Need advice on camera upgrade

ggerry

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
4
0
Delta Junction, Alaska
I am looking to upgrade my Canon T2i. I live in interior Alaska and shoot aurora and stars pictures regularly. The cameras that I have been looking at are the Canon 60D, 70D, T5i, and Nikon 5200 or 5300. I have several other Canon lenses so am leaning toward Canon but have not ruled out switching to Nikon.
 

MCAsan

macrumors 601
Jul 9, 2012
4,556
418
Atlanta
Strikes me you need a body with very high IOS handling with low noise to do night and low light photography. I doubt you will get those capabilities in a 3 or 2 digit Canon body (i.e. 60D, 70D,..etc.). Consider a refurbed Canon 5DIII. Those have very good noise handling and the full frame sensor would be nice shooting the wide open sky.

You can go for refurbed 5DIII from Canon and trade in a older Canon body for credit.

http://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/c...=CpgnClick&storeId=10051&ddkey=http:ClickInfo
 

ggerry

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
4
0
Delta Junction, Alaska
A few of the features I am looking at is for the camera to have a built in flash and an articulating screen. Ideally I would like to get the new Nikon D750, it is full frame with both of those features but starts at $2300 and my budget is around $1200.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,326
749
I agree that you should consider another Canon and possibly a used one that has the features you want.

The last time I dealt with any astro photography, it was with film. It was amazing that a generic camera with what would be ISO 64 or 100 film could do with the correct tripod head to adjust for tracking. There was no super high speed film to use and we learned how to deal with film reciprocity errors.

In my estimates, any of those Canon cameras should work if the can handle longer exposures and you learn about tools for taking quality night sky images.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,641
451
Redondo Beach, California
I am looking to upgrade my Canon T2i. I live in interior Alaska and shoot aurora and stars pictures regularly. The cameras that I have been looking at are the Canon 60D, 70D, T5i, and Nikon 5200 or 5300. I have several other Canon lenses so am leaning toward Canon but have not ruled out switching to Nikon.
The first step is to identify (actually write it down) reasons why the current camera body is not allowing you to capture the images you want. In other words what EXACTLY is wrong with the T2i.

Are yu sure the problem is the body and not the lens. Perhaps what you really need is a fast f/1.4 lens. Possibly the problem is the way you are post processing the images. Are you subtracting a dark frame? You are shooting RAW format, I assume.

It is going to be hard to say what to get without knowing why the current SLR body is not working for you.
 

steveash

macrumors 6502a
Aug 7, 2008
506
215
UK
Canon do/did make a camera specifically for night sky photography. I think it is called the 60Da. As they didn't make many and enthusiasts hunt them down they probably hold their value well.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,326
749
The first step is to identify (actually write it down) reasons why the current camera body is not allowing you to capture the images you want. In other words what EXACTLY is wrong with the T2i.

Are yu sure the problem is the body and not the lens. Perhaps what you really need is a fast f/1.4 lens. Possibly the problem is the way you are post processing the images. Are you subtracting a dark frame? You are shooting RAW format, I assume.

It is going to be hard to say what to get without knowing why the current SLR body is not working for you.
I am not sure what real value a fast lens would have when the sweet spot for typical fast lenses (at infinity) is at least stopping down at least 2-3 stops.

I would imagine (since I really don't do this type of photography now) that for digital needs the following would be worth investigating when getting the camera and lens(es).

1) Useful ISO range (which could be less than what is advertised as full range).
2) Ability to shoot exposures lasting more than 1 second and some up to 30 seconds.
3) Possible tripod tracking system akin to telescope usage
4) Appropriate lenses that are not only by focal length but noted for working well set at infinity or near infinity and possibly apochromatic or achromatic corrections.
5) Selection of best post processing software and filters/plug ins for handling RAW files
6) Understanding colour correction for b/w output based on subject matter (in film some filters might be used to enhance certain parts of the spectrum or diminish others to achieve a clearer, brighter and often sharper subject rendering).
7) Investigating various sites or books on night sky photography and the techniques used (both film and digital).
8) Best methods for dealing with inherent noise in low light photography without sacrificing too much 'clarity' of subject matter within the image.

I know that the above really is directed to the original poster but certainly it may be useful to others here.
 

