After viewing a few photographs of the Milky Way, I have become obsessed with creating my own. I went out and purchased a new full frame camera with a 24 f1.4 lens.

Am I on the right track with this equipment? I have yet to drive out to the country and find a decent sky, and I am looking for some recommendations on shutter and ISO.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ possible duplicate of How do I get started in Astrophotography? \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Oct 23, 2011 at 0:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @rfusca Don't think it's a possible duplicate, since Akram is asking if he is on the right track rather than 'How I get started with X', which the thread in itself does not answer directly. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2012 at 4:01

3 Answers 3


With a full frame camera and an f/1.4 24mm lens, you should certainly be ready to go. You will need to use a pretty high ISO to get a nicely saturated shot, ISO1600 or so, but with a full-frame camera noise should be pretty low and manageable. You might not want to shoot at the widest aperture, as CA will probably interfere with the quality of the stars. I would say f/2 should do, but every shot needs some fine-tuning. With such a wide lens, you should be able to expose for about 25-30 seconds or so before startrails start to affect the shot.

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    \$\begingroup\$ And if a full-frame camera is an acceptable cost for entry, then a low-end motorized equatorial tracking mount shouldn't be too very painful either (you can get a decent one for under $200 that should be able to handle a camera's mass easily). It depends how "milky" you want the Milky Way to be in the final picture. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Oct 23, 2011 at 5:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ The AstroTrac isn't too crazy and is perfect for widefield AP work. astrotrac.com \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Oct 24, 2011 at 5:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its a pretty darn good price too, seeing as a full-blown equatorial tracking mount capable of handling a telescope runs in the range a thousand to several thousand. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Oct 24, 2011 at 18:53

Since you asked specifically about exposure settings you may have already figured all this out, but just in case, don't forget:

  • a good, solid tripod and a shutter release cable.
  • wear gloves and warm clothes; bring a thermos with a warm drink. Also bring some food or snacks.
  • You're camera will be changing temperatures, too, so read up on what you need to worry about there. Here's a good starting point.
  • Practice using the camera before you head out for your actual shots (you don't want to be fumbling through the manual with your flashlight). You can do this just fine indoors: turn the lights down or out, and take some pictures in your living room. Practice changing settings to achieve the same exposure (e.g. narrow the aperture, lengthen the shutter speed, and increase the ISO) so you get familiar enough with the controls to be able to do basic stuff in the dark
  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for that...one of the items that I have been concerned about is how to focus properly. \$\endgroup\$
    – brad
    Oct 26, 2011 at 12:26

To be able to shoot the milkyway you have to use multiple exposures, as far as I know. But for decent star photography one exposure will do just fine. For this picture I used these settings: http://500px.com/photo/2281689
shutter 30 sec
Aperture f/3,5
ISO 250

Longer shutter speed than that makes the stars more of a line than a dot, so you can't increase the shutter to get more stars. But try using f/1,4 or a higher ISO, like 600 or even higher to see the milkyway at its whole! Have fun with night photography!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Multiple exposures are not a necessity for shooting the milky way. A fast lens and high ISO will usually do the job. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Oct 23, 2011 at 2:59

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