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Shooting a meteor shower.

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Brian Volland
Shooting a meteor shower.
on Aug 10, 2010 at 8:22:32 pm

I am hoping to shoot the Perseid meteor shower on Thursday night, this is supposed to the be the peak of the shower with a guesstimate of 60 meteors an hour rocketing thru the sky.

At my disposal I have the following equipment.
- 2 EX1s
- XDCAMHD (1/2 chip)
- 2 Canon T2i DSLR cameras with kit 17-55 3.5 lens and 50mm 1.8 lens.

So my question is what would you use to shoot the meteors? I am thinking about doing an all night time lapse with the DSLRs and the 50mm lens. :15 sec intervals?

For the EX1s I am thinking about using intv record, 1 frame per sec but a slow shutter to get the streaking of the meteor.
My concern is the low light shooting and not bumping the gain on the ex1. Anybody have any experience shooting meteor showers? How did you do it? Thanks for the input!

ps. I am also posting this in the XDCam forum in case there are other insights there. Thanks!

OSX 10.5.8 - Final Cut Studio 2 - 2x3.2 Intel Quad Core - 4G ram


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Michael Sacci
Re: Shooting a meteor shower.
on Aug 10, 2010 at 10:58:55 pm

For the T2i I would start thinking about long exposures vs time lapse. And for video I would want it to be video and not time lapse also.

I have never taken pics of meteors but for me it would be like really sparse fireworks, in which I build the color (light) over time.

Just my 2 cents.


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Bob Pierce
Re: Shooting a meteor shower.
on Aug 11, 2010 at 12:45:13 pm

I've never bothered to try using an EX camera for night sky photography, but I suppose you could try. With the Canons, you can set long exposures, 30 seconds say, and probably catch lots of activity, but then you won't see the meteors actually move, since you'll likely not see much motion across frames (meteors are fast!). Then again, these cameras are so darn sensitive that maybe you can use much faster shutter speeds. Do you have the remote for your canons? I have yet to try timelapse with my 7D but have lots of experience with my Nikon. Let us know how you make out. Good luck!
Bob

http://www.lightstreamassociates.com

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Tom Nelson
Re: Shooting a meteor shower.
on Aug 11, 2010 at 1:23:21 pm

I'm going to try to capture the perseids tonight and tomorrow night - I've done it in times past, and every time I learn new things. I've got a 7D and a 30D, and I'm going to do long exposure with both of them. Generally I'll set them to ISO 100 5.6 (works best where I am in Connecticut, you may be able to open up a bit if you're somewhere with less ambient) and stay open for 30 seconds. I use the Canon Intervalometer TC-80N3, because I can program it to constantly be exposing; the shutter just closes then opens again right away. I also use the Canon AC adapter, because your batteries won't make it. Just set up your shot, press start on the 80N3, and walk away for a few hours. If you're lucky, one of your hundreds of exposures will have a meteor in it. If you use a long lens obviously, you're less likely to get one but it will be more pronounced. As for your EX, I've never done it with video but can imagine that you could burn a lot of media and the review process would be much lengthier than stills, and potentially more dissapointing. I'd love for you to prove me wrong, though - it certainly is worth a shot.

I've read that the meteors will be most visible between the Big Dipper and the North Star, so that's where I'll be pointing my 200mm on my 7D. I'll post my results here if I get anything good this time.

Tom Nelson
Videographer/Editor
Essex Television Group


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David Jones
Re: Shooting a meteor shower.
on Aug 11, 2010 at 2:44:24 pm

I never shot a meteor shower but, I think with the ex-1 you're going to need to shoot high-speed ie: more frames-per-second, and not the other way (time-lapse). Remember, you're shooting something moving extremely fast.

The other option (which may not be an option) is to use "night vision" which will give you a green or black and white image, probably not what you were looking for.

Best,

Dave J


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Bill Davis
Re: Shooting a meteor shower.
on Aug 11, 2010 at 8:55:15 pm

I did some tests with my 5dMkii a few months ago with long exposure night sky photography.

My advice is to get the FASTEST lens you can. I shot this informal test with the stock 28-105 f4 and afterwards I REALLY wanted faster glass.

This is where that extra $$ to buy the f1.2 lenses will REALLY pay off.

I drove out into the mountains of northern AZ where it was PITCH BLACK and shot for about 2 hours.

While the fancy intervalometers will certainly work, it's just as easy to use the cameras BULB setting and use one of the cheap RF remote controls (about $20 online) to fire the shutter and leave it open.

Exposures of more than 5 minutes or so WILL show earth position rotation effects (which is why the fast glass is SO critical.)

And while some modest ISO boost is fine, if you go to far you WILL get significant noise in your images.

I'd try to stay under ISO 1200 - maybe less if you have good fast lenses.

Good luck.



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Norman Pogson
Re: Shooting a meteor shower.
on Aug 12, 2010 at 10:26:37 am

If your exposures are long then you can always make and use a Barn Door Tracker camera mount, which will take out the streaking of the stars as the earth revolves, here is a Wikipedia page.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barn_door_tracker

My Canon 7D Blog


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Brian Volland
Re: Shooting a meteor shower.
on Aug 12, 2010 at 11:54:42 am

So the shoot is now canceled, for other reasons outside of the camera, but I am still hoping to get out and see that the T2i will do with the 50mm 1.8. It's really not as wide as I'd like but the speed is there and I have been wanting to shoot a night sky anyways.

Thanks for the advice! I will be sure to post my results.


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Michael Sacci
Re: Shooting a meteor shower.
on Aug 12, 2010 at 9:49:52 pm

What most people don't realize is that when you are taking pictures of the moon, fireworks or meteors you are not taking night pictures, you are filming every bright lights. You don't need fast lenses or high ISO. With a full moon the moon is as bright as a sunny day (anybody still use the sunny 16 rule?)

WIth meteors you don't want to capture a moment is time, you want the length of time. The reason a slow shutter speed works is because the point of light is moving and not exposing the same place.

Just food for thought.


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