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Cannon or Nikon


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So I am thinking of getting into astrophotography and of course over thinking all of the equipment I could buy. 

 

I used to be into photography, and owned back them a relatively new Cannon 550D, 18mp with various lenses and filters. Anyway .... 

 

My question concerns the imaging difference between the various Cannon and Nikkon models. I'm sure the older Nikkon's had a higher MP count, but can remember if the ISO counts were better for the Cannon's. So my question really stems from which do you believe is best for astro-imaging. As some people believe the software can affect the image process, as is with mobile phones which can't fit in the larger sensors. 

 

So what type of camera's do you use, is megapixels an issue anymore. Is there much of a difference between iso 6500 & 12000. Are more auto focus points useful when imaging through a scope. And any other useful points you can think of. 

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Welcome to the forum Sy.

 

When using a DSLR most people tend to set the ISO at no higher than 800 as otherwise it introduces a lot of sensor noise. Canon EOS are very popular in AstroPhotography but I do know a few people who also use Nikon.

When I seldom use my old DSLR, which is astromodded, it has around 10MP with relatively large pixel sizes of 5.7 µm. 

 

However due to the sensors in DSLR cameras warming up considerably, generating even more noise, as the shutter is opened for such a long time to catch the faint stuff then people go over to cooled cameras (see below).

 

What most people use now is dedicated astrophotography cameras which are cooled. These, however, are not cheap and come either as CCD sensors or CMOS sensors. Both technologies have their advantages and disadvantages. The CMOS cameras generally come in 2 flavours, either colour also known as One Shot Colour (OSC) or monochrome. The mono cameras use filters to capture light from different bandwidths and then the images are combined in post processing to produce colour images. These cameras can range from quite modest MP count up to vast amounts of pixels. My ZWO ASI183 cameras have around 20MP for instance.

 

That said people still successfully use astromodded DSLR cameras, this means having the IR-cutting filter removed from the sensor to take advantage of the whole spectrum of the visible light, to take in the red emissions coming from deep space objects. You can still use your camera lenses too as some objects in the sky are enormous. But it is best to fit the camera to a tracking mount to take the rotation of the earth into consideration. Otherwise you will get light trails from the stars due to how long the shutter needs to remain open to capture enough light.

 

The best conventional photo lenses to use are fixed focal length ones such as the Canon F1.8 50mm lens or the Samyang F2 135mm lens.

Zoom lenses should be avoided as they have too many glass elements that make a mess of stars at extremities especially when wide open.

 

DSLRs can also be fitted to telescopes too. Most manufacturers take into consideration that users of their gear might want to attach a DSLR so they make adapters available.

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There is lots of history and folklore in this subject. While I have always shot Nikon and have a glass collection to prove it I would not say either has any compelling advantage.

 

Historically Nikon had a problem with noise reduction that 'ate stars' but this has been long dispensed with. Some models also had an annoying 'bulb' limit of 30 seconds which required external hardware to get around.  

 

Nikon are now using Sony sensors which are the same as used in many Altair, QHY and ZWO cameras except they do not have the essential cooling to reduce noise. At the moment Nikon probably has marginally better sensors.

 

Canon gained an early advantage with then better sensors and noise reduction and is by far the dominant dslr in the astronomy world and usually has a much better variety of accesories and software compatability than Nikon. 

 

Sony with their mirrorless models appear to be rapidly gaining ground on both Nikon and Canon.

 

It is important to realize that as you build up a collection of glass it is difficult to change stable. In addition over the last 45 years the leadership position has switched frequently.

 

dSLRs are a compromise because of the cooling, noise and the need to be astromodded for extended ha sensitivity but they are by far the best camera for outdoors use and in particular doing  nightscapes.

 

If you are in a light polluted area and have a telescope with fast optics your exposures will be short and noise is  less of a problem. But most dSLR cameras are just too noisey for exposures more than 300 seconds and many would suggest shorter than that.

 

All three manufacturers produce excellent cameras and trying to decide based on todays specifications is probably not helpful.

 

Most of us have one particular system by accident... usually because it was the first we bought. Sorry if this is not all technical but selecting camera brand seems to end up a decision for life for most of us.

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Thanks to both Terry & Feock for your responses, I didn't really need deep technical information on either of the brands, it was just information floating around about 10 years ago suddenly came to mind when looking for one to buy, you know how you go looking through Ebay for a good deal and before you outbid someone you suddenly get a thought about buying something applicable for it's use. 

 

So you would recommend any Cannons from about 2010 or later, 550D series or later maybe. Nikons on the other hand might be better off to look for something from the past 5 years, as i was looking over some of the specs of each, i noticed the bulb settings on the Nikon, i never heard about the software that could extend the exposure time, i wonder how that worked, if changed the whole software or stitched together very quickly 30 second exposures. 

 

I also like the look of the mono camera, or specialised CCD's which are built a little bit lighter and better to attach to the telescopes. Still a little bit new on these, and left me wondering if it were even worth buying a DSLR in the first place. I've seen a few and they really can get expensive, but again i also saw a few starting as low as £150, i assume greatly that these are the most basic of the basic, but even these can be made good use of, and when your comparing 5K camera's to an automated set that could included filters and camera's for less than 1K, would the ZWO be a good starting point possible instead of jumping onto a DSLR and having to mod it. 

 

I will have to have a bigger think about what i intend to do and how i plan to do it. In case your interested i would be hopeful to get into deep sky imaging, i'm slowly putting together what hardware goes with what, looking at everything that could be added to a set up, having a laptop that i can attach to the scope and camera's. Even now i need to look at the motorized mounts, the weight they can take, telescopes that can be attached, and cameras that can be attached. It's going to take a bit of information digging, i'm hoping most equipment is compatible with most stuff and that it should take too long searching. I guess making a little starting set up is first on the books. 

