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Ultralight camera for night shots/stars?
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christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Btw on 08/18/2013 13:17:21 MDT Print View

The reason I'm looking for such a camera is to incorporate more night shots into these little videos I make:
The night shots I took here were with a canon g15. Super noisy.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Ultralight camera for night shots/stars? on 08/18/2013 16:10:04 MDT Print View

I found this comment about another TSO video clip :

"For years Sorgjerd planned, waiting for precisely the right conditions, then packed 90 pounds of gear and headed into the wilderness. Using a motion control dolly in conjunction with professional SLR lenses,, he created the time lapse video from 1.3 terabytes of pictures."

I know that one of the cameras he is using is the Canon 5DIII so I can safely assume that the other cameras and lenses are also Canon full frame stuff.

Again , take a look at the sensor comparison chart I posted.

The Canon 5dIII is of the "full frame" (36x24) type (in purple).

The GoPro is of the red sensor type.

As you get away from the red and closer in size to the Full Sensor you will progressively get closer in quality too.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Ultralight camera for night shots/stars? on 08/18/2013 16:43:27 MDT Print View

What Franco related is true, but the Canon 5DIII as part of 90 pounds of gear is hardly what I would call ultralightweight.

What Franco related about sensor size is true. The larger the sensor, the more capable it is likely to be in gathering light. Also, at least in the Canon realm, the G15 sports a CMOS sensor, not a CCD sensor. CMOS sensors are much quieter than CCD sensors. That is in the sense of color purity and lack of color noise. CCD sensors excel in being cheap since there are so many on the market. Further, the light-gathering photo sites on the sensor are farther apart on a large sensor. That means that they can do their job and not get so much noise from adjacent photo sites.

Lastly, as you get into larger cameras, they can accept larger lenses. By that, I mean lenses full of heavy optics that gather light more easily.


Corbin McFarlane
(raven15) - MLife
Probably Complicated on 08/20/2013 00:58:39 MDT Print View

Camera: NEX-3N
4.4 x 2.5 x 1.4" / 11.2 x 6.4 x 3.6 cm excluding protrusions
9.49 oz / 269 g incl battery

Lens: Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 fisheye (manual focus)
Approx. 2.36 x 2.20" (60 x 55.8 mm)
7.65 oz (217 g)
I don't know how or if the Sony will take time lapse, I don't have one.

Camera: E-PM2
4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3" / 11.0 x 6.4 x 3.4 cm
9.49 oz / 269 g incl battery

Lens: Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye (manual focus)
Approx. 2.36 x 1.90" (6.0 x 4.83 cm)
6.95 oz (197 g)
The easiest way to make an Olympus camera take time lapse is to set it to continuous shooting and rubber band the shutter button down.

I think Nikon cameras have a convenient timer for this sort of thing (I can't imagine why the others don't). However they are either much larger or much less capable than the above two.

I recommended manual focus fisheye lenses because they are relatively small and inexpensive, and also provide a sweeping view of the sky. However you will have to focus and set the aperture yourself, and they will distort the landscape by making things curve away from the center. If you want to have autofocus and avoid fisheye distortion, things get more complicated. For the Olympus E-PM2 you could get the Panasonic f/4 7-14mm lens, which is larger and pricey and the f/4 isn't as good, but it would provide a sweeping view of the sky and it can zoom. Sony makes a f/2.8 16mm lens which is small and inexpensive, but not as wide as I usually prefer (but quite workable). You could also look for a Samsung NX camera and a 16mm f/2.4 lens.

That is the best I can do, so far as I know night sky photography takes an investment in time and equipment. Someone else may have something better.

TJ Christopher
(Compel) - F
Battery Life... on 08/20/2013 14:00:12 MDT Print View

Smaller and lighter camera systems are great but the batteries tend to be small too. Your star time-lapse needs X number of long-exposure frames over Y periods of time so battery life is a factor (more so if it's cold).

Some few of the m4/3s and other mirrorless models have battery grips or are able take an AC connection from an external battery with converter, but obviously this erodes the size/weight advantage.

This is a tough one to pick since time-lapse isn't really a mainstream feature on consumer level cameras, and low-light photography tends to be the bane of smaller/lighter cameras.

More Googling is needed...

Edited by Compel on 08/20/2013 14:50:16 MDT.