This is something that I have spent a lot of time looking into, so I thought I would share the knowledge and information I gathered here.
Hopefully this will save you time in your own search 🙂
Now, the first think to understand is that if you plan on taking high resolution photos, you wont get away with a shoe-string budget. I have spent around £500 and only have two lenses.
From looking at various articles and forums the general consensus was that Canon make the best cameras for night photography. Nikon come in a close second, they are also pretty good.
The camera I went for was the Canon EOS 1100d (the 550d is also very good for this). This is Canons newest entry level SLR so perfect for first time astrophotographers!
I searched all over the place to find the best deal. In the end I settled for Pixmania
Now after finding the “Body” you want you need to think about lenses. This is where things start to get complicated.
With some options of the 1100d you get a pretty standard 55mm lens with it. Now if you plan to get big, clear shots of planets and the moon you are going to need something with a better zoom, but this lens should get you pretty good “Star Trails” and long exposure shots.
Here is an example of what you can get with a 55mm lens:
You can clearly see the orange tint to Mars to the right of the image.
If you want a better image you will need a much longer lens. I have a Sigma AF 70-300mm f4-5.6 DG Macro Canon Fit Lens. The reason I went for Sigma was because they are a much cheaper alternative to the official Canon lenses, but they are just as good. I haven’t used it a great deal yet, due to the wonderful weather we get in this county but I have uploaded an image of the Moon that I had taken. You can see a lot more detail.
With this lens you can get a lot closer. Now, I am a complete amateur at this so as you can tell, the image is less than ideal. Maybe one day I will upload a clearer one 🙂 but you get the point.
An important thing to bare in mind while taking photos of the night sky is to make sure you have the ISO and Aperture set correctly on your camera. The lower the aperture the more light will be let in, also the longer the exposure the more light you will let in. When taking images of dark night sky’s you will need to let in as much light as possible. With this in mind it is rather important to get a lens with as lower F-Number as possible.
I will see if I can write a brief tutorial on taking good photos soon, so keep an eye out.
In order to get better images of Planets, such as Jupiter or Nebula like the Orion Nebula there are a few things that can be done to work around the fact that the earth moves. There are trackers that you can use, unfortunately this isn’t something that I have looked into yet so I will post another article regarding these in the future. Another option is to use a “Stacker” program. I have yet to play with this too so I will update you on this soon.
Hope this helps you with your search.
If you have any questions I would be happy to answer just drop me a message.