Our Full Astrophotography Equipment

Updated: 18 hours ago

Make sure to read our Beginner's Guide to Astrophotography Equipment for all the information you need to start this hobby.


Below you will find a list of our complete equipment, as well as to where to purchase them and how much each cost. Watch our "Complete Astrophotography Equipment on the Field" video if you'd like to see how it all looks together in the desert (before our January 2019 upgrade).


Our telescope and mount, without any cable

Doing astrophotography is easy, as long as you have some basic knowledge on how to use a camera. You can just attach any DSLR camera to a tripod, aim it to a beautiful part of the sky like the Milky Way, take a 30 second shot of it and tell all your friends you are now officially an astrophotographer. Congratulations!


Now, when it is time to upgrade to an actual deep sky astrophotography rig, things get a little trickier... well, unless you want to go with products like Unistellar's EVscope or Vaonis' Stellina that allow you to capture deep sky objects in just one press of a button.


We started out with a Canon Powershot Point and Shoot camera. Our photos were... very bad to say the least. Although it did allow us to practice lunar imaging a little bit, through our 20x80 binoculars.

You can read about how we got started in the hobby on our dedicated blog post to learn more about how we got to where we are now by clicking HERE.


The Pleiades (left) and the Moon (right) with a Point & Shoot Canon camera



Loving this new hobby, we quickly upgraded to an actual DSLR camera (a cheap used Canon t3i bought on Ebay) and used that, along with an $20 intervalometer from Amazon, on top of our binoculars' tripod as our new "astro rig". This is what we used to get our first image of another galaxy (M31) and our first nebula (M42).


We were now completely in love with the hobby, and started debating wether we should use most of our savings to purchase a complete astrophotography setup. We thought about it for a few weeks... then said "Yeah let's do it!"


Little did we know, it took us weeks to decide what to get. We did not have any friend that had any knowledge in telescopes or astronomy in general, and we simply had no idea where to get started! Reddit and Instagram helped a lot, as astrophotographers often post their acquisition details along with the equipment they used in the description of their astrophotos (something we now do as well!). We started compiling a list of what we thought we needed to purchase, hoping we did not forget any important piece. Our initial budget was $1,700 for everything...




... and the shopping cart reached $2,756.93 (note that several of these prices have now been lowered). The most expensive part was the mount, we knew this would be useful to us in the long term so we decided to get the expensive Atlas EQ-G over the Sirius EQ-G to ensure it could support our telescope and all the accessories for sure.


The list had a total of 9 items. We later realized that the 2" Zero-Profile adapter was not needed as we would already be using the Coma Corrector as an adapter. This saved us $32, better than nothing!


Well, that was a long intro, let's get to our list of equipment!


Dalia aiming our t3i at our Orion telescope


CAMERAS

1) Our DSLR Camera for Astrophotography: CANON 7D MARK II

Our DSLR Astrophotography camera is the 7D Mark II from Canon. This is an upgrade from our cheap Canon t3i which we were using in Episodes #1 through #4. This camera is really great for capturing objects of the night sky, even without filter and unmoded. The Canon 7D Mk II is easy to use, and can yield awesome results no matter the target. It is a little heavy, especially compared to the t3i, but we never found this to be an issue during imaging. Just make sure your balance your gear perfectly!

When shooting, we do not plug this camera into any laptop but instead go the "good old way" and use a cheap intervalometer.


This is also the camera we use to film all of our episodes, do time-lapses, and even day time photography as we decided to keep it unmodified.

You can get it on Amazon.

Example of images taken with this camera:




2) Our cooled Monochrome camera for Astrophotography: ZWO ASI 1600MM-PRO




As of January 2019, we now own a cool CMOS Astrophotography camera! It is the very popular ASI 1600MM from ZWO and it is now our main camera for astrophotography. We still use our DSLR for some objects (if they can't fit in the frame of the ASI 1600MM) and also for Milky Way photography and time-lapses.

We are working on doing a full review of this camera, which will be available once we had plenty of time to properly test it.


You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.


