Astrophotography with pentax k-1

It’s neumond, the sky clear and cloudless, we are located on one of the darkest places in germany – about 70 kilometers from hamburg in office neuhaus on a dead arm of the elbe. We, these are the passionate astro landscape photographer helmut schnieder and me. Together we want to test the pentax k-1 on their astroiable. The conditions could hardly be better.

Even the journey to the host site is an experience. So against 20.30 o’clock it goes from the elbuber crossing at domitz about half an hour long through a lonely area to a dead arm of the elbe – here there is only landscape and sky. Who lives here, must already be for shopping or refueling at least 25 kilometers. On the whole ride we will not encounter any car, for that diverse toe, which can succumb to cross the strain.

Astrophotography with Pentax K-1

It’s almost two o’clock and still pawn. In perfect darkness, it is important to keep your equipment together. On the front tripod sits the eos 6d, on the back the pentax k-1.

Arrived – yet it is enough bright to orient yourself – we pack the equipment. In addition to the pentax k-1, a canon eos 6d and a sony alpha 7s with various optics accompany us. In addition, there are sufficiently heavy tripods.

As long as it is still dimerted, we prepare several places around the waters for our nightlike photo session. In between, an encounter of a special kind: a bieber lonely pulls his circles through the mirror-smooth water, he does not seem to be at the evening visit to the finish. Of the night we get him to horen him. So at half past nine diving the first stars in the sky, one is spica in the south. He is the brightest star in the picture of the virgin and falls down through his blue color.

Preparations in the dimmer

Before the first skips, the cameras is to be prepared. As an optics we stand for the pentax k-1 the 24-70mm 1: 2.8 available. That’s not the ideal cast. Dear the 15-30mm 1: 2.8th. Then we had the chance to get the most beautiful area of the milky strain on the picture. So we start with a cutout and individual star pictures.

Pentax k-1 autotracer function

Astrophotography with Pentax K-1

so that the autotracer of the k-1 can work properly, the gps must be enumerated on the camera.

For star photographers, k-1 offers the so-called astrotracer function as a special feature. It moves the sensor in the camera so that the stars even with long exposure times do not leave starlock tracks that appear in the picture, but appear almost point-shaped. For the astrotracer function, we first turn on the gps so that the camera "woman", where she is and in which direction they are aligned. So that the accuracy is right, you have to calibrate the k-1 suburb by turning it in three axes by at least 180 °. We repeat the calibration for safety later after each change of location. For recordings with autotracer, the k-1 must be in b mode for long-term exposures – the m mode (manual) is not enough. Standard exercise type is then bulb, with the green button on the back side, but also a long-term timer for exposures of ten seconds to fun minutes available. In addition, the female adjustment should be set to a fixed temperature. We have opted for a value of 3500 kelvin, which we have increased later in image processing to 3800 k.

Astrophotography with Pentax K-1

The first recordings are formed during astronomical dimensions. The bright star is spica with its blue color in the constellation virgo. (pentax k-1 with 24-70 mm 1: 2.8 at 27 mm, iso 1600, f / 2.8, 30 s with autotracer and tripod)

We start our shots about 21.30 with open aperture f / 2.8, a sensitivity of iso 1600 and an exposure time of 30 seconds. Once we focus on the distance on the horizon and fix the relatively lightweight sharpening at the lens with an adhesive tape so that nothing can be adjusted in the dark. The astronomical dimension has just started and will be up to about 22.Stop 30 o’clock. As long as the sky appears in a blue tone. With increasing darkness are more and more stars in the sky. Even when playing the first recordings on the camera display we can see that the astrotracer works cleanly. The stars are almost point-forming. Gradually, we call up the exposure time to 60 seconds and finally against 22.3 pm on 90 seconds.

First results with the k-1 votes optimistic

The first recordings are hopeful. The vignetting falls relatively low and thus the lens is also very well panoramic suitable. In the corners, there are hardly coma effects that were noticeable as a deformation of the stars. The camera-renewable lens correction is turned on and obviously has these image errors well. We reserve this direction up to about 22.20 clock at. However, a slightly grungy sky color (airglow) has meanwhile formed, whereby the quality for astro recordings has become rather worse. Therefore, we change the viewpoint and judge the camera first against sudenosts, where mars slowly deposed by the horizon. He is located directly in the constellation of scorpion and exactly next to it is saturn in the constellation snake carrier. Right in the picture in the picture still the spica. However, the lightmog from about 25 kilometers away hitzacker hampered too much to get clear transparent recordings.

So but rather a location change together with complete equipment to the opposite side of the elberms – now the waterproof footwear is preserved. Here the cameras will now go to northeast. The milky strain rises gradually on the horizon and gradually wanders towards the sudenost. Only with the later review of all recordings, we discover that at the first trial shots for setting up the camera, we also captured a shooting star – if that does not bring luck. In this place many portrayal shots arise, which show the summer triangle in the milk strain. The summer triangle consists of the star pictures swan, lyre and eagle. Now we miss the extreme wide angle to completely depict the milk strain in landscape format to the constellation scorpion.

