Picking a DSLR camera for astrophotography

Venus transit

Our photo of the June 2012 Venus transit of the Sun was made with a Canon PowerShot A530, stuck up to the eyepiece of our telescope. It worked, but most astrophotographers want something a little more versatile and powerful. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

We’re often asked for advice about astronomy equipment, and can prattle on at length about telescopes and binoculars. Being mostly interested in visual observing, however, our photography experience at Seattle Astronomy is pretty much limited to sticking our phone or a simple point-and-shoot camera up to a telescope eyepiece and clicking away. This, with a little luck, occasionally leads to pleasing results, but we really have no business giving anyone advice about picking a camera for serious astrophotography.

It is our good fortune, however, to have some talented shooters in our sphere, and one of them, Soggy Astronomer, has just posted a comprehensive article about choosing a DSLR camera for making photographs of your favorite celestial objects.

The short answer, as it is for many astronomy gear questions, is “it depends.” But Soggy’s post will take you through the features to consider and the differences they make, and help you narrow down the choices to help you pick a camera that will do what you want to accomplish.

Here’s a clue, though: Soggy just bought two new cameras: A Canon Rebel T6s and a Canon 7D Mark II. He also notes that the Nikon D810a, pictured at left, is, at present, the only DSLR camera on the market that is designed specifically for astrophotography. This has to do with filters and other what’s-its (a technical photography term) that are especially helpful for imaging the faint, fuzzy deep-sky objects up in the heavens. I just looked on Amazon and the D810a is on back order until next week. It’s listed at $3,799.95 for the body only, but at $3,796.95 for Amazon Prime members, a savings of three bucks. Membership has its privileges.

Check out the post. For your convenience we’ve added some of the top picks to our Seattle Astronomy store, which also includes our selections for telescopes, eyepieces, accessories, astronomy books, and software.

Further reading: