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Suitability of the Sony SEL200600G Lens for Astrophotography


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A year ago now, I started using my super telephoto zoom lens, originally purchased for wildlife photography, for astrophotography. Here I would like to share my experiences, but also go into some limitations that the Sony lens has in my opinion.

In the first section, I will report on my experience using the SEL200600G lens in combination with a Sony SEL20TC 2xteleconverter and a Sony A6000 APS-C camera on a simple aluminum tripod. Although the construction is rather shaky and finding the objects and also focusing is difficult, exposure times up to about 1/8s (@ 1800mm focal length 35mm equivalent) can be achieved and so some bright objects of our solar system can be photographed.

20200504_115015.jpg.4062cb7eb8310e0151b875347fd75319.jpg

 

Lunar photography

To photograph the moon with its apparent diameter of about 30' format-filling the setup is almost ideal, the moon fills about 75% of the horizontal image area. Also the sharpness is sufficient to see some nice details.

319904362_Mond10.8TageF131_60s1800mm.jpg.74bd4167ff00981f2d72efe9161c5ffa.jpg

Moon, 10.8 days old, F13 ISO-100 1/60s

2114421031_Mond-goldenerHenkel.jpg.2fbeedccb58affd22fd506b37e0fe5c2.jpg

Crop of the so called golden handle

 

Solar photography

Since the sun has almost the same apparent diameter as the moon, the same applies to solar photography as just mentioned, except that a suitable solar filter (in my case a Baader 5.0) must be used!

1402133788_SonneF19ISO-8001_1500s1800mm.jpg.0dbb2569f5bb234e86aec6506a5457eb.jpg

Sun with several sun spots, F19 ISO-800 1/1500s

 

Planetary photography

Bright planets can also be photographed with this equipment. However, the lens with its 95mm diameter is not fast enough and the achievable focal length of 1800mm is not long enough to see details.

1306115867_JupiterF131_30sISO-1001800mm.jpg.ab3fd6868077ac2128c0c92ff978e89e.jpg

Jupiter, F13 1/30s ISO-100

2040853488_SaturnF131_15sISO-4001800mm.JPG.b61295e00564d7d63e7a3970c30cb0e0.JPG

Saturn, F13 1/15s ISO-400

704949263_Venus270TageF131_1000sISO-4001800mm.jpg.52e14cb365bafe4ec25c9a9075e1f63f.jpg

Venus 270 days old, F13 ISO-400 1/1000s

 

Edited by joerg
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Posted (edited)

In the second section I would like to discuss the possibility of photographing deep sky objects.

To achieve exposure times of a few seconds the earth's rotation has to be compensated, in my case by the equatorial mount CEM25P from iOptron. With the possibility of autoguiding, here by the MGEN3 from Lacerta in combination with a 50mm finder scope, exposure times of several minutes can be achieved. Seemingly small things are also important in my opinion, like a heating tape to avoid humidity condensation and the use of a dummy battery adapter to be able to run the camera constantly for several hours.

DSC05534.jpg.b196386b50c7a260c8bdafd1c1b6df4e.jpg

 

Emission and reflection nebulae

With the possibility to select the focal length almost arbitrarily between 200 and 1800mm, very many objects can be photographed with the SEL200600G. For emission nebulae with a primary emission at hydrogen-alpha and 656nm the use of an astromodified camera is recommended (replacement of the IR cut filter by clear glass). In my case I took a Sony A7R bought used at E-Bay and let it astromodify.

769774471_OrionnebelM42Composit10x10sund30x180sISO-800F6.3600mm7xDarks15xFlats15xBiasOptolongL-ProFilter.jpg.694acdac2572771473d5b2bee5abfa38.jpg

Orion nebula M42 Composit 10x10s and 30x180s ISO-800 F6.3 600mm 7xDarks 15xFlats 15xBias Optolong L-Pro Filter

737111455_PlejadenM4528x120sISO-800F6.3900mm5xDarks26xFlats20xBias.jpg.e5714c3ac295a144f6219fb339ce86bb.jpg

Plejades M45 28x120s ISO-800 F6.3 600mm 5xDarks 26xFlats 20xBias

 

Galaxies

The same applies analogously to galaxies as to planetary photography. It is possible to photograph single galaxies. However, the optic is not fast and not long-wavelength enough for very detailed images.