HIMAN1998

macrumors 6502
Jan 24, 2013
338
0
Richmond, VA
I am looking to upgrade my Canon T2i. I live in interior Alaska and shoot aurora and stars pictures regularly. The cameras that I have been looking at are the Canon 60D, 70D, T5i, and Nikon 5200 or 5300. I have several other Canon lenses so am leaning toward Canon but have not ruled out switching to Nikon.
I'd go with the 70D out of all of them. It has the needed high ISO range (12800 native) for good star pictures and milky way shots. I haven't done aurora shots but I'd assume you need the same for it. It has the articulating screen, and a touch screen that doesn't suck. If you go to Nikon, I'd recommend looking at the D7000 of D7100 if you switch.
 

Nickwell24

macrumors regular
Nov 13, 2008
149
12
I am looking to upgrade my Canon T2i. I live in interior Alaska and shoot aurora and stars pictures regularly. The cameras that I have been looking at are the Canon 60D, 70D, T5i, and Nikon 5200 or 5300. I have several other Canon lenses so am leaning toward Canon but have not ruled out switching to Nikon.
Truthfully, I wouldn't go with any of those as they're all crop sensor so you won't see a dramatic difference over your current T2i. One thing you didn't mention is what lens are you currently using for astrophotography. I've been in your situation, but due to my current location there is too much light pollution to make it worth upgrading my gear for stars. In your case though, I'd save up a bit more (you said $1,200) and buy the following:

Refurbished 6D
Tokina 16-28 f/2.8

Everybody has mentioned you need something that can handle high ISO, that's correct but you'll benefit more from the larger sensor and a fast lens. One thing you could do immediate to improve your shots is purchase a fast lens. Tokina sells two fast lenses that are highly rated and good for astro photos. The 11-16 and 16-28 2.8 both would work well. If you are going to stay with the crop sensor get the 11-16. If you plan to upgrade to FF get 16-28.

Hope this helps and good luck chasing the stars. Post some of your current shots.
 

anewman143

macrumors regular
Jan 18, 2008
146
23
MCAsan reported the Canon refurb issue partly in error - I called them and yes, you can buy a refurb 5d Mk III - they are happy to sell it. But they do NOT take functioning cameras in trade/credit. The only cameras that they will give you any kind of credit for is one that is non-functional. They send you some kind of shipping label so that it is recycled appropriately and not just put in the trash.

So - you cannot trade your existing camera in for a better one...not an option, at least from the 2 different people I spoke to at Canon...
 

ggerry

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
4
0
Delta Junction, Alaska
I appreciate all of the feedback. I went back over the reasons for upgrading and after doing more research I am now looking at getting a reconditioned full frame. Either the Canon 6d or Nikon D610.

Of all the reasons to upgrade at the top of the list was getting better quality and more coverage in my aurora and night shots.

The lenses I am using right now for this are a Tamron 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 shooting at 18mm f3.5 and Canon 50mm f1.8.

If I stick with the T2i or a new ASP-C I will be able to increase coverage and quality to some degree with a faster lens but a full frame would increase both coverage and quality with any lens. With quality I mean in noise reduction at higher ISO.

As far as my $1200 budget I could stretch it to $1500 to get either the 6D or D610. The only compatible lens I have that would work on the 6D is the 50mm which would be a true 50mm instead of 80mm on T2i. If I got the D610 I would start out with a $100 18-55mm or 50mm lens.
 

Meister

Suspended
Oct 10, 2013
5,456
4,309
As far as my $1200 budget I could stretch it to $1500 to get either the 6D or D610. The only compatible lens I have that would work on the 6D is the 50mm which would be a true 50mm instead of 80mm on T2i. If I got the D610 I would start out with a $100 18-55mm or 50mm lens.
I also would've recommended the D610 and 6d. The 18-55 is not a fx lens. The nikkor 50mm 1.8g is excellent, but for your type of photography I would strongly recommend the rokinon/samyang/walimex (same lens, different names) 14mm 2.8. it's ideal for nightsky and landscpae photography, where af is irrelevant. Buy used and put the saving toward the nifty fifty.
 

