Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Using an Astronomical Telescope as a Camera Lens
So, camera attached, how does a telescope work as a camera lens?
Well, when it comes to going a long way for a little cash, the telescope gets the job done in a big way. Example: Orion sells a 400mm f5 telescope for just over $100. In contrast, Canon makes a 400mm f5.6 telephoto lens that it sells for about $1,300. So, if money is your big concern, the telescope is, on the surface, just the thing for you. However, there is more to photography than saving money, so read on.
Vulture resized, uncropped.
Unlike lenses, telescopes don't have image stabilization, either. At long focal lengths, it gets increasingly hard to hand-hold lenses, especially slow ones or when the light is less than ideal. Heck, even at 300mm and f5.6, many people have trouble hand-holding, so how do you think a 400, 600, or even 1,000mm lens will work? Not good! Needless to say, tripods (strong ones) are pretty much a must when using telescopes as camera lenses.
Trying to focus can be a pain in the neck, literally, as you rack the focuser in and out.
Now a third issue: the act of focusing. When focusing, you have to rack the focuser in and out while with lenses, if they change length at all, will extend on the front end. Back to the scopes. Obviously, when trying to look through a viewfinder while racking back and forth, it can be a real pain in the neck (perhaps literally) to keep your eye to the camera. This is especially troublesome in you like to hand-hold your telescope. Tripods will alleviate this problem somewhat, but having to move all the time to keep your eye up to the viewfinder is still irritating.
Okay, if you still want to use your telescope as a camera lens, know that you can produce some excellent pictures, provided you have the patience. In fact, I've seen some great bird shots taken with astronomical telescopes. My only question is this: for every good shot, how many bad ones were there? Still, as with everything else, it will take practice, but you should be able to get some good pictures with your telescope if you take the time to learn.
If you found this informative (or at least entertaining), help me pay my bills and check out my Examiner pages for photography and astronomy for more great stuff.
If you thought this was cool? Why not tell a friend?
For email updates whenever I post something new, become a follower.