The cosmos has been an all-time fascination for many, especially those pursuing astrophotography. Be it a documentary or even a single glance; it feels majestic. It scoops you to an entirely different space altogether – something mystic, larger than life, and infinitely deep with its unique language.
Photography exists where there is a story, a confrontation, a new sense, and an exciting feeling. Photographing astronomical bodies, celestial happenings, and the night sky brings you closer to the outer world. It gives the ability to image subjects and events that are otherwise not visible to the human eye.
Photographing these large objects can be tricky and is often considered a daunting task. However, the right knowledge, proper gears, and determination would never fail the attempts. This persistence encourages camera brands to study and introduce modified gears, and Fujifilm has been a step ahead.
Why Fuji Sensors are Perfect for Astrophotography
Within photography circles many photographers understand why Fujifilm is popular. However, to the untrained novice its a confusion world of megapixels and lenses. In order to shed some light on the topic, let’s explore why Fujifilm X Trans CMOS sensor perform better for astrophotography.
Fuji Sensors See Better: Adaptation to Ha-region
The most eccentric fact about Fujifilm sensors is it’s adapting nature towards the Hydrogen Alpha region. Ha-region has a wavelength of about 656mm, rich in reds and its constituents. This is a magnetic feature for astrophotography because the subjects such as nebulae have Ha- emissions, making it compatible.
The compatibility of the sensor towards this region means a better transmission of these particular wavelengths. Increase in the spectrum of wavelengths brings precision in recreating the colours. The appearance of deeper blacks and reds opens up a new spectrum of colours, adding to the dynamic range.
Fujifilm X-Trans Sensor Made for Astrophotography
X-Trans is a CMOS sensor created by Fujifilm and is built-in to its X Series cameras. Traditionally CMOS sensors come with a Bayer matrix system, a filter consisting of RGB photosites in a recurring two by two pattern (RGGB).
This pattern is said to develop a false-colour production since there is a lack of either red photosites or blue photosites in the horizontal array.
Whereas, the X-Trans sensor has a random spread of RGB photosites (up to nine times as random) as compared to the Bayer filter pattern. Its filter array occurs in a six by six pattern of photosites which brings it closer to producing an accuracy in colour. It’s because it has red and blue photosites available even in horizontal arrays.
Tips to Shoot Astrophotography
Choose a Suitable Spot
When it comes to shooting stars or the night sky, you should always pick a darker spot. Setting up your camera in a dark region prevents any sort of light emissions polluting the output. You can even control the lights while shooting at a terrace or even your backyard. The lesser the foreground emission, the clearer is the image. It is advisable to wait for a no moon day for capturing the best shot of stars.
Pick the Right Camera and Equipment
A camera for low light conditions is always preferable. A right sensor will help you achieve less grain and colour accuracy in your images. Telescopes can also be used for astrophotography in conjunction with a camera. We recommend Sky-Watcher as they have three incredible kits available to suit photographers. These include:
- Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i Photo Package
- Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Astro 2i Package
- Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro 2i Pack
The Star Adventurer includes built-in WIFI so taking photos and sharing them is hassle-free procedure. You can even control the telescope with the Sky-Watcher app to ensure you have precise control. Check with our team to see what cameras are compatible with the Star Adventurer 2i.
Make a Wise Choice
The lens choice entirely depends upon the kind of output you are shooting for; it is the fair decision of focal lengths you wish to work on. To build a narrative that gives a sense of space, lenses with a wide-angle of view are your pick. However, if you choose to go closer into the details and bring an intimate story of your subject, telephoto lenses are your disposal.
No matter what focal length you choose, it’s better to pick a lens with a wide aperture along with a fast focus for a better image.
One of the delicate parts of capturing the night sky is the constant rotation of the earth. The movement might be unnoticeable to the naked eye but not to the technology of the cameras. Therefore it is very crucial to determine the right speed of the shutter to prevent any trails in the image. There is a very common rule (from photography cheat sheet) for estimating the approximate shutter speed, the “500 rule”.
For its application, you have to divide 500 by the focal length in action and dial your shutter speed accordingly. Bulb modes are also a popular use for the night sky.
Aperture and ISO
Aperture and ISO balances the exposure after calculating the shutter speed based on the effective focal length. ISO determines the sensitivity of a sensor. Higher ISO levels tend to generate noisy images and deter clarity. It is better to keep ISO levels below 3200 or even lesser, if possible.
To compensate for low light conditions, it becomes necessary to dial the aperture to its maximum. Conventionally, wide aperture decreases the depth of field of the image. However, the decrease in DOF prevails as long as the subject is in the near distance. Wide aperture with the focus at infinity gives a fairly sharp image.
With low light conditions, especially when the subject is far off, it is better to turn to manual focus. You can use the built-in zooming feature for getting closer and focusing right. Choose a bright object to focus on. You can also turn on the peaking or the marks that display the exact area in focus for accuracy.
A Sturdy Tripod
You are going to need a strongly built tripod for an exposure that lasts for 2-10 seconds ( sometimes 30 as well). The right tripod is a must to prevent shakes or wind disturbances. The camera should be mounted properly, to avoid any mishappenings. Place the set-up at a stable plain and shoot for that magical moment you have been eagerly waiting to document.
There is an extensive line up of Fujifilm gear, and tripods of other brands. Here is an advised combination of a set-up to make your night sky experience fruitful and convenient.