AlaskaMoose

macrumors 68000
Apr 26, 2008
1,576
1,299
Alaska
A few of the features I am looking at is for the camera to have a built in flash and an articulating screen. Ideally I would like to get the new Nikon D750, it is full frame with both of those features but starts at $2300 and my budget is around $1200.
I live in the Interior of Alaska and taking photos of the Auroras is quite the norm for me, to the point that it sometimes become boring. Anyway, I have used the Canon 40D, and 7D with outstanding results. When it comes to the Auroras in Alaska where it's usually very dark by the end of September, ISO speeds from 400-800 (or higher if you like) do not produce so much digital noise that can't be easily removed with CS6, or the NIK's plugin, Noise Ninja, and so on. The reason why you can easily remove noise from images of the auroras is because what you are photographing is "light." It means that the noise is mostly found in the darker areas of the images, and these areas aren't the main subject.

I would recommend that you buy a Canon 6D and give this camera a try. You will also need at least a Tokina 16-28mm for FF, or maybe a Sanyang 14mm prime. Use around 600-1,200 ISO depending on how dark it is and how much of the non-Auroras areas of the photos you want to show. I prefer images where the foreground is in the dark in a similar fashion as I see with my own eyes when taking the photos. I have used the 7D and a 5DII to take these photos, both with Tokina lenses wide open (f/2.8), and from 10-13-second exposures.

#1 and #2: 800 ISO at f/2.8, and 10-second exposures (lost of light and snow).




#3 and #4: 400 ISO at f/2.8, 13 and 10 seconds




Don't just buy a camera expecting better images from it. The image will be the result of your hard work.
 
Last edited:

AlaskaMoose

macrumors 68000
Apr 26, 2008
1,576
1,299
Alaska
Not sure how you can be bored with photos like these. These are stunning.
Perhaps I shouldn't have said, boring in reference to taking photos of the Auroras. Watching them is a lot of fun, but taking photos of the Auroras requires a few steps that distract you from enjoying the display. The Auroras are a very common occurrence in the interior of Alaska as long as the sky is clear or at least "mostly clear" as you can see in the first photo.
---------

What I was trying to tell the OP is that for taking photos of the Auroras digital noise should not be the main concern since it can be easily removed form the images.

I shoot RAW and remove some of the noise during post processing with CS5 or CS6, and then with one of the numerous plugins designed for that. Some of my friends use LightRoom and are very happy with this application, too. Once Google offered the complete plugin package from NIK Software free of charge to those who had already purchase some of the plugins, I have been using Dfine2 to remove noise. Before that I used Neat Image and it worked very well.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
37,053
26,052
Behind the Lens, UK
Perhaps I shouldn't have said, boring in reference to taking photos of the Auroras. Watching them is a lot of fun, but taking photos of the Auroras requires a few steps that distract you from enjoying the display. The Auroras are a very common occurrence in the interior of Alaska as long as the sky is clear or at least "mostly clear" as you can see in the first photo.
---------

What I was trying to tell the OP is that for taking photos of the Auroras digital noise should not be the main concern since it can be easily removed form the images.

I shoot RAW and remove some of the noise during post processing with CS5 or CS6, and then with one of the numerous plugins designed for that. Some of my friends use LightRoom and are very happy with this application, too. Once Google offered the complete plugin package from NIK Software free of charge to those who had already purchase some of the plugins, I have been using Dfine2 to remove noise. Before that I used Neat Image and it worked very well.
DXO software does it as well.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,641
451
Redondo Beach, California
I am not sure what real value a fast lens would have when the sweet spot for typical fast lenses (at infinity) is at least stopping down at least 2-3 stops.....

You are only thinking about optical quality while shooting test targets on a tripod. Not real world photos.

Yes the f/1.4 lens may loose some sharpness at f/1.4 that it had at F2.0 but the image quality might be better at f/1.4 because you are using a much faster shutter speed and have therefor eliminated camera shake and or motion blur.

Lens sharpness only matters for tripod shops.

It's the same with edge sharpness. That only matters for flat copy work, on a copy stand. In all other cases the main subject will not likely be at the frame edge and many times the image near the edge is not even in focus and is intentionally blurred by the DOF.

In the real world you also find the faster lenses are simply better over all and made to a more professional quality.

If you are shooting at night you want those f/1.8 or f/1.4 lenses. The fast lens will matter a LOT more then a higher ISO

----------

Don't just buy a camera expecting better images from it. The image will be the result of your hard work.
Yes, this is what all beginners think. "if only I had a guitar just like David Gilmour's. I would sound just like he does." No, that is not true. Gilmour would sound like he does no matter which guitar he picks up. I've heard him play a random acoustic guitar he bends the strings the same way and introduces the same silence between notes. It ain't the tools.

