As the Perseid Meteor Shower is due in few days, I am researching about methods and techniques of how to photograph the meteors. This is going to be my first astrophotography ever. My equipment is a Nikon D5300, 18-55mm lens, tripod, and intervalometer.

I am wondering if these are enough to allow me to capture a comet? I know that ideally I would need a very low f/stop but the lowest I have got at the moment is 4.8. Additionally, how could I calculate the ideal exposure time?

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    Possible duplicate of Are meteors dim? – scottbb Aug 9 '16 at 15:28
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    Are you sure it's f4.8? – Robin Aug 9 '16 at 16:51
  • The reason you're seeing a minimum of f/4.8 will be the focal length you've selected. The 18-55 lens family are variable aperture - that is, they offer a maximum of f/3.5 at 18mm, but f/5.6 at 55mm. If aperture is important for what you're trying to do, remember it's a tradeoff with zoom - and if needs be, zoom out and crop in post processing. – eftpotrm Aug 11 '16 at 16:57
  • @eftpotrm The wider your field of view the more likely you'll be to catch meteors in the frame. There's nothing more frustrating than seeing a beautiful meteor streak by to your left when your camera is pointed to the right! – Michael C Aug 11 '16 at 19:45
  • Yes, and the wider lens also gives the faster aperture - zooming out should be win-win here. – eftpotrm Aug 11 '16 at 22:11

For sure you can capture a meteor shower with the 18-55mm kit. The question isn't so much about your gear, it's more about what kind of photo you want to take. With your gear, you can easily set your exposure time (shutter speed) to 30 seconds (or Bulb for indefinitely long). The longer it stays open, the more light will hit your sensor, and the brighter your image will be.

However, the longer you hold the shutter open, the the longer the meteor tails will be as the meteor light drags across your sensor while your shutter remains open.

So, if you want short tails or just points of light, you'll need to use a faster shutter speed, which means you'll need very clean high ISO or very large aperture (f/1.8 or f/1.2) to get an image that isn't very noisy.

However, comet/meteor tails are quite beautiful so I'd recommend setting your camera up on a tripod, opening the shutter up for 30 seconds at f/3.5 and 18mm using manual focus, ISO 6400, and starting there. Adjust according to taste.

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    re: longer the shutter stays open: it's true that the longer the shutter stays open, the brighter the total image will be (and anything that is lit during the entire time the shutter is open). However, any individual meteor lasts less than, say, 1/2 second. So the longer the shutter stays open, the darker any captured meteor appears relative to the constantly-lit objects (stars, atmospheric / horizon light pollution, etc). So the tradeoff is between having bright meteor streaks by using the shortest shutter, vs. probability of capturing meteors with short shutters. – scottbb Aug 11 '16 at 17:20
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    ... this is covered in the Are meteors dim? question linked to by @MichaelClark in his answer, and by myself under the OP question. – scottbb Aug 11 '16 at 17:21
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    Meteor trails rarely last longer than 2-3 seconds. They will be just as bright and just as long with a 10 second exposure as they will be with a 30 second exposure. By limiting the length of your exposure to 10-15 seconds you can increase your sensitivity and/or aperture to make the meteors brighter without making the stars and other ambient lights too bright. – Michael C Aug 11 '16 at 19:42
  • Good points @scottbb and Michael Clark about relative brightness. One other thing the OP should consider is that the longer he holds the shutter open, the more meteor trails he will get in the frame. He'll want to balance how many trails he wants with overall exposure/contrast. – seadragon Aug 11 '16 at 19:53
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    @seadragon With the FoV of a 17mm lens on a FF camera it is rare to get a single meteor in the frame. I generally set the wired remote to shoot continuously for hours at a time and feel I've had good luck if I capture 3-5 image with meteors in the frame. It's all a numbers game. Those shots you see with many meteors in a single image are almost always composites from short frames that each only had one meteor trail in it. photo.stackexchange.com/a/34972/15871 – Michael C Aug 11 '16 at 21:03

Used at 18mm your kit lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.5. I've successfully shot meteors with a constant aperture f/4 lens so your kit lens at 18mm should be capable of shooting meteors.

For more on how to capture meteors, please see:
Are meteors dim?
What technique and settings should I use to capture meteor showers?
How to take the night skies and meteor showers?

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