Are you dabbling in Astrophotography and Landscape photography? You want to get the best DSLR camera for astrophotography and lens.
Landscapes – From Sunset to Sunrise
I’ve always been a bit of a night owl. Sleep all day, up all night. Even as a teenager I can recall my mum constantly having to drag me out of bed. Most people grow out of it, whereas I did not. Something which made our family hikes all the more difficult when growing up. Long wintery walks with a hot flask of tea. Sunny, albeit sometimes windy beach days with a few egg sandwiches. Don’t even get me started on my dads so called short cuts along the way. Memories and experiences that I will treasure for a lifetime. Days that nurtured my love for the outdoors, specifically the mountains, lakes, skies and seas of wales – my home country. The ideal playground for any landscape photographer..whether you’re learning the basics of photography or are an expert, it’s beautiful!
Where, when and how do you begin?
Over the years I’d made a habit out of pinching my dad’s camera. Finally fed up of it, my parents gifted me my first ever DSLR For my 21st birthday. A canon 650d. a camera which opened up a whole new world for me – low light photography and long exposures. From then on I dabbled in a bit of landscape, and a bit of landscape astrophotography
Which brings me on to my top 5 entry level DSLR astrophotography camera for you dabblers.
- Canon EOS Rebel t7i / 800d – supports a staggering amount of camera lenses and software applications
- Canon eos 4000d – best budget beginners’ camera.
- Nikon d3500 – The best all-rounder for a beginner, especially coupled with the right lens.
- Sony Alpha a68 – Good for mixed lighting conditions, but difficult for astrophotography.
- Pentax K-70 – Weather-resistant construction, built in wifi and an astrotracer.
Don’t be afraid to dip into the pre-loved market. It’s A fabulous way of picking up bargain kit.
Best Lens for Astrophotography
My kit lens and 650D offered me the perfect starting point. Through these I learned how to use the dreaded manual settings. Instead of my camera controlling my images, I now had the freedom to control them myself. I practiced, ensuring I took my camera with me everywhere, no matter how trying the conditions.
We in North Wales are lucky enough to live in a dark sky area – an area which attempts to minimize light pollution and promotes astronomy. Pair that with good weather, and it’s An astrophotographers dream.
Growing up I was reminded by my dad of a quote by astronomer Carl Sagan: “The total number of stars in the Universe is larger than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of planet earth.”
A quote that I’ve now been able to pass on to my own children and give them a glimpse of the real thing through both their own eyes and my lens.
A few years ago my husband gifted me a place on an astrophotography workshop. Although the clear skies were abundant, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with my kit. It was then I realized I knew I wanted to do more than just dabble. I’d pushed my entry level DSLR and kit lens to the brink, but still wanted more. It was time to upgrade, and that meant only one thing – A full frame astrophotography camera.
My top 5 landscape & astrophotography full frame DSLR picks.
- Canon eos 6D Mark ii – My slightly biased choice, but an incredible iso range, making it well suited for nightscapes.
- Sony A7R II Mirrorless – An advanced mirrorless option.
- Nikon D810A – A pricy option, but one that’s great for the more advanced astrophotographer due to its noise characteristics.
- Pentax K-70 – Again with the astrotracer function!
- Fujifilm X-T2 – This mirrorless camera boasts amazing colours.
I paired my Canon 6D Mark II with a super wide-angle lens, opting to go for the more affordable Samyang 14mm 2.8. Although there are incredible lenses available for astrophotography, the Samyang was the perfect option for me. A prime lens which captures an insane amount of light, sufficiently sharp, light in weight, and cheap. It is however manual focus, but for me that isn’t much of an issue.
My photography, especially astrophotography takes me to different places, many of which can be dangerous during low light and darkness. Wales also has weather that can be unpredictable at the best of times. The right astrophotography gear is essential. Waterproofs, walking boots, base layers, thermals and spare sets a plenty. Many a time I’ve tripped and ended up with a wet bottom!
For me, it’s essential to picture and plan my compositions beforehand. Fail to plan, and you plan to fail after all. I tend to do a daytime rekey for my foreground if and when possible. For my skies, I use a few clever little apps to predict the positioning of the Milky way. One of which is Photopills. It enables me to visualize and frame my shots as well gage the correct settings.
For your average landscapes, here’s a little tip I was given by a fellow photographer. If ever you’re unsure what settings to use, flick it into Auto. Many pro-photographers will shudder at the thought, but it’ll give you a base line for your settings. Another is make sure to make use of your weather and tide apps. I live in a coastal area, and it’s a lesson I learnt the hard way.
It’s through photography I’ve met new people, through Social Media, meetups and the odd run in on location. I’ve spent many a cold night waiting for the milky way to align with my foreground, I’ve watched bioluminescent shores sparkle in the moonlight, I’ve captured meteor showers soaring through the sky, but most of all I’ve gained confidence in myself and my work. So I’ll end on one final note. Keep practicing, keep socializing, and keep peering upwards.
So no matter if you are shooting landscapes at golden hour or spending the night in the great outdoors – keep practicing!