Jul 27, 2013 at 9:59 am #1305872
Hi there. I'm a camera newbie and I'm currently using a gopro for most trips.
While great for day stuff, it is horrible for night.
Ideally I'd like a lightweight small camera that can take good night shots including time lapse of the stars.
I'm willing to invest a good amount if such a thing exists.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions!Jul 27, 2013 at 4:52 pm #2010070
Some compact cameras have a minimum shutter speed of 15 sec most only do a few seconds max.
Panasonic has a few that go up to 60 seconds.
The LX7 has the longest at 250 seconds, it could be one to look at.
This one is at the large sensor end for a compact camera (7.44×5.58mm)
Going up in sensor size there is the Sony RX100 II (30 sec) 13.2×8.8mm sensor
Still relatively compact is the Fuji X100s with the large APS C (23.5×15.6mm) sensor .
Min shutter speed is 30 sec.
So all of the above can take night shots.
Generally speaking as you go up in sensor size you get less noise (cleaner images) and usually sharper lenses so better image quality.
You will need to search to find out if any of the above have a built in intervalometer.Jul 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm #2010077
You can easily install a hack on many of the Cannon Point and Shoot cameras to get a little over a minute exposure. CHDK installs fairly easily, and the quality of photos is respectable.
Here's a few links for more info:
Here's a picture taken with a Powershot at over 90k feet I had it take during a high altitude balloon flight I put together.
Short of that, you could look at a Nikon 1 V1. It's in the compact range. Larger than a Point and Shoot, but smaller than a DSLR. Here's a picture I took of NYC skyline a few days ago:
IMHO a larger lens is more valuable than the extended shutter speed for night shots. The more light you can get into the camera in the least amount of time will produce the best night shot. Keep the shutter open too long and you will get drift in the stars and sky. You can see that in this picture with the two aircraft.Jul 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm #2010110
Aperture is important but more so for hand held street type available light photography than night sky type shots.
Anyway it just happens that the Nikon V1 shot you posted ,Aaron, was taken at F5 on a lens that has a 3.5 max aperture.
All cameras I posted above have a maximum aperture of almost 2 stops (4 x brighter) than the Nikon V1 kit zoom lens and in the case of the Pana LX7 almost 4 stops (8 times) brighter.
So if at F1.4 (LX7) I can shoot at 30th (OK at 24mm hand held…) with the V1 at F3.5 I will be down to between 1/8 and 1/4 of a sec, not OK…
Here are a couple of night shots from the LZ 7 . The one with the plane was hand held.
(both shots stolen from the net, I don't have any of the above cameras…)
The original (4mb) nightscape shot from the LX7 is from here :
much sharper at full size than it looks here.
(full stops : 1.4-2-2.8-4) F2.8 is half as bright as F2 )Jul 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm #2010122
I don't want to hijack the OP's post, but I think we are saying the same thing. I posted the night skyline to show what a long exposure can do. I was taking shots up to 30 sec. exposure to purposely smooth the water out. Perhaps I didn't explain my myself well…
Same basic skyline shot using an 18.5mm (50mm equivalent on a 35mm format) prime lens on the V1 at f/1.8. Shutter is 1/2", still too slow for handheld shot. The larger the aperture, the more light that can hit the CMOS resulting in a faster shutter to prevent the stars (or airplanes) from drifting.
Advantage of the Nikon 1 V1 is the interchangeable lens and now that the V2 has arrived, a V1 camera body can be found for under $300.
My basic feeling is that you are not going to get stunning night shots with a run of the mill point and shoot, but you also don't have to lug a full size DSLR on the trail either. There are several 'tweener cameras like the aforementioned Panasonic LX7 or the Nikon V1 that will take very good pictures for their size.
I'm by no means an expert, but I always recommend getting the largest optical zoom and largest aperture camera you can afford, or in this case weighs in at what you are willing to carry, especially if you will shoot in low light conditions. A small packable tripod is a good idea too, although I never seem to have mine when I need it… The NYC Skyline shots were done by propping the camera on fixed objects and using a remote to fire the shutter to avoid shake.
I hope in all of this discussion you are able to find the information to pick out the right camera for you.Jul 27, 2013 at 10:05 pm #2010146
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Time lapse of stars has another problem. The earth turns while the stars are relatively stationary.Jul 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm #2010437
If we haven't scared you off yet…
The good news is that there are many compact cameras that can take a better night time shot than the GoPro .
