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      07-15-2020, 12:14 AM   #1
sygazelle
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Neowise Comet - help with camera settings

I'm trying to photograph the Neowise Comet with my Sony A6500. I got pretty lucky with no tripod and manual shutter on auto. I'd like to do better.

I'll get my tripod out and do delayed shutter release to avoid vibration.

Anybody have suggestions on camera settings?

Thanks
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      07-15-2020, 12:50 AM   #2
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Thatís a great picture.

Go to cloudynights.com for photography
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      07-15-2020, 07:41 AM   #3
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Clearly your settings are in the neighborhood.

Tripod for sure. I was going to say mirror lock up but you don't have one. Delayed shutter / timer function will help as well.

For settings, look at what the camera ran while on auto, and then use those manually for starters. Then decrease the shutter speed to slow it down and get in more light for too dark a picture, or vice-versa.

Check ISO as well, try to keep it low enough to avoid noise, and make up for the lost sensitivity by having a slower shutter speed / let in more light. Maybe hard set ISO, then give an auto run, then transfer those settings to manual.

What time of night did you take this? Pretty cool that you did so.
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      07-15-2020, 09:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sygazelle View Post
I'm trying to photograph the Neowise Comet with my Sony A6500. I got pretty lucky with no tripod and manual shutter on auto. I'd like to do better.

I'll get my tripod out and do delayed shutter release to avoid vibration.

Anybody have suggestions on camera settings?

Thanks
I was down in San Jose last night on top of a large hill looking towards the northwest sky at 9:15 pm which was supposed to be peak brightness. There was a low wall of haze along the horizon and I have to presume the comet was behind it because I never saw anything. Was planning to try again over the next few nights.

How did you avoid the haze?
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      07-15-2020, 11:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RRedline View Post
I was down in San Jose last night on top of a large hill looking towards the northwest sky at 9:15 pm which was supposed to be peak brightness. There was a low wall of haze along the horizon and I have to presume the comet was behind it because I never saw anything. Was planning to try again over the next few nights.

How did you avoid the haze?
Sorry you missed it. Definitely try again tonight. It's pretty cool.

I live in the East Bay on a hillside with a clear view to the West and North. There was very little haze here last night so I was lucky.

Tonight, try going out a little later. At 9:15 pm is too soon since the sky is still too light to make it out. I set my alarm for 9pm and went out every 10 minutes. It wasn't until after 9:30pm that I could actually see it. The photo I posted was taken at 9:38pm.

Look for the Big Dipper and then start looking down toward the horizon. I've got a good pair of binoculars. That helps a lot.

Good luck.
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      07-15-2020, 11:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tracer bullet View Post
Clearly your settings are in the neighborhood.

Tripod for sure. I was going to say mirror lock up but you don't have one. Delayed shutter / timer function will help as well.

For settings, look at what the camera ran while on auto, and then use those manually for starters. Then decrease the shutter speed to slow it down and get in more light for too dark a picture, or vice-versa.

Check ISO as well, try to keep it low enough to avoid noise, and make up for the lost sensitivity by having a slower shutter speed / let in more light. Maybe hard set ISO, then give an auto run, then transfer those settings to manual.

What time of night did you take this? Pretty cool that you did so.
Thank you. Just exactly the awesome advice I was looking for. I will definitely follow your ideas tonight and see what comes out. I'll post if I get a good one.

The photo I posted was taken at 9:38 PM in the Walnut Creek, CA area. For this location, it was the best time. Any earlier the sky was too bright to see it. I suppose there was a 20 minute window for great viewing from 9:35pm until 9:55 pm at my location. Of course, that changes with latitude and longitude differences.

Regarding the camera, I got the A6500 Sony after years with a Nikon that was past its prime technology wise. The Sony is great. I'd recommend it to anybody who doesn't require a full frame camera.

Thanks again for your help. I will give it another try tonight.
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      07-15-2020, 08:50 PM   #7
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I just read an article over on FStoppers and hoping there is something to photograph tonight. Iíve shot full moons and a few events and have had moderate success. The article essentially said to shoot at F2.8 at 1.3 seconds and ISO400 with a 70-200/2.8.
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      07-16-2020, 08:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcphoto View Post
The article essentially said to shoot at F2.8 at 1.3 seconds and ISO400 with a 70-200/2.8.
Interesting, and makes sense.

