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Gear You Need For Astrophotography

You've probably seen some incredible astrophotography images of space taken by amateurs and wondered: what kind of gear are they using to take those pictures? In this blog, we'll go over what you need, and how you can get started!

 

Smartphone Astrophotography

Astrophotography With A Smartphone

Essential Gear:

  • Smartphone
  • Manual camera app or astrophotography mode on camera

Nice to Have Items:

  • Small tripod for phone

Did you know that you may already have the gear you need to get started in astrophotography? That's right, most smartphones these days can get you started in astrophotography. For photographing the night sky, you need to understand how to control a camera's manual settings like shutter speed, aperture, and ISO/gain. You can usually control these settings with manual camera apps on a smartphone, such as NightCap for iOS or ProCam X for Android, which are both great for photographing the night sky. Or, even better, some of the latest smartphones even have an astrophotography mode built right into the native camera so you don't need to download any third-party apps. With smartphones, you can expect to capture images of star trails and maybe even the Milky Way with some of the newest phones. You can use just about anything to stabilize your phone during a long exposure, but a small tripod for your phone will help!

 


 

Astrophotography with a DSLR | OPT

Astrophotography With a DSLR

Essential Gear:

  • DSLR or mirrorless camera
  • Wide angle lens
  • Sturdy tripod

Nice to Have Items:

If you have a DSLR available to use, you can get even better astrophotography photos. Just about any DSLR or mirrorless camera these days is capable of taking some impressive night sky images. This is especially true if you have access to dark skies. Even if you don't, you can always use a clip-in light pollution filter for your specific camera type to beat the city lights. Check out our guide How to Take Astronomy Photos With Your DSLR (Tips for Beginners) or watch the video below on some tips to capture star trails!

 


 

Astrophotography with a Star Tracker

Astrophotography with a DSLR & Star Tracker

Essential Gear:

  • DSLR or mirrorless camera
  • Wide angle or telephoto lens
  • Star tracker
  • Sturdy tripod

Nice to Have Items:

By upgrading to a star tracker, it can open brand new doors to your astrophotography. Since you can now track the stars, your exposures of the night sky can be up to 10x as long or even longer than just a still tripod. This allows you to capture objects in space at longer focal lengths and less noise, giving much more clarity and contrast to your final images. Check out our demo of the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer below, one of our most popular star trackers:

 


 

Astrophotography with a Telescope

Deep Sky Astrophotography with a Telescope

Essential Gear:

Nice to Have Items:

Deep sky astrophotography can have many forms, but generally it means using a telescope or at least a long focal length telephoto lens. You'll need to use an equatorial mount to counter the stars' motion caused by the Earth's rotation, and doing so can let you take exposures of 5 minutes or even longer! Photographing galaxies, nebulae, and more are all possible with a deep sky astrophotography rig. A setup like this does cost a considerable amount of money and be a bit complicated to use, so we recommend with starting with the essential gear first and then upgrading one piece at a time.

 


 

Planetary Astrophotography

Planetary Astrophotography

Essential Gear:

Nice to Have Items:

Capturing images of the planets is a difficult task that requires a fairly large telescope to do well. Since the planets are so small, you generally need a long focal length telescope with a large aperture to capture details on the surfaces of the planets like Saturn & Jupiter. This in turn requires a large and often expensive setup, but the results make it worth it! Although there is some overlap, a portion of the gear you typically use for deep sky imaging is not well-suited for planetary astrophotography. Mainly, the cameras used for both are different, and generally you don't want to use a long focal length telescope for deep sky unless you're an advanced imager. However, planetary can be a fun & new way to capture images of outer space without spending too much extra money if you already have a deep sky astrophotography setup. 

 

 


 

 

Need help picking out the right gear, or have a more specific question? Our expert team is standing by and ready to answer anything you throw our way. Click the Contact button or leave a comment below!

 


1 Response

Fred Weems

September 07, 2021

Is there anything on hand for near IR photography?

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