Same for cameras. The photographer you like can do just as good work with a $25 plastic camera loaded with film. Not the same work but just as good.
 

AlaskaMoose

macrumors 68000
Apr 26, 2008
1,576
1,299
Alaska
You are only thinking about optical quality while shooting test targets on a tripod. Not real world photos.

Yes the f/1.4 lens may loose some sharpness at f/1.4 that it had at F2.0 but the image quality might be better at f/1.4 because you are using a much faster shutter speed and have therefor eliminated camera shake and or motion blur.

Lens sharpness only matters for tripod shops.

It's the same with edge sharpness. That only matters for flat copy work, on a copy stand. In all other cases the main subject will not likely be at the frame edge and many times the image near the edge is not even in focus and is intentionally blurred by the DOF.

In the real world you also find the faster lenses are simply better over all and made to a more professional quality.

If you are shooting at night you want those f/1.8 or f/1.4 lenses. The fast lens will matter a LOT more then a higher ISO

----------



Yes, this is what all beginners think. "if only I had a guitar just like David Gilmour's. I would sound just like he does." No, that is not true. Gilmour would sound like he does no matter which guitar he picks up. I've heard him play a random acoustic guitar he bends the strings the same way and introduces the same silence between notes. It ain't the tools.

Same for cameras. The photographer you like can do just as good work with a $25 plastic camera loaded with film. Not the same work but just as good.
Good points. A friend of mine still uses a Canon 30D for taking photos of the Auroras, and he does an outstanding job at it.

By the way, something else about using the fastest lens possible for taking photos of the Auroras is that one can reduce the exposure time to prevent star-trace. I can only afford Tokina f/2.8 lenses, and keep them wide open, but would love to use even faster lenses.

I try not to increase the ISO speed more than what I need to. For example, on a very dark night without moonlight; but most times there is plenty of light reflected on the snow during the winter. If I increase the ISO speed too much, then I have to deal with very light foregrounds or landscapes that can be distracting. Instead of that, I prefer to expose the lights as close as possible while still keeping as much as the foreground as close as possible to what I see with my own eyes when taking the photos. And of course, if there is a beautiful foreground or background that one wants to show along the Auroras, a fast lens coupled with higher ISO speeds work very well, too.

Fast lenses are a big plus to me.
 
Last edited:

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,326
749
You are only thinking about optical quality while shooting test targets on a tripod. Not real world photos.

Yes the f/1.4 lens may loose some sharpness at f/1.4 that it had at F2.0 but the image quality might be better at f/1.4 because you are using a much faster shutter speed and have therefor eliminated camera shake and or motion blur.

Lens sharpness only matters for tripod shops.

It's the same with edge sharpness. That only matters for flat copy work, on a copy stand. In all other cases the main subject will not likely be at the frame edge and many times the image near the edge is not even in focus and is intentionally blurred by the DOF.

In the real world you also find the faster lenses are simply better over all and made to a more professional quality.

If you are shooting at night you want those f/1.8 or f/1.4 lenses. The fast lens will matter a LOT more then a higher ISO



Chris, I want to avoid a situation that seems like flaming or being sarcastic in response to your comment. We will disagree. First, nothing wrong with using tripods which is more than fairly common practice for night time sky photography. Where we can agree is that for some, degradation of image due to shooting wide open may not bother them. I suggest the original poster simply check the Internet for information on shooting sky scapes and astro photography - and to no surprise, most of the info will pretty much offer up similar to my statements. Chris, we'll simply have to disagree.
 
Last edited:

MacCruiskeen

macrumors 6502
Nov 9, 2011
321
5
The last time I dealt with any astro photography, it was with film. It was amazing that a generic camera with what would be ISO 64 or 100 film could do with the correct tripod head to adjust for tracking. There was no super high speed film to use and we learned how to deal with film reciprocity errors.
It is my (admittedly now aging) memory that in ye olde days we would have chosen a low-speed film anyway to get the finest grain. You could have used tri-x, and even pushed it, but the results would have been less good. These days, you can buy nearly-lab-grade ccd cameras with built-in thermoelectic coolers for a couple thousand dollars.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.