Introduction To Astrophotography.
Astrophotography for anyone unfamiliar with the term is simply photography of the night sky using a range of photo recording devices and processes to render an image that isn’t readily available to the unaided eye.
This will be the first of several articles covering the subject of astrophotography and post processing.
The camera used for this is the Fujifilm XA2. This particular camera lends itself well to this type of photography. The 16 mp Bayer sensor is very quiet even at high ISO and doesn’t produce large amounts of noise. Another advantage is the flip up LCD making it easy to use even when the camera is pointed almost vertical. One very large reason for using the XA2 ( and I would assume the XA1 as well) is the total lack of LCD static.
The static I refer to here is seen readily on on X-trans sensor cameras such as the XT1 and the XT-10. Its not impossible to do night sky photography merely a lot more difficult. The problem arises as individual pixels on the LCD are momentarily activated creating a sparkling effect making it difficult to decide as to what is static and what is a star. My advise would be to avoid using these cameras if you can just to help reduce the frustration level.
At this time I have had no reports as to how the rest of the X camera family performs, so if you have an XPro 1 or 2 for example please comment as to how good or bad they may be for doing astrophotography work.
Apart from the camera itself a good lens or two is a must. Many practitioners will tell you, you need this or that lens or it must be no slower than f2.8.
However if you have a standard kit lens such as the XC16-50 mm f3.5 – 5.6 or the XF 18-55 mm f2.8 – 4.0 then you already have a good starting point. While a 35 mm f1.4 would be nice its not that important. The standard Fuji kit lenses are excellent, reasonably fast and usable throughout their focal ranges. Unless otherwise stated, the lens used in this series is the XC16-50mm and a Pentax/Chinon 50 mm f 1.19 mounted on a Pentax to Fuji Mount adaptor.
A good medium/heavy duty tripod is also needed to help stabilise and dampen wind vibration. I use a pan head type, but a ball head is a little easier to use.
And equipment wise this is all you really need to start off with. If possible a nice dark site outside the city is the best option as light pollution has a very big impact on the end result and how much detail you can record.If you head to a deserted beach area protect your equipment from sand and salt particles. The single most important aspect though is to find an area thats as dark as you can get, has good all-round visibility and stay away from nights that have the Moon above the horizon.
Armed with this basic knowledge and equipment, will set you on the path of photographic adventure.
next up …. setting up for the shot