2.8 is pretty wide, lets in a lot of light. It's a short depth of field but if you're focused at infinity anyhow I suppose it doesn't matter. I tend to start at 5.6, it's around where most lenses tend to be sharpest but of course that varies and might not be best since it extends the shutter speed to make up for the smaller aperture / lens opening and allow the same amount of light in.

1.3 seconds is basically what is right for a 2.8 / ISO 400. It all balances out - well it needs to, each change to one setting can be made up for with another. I expect 1.3 sec would still give good blackness to the sky, if you extend it to the extreme i.e. 30 seconds it begins to turn blue again. It's a neat effect to experiment with but not necessarily what one is looking for here.

ISO 400 is probably fine as well. It's probably a good balance for speed / noise. If one is aiming for a fast shutter speed, the higher ISO (higher sensitivity) will help enable that. Most cameras today can probably do that without any noise which is the graininess that can ruin a picture of this type. It's an effect you might sometimes want but not here. You can experiment with this, some cameras might be best at 200 or even 100 to remove noise, some might handle 800 or higher.

70/200 sounds like a Canon lens, one of the white L lenses, but other manufacturers have that range too. One just has to choose their own preference, higher (i.e. to 300) might be even better, TBD by one's own preference. Always try to zoom with glass as opposed to "digitally" which is really just cropping the picture which you can do later on your own. Most economical zoom lenses will not be able to do 2.8 wide it'll be more like 4 or 5.6. A zoom lens that can do 2.8 is $$$.

Just general thoughts not aimed at anyone in particular. There should be a lot of combinations that work.
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      07-17-2020, 04:22 PM   #9
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This was a 135mm lens at f2.0 for 6 seconds iso 2000

So f 2.0 basically lets in twice the light of f 2.8.
Longer exposures are good but can introduce star trails
iso 2000 used to be an instant recipe for noise but sensors are getting better. Noise reduction is getting better too.
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Last edited by allwheelsdriven; 07-17-2020 at 04:32 PM..
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      07-17-2020, 08:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allwheelsdriven View Post
This was a 135mm lens at f2.0 for 6 seconds iso 2000

So f 2.0 basically lets in twice the light of f 2.8.
Longer exposures are good but can introduce star trails
iso 2000 used to be an instant recipe for noise but sensors are getting better. Noise reduction is getting better too.
That is a great shot. Unfortunately, I only have one lens. Its a Sony 18-200 zoom and only goes down to f3.5.

Last edited by sygazelle; 07-17-2020 at 08:14 PM..
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      07-17-2020, 09:48 PM   #11
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You could buy an iOptron or similar star tracker. I have a Fornax one. A week ago: 10s at ISO1600 and f4.4 with the zoom at 128mm (cropped below a little). You just screw it onto a regular tripod, plug the thing into a 12V source, point it vaguely at the north star and the star trails disappear. Go to r/astrophotography on Reddit and all the comet pics will have the name of the tracker they used and the camera settings. Unless they have a Sony A7R and can shoot at ISO 1billion.

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Last edited by Moonbat; 07-17-2020 at 10:06 PM..
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      07-18-2020, 07:59 AM   #12
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We checked it out last night. I was surprised how bright it was. The 2nd pic is Jupiter and the milky way. Both were about 30 sec exposures propped on the car.
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      07-18-2020, 10:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh-PA View Post
We checked it out last night. I was surprised how bright it was. The 2nd pic is Jupiter and the milky way. Both were about 30 sec exposures propped on the car.
Great shot. The second photo didn't post. I'd love to see it too.
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      07-18-2020, 12:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sygazelle View Post
Great shot. The second photo didn't post. I'd love to see it too.
I think the full size version may have been too big to upload.
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      07-21-2020, 09:58 PM   #15
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All great photos on this thread. My wife and I saw the comet twice this week. Past couple of days have been cloudy. Summer has some nice viewing opportunities, because it's warm enough to be outdoors for an extended viewing session.
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