The focus of this article is to sort out the major classes of astrophotography cameras for those who are brand new to this pastime. Astrophotography is a nice component to amateur astronomy but can be difficult for the beginner due to the extensive variety of equipment involved. We hope to at least get you familiar with the main categories of cameras used for astrophotography.
When trying to decide on the optimal DSLR and telescope combination, it is important to know how much of the sky will be included in the field of view. Furthermore, it is important to match the focal length of the telescope with the imaging sensor for obtaining the best results.
There is a handy (and free) calculator available that will make your job of matching telescope to digital SLR very easy! Blast on over to Ray Shore’s site for his Calculator for DSLR Astrophotography page. Note that the link opens in a separate window so that the calculator can be conveniently referenced. This article provides the basic concept and instructions for using Ray’s DSLR Astrophotography calculator.
It is difficult as a beginner in DSLR astrophotography to determine the best way to go when it comes to the right camera, telescope, and method to achieve the desired results. Newbies in this type of astrophotograpy comb the web for a wide variety of information such as:
The types of objects that can be imaged with a DSLR
The best DSLR’s for astrophotography
What type of telescope should be used with a DSLR
Number of subframes
Calibration with dark frames, light, frames, etc.
And much more
Unfortunately, much of the information is scattered across numerous astrophotography-related websites. Thus, the beginner must spend endless hours on forums and informational sites to pull the information together.
AstroPhotography Tonight has found a nice resource for the beginner. It is an online database updated by experienced astro-imagers with digital SLR’s. See DSLR Data For Astrophotography here.
DSLR Data was developed and is maintained by Paul Schulze, Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics, Abilene Christian University and owner of Timber Rock Observatory. It is a compilation of DSLR data taken with different scopes and cameras. Paul’s idea is to share the data, especially with beginners, in order to help them get a starting point in DSLR astrophotography.
As you will see, the database provides various pieces of information that a beginner may be looking for. Then, a website link is provided to view the results with particular DSLR’s, telescopes, settings, etc. The links are normally pages that are posted by an experienced astro-imager as a way to showcase their work.
Hopefully this database will be of some help to the beginner in astrophotography. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments section below regarding your experience with the database. We would like to hear from you!
Experienced DSLR Astro-Imagers
You can help build this database with your own unique combination of digital SLR, telescope, settings, etc. A form is provided to enter your details: DSLR Data Page Form. Your help with this project will be well appreciated; especially by the imaging newbie!