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| p.1 #19 · Night photography problems |
For lightweight non-guided tracking mount good for lenses up to 200mm I would suggest to start with basic Astrotrac setup - TT320X Astrotrac (+ battry pack and polar finder), Manfrotto Junior 410 geared head for polar axis, any decent ballhead for camera and Manfrotto 055 class tripod. I was able to take very good wide-angle pictures with the setup similar to that.
As for the D800. There is another negative aspect about it - insanely huge files. Astrophoto workflow is very image processing depanding. You want to increase signal to noise ratio to get black black, remove amp-noise, hot-pixels that will inevitably appear during long exposures. For me astrophoto workflow means capturing 15x light frames, 15x dark frames, 15x flat-fields and 15x offset files, converting all of these to FITS files, then averaging, subtracting, stacking, demosaicing to 16bit TIFF files (each is more than 72MB from 12mp camera), then post-processing etc. I have a solid quad-core computer but even that struggles a lot when processing files from 12 megapixel camera. I can only imagine what would happen if I attempted to process 36 megapixel files from D800. It could well take several hours even on a state-of-art computer...
The computer isn't really a concern as my GF is a motion designer and she has a 12-core Mac Pro with a massive solid state drive.
I also have an old Goldstar tripod that is built like a tank. I haven't put a ball head on it yet but that's in the works. I think I need a welder!
A tracking device would be great, but I don't have the money for that right now unless you can suggest a cheap option (under $400)
The reason that I was considering the D800 are:
1. Now that it's nearly summer there will be no aurora and all I shoot is landscape until Sept/Oct. Those 36 megapixels are very appealing to capture all the detail of Alaska.
2. I'm terrified of ending up with a D600 that spits oil on the sensor.2K is an aweful lot of money to deal with a problem like that. Not sure if it's still an issue but the complaints are well documented. Am I safe buying a re-furbished one? It really is out of my pricerange but the 1600 is a bit more reasonable.
Your input is greatly apopreciated. I always like to get as much as I can before buying such an expansive camera. Thanks again.