How To Attach a DSLR to a Telescope

Piper O'Shanassy22 Mar 2022

What's cooler than looking closely at the sky using your telescope? Taking photos of the planets, stars, moon, and everything else you could see above! Capturing images with your telescope is pretty straightforward, you just need to attach your camera to your telescope. When entering the field of astrophotography, knowing how to connect your camera to a telescope is important. Whether you want to shoot the planets via the lens or snap deep-sky shots of galaxies and nebulae using a prime-focus adapter, learning how to link the two is the first step.

How To Take Pictures With a Telescope and DSLR

A DSLR camera could be connected to a telescope using a T-Ring that attaches to the camera body like a lens and an adapter that fits into the T-Ring.

The prime-focus adapter, like an eyepiece, is inserted into the focus tube of the telescope. The T-Ring needs to match the design of the lens mount to properly clasp onto the camera. Then, mount a threaded adapter with a 1.25′′ or 2′′ barrel to your camera and T-Ring.

To avoid a camera shake, the adapter must be secured within the telescope focus drawtube. The eyepiece opening on your telescope should include locking screws to secure your eyepiece or camera in place.

Taking Pictures with Your DSLR and Telescope

You are now ready to begin capturing photographs. However, unless your telescope is driven, things move swiftly through the field of vision. In the case of non-driven telescopes, you would be limited to the Moon and potentially Jupiter and Venus, which are bright enough to allow exposure periods of less than 1/100 seconds. Longer exposures, however, necessitate the use of a motorized telescope, preferably on an equatorial mount. If you have an altazimuth, you'll notice that stars near the periphery of the field of vision will begin to trail about the center of the field of view after a short period. This is known as field rotation. You may be limited to exposure periods of only a few seconds in this situation.

How To Focus DSLR on Telescope

In the field of astrophotography, the magnification and scale of your image will differ considerably based on the optical equipment used. There may be times you would want to photograph a large portion of the night sky, such as the centre of the Milky Way, or zoom in on tiny nebulae and galaxies to get a better look.

For a sharp image, regardless of the focal length of your camera lens or telescope, your focus ought to be precise. Achieving a sharp focus on your subject is essential in all aspects of astrophotography, from moon and planet views to wide-angle shots of the Milky Way.

Here’s how to focus your DSLR on a telescope:

Configure your camera settings.

Before you even gaze up at the sky, ensure your camera is set to the correct settings.

  • Mode: The Mode is unimportant because you will only be focusing. Because you will most likely be imaging after that, you can be in Manual or Bulb mode.
  • Aperture: Set this to the lowest setting that your lens would allow.
  • ISO: The ISO doesn't really important, although it could help if you set it higher than that of the default value.

Set your camera's lens to manual focus.

Before heading outdoors and pointing your camera to the sky, make sure the lens you're using is set to Manual.You won't be able to  focus using Automatic focus; it will not work, and if it does, it will be by chance.

Find your subject and frame it in live view.

Find your subject. Point your camera at the subject, or in the approximate direction of the subject at least. Then, activate Live View. Look at  your screen to check whether you can see your subject or if you need to shift the camera around more. If you still can't see it, consider fiddling around with your lens's focus ring at random. If the focus is entirely off, the subject may be present but too out of focus to be seen.

Enhance your focus.

Once the subject is well centered in your frame, align it and use your camera's highest digital zoom whilst ensuring sure the subject stays in your frame.

Use the focus ring.

Finally, all that's left is to focus. The idea is for the subject to appear as small as possible when observed through Live View. Adjust the focus ring on your lens until the subject begins to shrink. Typically, you'll need to turn the focus ring all the way to one side, then reverse a little bit. When you've achieved perfect focus, don't move the lens again. All done. Your camera lens is properly focused and the subject won’t become any smaller.

How To Capture Planets With DSLR and Telescope

The ideal approach for capturing the finest planetary photographs these days is known as lucky imaging.  This technique captures thousands of frames in a high-speed video stream, which can then be sorted to choose the best frames to pile into a final high-resolution image. This is where your DSLR camera's two video modes, Live View and high-definition video, enter the equation.

The key to getting high-resolution planetary imaging features with a DSLR is to select a setting that allows you to capture the image directly from the camera's sensor at its natural pixel resolution. Cameras with Live View give the easiest way, employing the zoom preview option to get to a 1:1 crop of the centre region of the camera’s detector. Although standard high-definition 1080p or 720p video modes produce excellent results for lunar and solar photography, you should avoid using this mode for planetary work since it resamples the picture captured by the camera's detector, resulting in loss of fine detail.

If your DSLR has an exposure-simulation mode, utilize it when taking planetary photographs or shooting planetary films. Adjust the exposure by adjusting the shutter speed and ISO. If you underexpose, your piled images will be noisy and even unsalvageable. Set the white-balance to daylight.

DSLR cameras are incredibly flexible these days. You can not only take high-quality photographs with it, but you can also utilize it with a range of accessories. One accessory that many overlook is the telescope. Using a DSLR and a telescope hand in hand,  you can capture long-exposure deep-sky photographs, produce time-lapse animations from still images, and record high-definition footage of the stars, planets, and skies.

Piper O'Shanassy

Piper O'Shanassy

Piper grew up with a love of animals, which quickly turned into a love of photographing them. She shares her tips and tricks on photography, and hopes she can help you shortcut your expansion of a passion.

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