424306587_MarkajanscheKetteSonyA7R102x240sISO-800600mmF6.36xDarks15xFlats15xBiasCut.jpg.513ab71cab890532938a976d24f378b0.jpg

Markajan chain 102x240s ISO-800 600mm F6.3 6xDarks 15xFlats 15xBias

1755890366_M51110x120sISO-16001200mmF137xDarks15xFlats15xBias.jpg.0ecc9158d864874fcd9a7c893d76723b.jpg

M51 110x120s ISO-1600 1200mm F13 7xDarks 15xFlats 15xBias

Edited by joerg
typo
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On 4/14/2021 at 9:54 AM, joerg said:

A year ago now, I started using my super telephoto zoom lens, originally purchased for wildlife photography, for astrophotography. Here I would like to share my experiences, but also go into some limitations that the Sony lens has in my opinion.

In the first section, I will report on my experience using the SEL200600G lens in combination with a Sony SEL20TC 2xteleconverter and a Sony A6000 APS-C camera on a simple aluminum tripod. Although the construction is rather shaky and finding the objects and also focusing is difficult, exposure times up to about 1/8s (@ 1800mm focal length 35mm equivalent) can be achieved and so some bright objects of our solar system can be photographed.

20200504_115015.jpg.4062cb7eb8310e0151b875347fd75319.jpg

 

Lunar photography

To photograph the moon with its apparent diameter of about 30' format-filling the setup is almost ideal, the moon fills about 75% of the horizontal image area. Also the sharpness is sufficient to see some nice details.

319904362_Mond10.8TageF131_60s1800mm.jpg.74bd4167ff00981f2d72efe9161c5ffa.jpg

Moon, 10.8 days old, F13 ISO-100 1/60s

2114421031_Mond-goldenerHenkel.jpg.2fbeedccb58affd22fd506b37e0fe5c2.jpg

Crop of the so called golden handle

 

Solar photography

Since the sun has almost the same apparent diameter as the moon, the same applies to solar photography as just mentioned, except that a suitable solar filter (in my case a Baader 5.0) must be used!

1402133788_SonneF19ISO-8001_1500s1800mm.jpg.0dbb2569f5bb234e86aec6506a5457eb.jpg

Sun with several sun spots, F19 ISO-800 1/1500s

 

Planetary photography

Bright planets can also be photographed with this equipment. However, the lens with its 95mm diameter is not fast enough and the achievable focal length of 1800mm is not long enough to see details.

1306115867_JupiterF131_30sISO-1001800mm.jpg.ab3fd6868077ac2128c0c92ff978e89e.jpg

Jupiter, F13 1/30s ISO-100

2040853488_SaturnF131_15sISO-4001800mm.JPG.b61295e00564d7d63e7a3970c30cb0e0.JPG

Saturn, F13 1/15s ISO-400

704949263_Venus270TageF131_1000sISO-4001800mm.jpg.52e14cb365bafe4ec25c9a9075e1f63f.jpg

Venus 270 days old, F13 ISO-400 1/1000s

 

Thank you so much for sharing this interesting post, and especially for the great images you took and showed us.

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In my backyard (officially Bortle class 4, but I guess it is worse).

The nearest streetlight is only about 10 metres away. I just gave it an extra cardboard lampshade so that it doesn't shine fully into my optics. 😇

Fortunately, there was almost no gradient in the shots. You can live very well with homogeneous background lighting in post-processing, but I can't cope with gradients at all... 😨

Edited by joerg
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Thanks for posting this Joerg. Very interesting. Astro is not something that I've tried but I do have a 150-600mm and a 2x teleconverter in my camera bag and so you have got me thinking that I might do some experimenting.  

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