TOOLS FOR THE JOB
Wide-field, deep-sky imaging with a DSLR and a long lens requires a motorised mount. Here are two example setups
STANDARD EQUATORIAL TRACKING MOUNT
A motorised equatorial mount like this one – fitted with a Go-To handset – is normally used with a telescope or a full deep-sky imaging rig. Here we’ve simply repurposed it, using an inexpensive adaptor, to hold a DSLR and lens.
Basic telephoto lens
This basic lens is more than capable of producing decent wide-field images. The key with cheaper lenses is to ‘stop down’ their aperture to reduce the effects of chromatic aberration on stars.
This substantial mount will have no problem carrying a DSLR camera and lens while keeping wind vibrations at a minimum – perfect if you’re imaging with a longer focal length lens.
Dovetail bar adaptor
There are several different adaptors – incorporating a ‘dovetail bar’ – available that will connect a DSLR camera to a mount. This more advanced version can be bought for under £30.
PORTABLE TRACKING MOUNT
Modern, portable mounts, like this one, are compact, lightweight and can track accurately, making them ideal for ‘grab-and-go’ deep-sky imaging. But you needn’t have something this fancy for wide-field DSLR work with a camera lens – a simple, well-balanced motorised equatorial mount should work fine with a shorter focal length lens.
This fast, prime lens – with a 135mm focal length – is well suited to wide-field, deep-sky astrophotography. It has a large lens hood which helps keep dew away during long imaging sessions.
Ball head adaptor
A ball head adaptor can make swivelling your DSLR around to line up and frame a shot much easier. Be sure to check that the model you use can comfortably hold the weight of your camera body and lens.
Portable tracking mounts typically connect to standard tripods. This means the setup can be quickly and easily assembled or packed away for imaging trips further afield.