Due to a plan that failed I ended up with a borrowed astro camera for a couple weeks. Since I have it I may as well play with it a bit.
The camera is the ZWO ASI2600MC Pro, a one-shot color camera specificaly for astrophotography. I have the ASI1600MM Pro a monochrome camera set up with a filter wheel, but have never really had a chance to use one of the modern one shot color cameras.
Photographing kids in many less developed countries is just fun.
Young children exhibit a certian innocence. Before the cultural and religious baggage of any society forces conformation. Before the struggles of life have ground away the hopes and dreams. Like so many I find this innocence captivating, a feeling that the world would be a better place if we all were a bit more childish.
Alas, we trudge through a world far darker, all we can do is marvel at those who still possess this childish innocence and maybe capture a fleeting glimpse in a photo to remind us of what could be.
This innocence seems to last longer in developing countries. Less exposure to media? Less access to technology? These things have negative aspects, but it is not all negative. Children just seem to remain children for a little while longer.
And kids usually love to be photographed, in many places around the world they come running whenever a camera appears. Prepare to take a photo of a couple kids… In the first photo there are two… Take the next photo and there are four kids in the pic… Then six… Then twelve…
What? If this continues the 16th photo will have 65,536 kids… It is wise to stop taking photos before geometric progression leads to a massive overpopulation issue, or implodes the local space time continuum.
Rule… You have to show them the resulting photos. Take a few photos then put the camera into preview mode and turn it about to show then the last photo you just took. Better if it is a phone or tablet with a big screen. The result is smiles and giggles all around.
And then there are the poses. Posing for the camera is apparently required. Various hand signs and tilts of the head. Poses obviously learned from whatever media is available, perhaps music videos, or local satellite TV, many appear to be from anime.
Where did you learn that pose? Nevermind, I do not want to know… Modern media has begun the process of stealing away the innocence.
With a little short of two minutes of totality I need to go into this with a plan. I do want a few photos, but I also want to experience the eclipse. How do I balance that?
The important bit here is that I am going to give myself time to simply enjoy the eclipse and not spend the whole time futzing with the camera gear. When totality begins I will simply sit back and watch. To that end I have thought through a shot plan that may just accomplish this balance.
The plan calls for three cameras… A single camera on a solar telescope, this will be primarily run on automatic with an intervalometer. I just need to check focus and centering of the solar image periodically during the long partial phases. I will use part of totality to attend to this camera and take a deep corona photo.
The Canon EOS M5 is the latest offering by Canon in the mirrorless form factor. Offering the same sensor and much of the performance of the mid-range DSLR’s, the mirrorless bodies are far smaller. This allows the photographer the chance to use these cameras in places a full sized DSLR would be too cumbersome.
I had issues with the original, returning my first copy. I eventually gave the camera another chance and have learned to like the capability the cameras provide a mobile photographer. I carry the camera on the job atop the incomparable Mauna Kea, a place where you always want a camera handy!
The critics have not been kind to the previous M series cameras. While they are decent cameras, offering excellent photo quality, they have lagged behind the competition, particularly the Sony mirrorless, on the features.
The M5 marks a change in this, several reviews from the key sites note that M5 performance and features places it among the best on the market in terms of features and cost. The comment echoed by several critics… This is the camera Canon should have built to start with.
One of the advantages of a mirrorless camera, like the EOS-M, is the very shallow backfocus requirement. The distance from the lens mount to the sensor is quite small, allowing use of just about any series of lenses on the market. All that is needed is the correct adapter, a need that several specialty manufacturers have addressed with products. The result is that the camera is useful in a wide range of photographic experiments and projects.
This includes older lenses from years past such as the Canon manual focus FD lenses or the Leica M lenses from decades ago. I have a number of these excellent lenses, mostly Nikon and Canon, the fast primes once treasured by photographers for their optical quality. Because these old lenses are not suited for use with modern DSLR’s they are often relegated to eBay and discount shelves in used camera stores. This does not mean they are obsolete, there are creative uses still available for these classic lenses.
I have had fun simply shooting with these old primes and the EOS-M camera. Sometimes I will grab a single lens and just go someplace to play with the camera for half an hour, sort of a self imposed creative exercise. Using one of these manual focus lenses brings back memories of my first years of film photography, before the days of auto-focus.
Combine these old lenses with an extension tube, and the rig becomes a macro-photography setup capable of fairly high magnification.
The SBIG ST-i is a useful little camera, I have enjoyed using mine. I usually use the camera for autoguiding, but it can also be used for basic astrophotography and even some science. In preparation for using the ST-i with a group of students I had need to make a couple additional mounts. After I go to the effort of designing a simple solution to my problem I may as well share the solution.
The ST-i camera is designed to slip into a standard telescope focuser in place of an eyepiece, as it is the same diameter at 1.25″. The camera can also be used in a “piggyback” style, mounted atop a telescope and fitted with a standard c-mount lens. Using a lens the camera will have a much larger field of view. The front of the camera is threaded for c-type 1″ threads to accomodate this. The SBIG guiding kit provides such a lens and a ring style mount. If you do not have the kit, or already have a suitable c-mount lens you still need a suitable mount.
I have included the mechanical drawing for the mount in the link above. I machined this from a block of aluminum. There is no reason it could not be made of wood or plastic to allow fabrication with whatever equipment is available. For wood you may need to make the block a little longer and use inserts for the threading. Plastic could be done pretty much as drawn.
The version I made was milled from a solid chunk of aluminum, but a good version could be easily cut from wood and assembled with brass inserts. The design could also be 3D printed without much loss in mechanical robustness.
To mount a c-mount lens you will need the adapter ring sold by SBIG to convert the 1.25″ filter thread found on the camera to the 1″ c-mount thread. Still, at $40 this ring is a lot less than the $350 guiding kit. Good c-mount lenses can be found from many sources for less than $100. You will need a focal length between 75 and 150mm for a nice image scale and as wide an f/ratio as you can find. The kit includes a 100mm f/2.8 lens which I find is quite useful in guiding my Televue 76mm or the AT6RC.
Despite a rough introduction the Canon EOS-M series is developing into a solid product offering. And it was a rough start, the first model with the first software version was so bad I sent the first camera I ordered back in frustration and disappointment.
In time, and after receiving a withering round of criticism, Canon fixed some of the most striking deficiencies in the original EOS-M, in particular the sluggish and erratic focusing. With the fixes in place, and steep price discounts, I gave the camera another try. I have gradually come to like this little camera. The photo quality is quite good, the EOS-M lenses are nice and sharp, and the touch screen a very usable feature I have often missed in my full size DLSR’s.
After a couple years of shooting with the EOS-M I decided to order the EOS-M3, the latest offering in the product line. For reasons a mystery outside Canon the camera was originally not released in the US, available in Japan since early 2015. Only in the last month has news come that the camera will become available for order here in the US. Not willing to wait, and the start of an adventure looming on the calendar I ordered a Japanese version on eBay. No issue, there are YouTube videos that explain how to navigate the kanji menus and set the language to English. Thus my fun with a new camera began.