I'm planning on buying a DSLR soon but impatience got me I decided to take my moms 4 year old bridge camera and give a shot, I took pictures in a mildly light polluted area, and it seemed to have gotten every star I could see with my own eye (there weren't that many). My problem is, I see people recommending a 10 second exposure with an iso of 800, the camera limits the shutter at 8 second up to 1600 iso and 2 second at 3200 and 6400. Will it be enough to capture the milky way?
A few things to consider when deciding on a camera to take images of the Milky way;
The Sensor surface area
• The s8600 has a surface area of 28mm2 with about 16m Pixels
• In comparison, a full frame camera such as the Canon 5D IV has a sensor surface area of 864mm2 with over 30m pixels
Photosites / Pixels
The larger the photosite/pixel, the more information you will capture of the Milkyway
• The s8600 has a pixel area of 1.8 micrometre2
• In comparison, the full frame camera such as the Canon 5D IV has a pixel area of 28.74 micrometre2
As you can see, the Fuji s8600 is already at a great disadvantage
ISO and Shutter
Ideally, you need to allow in as much light as possible without capturing the earths movement. Refer to the 500 rule.
Therefore, if I was to take the widest focal length (25mm), the best ISO (6400) and f-stop (f/2.9) that your S8600 offers and set the full frame Canon 5D with these exact measurements, I can use a maximum shutter speed of 13 Seconds to fill the photosites.
If I want to keep the noise levels down, and dial in at ISO 3200, then I need a shutter speed of 20 Seconds.
Once again, the Fuji s8600 is at great disadvantage as it is not able to achieve this.
However, all is not lost, and you can try photo stacking 100’s of stills;
• Depending on what you wish to capture you can use whatever focal length suits your needs
• Dial in at ISO 3200, f2.9 and shutter speed of 1 or 2 seconds (it will take trial and error over a few days)
• Then mounted on a tripod, capture between 300x-500x images. ( Also referred to as light frames)
• You will need to manually turn the camera every 30 or so images to keep up with the rotation of the earth.
• Once these have been captured, you need to capture about 20x Dark frames. These are the same settings, but you put the lens cap back on and then just click 20 times
• And finally, capture about 20x Bias frames. These are as above, but with the shutter speed set to the maximum of your camera.
- for your first trial, take 30-50 Light frames, 5-8 Dark and bias frames and then work from there
• Download a piece of software called Deepskystacker
• Before you go to bed, import all of these images into the software and then let your computer churn away till the morning.
• In the morning, you will have an image where all the images have been stacked, aligned and cropped with sensor noise minimised and maximum light captured.
• Bring this image into Lightroom and adjust however you wish
Hope this makes some sense and helps you in deciding on how to approach photographing the Milkyway.
My advice, purchase a full frame camera if you are serious about astrophotography.