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

Sky at Night Magazine - - THE MILKY WAY -

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.

Go-To mount

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.

Prime 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.

Photo tri­pod

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.

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