 

Thanks again. 

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54 minutes ago, _Sy_ said:

Thanks to both Terry & Feock for your responses, I didn't really need deep technical information on either of the brands, it was just information floating around about 10 years ago suddenly came to mind when looking for one to buy, you know how you go looking through Ebay for a good deal and before you outbid someone you suddenly get a thought about buying something applicable for it's use. 

 

So you would recommend any Cannons from about 2010 or later, 550D series or later maybe. Nikons on the other hand might be better off to look for something from the past 5 years, as i was looking over some of the specs of each, i noticed the bulb settings on the Nikon, i never heard about the software that could extend the exposure time, i wonder how that worked, if changed the whole software or stitched together very quickly 30 second exposures. 

 

I also like the look of the mono camera, or specialised CCD's which are built a little bit lighter and better to attach to the telescopes. Still a little bit new on these, and left me wondering if it were even worth buying a DSLR in the first place. I've seen a few and they really can get expensive, but again i also saw a few starting as low as £150, i assume greatly that these are the most basic of the basic, but even these can be made good use of, and when your comparing 5K camera's to an automated set that could included filters and camera's for less than 1K, would the ZWO be a good starting point possible instead of jumping onto a DSLR and having to mod it. 

 

I will have to have a bigger think about what i intend to do and how i plan to do it. In case your interested i would be hopeful to get into deep sky imaging, i'm slowly putting together what hardware goes with what, looking at everything that could be added to a set up, having a laptop that i can attach to the scope and camera's. Even now i need to look at the motorized mounts, the weight they can take, telescopes that can be attached, and cameras that can be attached. It's going to take a bit of information digging, i'm hoping most equipment is compatible with most stuff and that it should take too long searching. I guess making a little starting set up is first on the books. 

 

Thanks again. 

Take a look at this video from Nico Carver, it might help make up your mind.

 

 

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Thanks for the video link. I have come across Nico recently, I believe he is situated or was in the northern eastern America or Canada (very jealous, good dark sky sites). 

 

So I understand what he was getting at about the ISO setting being better at differing levels, and that I think he said that Cannons are better suited for plain Astrophotography, where as Nikkon were better suited to telescope assisted astrophotography. So what i fail to comprehend is why is the lower ISO settings were better, as I always assumed that higher ISO equalled less noise in the photograph. 

I really want to plan to do Photography attached to a telescope, so now I'm in 2 minds about if i really want to go for  Cannon or not. Another issue I'm starting to have now is, Nikkon supposedly don't have as many filters for their camera's, is this still an issue if you bought an automated lens changer, to help with the stacked imaging.   

 

One more question, is there a certain type of telescopes that attached a camera better than others.

 

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you also, when i try to log in from my phone, it doesn't seem to want to let me. Also i just went on holiday quickly and saw a red moon of a lifetime from 30,000ft up whilst flying over Bulgaria on Sunday night. I wish i has got a half decent photo of it, but you know those double screen plane windows just say no to any photographs at all. 

 

Thanks Again. 

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You can do astrophotography with a Canon DSLR attached to a telescope in exactly the same way as any other brand Nikon, Sony etc. So you may have misunderstood that bit of the video (not that I have watched it).

 

Lower ISO settings are better as less noise is introduced into the sensor. High ISOs are normally used, but not limited to,  capture lower light in terrestrial photos but even so do introduce more noise.

The ideal with my Canon for instance was to go no higher than 800 ISO with long exposure images. My EOS 400D could not take longer than 30 second duration shots so had to be controlled by an external computer controller electronic box with the camera set to BULB. Or I also used a intervalometer which is a cheap, simple electronic timer device and does exactly the same task but without a computer.

I took exposures of around 2 minutes with my 400D with a delay between shots of about 15 seconds to allow the sensor to cool down a bit.

 

 

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I completely understand about being able to use both the Canons and Nikons with telescopes, I guess I was just being a little picky about picture quality, but you can really see it on the video you linked, when Nico shows exactly the same shot with the 2 different camera's, you can see the amount of noise captured, especially with Canon. He also show how Nikons pick up a lot more dimmer stars in the red light band, so I'm not sure if they have better IR than a non-modded canon. 

 

I'm now wondering how much megapixel count comes into play, and whether it is negated in a zoomed in image at this distance, i just check and some of the cheaper ZWO cameras are at 20mp, where as i thought i saw a few of them were only 10mp. I guess it would make it a lot easier just to buy a colour one of these, and if i ever got to the point by where i really made use of the spotter scope, i could perhaps wire it up to my laptop and get a mono camera and filter for the main one. All pipe dream ideas, but i hope you understand the need for wanting so much. 

 

I'll have a great think about it all, decide on a nice scope and worst of all a stand and mount to use all of this with. I kept forgetting i need a star tracking mount, when i was getting used to Alt-Az and equatorials. 

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A second hand DLSR such as  your old Canon 550d is an excellent starter, (I still use it - bought second hand). It has a good number of pixels and pretty good noise for a DSLR. It is one of the cheapest/oldest budget second hand cameras still available that supports live view and PC remote control. Features very useful for astrophotography. The 550d also supports a special crop mode useful I'm told for planetary imaging (I've never used that mode but its good to know its there). Its a low risk investment. Modding one is not very expensive.

 

If you are shopping around https://astrophotography.app/ has a good list of supported cameras.

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