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Astrophotography

Wayne Hoffman (Yahoo! FZ10 forum, 16 February 2004)...

Making such an adapter {so the camera `looks' through the telescope eyepiece for `afocal' photography} would be a pretty simple task for someone with a good lathe, Vern. The problem is that I'm not sure the FZ10 is the best candidate for afocal astrophotography, because its lens is (get this!) too fast (large) which causes severe vignetting of the telescope image. Since the FZ has a non-removable lens, it cannot be used for prime-focus work, so afocal work is the only game in town.
Wouldn't a maximum 8 seconds shutter release be a problem for astrophotography as well? Some film SLRs have a `bulb' mode which allow `unlimited' exposures of minutes or more. For example, pictures of auroras apparantly require 30 seconds or more of exposure. One way around the relatively short shutter speed may be to `stack' multiple pictures together (this won't help with auroras). John Ewing (Yahoo!, FZ10 group, 27 September 2004) writes...
If you want to do really long exposures, you can always try taking sequential shots and stacking them. I haven't tried doing this myself, but it's what webcam astronomers do, with quite spectacular results. SeeWebcam astronomy.

One commercial `Image Stacking' program is available from Tawbaware.

arlee (dpreview, Panasonic forum, 22 March 2004) reports that the sun, moon and brighter planets are all potential photographic subjects with the FZ10.

John Lehman (Yahoo!, FZ10 group, 2 December 2004)...

I don't think that you would ever get great results using the FZ10 on a telescope. It might work for terrestrial shots but the vignetting would be extreme.

The first thing that will limit what you can take pictures of is the FZ10 has no way to lock the shutter open. So right from the start you are limited to taking pictures of the moon and maybe a couple of the planets.

There are two ways to mount a camera to a telescope. The first is PRIME FOCUS this is where the camera is mounted directly to the camera using a TEE mount and the telescope lens becomes the camera lens. The camera has to have a detachable lens to use this method.  And the focal length is fixed i.e. if you were using a 35mm camera back and a 1000 mm telescope you would have approximately a 20 power combination. 1000 (focal length of telescope)\ divided by 50 (nominal focal length of 35mm camera) equals 20.

The second method is called  EYE PIECE PROJECTION. In this configuration the telescope eye piece is in place and the image is projected into the camera lens. This will work with the FZ10 but with the limitations I mentioned above. The magnification is then determined primarily by the eye piece telescope focal length combination (prime focus) and as you increase the magnification the image becomes dimmer and that is where you will need to lock the shutter open in order to get a useable image.

With either method there will be extreme vignetting. I would recommend that you get a camera that is made to use with your telescope. Mead offers two...one at about $130 and one at $300. I have the cheep one and have taken some very nice pictures with it. You do need a computer to use either one of these, preferable a laptop, so you can use it in the field.
arghman (dcresource, Panasonic forum, 14th December 2004)...

One of the big differences between film and CCDs (or any electronic sensor) is that film does a wonderful job of accumulating photons and nothing else. Electronic sensors have noise & drift which generally make them very poor at accumulating signals (adding them up over time) over a long timescale.

However -- the right way to do this (and my guess is that this is how real astronomers work with images from CCDs) is to use the sensor to make the best use of its dynamic range and noise characteristics, and then take lots of pictures and combine them digitally by just adding up or averaging the light levels on a pixel-by-pixel basis. (you would need software to do this, and would probably want to use a lossless format like TIFF rather than JPEG) For example if you wanted a 1-minute exposure equivalent, take 60 1-second exposures or 30 2-second exposures, with the camera in the same spot, and process them digitally. If you take exposures that are too short, the signals are too small for the camera to convert the CCD's analog levels to digital. If you take exposures that are too long, you run into the noise/drift issue.

I tried searching on google for `ccd long exposure minute OR minutes' and found lots of sites, one that looks informative is Starizona. `Regular' consumer cameras aren't really great, an acquaintance of mine is big into astrophotography and he has a special chilled CCD (cold generally lowers electronic noise) with an adapter for his telescope.


next up previous index Link to 'photography' page
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David Fong 2009-09-04