Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Coolest Astrophotography Toy Ever

The Pentax O-GPS1 can eliminate star trailing withthe K-5 and K-r cameras.

Pentax just announced a new accessory for its cameras, the O-GPS1 unit, which attaches to the camera's hot show and allows for the usual adding of location and altitude to your data files as well as the more innovative feature of actually being able to tell the camera what direction it's pointing. However, for astrophotographers, this pales in comparison to the fact that the O-GPS1 unit can actually prevent star trailing with its Astrotracer function.

So, how does this work?

Unlike Nikon and Canon, which rely on lens-based stabilizers, Pentax (among others) employs a sensor-based stabilizer wherein the sensor itself moves to compensate for camera shake during long hand-held exposures. Because the Pentax system of stabilization is in the sensor rather than the lens, the sensor itself can move to compensate for the Earth's rotation when the camera it set on a fixed tripod. The O-GPS1 is able to do this by taking location and camera orientation data and then using this information to calculate the movement of heavenly bodies and move the sensor accordingly.

Needless to say, the O-GPS1 will go a long way in making astrophotography easy for people who own either a K-5 or K-r camera, the only two models that are compatible with the Astrotracer function, and who do not want to get into the business of buying and piggybacking the camera on a GEM. According to some forum chatter, there are reports of the Astrotracer being good for up to 5 minutes with wide angle lenses, which is more than enough for wide angle tripod-based shooting.

The O-GPS1 will be available in mid June at a price of $250.

For more info:
Press Release

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  1. So how well do you think this would work with a 80mm f5 telescope as the lens on a crude tracking mount? Currently I get 30 to 60 seconds depending on the part of the sky I am looking at. If I added the PENTAX GPS Unit O-GPS1 Do you think that would increase it a bunch?

  2. Donny,

    With a telescope, the only real way to get longer tracking times is with better polar alignment. The Pentax unit is designed more for people using standard camera lenses. Sorry, I wish it was that simple, too!