Example of images taken with this camera:

  • NGC 2359 - Thor's Helmet

  • M97 & M108 - The Owl Nebula & The Surboard Galaxy

  • M106 - Galaxy in Canes Venatici

  • M63 - The Sunflower Galaxy

  • NGC 7000 - The North America Nebula




3) Our cooled One-Shot-Color camera for Astrophotography: QHY128C

In 2020, we got our very first full frame camera, the QHY128C!

We have been very impressed with this camera so far and find it perfect to image galaxies, clusters, and other objects that are great RGB targets.


This camera is also excellent when paired with a narrowband filter like the TRIAD Ultra quad band filter, as seen on the left image below.





TELESCOPES

1) ORION 8" ASTROGRAPH F/3.9



The telescope we use for pretty much all of our imaging sessions is the Orion 8" f/3.9 Newtonian Astrograph. It is really cheap ($499) and is considered an entry level telescope.


Despite its surprisingly low price, this telescope is amazing for photographing deep sky objects and it doesn't do bad at all for visual observations as well!

This is our first telescope and we do not regret our purchase one bit!


See our full review of this telescope HERE.

You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

See our gallery for examples of images taken with this telescope.



2) Meade 6000 Series 70MM F/5 PETZVAL REFRACTING TELESCOPE



This is the telescope we use to capture large objects. You can watch us use this telescope in our 13th Episode of Galactic Hunter.


The Meade 6000 series 70mm telescope is a small and lightweight refractor telescope with a wide aperture.


You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

See our images of the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae (Messier 8 and Messier 20), the Heart Nebula (IC 1805) as well as the Sadr Region (IC 1318) to see how this telescope performs.



3) Meade 6000 Series 115M F/5.7 REFRACTING TELESCOPE


This is a larger version of the Meade 70mm APO!


This telescope has a focal length of 644mm (with the field flattener/focal reducer, which you definitely need to have round stars) and a focal ratio of f/5.6 which is not bad at all!


We got some of our favorite images with this telescope. We only wish it was a Petzval like the small Meade :)


You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

See our images of the Veil Nebula as well as the Pelican Nebula to see how this telescope performs.










IMAGE ACQUISITION - ZWO ASI AIR


As we explained in our "First upgrade" video, our laptop does not have enough storage to save the files taken by our ZWO ASI1600MM camera. We had to find a solution, and quick, as we could not buy another laptop. We decided to go with the ASIAir from ZWO, and are very happy with it!


This lightweight device allows you to connect to your ZWO camera and capture everything on the included SD card! You do not need a laptop as you can control everything right from your phone or tablet via wifi (even from the desert with no connection whatsoever).


You can also connect this directly to your mount and guide camera to slew your telescope and use PHD2. We do not have a ZWO guiding camera yet so we are not currently able to leave the laptop at home entirely, and bring it on the field just for guiding.


You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.


MOUNTS & TRIPODS

1) ORION ATLAS EQ-G COMPUTERIZED GOTO MOUNT



The main Astrophotography mount we purchased is the Atlas EQ-G from Orion. It is of course a computerized/motorized/GoTo mount which can hold a weight of 40 pounds. It has an illuminated polar axis scope and its GoTo capabilities allow you to visit 42,900 targets.


We were first planing to buy the Sirius EQ-G mount, which is a little cheaper, but decided to get the Atlas in case our equipment becomes heavier in the future, which it likely will.


You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.



2) Omegon Mini-Track LX2



The Omegon Mini Track LX2 is a star tracker that screws in on top of any tripod and allows you to take long exposures shots of the sky. It is mechanical and does not require any battery, and is great if you like doing wide field imaging or time-lapses.


See our full review of the Omegon Mini-Track LX2 HERE.

You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.


3) DSLR Camera tripods



We own two DSLR camera tripods for our Canon 7D Mark II.


The main one is the Orion Paragon-Plus XHD Extra Heavy-Duty Tripod which we use anytime we have to take wide-field pictures or videos with our Canon 7D Mark II. This tripod can also support our heavy 20x80 binoculars. We really suggest that you buy a heavy duty tripod such as this one if you intend to use heavy binoculars.


The second one is the JOBY Gorilla Pod 3K tripod which is nice to have when doing time-lapses with a low or specific angle.


GUIDING


Our autoguiding was always done with the "Magnificent Mini Autoguider Package" from Orion. The guide scope is 50mm, which we find to be enough for our imaging, and the camera is the Starshoot Autoguider. The strength of this package is that it is very compact and not heavy at all!

