm no experienced astro-photographer, but I can share a sample of a picture taken with a kit lens during the comet appearance last year and a few thoughts.
View attachment 8282
This was far from "dark sky" territory, so you can see the light pollution (and an airplane) in the lower part of the image. 15 seconds at an f-stop of 4.5 and ISO 2000. So not a great pic, but not terrible. Things I would have done differently now that I've tried it:
  • Go to a "dark territory" well after sunset
  • Use an app like sky map to find an area of interest to photo (planet?/constellation?/milkyway?)
  • Use a longer exposure
  • Use a higher ISO, but not too high (maybe as much as 3200?)
  • Glass matters. Kit Lens can do better than I showed above, but any lens with a larger aperture (even if its manual only) will do even better than that. Sigma 16mm f1.4 is supposedly great for this kind of thing.
This gives me hope that maybe I might be able to capture something. :)
 
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