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Author Topic: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera  (Read 4475 times)

Alan Smallbone

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Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« on: August 23, 2016, 12:47:32 AM »

Hi all,

Here is a shot of the Milky Way taken at the end of June, from a somewhat light polluted sky. Taken with a Fuji X-T1 and Rokinon 12mm at f3.5, ISO 1600, this is 49 exposures of 160seconds each for a total of around 130 minutes. I am comparing and will probably write an article on portable imaging mounts, this was taken with a new acquire of a Skywatcher Star Adventurer.
Milkyway_XT1-12-49x160 by Alan Smallbone, on Flickr

I then processed the images in a complex and fairly difficult learning curve piece of software called Pixinsight, which is used for a lot of astronomical image processing. This is not a click and go interface and it takes a long time to get things done. However it excels at getting rid of gradients like those from light pollution. I had also things like airplanes going through and other outliers. Here is the start and end frames of the sequence, these are the built in preview thumbnails from the raw files and you can sort of get an idea of the light pollution and this is without the images being stretched much...
MW-start-end by Alan Smallbone, on Flickr

Alan
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Alan Smallbone
Orange County, CA

Kevin Gallagher

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2016, 07:16:09 AM »

 Alan, very nicely done! I've always wanted to try astro shooting but don't have the patience  :)

 Kevin in CT
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rdonson

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2016, 08:58:57 AM »

Wow, Alan!!!  The result is stunning!

I'm looking forward to more details about how you accomplished this.

Your hard work and patience certainly paid off.
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Regards,
Ron

MattBurt

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2016, 11:51:35 AM »

Nice work!
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-MattB

Alan Smallbone

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2016, 12:25:34 PM »

Thanks Matt, Ron and Kevin. Taking the images is the easy part, mostly just watching it happen, the hard part is the processing. I am quite happy how the Fuji performed even with a stock camera on a warm night.
Pixinsight is not really interactive, you need to test and try different settings and see how they work. You can get some ideas from tutorials but settings are usually different for every image. It will use all the resources your cpu has, one of the few applications that when it goes off to calculate and process something it will peg all 8 cores at 100% when it needs processing power. It does keep a full history and you can save it, so it is easy to go backwards and retry things, also easy to make duplicates and also select small previews to try the processing on. It is also fairly expensive if you don't use it much, around $250 depending on currency exchange.

Alan
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Alan Smallbone
Orange County, CA

Rand47

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2016, 12:00:27 AM »

Wow, Alan, I'm really impressed.  Did you get that while being in OC?  If so, I'm doubly impressed!!!

Rand
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Rand Scott Adams

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2016, 04:11:47 AM »

Stunning.  From your brief description it seems like there's a whole LuLa article worth of info in detailing how it's done and what's involved - maybe you should make a submission?
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Phil Brown

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2016, 06:27:11 AM »

Hi all,

Here is a shot of the Milky Way taken at the end of June, from a somewhat light polluted sky. Taken with a Fuji X-T1 and Rokinon 12mm at f3.5, ISO 1600, this is 49 exposures of 160seconds each for a total of around 130 minutes. I am comparing and will probably write an article on portable imaging mounts, this was taken with a new acquire of a Skywatcher Star Adventurer.

Hi Alan,

Great shot(s), and well processed.

You presumably took multiple 'shorter' exposures to allow for stacking with a better S/N, limit the buildup of lightpollution, and reduce the limitations of accuracy from the automatic mount. How good is its accuracy (is it as good as the AstroTrack)? From what I've read, its good for wide field imaging, but for longer focal lengths (say 300mm and up) it's less suited (also because of the payload limitation, which is good enough for compact transport, lighter cameras, and Wide-field work).
 
Quote
I then processed the images in a complex and fairly difficult learning curve piece of software called Pixinsight, which is used for a lot of astronomical image processing. This is not a click and go interface and it takes a long time to get things done. However it excels at getting rid of gradients like those from light pollution.

With the help of PixInsight you managed to get an excellent result (at this size anyway).

PixInsight is extremely capable, but comes with an assumption that one is somewhat versed in Astronomical imaging. Its power also requires a different user interface compared to an average photoeditor. But there are a lot of things that are implemented very well, and the makers are responsive when it comes to questions/suggestions from the user community. Some features are so well designed that one would like to see those in Photoshop as well, for regular image use.

The lack of complete documentation does make for a bumpy ride, although the parts that are documented (and the tooltips) are very well done, but there is also a lot of user generated (tutorial) material available. In addition, PixInsight is also a development environment, where users can write their own code that uses the PixInsight Libraries. The makers are professionals in their field, and it shows that they understand the needs of Astronomers. but it's certainly not kids stuff.

