Deep-Sky Astrophotography Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

Getting started in astrophotography doesn't have to be expensive or complicated, and there is no better time to give it a try. 

Astrophotography can quickly become a wormhole of specialized gear, cameras, and accessories that suck you in and spiral out of control. You can easily spend a small fortune trying to get better and better images. But it doesn't have to be that way. I am continuously amazed by what the average camera equipment and gear we all have lying around can capture.

Using just an old Canon T3i, Rokinon lens, and a Sky Watcher tracking mount, AstroBackyard shows how you can even capture deep sky images of distant nebulae. I did a review of the Mini version of the Sky Watcher Star Adventurer that is used in the video. Both are incredibly budget-friendly mounts for anyone looking to take their astrophotography to the next level.  

AstroBackyard is a wealth of knowledge for anyone interested in astrophotography, whether just starting out or an advanced pro, covering everything from post-production to budget entry-level setups like this. Check out the channel and some of his guides. 

If you're interested in getting hands-on experience with one of Sky Watcher tracking mounts, I'm teaching a workshop in Joshua Tree along with Sky Watcher for Palm Springs Photo Festival

Michael DeStefano's picture

Michael DeStefano is a commercial/editorial photographer focusing on Outdoor Lifestyle and Adventure. Based in Boston, MA he combines his passion for outdoor sports like climbing and surfing into his work. When not traveling or outdoors he is often found geeking out over new tech gadgets.

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I'm giving a presentation at our photo club in a few days about my days doing astroimaging. I was all in with a roll off roof observatory, a pier buried in concrete, a mount with an 85 pound capacity, a 10" f4 reflector (the last of many scopes), guidescope, all controlled by a laptop. It can get expensive, but my mount was about $7,000 US, the scope was about $900, I had a used and modified 40D at around $800, guidescope was about $300, and the guide camera was about $250. Add all that up and it's about the price of a Canon 500mm f4 lens. It's all relative.

But if you want to be serious about deep sky imaging, it takes time and good equipment, especially the mount. The mount is the linchpin when it comes to long, repeatable exposures.

You'll have a lot of astrophotographrers tell you that you'll need a good refracter to get great images, but you can still get decent images from your photo gear. The real secret is to have a tracker and properly weighted tripod. From there, things get expensive. :-)