From the Northern Lights, to Constellations and shooting the Moon, Astrophotography can be very exciting. Let’s also not forget about UFO’s, too, which seem to be getting photographed and filmed more than ever these days. The skies are filled with weird and wonderful imagery that’s just waiting to be seized in time by you and your camera. When people think about amateur Astrophotography they usually associate it with expensive DSLRs.
But DSLR’s, while offering superb clarity for Astro scenes, can be the most expensive way to get started in this sector of photography. You see, most of the cheaper DSLRs come with a standard kit lens. This will not be able to offer much in the way of an extensive zoom range if you want to, for example, get some nice close up shots of the moon.
So you will more than likely have to buy an additional lens, one with a much better zoom range. Depending on how deep you want to penetrate the world above, you could always attach your DSLR up to an Astrophotography telescope, which is what a lot of people do. With this method you can’t go far wrong. To keep costs down, one superb entry-level DSLR well worth checking out for this type of set up is the Nikon D3400.
Dedicated Telescopes. The downside to this for beginners is that many dedicated telescopes, made specifically for the purpose of being able to directly attach the camera body are expensive. So unless you make your own telescope / camera mix (a DIY job, though not hard to implement), for the individual just getting into this kind of photography, spending a considerable amount of money on something like an Orion ED80T CF Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope is probably out of the question. You can find cheaper models, such as the excellent Starwave Classic 102mm F11 Achromat Refractor Telescope with 2″ Crayford Focuser, but even this model isn’t exactly cheap.
However, If you want to go down the lens route, depending on the make and model of your DSLR, some powerful zoom lenses can be found on sale for cheap, especially in used condition. While others can far surpass what a lot of hobbyists are prepared to spend on an extra lens.
With the advantage of a potentially huge zooming capability already coming built-in to many Bridge models as standard, this is one of the main reasons why Bridge cameras can be a sensible, and more affordable choice for many people who want to get into Astrophotography. And to some extent, amateur photography in general. Fair enough, generally their sensors may not be as big as the ones found in many DSLRs, and the majority won’t be as good at capturing certain details in low light conditions, but they are still very capable and extremely convenient in so many shooting scenarios.
That includes Astrophotography. Bridge cameras are not just for the novice either. Bridges are also a smart choice for the more seasoned photographers who want a small all-in-one camera that doesn’t require any additional lenses. With a Bridge camera, carrying a big bag around full of equipment is not needed. If you’re not aware, Bridge cameras have just one fixed, stand-alone dynamic lens that can handle many different shooting situations.
There are so many great Bridge cameras out there that work very well with Astrophotography, but one Bridge camera that instantly springs to mind is the Nikon P900. Although there is no RAW file option, and it is rather big in size, with its massive 83x zoom, you’ll have no problem getting those close up shots of the Moon! The P900’s zoom capabilities are truly amazing.
Other models that are great for those just starting out with Astrophotography, or with amateur photography in general are the Panasonic DC-FZ82EB-K, with an impressive 60x zoom, and the Nikon Coolpix P610 (great for low light), which has a 60x optical zoom. On a tight budget? Those with not much to spend, but still in need of a great zoom range and a respectable level of features should certainly give the Fujifilm Finepix SL1000 some consideration. It’s not a bad starter model for the price. Second hand, they are now a steal. Whatever you choose, DSLR, Bridge, or something in between, keep your lens, or at least one eye to the skies, because you never know what you might capture.