Cheers,
Bart
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Paul2660

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2016, 09:29:27 AM »

One of the main reasons I switched to the K1. the Astrotracer feature is most impressive.

This is a 2.5 minute single exposure for the sky combined with a shot of the foreground. Astrotracer does blur the foreground. But for the cost the K1 packs quite a punch.

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Paul Caldwell
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Alan Smallbone

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2016, 10:53:31 AM »

Wow, Alan, I'm really impressed.  Did you get that while being in OC?  If so, I'm doubly impressed!!!

Rand

Thanks Rand, not quite the OC but just east of Temecula, still a lot of light pollution, mostly from San Diego and Temecula.

Alan
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Alan Smallbone
Orange County, CA

Alan Smallbone

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2016, 10:54:19 AM »

One of the main reasons I switched to the K1. the Astrotracer feature is most impressive.

This is a 2.5 minute single exposure for the sky combined with a shot of the foreground. Astrotracer does blur the foreground. But for the cost the K1 packs quite a punch.

Nice Paul, interesting tech on the K1.

Alan
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Alan Smallbone
Orange County, CA

Alan Smallbone

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2016, 11:20:40 AM »

Hi Alan,

Great shot(s), and well processed.

You presumably took multiple 'shorter' exposures to allow for stacking with a better S/N, limit the buildup of lightpollution, and reduce the limitations of accuracy from the automatic mount. How good is its accuracy (is it as good as the AstroTrack)? From what I've read, its good for wide field imaging, but for longer focal lengths (say 300mm and up) it's less suited (also because of the payload limitation, which is good enough for compact transport, lighter cameras, and Wide-field work).


Thanks a lot Bart. Yes the shorter exposures were for all the stated reasons. The Star Adventurer is pretty good, the payload is 11lbs as stated and you can get holder with a counterweight system and as long as you had it balanced well you could probably go higher. The problem with these small portable mounts is there are realistic limitations on what the tripod and setup and can be expected to do.

I am currently evaluating several small portable mounts and will write up the results. I also own an Astrotrac with the portable pier system and that is a very stable unit, though the big limitation of the Astrotrac is the limited tracking time, 2 hours before having to reset it. I cannot say for sure what the tracking accuracy of the mounts are, I have yet to do that testing but I have come up with a way of doing it. I am planning on testing that soon, I have to go to another location to do a lot of the testing as my home is almost always clouded over or has a high level of dew and moisture. (on the coast) so that limits my testing time.  The mounts I am testing and comparing are the Astrotrac, Star Adventurer, Vixen Polarie, IOptron Skytracker, and the Kenko Skymemo. I should be able to measure and compare the PE of the mounts with a guiding setup that I have and be able to run it on each of the mounts, just need to get them all setup and running on the same night. The critical thing with these one axis mounts is getting a really good polar alignment as that will dictate exposure length for longer focal lengths more the PE of the mount, at least for portable setups.


With the help of PixInsight you managed to get an excellent result (at this size anyway).

PixInsight is extremely capable, but comes with an assumption that one is somewhat versed in Astronomical imaging. Its power also requires a different user interface compared to an average photoeditor. But there are a lot of things that are implemented very well, and the makers are responsive when it comes to questions/suggestions from the user community. Some features are so well designed that one would like to see those in Photoshop as well, for regular image use.

The lack of complete documentation does make for a bumpy ride, although the parts that are documented (and the tooltips) are very well done, but there is also a lot of user generated (tutorial) material available. In addition, PixInsight is also a development environment, where users can write their own code that uses the PixInsight Libraries. The makers are professionals in their field, and it shows that they understand the needs of Astronomers. but it's certainly not kids stuff.

I agree that Pixinsight is not kids stuff. It has some really nice features and it is one of those things that you need to really use a lot, and just the nature of the software make it more trial and error than anything else. The documentation is getting better and there are certainly a lot more tutorials out there than they used to be. I do look at the forums a lot, there is a good deal of information available. What the biggest difference for me was attending an immersive workshop for 5 days with one of the developers, it was all hands on and that really boosted my abilities with the software. I also keep lots of icons and add my own notations to the icons, a series of notes of what I have discovered about the tool, something I call my "old man notes". I also take detailed notes when using it, it really helps when I don't use the software for a time and be able to go back and review things. I know I have only scratched the surface on what the program is capable of doing. I am sure there are features I will probably never use or need. It is hard to describe the software to those who have no need to use it.

Alan
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Alan Smallbone
Orange County, CA

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2016, 06:26:17 PM »

Wowzer Alan!
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Paulo Bizarro

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Re: Milky Way - tracked shot with mirrorless camera
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2016, 05:12:16 AM »

Excellent result.
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