Point and Shoot Cameras

Plenty of experienced astrophotographers have gotten their start in imaging using the ubiquitous digital "point and shoot" camera (Plate 68). If one's available, give it a try at the telescope; the results may be surprisingly good. Plate 69, a recent partial lunar eclipse, was taken with a four-year-old Canon A70 3.2 megapixel camera. How does it attach to the telescope? It doesn't. All you need to do is hold the Canon up to the eyepiece of an ETX125 and focus the scope until the image on the camera's display is as sharp as you can get it. Not bad quality, and falling-off-a-log easy.

But point and shoot cameras are a little less than satisfactory for anything other than for casual experimentation. Their big failing is that their lenses cannot be removed, making it impossible to couple them to a scope using standard T adaptors. Creative vendors such as Baader Planetarium have devised brackets to hold these cameras in place over the eyepiece, and a rig like the one in Plate 68 can help, but that's still a compromise. Shooting in this fashion, through an eyepiece ("afocally"), it's impossible to achieve wide-field views suitable for most deep sky objects. Most point and shoots deliver fairly noisy images in exposures over 30 seconds as well.

Plate 68. (Point 'n Shoot) Since the lenses of point 'n shoot digital cameras can't be removed, these cameras can't be directly connected to a telescope. Baader planetarium and other vendors offer clever brackets that allow the cameras to be used at the telescope in an afocal set up. Credit: Author.

Plate 69. (Eclipse) Digital point 'n shoot cameras are not recommended for deep space imaging, but they are capable of delivering high quality Solar System photos. Credit: Author.

Yeah, it's possible to get acceptable results on the Solar System, but a simple (and less expensive) webcam will blow the doors off any point 'n shoot.

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Digital Cameras For Beginners

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.

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