Remember that the heavier your rig it, the more stress you are putting on your mount.


In January 2019, we switched the Orion camera for the ZWO ASI 290MM Mini camera. The main reason for this change was to plug it in to our ASIAir and be able to guide using our iPad.


CAMERA TO TELESCOPE ADAPTERS



1) Baader MPCC Mark III Coma Corrector


A coma corrector is needed for fast telescopes (under f/6). Our main telescope, the 8" Orion Astrograph, is f/3.9 so we really need one! We are satisfied with the Badder MPCC Mark III, and we use it on both our Canon 7D Mark II and our ZWO ASI 1600MM cameras.


2) Orion T-Ring


In order to attach our DSLR camera to our coma corrector (and then to the telescope), we use the Orion T-Ring for Canon Cameras. Just make sure you get one that fits yours (Don't get the Canon adapter if you own a Nikon camera for example).



PRE-IMAGING ACCESSORIES


1) QHY Polemaster


The QHY Polemaster is one of the most popular accessories out there. We recently added this product to our Astrophotography rig and we do not regret it! This will help you achieve perfect polar alignment in just a couple of minutes. We'll have a review video coming soon!


You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

See our full review about the QHY Polemaster.


2) ORION LASERMATE DELUXE II LASER COLLIMATOR


One of the best accessories we purchased! This laser collimator will help you make sure your telescope is perfectly collimated in seconds, literally. The battery included lasted us 3+ years before we had to change it, and so far we never had any issue with it!


You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

See our tutorial post and video about How to Collimate in 90 seconds using this laser.


3) BAHTINOV FOCUS MASK


Another awesome accessory that will help you save a lot of time in the long term: A Bahtinov mask! This will help you focus your camera in seconds. Just make sure to get the correct size for your telescope. Our Orion Astrograph is an 8" telescope so we bought the 5.5" to 8.5" bahtinov mask.


You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

See our tutorial post and video about How to Focus in 90 seconds using this laser.


POWERING OUR ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT

1) STANLEY JUMP STARTER


We used this 1000 Peak/500 Instant Amps Jump Starter to power our motorized mount for our first two years in this hobby. We have now replaced it (see below) with a deep cycle battery as this simply loses power after 2 or 3 years. It is still good to bring because our imaging location is remote and with no service (desert) so it is great to have in case we need to jump start our car or refill the air in our tires.


You can get it on Amazon.




2) DEEP CYCLE MARINE BATTERY


We purchased this battery after realizing that our jump starter wasn't strong enough to keep up with the tracking needs of our mount.


Although it is heavier than our jump starter and not as user friendly, this definitely keeps all our equipment powered up for all hours of the night.


You can get it on Amazon.





3) PEGASUS ASTRO POCKET POWERBOX


Similar in size and in weight to the ASI Air, the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox is an amazing device that allows us to power all of our astrophotography products and accessories without using more than one port on our main battery.


This Powerbox serves as a "hub", where only one cable goes to our deep cycle battery, and all the other ones go to our devices, such as our CMOS camera, our ASI air, or our mount.

This really helps to keep all the cables neat and not have several of them going all the way down to the main power source on the ground.


See our full review of this device HERE.

You can get it at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.



DSLR CAMERA LENSES



1) ROKINON 10MM f/2.8


The widest lens we own is the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8.


This is the one we use when we want to photograph the Milky Way or do star trail astrophotography.


Unlike most lenses, the Rokinon 10mm is entirely manual, so you cannot focus or change the aperture from the camera menus.


This has never been a problem though, and the results are great for the price we paid!


You can see us using this lens on the field if you watch our video about the affordable lenses for Milky Way Astrophotography!


You can get this lens on Amazon.



2) Canon EF-S 24MM F/2.8


Although we mostly use this lens for filming our Astrophotography related videos rather than capturing deep sky objects, the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is pretty awesome as it is super light weight and extremely thin! Because of that, it is also called the "Pancake Lens".


3) CANON EF 50MM F/1.8


The very popular "Nifty Fifty"!


This is is the lens we use for pretty much all of our wide-field astrophotography.

