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5 Things Every Astrophotographer Should Know About Their Camera

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Astrophotography is hard. Make it easier by knowing your gear.

We’ve all done it, and if you’re just starting out, you may have a rude awakening. You get to your selected shoot location, you have your brand-new camera, a tripod, and it’s a beautiful night…now what?

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We’ve compiled 5 tips every astrophotographer should know that we’ve learned over the years to make your astrophotography more successful and rewarding.

Pay attention, class!

Learn how to manipulate camera settings in the dark

sunset_weeds-1225Lights out!

How well do your eyes work in the dark? If you’re an owl, you’re good to go. But, you’re likely a human, and you’ll need a red headlamp or flashlight/torch/flamethrower/lighter/match/etc., and even that doesn’t do it sometimes! So — practice in the light, getting comfortable changing all the camera settings you’ll need when you’re in the field.

Learn your camera by feel — almost nothing is “set and forget”!

Why this is important

When you’re out in the field, you often don’t have a lot of time to mess around, or it’s really cold, or you forget one of those many important steps necessary to taking good astro photos. Being able to know where your camera buttons are without having to look at them is pretty handy in these conditions!

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About the author

Cory Schmitz

Co-founder of PhotographingSpace.com, co-owner of several telescopes and mounts, too many cameras, and not enough hard drives, Cory is an American expat living in South Africa with his wife, Tanja Schmitz.

An avid astrophotographer for timelapse, deep-space imaging, lunar, planetary, and star trail imagery, he is an all-around jack-of-most-trades for night-sky photography.

He is also an internationally published and commissioned astrophotographer, where his photos have been used in multiple online and print publications.

8 Comments

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  • Nice tips! CentralDS modify DSLRs to add peltier cooling. It’s not the camera manufacturer themselves, but it’s just as good as if it were! My CentralDS 60D is AMAZING, gets the sensor to -25 degrees below the ambient temperature.

  • Great tips! I might add that the point where stars are in focus changes depending on the temperature of the lens, so make sure to properly check focus every time, even if you have it marked down

  • Excellent website!!! I always enjoy reading each new article. These are great tips for budding astrophotographers. Don’t totally rule out in camera darks ;), I switched 4 years ago to letting the camera take the darks and have never went back. It’s, for me, the best way to get accurate temperature matched darks for a DSLR and solved many of the noise related problems I had been struggling with. I will concede that you lose precious clear sky time, but for me, it has been worth the extra time spent. Keep up the great work!!! It’s contributions, like this website, that has allowed this great hobby to blossom into what it is today.

From PhotographingSpace.com:

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