(meteorobs) Re: Camera

Hi Jerre,

The simplest photography requires a manual camera.  Electronic ones use
up batteries quickly holding shutters open for all but the brightest
objects such as the moon.

To make timed exposures you need either a camera with a T setting, or
with a B setting and a locking cable release.

To start out, you probably want a 35 mm.

If you can afford a newer camera, you'll probably find the features you
need in an inexpensive manual 35mm SLR. A 50 mm f/1.8 lens would be a
good place to start.

Older rangefinder or viewfinder 35 mm cameras are a great bargin,
selling for as little as $5 in thrift shops.  The lens on these cameras
is typically a 50mm f3.5.  Not as sensitive as the previously mentioned
SLRs, but quite useable and a lot better than a new, cheap camera (ie
under $100).

Rangefinder cameras are mechanically much simpler than SLRs, and aside
from lunar photography you'll be doing timed exposures so the accuracy
of the shutter is not critical.  In any event, they are easily cleaned
if the shutter mechanism is gummed up.

If you don't already own a 35 mm manual SLR, I'd suggest an older camera
such as an Argus C-3.  There are thousands of them around and I happen
to have an owners manual!  Such a camera with everything working and a
lens without fingerprints should sell for about $20.  Say $10 for a
cable release, $10 for a used tripod and $10 to make a "barndoor" mount
will allow you to do general widefield astrophotography as well as
meteor photography.

This website will give you links to barndoor designs:

http://w3.uwyodot edu/~rachford/widefield.html

Meteor photography is an exception in that you can get useful
photographs without a "star tracking" platform.  Inexpensive versions of
such platforms are also called "Scotch" mounts or "barndoor" trackers.

You really don't need an SLR for astrophotography.

You don't see cheap rangefinder cameras these days as most beginners opt
for the SLR or an inexpensive autofocus.  However if you want an
expensive camera with about the best optics available, Leica has some
nice rangefinders!!!!


user of a manual SLR 50mm f/2 and 28mm f/2.8 as well as my dad's C3 50mm
John Ohrt *** Toronto, ON, Canada *** mailto:johrt@ultidot net