With it, you can perfectly capture Barnard's Loop, M45 with the California Nebula in the same frame, Rho Ophiuchi as seen on the left, and more...



The F/1.8 is really awesome, although there is another, more expensive 50mm lens at f/1.4 you might want to consider. We usually keep is a F/4.0 anyway to avoid coma around the edges, which we discuss in Episode 8 of Galactic Hunter.


You can get it on Amazon.


4) Canon EF 55-250 F/4.5-6


This is the only telephoto lens we own. We started out with the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III but this one sadly gave its life for us when recording a video about the "Wolf Blood Moon"... We now own Canon EF 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM which we actually prefer!

This is an affordable and perfect lens for photographing the moon, or imaging deep sky objects with a tracker if you do not wish to use a telescope.


EYEPIECES


Although we mostly focus on Astrophotography, we also sometimes use our telescope to do some visual! We have two eyepieces as well as a 2x barlow. We'd like to get more eyepieces in the future and spend more time observing deep sky objects and planets rather than spending all our time imaging.


1) 32mm Eyepiece


We have a Plossl 32mm eyepiece, which has about the same field of view as our DSLR camera's liveview when attached to our telescope. This is the basic eyepiece we use when we want to observe deep sky objects in general.


2) Orion Shorty 2X Barlow lens


We rarely use this, but it is great to have for both astrophotography and visual observing! This Shorty 1.25-Inch 2x Barlow Lens is useful to attach to the camera to really get a better look at the Moon or planets. You can see us use this in Episode #3 of Galactic Hunter.


3) 5mm Planetary Eyepiece


We also have a 5mm Edge-On Planetary Eyepiece. This is a very good one to look at planets.

You can also attach it to the 2x barlow for an even better view, but only for planets, as the moon or any deep sky object will appear very blurry with the both of them together.


ORION 20x80 ASTRONOMY BINOCULARS

Every stargazer needs a good pair of binoculars! Those are ours, the 20x80 from Orion. It is with those that we saw the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Orion Nebula with our own eyes for the first time!


You can get those at Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

MAVIC PRO DRONE

This is not really part of our astronomy equipment, but we got questions about the drone we started using in Episode #6 of Galactic Hunter, so here it is! Very happy with how compact and easy to use it is.


You can get it on Amazon.


And Voilà! This was the list of every piece of equipment we have. You can watch the video below to see it on the field and all mounted!

We will keep adding to the list as we expand our gear. Do not hesitate to ask us any questions (below or in the youtube video comment section) and we will make sure to help you out!


Clear Skies,

Antoine & Dalia Grelin

Galactic Hunter




GALACTIC HUNTER BOOKS

Description: Discover 60 Deep Sky Objects that will considerably improve your Imaging and Processing skills! Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced astrophotographer, this detailed book of the best deep sky objects will serve as a personal guide for years to come! Discover which star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies are the easiest and most impressive to photograph for each season. Learn how to find each object in the night sky, and read our recommendations on imaging them in a quick and comprehensive way. Each target in this guide contains our advice on imaging, photos of expected results, and a useful information table. We've also included a few cool facts about each target, a map to find it in the night sky, and more!

Description: The Astrophotographer’s Journal is a portable notebook created for the purpose of recording observations, cataloguing photographs, and writing down the wonderful memories created by this hobby. This book contains more than 200 pages to memorialize your stargazing and imaging sessions, as well as a useful chart on the last pages to index exciting or important notes. Read back on the logs to see how much progress you have made through the months, the problems you overcame, and the notes taken to improve in the future. Just as the pioneers of astronomy did in their time, look up and take notes of your observations as you are the author of this star-filled journey.

Description: The Constellations Handbook is a logical guide to learning the 88 constellations. Learning the constellations is difficult. Remembering them is even harder. Have you ever wanted to look up to the night sky, name any pattern of stars and be able to tell their stories?

This book groups the constellations in a logical order, so that the reader can easily learn them by their origin, and see how their stories interact with one another as a group. The last pages of this book include an index of all 88 constellations, each with a slot where you can write your own personal tips and tricks in order to memorize them with ease.

The Constellations Handbook is not just another guide listing all the constellations from A to Z and their location, it is the perfect companion for stargazing, and a learning journey through the ages.


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