So a quick re-cap
1) get a larger sensor
(GoPro 1/2.3" Black/ 1/2.5" white / 1/2.7" silver)
2)get as wide or wider aperture (GoPro F2.8)
3) get one that can do long exposures of 15sec or more
The ones that I posted represent 3 steps of quality (and price range)
This is a less expensive solution :
from a Pana TS2 , the newest version TS5 will do the same. Ithink it was a 1 minute exposure.
This is sunrise on New Year's day. Possibly 30 sec exposure
I don't have the much larger and better originals.
The camera belongs to my mate Yair (in green)Jul 29, 2013 at 10:25 am #2010567
Thanks so much for the info so far!!!
I was hoping to achieve shots somewhat close to this where you can see the milky way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KySThq5CxLI
I'm sure this was done with about 50lbs of camera equipment, but if there's a way to get a fraction of this quality for under 1 lb, that would be nice.
I also like the 1 shot every 10 second feature that gopro does so star shots can be achieved without getting all the lines. I have an HD hero 2 and it just doesn't take in enough light. Can the gopro silver achieve this?Jul 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm #2010672
No, the GoPro will not do it.
This is the gear used for that Milky Way clip :
Canon 60D and T2i
Sigma 20mm F1.8
Dynamic Perception Stage Zero Dolly http://www.dynamicperception.com/#oid…
Shot in RAW format, the Milky Way shots were 30 seconds exposure F2.8 or F1.8 with 3 second interval between shots, for 3-4 hours run time. ISO 1600
Note the 30 sec exposure. F2.8 or F1.8 aperture and ISO 1600. Both cameras using the APS C sensor
Sensors . Compare the 1/2.5 (=/-) of the Go Pro with the APS C
As compromise you could look at the 1" (13.2 x 8.8mm) sensor .Note that the sensor size in inches is not the actual sensor size (see mm for that)
The Nikon 1 series of cameras has the 1" sensor and a built in intervallometer of sorts as well as offering a 30 sec minimum exposure speed.
The Nikon 1 V1 or V2 can be purchased with the 10mm 1.8 lens giving you a lighter but close enough in quality version of the YouTube kit.
The 10mm CX (V1 system) lens is not as wide as the lenses used in that clip but it is as wide as it gets in this format.
Again ,lighter and cheapper but not as good as the above, is the Pana LX7 with its basic interval timer :
"Time lapse shooting is available in iAuto mode, with the ability to set the start time within a 12-hour period, select shooting intervals in one- to 30-minute steps and fix the number of shots between 10 and 60 frames. Bracketing options include exposure, white balance and aspect ratios."
Expect the LX results to be much better than your GoPro,better than my two Pana shots from the previous post but not all that close to the YouTube clip…
Another possible solution is to look at some Canon "compact" cameras that can be firmware modified using the CHDK download.
Better to get hold of someone that has a good grasp on technology for this route :
http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDKJul 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm #2010693
double postJul 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm #2010713
A timely article over at B&H Photo…Jul 30, 2013 at 11:24 am #2010926
Jacob DBPL Member
@jacobdLocale: North Bay
Astrophotography is the term used by photographers who are shooting the milky way, etc… It may help you gather more information in your searching (not just on cameras, but on technique, tips, etc…)
For that, fast aperture + largest sensor you can get is what you want. An APS-C sensor along with an f/1.4 lens would be a good place to start.
If you're interested in shooting star trails (another common term) you'll want a camera with "bulb" exposure mode.
In either case, using a tripod is ideal, even if it's just a gorilla pod or something along those lines. Trails don't start to develop right away, so you can come back with a reasonably sharp shot of the milky way even with a few seconds of exposure, which will help keep the ISO turned down and maybe allow you to stop the lens down a tiny bit.Aug 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm #2013497
I would recommend cameras with 4/3 or APS-C sensor sizes. Even with micro 4/3 you need a 16MP sensor, and it has to be a Sony sensor, which specifically limits you to Olympus for a compact camera. Sony also makes the sensors for Nikon, Sony, and Pentax cameras so they are good choices as well, with slightly larger sensors and proportionally larger cameras and lenses. Fuji also makes nice large sensor cameras.
You will also want a wide aperture, wide angle lens. Wide aperture helps because the wider the aperture the more light hits your sensor, resulting in a less noisy image. It will also give you more leeway to adjust shutter speed and ISO. I wrote about how to get lower noise in a thread a few months ago, about ten threads down. The lens needs at least f/3.5, but preferably f/2.0 or larger (i.e. lower f/ numbers). The wider the lens angle, the more flexibility you have in apertures.
