Star Stories
Tales from the night sky of Tenerife, brought to you by the guides of the stars!

Types of camera that are suitable for Nightscapes and Astrophotography.

The weekly review from the guides of the dark skies!

Many serious astrophotographers use dedicated astrophotography cameras attached to their telescopes, these can produce tremendous results but can also be very expensive, in this article I want to concentrate on equipment that most amateur photographers will already have or is available at a reasonable cost Any camera that can shoot long exposures can be used for basic Nightscapes and Astrophotography, it’s even possible with a phone camera nowadays, when I say long exposures anything over 10 seconds is really the minimum, having said that there are never any hard and fast rules in photography and there are stacking techniques (this is were you take multiple shots and stack them to make one longer exposure shot) that can be used to produce reasonable results. You will also need a couple of extra bits of equipment, the main one being a sturdy tripod, they don’t have to be expensive the one I use the most cost 29 euros from Worten, and a remote shutter release, this will allow you to take the shot without shaking the camera, if you don’t have a remote shutter release you can extend the exposure time by a couple of seconds and hold a piece of card over the lens whilst you press the button, let the camera settle for a couple of seconds, then remove the card to start the exposure.

The most common type of camera used for Astrophotography is the DSLR, these have several advantages over standard point and shoot and bridge cameras, you are able to change the lens to allow for different types of shot, you can set them on manual ( autofocus doesn’t work in the dark), you can adjust the ISO rating very easily and most important you can shot RAW files rather than JPG, if you don’t know the difference, most cameras nowadays have software incorporated so that when you take a shot the software looks at what you have taken then tries to work out how the shot will look best, so it will adjust the highlights, shadows etc. then discard the information not used, with a RAW file, the camera doesn’t change the shot at all but leaves all the information thus allowing you to adjust it manually later on your computer. Its possible to pick up a reasonable second hand DSLR for a few hundred Euros and most come with a 18-55mm standard lens, this will give you a reasonable range to start and I would suggest that you practice taking nightscapes with the lens set on it’s widest angle i.e. 18mm. Exposures up to about 20 seconds are possible, any longer and you will see the stars start to trail in your shot, you will be amazed at the number of stars you can catch from a dark site. Next time I will go into more detail of how to calculate exposure times, what extra equipment you will need if you want to take longer exposures or use a bigger lens to get some of the fainter and more distant objects in our galaxy.

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Tenerife Astronomy & Astrophotography

Check back next week for some more Star Stories with Stargazing Tenerife team.  However, for me until the next time, this is Peter Louer signing out.

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