T3 (but not Terminator 3)

Jan 18

Written by:
1/18/2013 11:04 PM  RssIcon

Back in the mid 1990's, I did a LOT of reading to determine what the best telescope would be for me.  At the time, I decided an 8" Schmidt Cassegrain would be ideal: It seemed to offer the best blend of portability, ease of use, and options for astrophotography.  Around that same time, I also bought a Ricoh SLR (film - digital didn't exist in that format yet).  My "through the scope" shots were mostly pathetic and a large waste of film - which was not cheap to buy and print that many pictures to get so few results!  The camera wound up getting used piggyback style, and finally only for regular photography... until digital point and shoots came along.  And the scope?  Used less and less for a variety of reasons, and finally sold a few years ago.

But many of us who do visual astronomy also wish to capture and share what we see.  And delving into astrophotography again has never really left me.  I've dabbled with afocal stuff, and given how forgiving the software is on my smartphone (an HTC Inspire), it has made is simple for me to grab decent shots of the Moon and planets.  And the beauty of digital is taking 20 or 30 shots doesn't burn film - so I'd shoot away, find the best 1 or 2 photos, and discard the rest.

None of that is to say that I've forgotten about the real deal: Through the scope astrophotography.  I had looked at the digital offerings out there, and always felt like the things I wanted were still right on the leading edge of technology - and with prices to match.  I knew the technology needed to go beyond what I considered "really good" so that I could buy a camera a model or two (or more!) behind the "best and newest" and be happy with it for a long time to come.

Enter the T3 (or 1100D, as it is also known).

I use a Canon digital camcorder to record all of the Eyes on the Sky videos.  It is a fantastic piece of equipment, even if it is a consumer-grade model.  It performs flawlessly, is easy to use, and works very well under difficult conditions.  So when an online retailer sent me an email with some DSLR's on sale, I clicked through and looked, as I often do.  But to my surprise, there was one I hadn't seen at such a good price.

The Canon Rebel EOS T3.  Not the best, not the newest.  But in that "Yes, that's the technology that will make me happy" realm.

I checked the bank account.  Christmas money still saved.  I checked with my wife, who has made some noises about getting back into regular photography herself.  Good to go.  I tend not to make impulse decisions like this, so I slept on it.  Often I wait several days, but in this case, I didn't: That next day, I bought the camera.  It arrived earlier this week.  I haven't had a lot of time to do much with it yet, but I did take it outside during the clear night last night and fire off some unguided shots at 3200ISO on a tripod at exposures from 6 to 15 seconds.

My reaction?  WOW!

This is going to be fun.  A steep learning curve, I'm aware.  But fun nonetheless.  Now all I need is the time.....

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The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.