ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY WITH THE SONY DIGITAL CAMERAS
Last updated: 31 July 2013
This page documents Sony digital cameras comments, tips, and photos. Search the site for "Sony" for other items about the Sony digital cameras. Contributions welcome.
Subject: Sony Nex Update Sent: Monday, July 29, 2013 15:00:53 From: Micki Goodman (firstname.lastname@example.org) Glad to see you got at least some imaging and viewing done. We have had our socked in nights, but I did get a decent session on the 26th of this month. Here is a bit of an update on my imaging with the ETX 90 and Sony Nex 6. 1. Had to get a shutter vibration issue figured out-I had to set the camera to "Front Curtain Shutter" which minimized the double cycle shutter shake by cycling only once. The focus was significantly better but I believe that there is still a vibration issue that may need to be repaired under warranty. I will know when it clears up enough for more focus tests. 2. I got One fair Saturn video but the subsequent ones were not as well focused and the images were a fairly bright blue. 3. Unfortunately, most of my eyepieces (Meade Plossls) are either scratched or dusty , and one cannot be separated to clean. I will be looking to buy a larger scope soon with an eyepiece and filter kit. 4. As you just did, I used the weather downtime to tune up the scope mount and hopefully corrected a few slewing and tracking issues. 5. I got some decent moon images but as for Saturn, with the small aperture and turbulent atmosphere, the video stack was fair and after zooming it was not that clear and detailed. 6. Unfortunately, since I do not do social networking or fit any of your image submission criteria, I cannot send you the recent images for your opinions. I understand you site needs and respect them. 7. One last input: the camera has an interesting mode "Hand Held Twilight" where it takes 6 images in less than one second and combines them in the camera ,for an improved result. The bad news is the it is limited to manual modes of P and A whereas I like to use the M and S modes for my control purposes. When the weather clears, I will try this on Moon imaging to see if it helps (in the A mode). Overall though, I believe, after more camera familiarization, that it will be more than worthy of astrophotography applications. With the additional lens (Sony SEL 50mmm F1.8) I believe the light gathering improvement has/will help, but my cousin seems to think I should back off the F stop a bit to use (his term) a better "sweet spot" for the lens and up the ISO. What is your though about this as applies to astrophotography? Glad to have your observatory at least partially back. May the skies clear and our minds remain so. FredMike here: Glad you got to do some more work with the camera. Clean eyepieces are a must for afocal astrophotography, but sometimes a nuisance. f/ stop can help or hurt. Usually you want a low f/ stop value to provide as much light as possible getting into the camera. On the other hand, lens imperfections (especially near the edge of the field-of-view) may require a higher f/ stop to sharpen up these areas.
Thanks for the quick reply, as usual. I would like your opinion on my (soon) telescope purchase. I may be getting the Meade LX 90 8" ACF. My question is, do you think (for astrophotography) that I should get the mount wedge accessory or will setup/tracking be good enough without it? Thanks for you advice.Mike here: For short exposures (planets, moon, sun, etc) you can use Alt/Az. You can also use Alt/Az for short exposures intended for stacking. However, those exposures will need to be 30 seconds or less in length. For longer exposures you will need a wedge. My article "How I Do Astrophotography" on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page may help clarify this.
Thanks agin Mike. On my ETX 90, I have it mounted on a wooden tripod (modified for stability) and I built a wedge for it. I keep the planetary videos to under 30 seconds, most are 10-20 seconds. Then I use Lynkeos (sometimes Keith's IS), Photoshop Elements and/or Gimp to finalize the images. It seems a shame, that for the price, neither Meade nor Celestron saw fit to build in a wedge/pivot mechanism. I will revisit your article and use the info for a better informed decision. Thanks again-Fred.Mike here: A reasonable wedge will add $200 to the price of a mount. The larger the telescope, the more substantial the wedge needs to be, running upwards to $700-800 added to the price. I use a low-end wedge with my 8" LX200-ACF (costing about $200). It works but takes time (1-2 seconds) to dampen out vibrations.
Mike,with your wedge, do you also use tripod leg dampening pads or is this vibration concentrated at the wedge? Forgive me for another new issue. With the recent Moon images there is a central blue colored reflection/flare that I did not have with my other cameras/lens combinations. It doesn't matter if I use the barlow or not. I can keep the planetary images just to the right of any possible flare (not so noticeable in the lower light images). My camera adapters keep the eyepieces very close to the camera lens. I guess I should try more prime focus and eyepiece projection images to determine if it is the camera lens/eyepiece combo that is causing the flare/reflection. I will update you when the weather permits more imaging.Mike here: No tripod pads but the floor of my observatory is carpeted. So that helps.
Thanks again Mike. As I previously mentioned, I will try the different astrophotography modes to limit the camera/scope lass surfaces. I may be lucky tonight for some clear weather Moon images. But then again, Murphy is still alive and well.
End of today's update
Subject: Sony NEX Camera for Astrophotography Sent: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 08:48:35 From: Micki Goodman (email@example.com) I hope your weather will allow more quality sessions. I have especially been enjoying the animations you have put together. Have you ever used StarStax for simple image stacking of the planets? It has been quite cloudy here in Colorado Springs. I am waiting for an order to be filled for the Meade erecting prism, to use with my ETX 90. Here is my main topic/question. I am also planning to get a new DSLR camera for use with my Meade ETX 90 EC. I have been looking at the Sony NEX line (either 5R or 6). I have visited several websites and the photo results are impressive. As with any camera, there are feature tradeoffs with different manufacturers and different models, within the same brand. I did not see any submissions, on your site, for the NEX cameras. Are you familiar enough, with the NEX line to garner an opinion? If you are interested (or your site visitors) I can provide some specific details on both models. I also have (if you would be interested) a link to a "flickr" gallery of astrophotos done with the NEX 5N (no WI-FI older version). Let me know and I will provide the link and/or camera info. Stay well "focussed" and here's to clear skies. As always with gratitude-FredMike here: I have only used StarStaX once to stack images for other than making "star trails". That was of a galaxy. Personally, I have found Keith's Image Stacker and Lynkeos better for stacking images. But StarStaX is ideal for doing star trails. I have no familiarity with that model but did take a look at the specs of the "6" on the Sony web site. Pretty impressive. I assume that there is a T-Ring adapter available for the lens mount style. You'll want that, if you don't have already one. I'll be happy to post the link to your gallery.
As always, thanks for the quick reply. As for the accessories, there are T-rings available at reasonable prices, same for batteries, it comes with the AC adapter (unlike my Pentax), and many lens mount adapters are also available (some not so reasonable). There is much software available for the cameras, such as tethering (cabled or via WI-FI), Sony RAW to Adobe converters, and video format converters as well. The link is for someone else's fine work that I initially found on the dpreview forum. Here is the flickr link(many photos): http://www.flickr.com/photos/68358236@N03/sets/72157628005518434/ It's just a shame that no camera manufacturer has produced new models that retain the best features of previous models, while adding the improvements. This is especially evident in the Sony migration from series 5 to series 6 and 7. Oh well, no surprises there. Stay well and blessed, and keep up the awesome astronomy work and site. Yours always, Fred
Go to the 2006 Sony Astrophotography Page.
Go to the 2005 Sony Astrophotography Page.
Go to the 2001-3 Sony Astrophotography Page.
Go back to the Astrophotography Page.
Go back to my ETX Home Page.