Pentax k-1 astro recordings

Astrophotography with Pentax K-1

astro recordings in office neuhaus on a dead elbarm in the direction of northeast overlooking the milky strain. Pentax k-1 with 24-70mm 1: 2.8 at 27 mm, iso 1600, f / 2.8, 90s, autotracer, tripod, date: 07.05.2016 by 0.45 o’clock (cet)

Against 1.30 o’clock we change again to the location and now work in the landscape format. The lower end of the milk strain has since left the lightmog of hitzacker now and now relies very clean from the background. For astrophotographers an impressive spectacle that rarely can be seen in this clarity for lonely places. Finally, about two o’clock in the morning we leave the astrotracer and make the last shots at iso 6400 and 30 seconds exposure time. Now, although the noise is increasing and the stars are no longer quite point-forming, but all in all, the k-1 also suggests comparatively good in this mode of operation. The quality of these recordings is still ranging for coarse a2 prints.

Pentax k-1: practicality for night shots

All in all, the new pentax k-1 has retained excellently for this type of astrophotography. The autotracer lets the sensor clean and safe. At least for exposure times to three minutes, none and in the corners of acceptable star traces occurred, but who stopped by the driven heavenly direction. They then correspond to those at 30 seconds exposure time without autotracer. Even if the hd pentax-d fa 24-70mm f.2.8 ed sdm wr is not the optimum for the use of astro landscape shots, so it has been well beaten in practice compared to similar objectives. In contrast to the nikon af-s nikkor 14-24mm 1: 2.8g ed, which was adapted to the eos 6d, during our multi-hours recording session, the front lens of the pentax lens with high humidity and cold not decided.

Pentax k1 astrophotography, sandwich recording and airglow

Astrophotography with Pentax K-1

here is the attempt of a sandwich recording. The lower part of the recording comes from a canon eos 6d, the top from a pentax k-1. Both cameras with 25 mm optics were aligned equally and at the same time.

In order to select and judge the image section in the darkness, we mostly worked with in lifeview mode. If you want to use the viewfinder, start the brightness of the display. If this, if necessary, run down in the menu, but then the brightness is not enough to judge the pictures when playing. The display turns off when you tend to tackle the trim. This is not practicable again if you need two hands to the tripod setting at the same time. Better goods / shutdown via function key. Alternatively, a configurable liveview display as with the sony alpha models. Here, on request, the display brightness automatically regulates when the image content is too dark. Even if the presentation is then greatly noisy, one can still judge the cutout and the motif well.

Astrophotography with Pentax K-1

So that the autotracer function of the pentax k-1 works reliably, you should always calibrate the camera suburb.

If you might use the pentax k-1 for astro recordings, you should first familiarize yourself with all the presets and also remove the calibration process several times, so that you do not accidentally fall the camera from the hand or a look into the documentation necessary.

And one thing is still necessary when using the astrotracer specifically for combined star and landscape recordings: the sensor pursues the stars very clean during the long exposures, so that they are virtually punctiform. The landscape, on the other hand, is increasingly blowing through the sensor movement with long-free exposure times. There is a compromise to find. With the asyles of booms and shrubs, it still likes to look like the wind moved them, but the blurred was unnatural in buildings. Working here was a sandwich recording of two pictures – one with autotracer for the sky and one without the foreground, which is mounted in the image processing, which is mounted abruptly over each other. As an example, we have two recordings – one of the k-1 with autotracer and one with the eos 6d roofed.

Evaluation of the recordings

The vignetting (corrected in the camera) is in the reasonable frame. The coma errors with open apertures are also comparably low. In the middle there is a coarse coma-free area and to the corners rather managed coma errors occur. Presumably, the internal lens correction takes into account this mistake and tries to keep it small.

Astrophotography with Pentax K-1

Detail comparison of an astro landscape of the pentax k-1, recorded with autotracer at iso 1600 and 90 seconds exposure with a simultaneously recorded photo from a canon eos 6d at iso 1600 and 112 seconds exposure. While the stars at k-1 appear almost point-shaped, leave the eos 6d long traces. On the other hand, the landscape is already sharp in the image of the eos 6d, at the k-1 it looks like the wind was worn through the tree.

When post-processing in photoshop cs shows only low noise at iso 1600 and iso 3200. At iso 6400, the noise is about the level of the eos 6d, which is in use with many astro photographers because of their low noise. The dynamic range is so good that deep shadow ranges, such as the grune grass in the foreground, leave so far so far that color will still be recognizable and no destructive flat appearance. Also thermal noise, which can occur due to increased sensor temperatures in long exposures, can not be made.

Overall, the pentax k-1 has retained well for our astro landscape recordings. It has the stuff that the eos 6d is currently coming from astrophotographers.

Pentax k-1 astrophotography (results)

Astrophotography with Pentax K-1

despite active autotracer, the landscape is still authentic and picturesque. The sky is perfect. Pentax k-1 with 24-70 mm 1: 2.8 at 27 mm, iso 3200, f / 2.8, 50 s with aautotracer and tripod