Ok the question was asked what's the best beginners camera. I'm interested in a camera that will take great photos. I used to be an avid amateur photographer in the days of film. I'd like to get back into it, but can't remember the name of the type of camera for astrophotography. A medium format or something like that.

If you know what camera model and lens would you recommend?

Any classes?



When it comes to astrophotography, assuming that is your primary focus, you really have two options: A full-frame DSLR, or a dedicated monochrome CCD camera. A dedicated CCD camera will generally take much better photos, and give you far more control, for astrophotography alone (particularly deep sky, but with focal reducers a short focal length telescope can become a pretty nice wide field lens.)

If you also want to take regular photos, and still want the best camera you can get for astrophotography, then you should look at a full frame DSLR. In particular, the Canon EOS 6D. The 6D is a very reasonably priced full frame camera (in the US, it currently sells for around $1400), but it also has some of the cleanest high ISO noise to be found outside of the Canon EOS 1D X (which sells for almost $7000!)

The very, very clean, low level of high ISO noise on the 6D, combined with its relatively large pixels, make it an ideal astrophotography camera. It costs about the same as a dedicated high quality astrophotography CDD, but is far more versatile as it is a regular old DSLR as well.

If you need a more capable camera that still offers low noise at high ISO, and you have more money to spend, the Canon EOS 5D III is probably one of the most versatile cameras on the market. Similarly, the Nikon D800E, which is priced similarly to the 5D III, offers more resolution and finer detail, which can be a boon for astrophotography. Neither the D800 nor the 5D III have quite the level of quality the 6D does when it comes to high ISO performance...the 6D is VERY usable up to ISO 3200, and still quite usable at ISO 6400 (where as by ISO 6400 the 5D III will start eating up higher magnitude stars.)

If I had to recommend the single best device for photography+astrophotography, it would be the 6D. Great price, very versatile camera, excellent IQ at high ISO...the only way to do better (at the time of this writing) is buy a dedicated telescope CCD camera.

Historically, astrophotography before the digital era could be done on a variety of film cameras. The use of a medium format film camera was not a necessity, although you certainly had a larger frame which could be useful. Doing astrophotography with film these days is probably more difficult than with digital, and certainly more costly. You have to deal with reciprocity failure, so calculating how long you need to expose to get the exposure you want can become a little difficult for longer exposures (i.e. exposures on a tracking mount.) You also incur the cost of buying the film and having it developed, where as with digital you can do it all yourself with your own personal computer and some tools like Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Deep Sky Stacker, Registax, etc.

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  • What are your thoughts on the Canon 60Da which was specifically made for astrophotography? – jp89 Dec 8 '13 at 2:10
  • The 60Da is an intriguing camera, what with it being sensitive to H-alpha, but it doesn't have nearly the light sensitivity as the 6D. Additionally, the 60Da isn't quite as useful for regular photography due to the increased red/near infrared sensitivity. I think in general the 6D is a better camera if you do astro+other. If you really want to get into REAL astrophotography, including H-alpha and separate color and luma layers, then your far, far better off using a proper astro CCD, a tracking mount, and per-frame filtration., – jrista Dec 8 '13 at 3:35
  • Thanks I really appreciate all the time you put into your answer. At this point I would like to be able to use the camera for general photography as well. I think from what you have told me you suggest the 6D. – Moke Dec 12 '13 at 12:55
  • Moke, for you, I would definitely get the 6D. Better for your overall needs. – jrista Dec 15 '13 at 2:01

For excellent astrophotography you need a cooled CCD, Cannon EOS 6D is of course a good and well know choice but if you have some money to invest ( about 3000$) a real scientific instrument is QSI 583 Scientific whit 600$ more you can buy a filter wheels and have really some scientific data. I have tried even the CHROMA C4-DSP but you should compare them. Of course all depends about your needs if you are an amateur or a scientist because if a Canon is, at the end, a normal camera instead with QSI583 you can't take photos of your holiday so easily because they need a computer interface and external power...

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  • Thanks, yes I would like to use the camera for regular photography as well. Close up portraits, as well as landscapes. – Moke Dec 12 '13 at 12:57

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