FUJIFILM X-T3: A Perfect Astrophotography Shooter
With the launch of its X-T3 model, Fujifilm has created one of the finest camera models in this particular range and type. A mirrorless camera body paired with an APS-C sensor. Fujifilm’s X Series comes with X-Trans sensors and high adaptation towards the Hydrogen- Alpha region making it more suitable for astrophotography. This is also the case with the newer Fujifilm X-T4.
Features: Pro-grade image quality, developed with X-trans C-MOS sensor, Upgraded Mirrorless Camera body, excellent weather-sealed built.
- Digital Camera Type: Mirrorless system
- Sensor type: X-trans
- Sensor Resolution: 26.1 Megapixel
- Dimensions: 21.3 x 73.9 x 42.7 mm
- Weight: 337g
- Effective Pixels : 24.3 MP
- Sensor Type: CMOS
- Sensor Size: 23.5 x 15.6 mm
- Lens Mount: Fujifilm X Mount
- Viewfinder Type: Electronic – OLED
The crop factor also comes with its benefits of adding more focal length to the camera. Being mirrorless also gives the advantage of easy handling.
Combined with fast shutter performance and improved autofocus, it gives accurate and sharp quality output. It consists of a 425-point hybrid focus system, remarkably superior in low light conditions, and can focus down to -3 EV. The expansive update in autofocus is due to X Processor 4, which is three times speedy.
The camera body is moulded off a magnesium alloy making it protective against moisture and dust, adding to its robust quality. It’s weather-sealed and has a vintage look just like inherited by all Fuji models. The OLED electronic viewfinder with 3.69 million dots and refresh rate of 60 to 100Hz helps to render an output that requires minimum refinements. This amazing feature from Fuji is just one step away from creating an amazing output.
Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens
This phenomenal lens ranges from ultra-wide to zoom. This range is great for someone who has a larger view so that the output feels more grandeur. It has great mechanical quality so don’t feel that you need to handle this lens with ‘kid gloves’. Despite the ultra-wide angle of view, there is hardly any visible distortion in the images which makes it ideal for astro work.
Features: Efficient Optical Image Stabilisation system, Improved focusing system, Ultra-WideZoom with least distortion.
- Lens Mount: Fujifilm X-Mount
- Focal Length: 10 – 24mm
- Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 15 – 36 mm
- Aperture Maximum: f/4
- Aperture Minimum: f/22
- Format Compatibility: APS-C
- Angle of View: 110° – 61.2°
- Minimum Focus Distance: 9.45″ (24 cm)
- Elements/Groups: 14 elements in 10 groups
- Dimensions (DxL) Approx.: 3.07 x 3.43″ (78 x 87 mm)
- Weight: 14.46 oz (410 g)
The widest aperture is f4 throughout the range that provides a sharp quality result. It is compact and along with X-T3 makes a perfect travel kit. So wherever you are photographing the night sky, this kit won’t drag you down.
The lens has an inbuilt Optical Image Stabiliser to compensate for low light conditions and reduce the appearance of slight movements in the frame. As you will most likely be using the lens on a tripod for astrophotography we recommend turning this setting off.
Manfrotto MKBFRLA4BK-BH Befree Advanced Travel Aluminium Tripod with 494 Ball Head
Manfrotto has always been the top choice when it comes to a tripod. It has built its reputation as a reliable investment for different needs. This model of Manfrotto is very lightweight and is a highly suitable travel tripod. Made up of carbon fibre with legs extending in four parts, and twist locking system. The rubber grips are beneficial for a firm hand in different weather conditions.
- Material: Carbon fibre
- Maximum height: 59 inches
- Folded Length: 16.1 inches
- Load Capacity: 17.6 pounds
- Weight: 1.3 kg
It has an immense capacity for heavy loads making it more reliable for stable camera set-up. You can fold this tripod down to 16 inches which is ideal for travelling. The column at its centre is long enough with a 90-degree mechanism.
The tripod is a charm when clubbed with a ball head (MH494-BH) which consists of a quick-release mechanism. It has a sturdy tuning dial fitting into the main lock, which is an advantage for the accurate frame and smooth movements.
Manfrotto MK055XPRO3-BHQ2 Aluminium 3-Section Tripod with XPRO Ball Head + 200PL plate
This Manfrotto tripod is extremely sturdy! It has a high weight capacity and a robust build. The alloy of aluminium and magnesium can hold up to 10 kgs, making it an ideal candidate for astrophotography. The strong nature is an advantage for carrying in extreme weather conditions and rough environments.
- Load Capacity: 8KG
- Maximum height: 71.5 inches
- Folded Height: 9 inches
- Material: aluminium and magnesium alloy
Combining its strength with a smooth, easy to use and versatile ball head. The MHXPRO-BHQ2 XPRO is just what is required. The dial is stiff enough to hold a heavy lens. It has a large base plate to support the weight of the camera evenly.
The price range of both of the tripods is affordable to a larger group and is one of the best for an entry-level enthusiast. Especially when combined with Fujifilm X-T3 and XF 10-24mm makes a perfect family. The mirrorless camera with a wide lens efficient in low light conditions will be suitable for mounting on these tripods. It makes a fine kit for astrophotography.
Final Thoughts on Astrophotography
Astrophotography demands the use of fabulous development by Fujifilm, especially when designed for this specific genre. The brand has always provided consistency and uniqueness on high levels.
From the innovation to pertaining to the vintage analogous look, Fuji has never stopped producing jaw-dropping advancements and images. Manfrotto has shone out with its affordable range and omnipresence in the market of good quality tripods.
However, the needs and output vary individually, making it a unique choice of lenses for oneself. There is a hugely competitive market out there ready to serve, and you can visit the stores and try it for yourself.