Wide angle helps to keep the star trails from getting too long, because they cover proportionally less distance in 60s across a lens with 120 degree field of view than a lens with 60 degrees (which doesn't matter for star trails). Wider angle also allows you to get more of the foreground in focus at a given aperture.
Here is a composite time-lapse image with Olympus E-M5 and Rokinon f/3.5 7.5mm fisheye. You could get the same result with the more compact Olympus E-PM2 camera, which has the same sensor.
Here is another with Olympus E-M5 and f/2.0 12mm lens. You could use the Panasonic f/2.5 14mm lens for a almost decent, nearly wide aperture lens, with almost as wide a view that is much cheaper and lighter. (However I sold mine for the 12mm with no regrets.)
If you are away from city lights night images are more difficult. I think you would, for example, be hard pressed to get a new-moon star trail image from Desolation Wilderness with a LX-7. In fact from my perspective it would be impossible. If interchangeable lens cameras are too large/complicated, there are some good fixed lens APS-C cameras about.
A couple additions: Notice the images above me were shot in full moons, bright city lights, or at twilight. Trying to get an image when only star light is present is harder and would generally require a larger sensor (4/3's or larger). Another note, I take star trail time lapse images by placing rubber bands around my camera's shutter button when it is in continuous shooting mode (they have a day job of holding my tent stakes together).Aug 7, 2013 at 9:48 pm #2013501
Corbin, I notice that you did not mention Canon.
–B.G.–Aug 7, 2013 at 10:36 pm #2013508
True. I believe at present Canon APS-C sensors are fractionally less capable at low light than Olympus m4/3 (the Sony sensor), but I admit to not following the releases from this year, in fact I had to look up the Olympus model I mentioned. The difference is probably academic, and a far lower priority than the right lens and experience. Canon DSLR's, like all DSLR's, are not all that light or compact, but they do make a nice fixed lens camera with some combination of the characters in GX1.Aug 8, 2013 at 5:44 am #2013526
Ben RBPL Member
@snowfiend131Locale: Western PA
Can you please share what aperature, shutter speed, and iso you were using for those shots?
I assume the full moon or twilight helps with the foreground? Surprising that the extra light doesn't interfere with the milky way being visible.
BenAug 8, 2013 at 7:27 am #2013547
Michael RayBPL Member
I like night shots as well, but don't have the funds for a nice camera and wanted to go lighter than my previous Canon Powershot A630 so I ended up with the Canon S100. It does much better noise-wise than my previous one but is no match at all to the ones mentioned above with larger sensors. The A630 was pretty bad at even 400 ISO but I can take the S100 to 1600 with at least the same results if not better. I haven't had enough time to play with it though to see what works best. I'm sure I could get even better results if I wanted to take the time to use RAW files, too, but have no interest at the moment.
Here is one of my favorite shots of our recent road trip and the first time I tried doing long exposure night shots with the S100. This is f2.5 @ 20 sec and 800 ISO. I was holding down my little Ultrapod Mini on a steep windy slope.
Edit: the moon was maybe 70% full (5 days prior). Installing CHDK lets you do time-lapse, motion detection, and other cool stuff!Aug 8, 2013 at 10:43 am #2013607
Wow. Delicate Arch – Reverse Angle.
You could have broken your neck up there.
–B.G.–Aug 8, 2013 at 10:48 pm #2013806
A half moon can be greatly beneficial to lighting the landscape and still showing the stars in my experience. I was especially happy with the way the Milky Way shot turned out.
60s The cold temperature allowed be to go for a longer exposure time with less fear of noise.
4 hours stitched together
Moon was near full.
Milky Way Reflection:
30s To keep the stars point-like and keep hot pixels down in warm weather, I went with 30s at all costs (up to ISO1600).
Moon a little less than full.Aug 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm #2016346
This is really complicated for a newbie like me. Ay specific models I should be looking at?
Again, my criteria:
-able to capture Milky Way
Example I'd like to get somewhat close too in quality:
I think I read the pana lx7 can only do short time lapses?Aug 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm #2016347
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.Aug 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm #2016379
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" (36×24) 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.Aug 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm #2016392
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.
–B.G.–Aug 19, 2013 at 11:58 pm #2016809
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.
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.Aug 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm #2016973
TJ ChristopherBPL Member
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…
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