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Thread: Basic DSLR Exposure Question

  1. #1
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    Default Basic DSLR Exposure Question



    Hi Forum,

    I have been shooting unguided for 60 seconds at iso 1600 with my Nikon D3300 unmodded DSLR.
    With the light pollution levels in my backyard, 60 seconds at iso 1600 puts my histogram peak at about one third. I currently shoot without any lp filter.
    I have read that a peak at one third is about where you should shoot with a DSLR.
    My question is now that I have the ability to guide, should I increase exposure time and drop the iso to still keep the histogram peak at about one third? Will I get a better signal to noise ratio doing that?
    Should I increase the exposure time at iso 1600 and run at a higher histogram peak?
    Or, should I just stay at 60 seconds and shoot bunches of images?

    Thanks for any guidance that you can share with me.

    Jim
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    Default Re: Basic DSLR Exposure Question

    according to this Best ISO values for Nikon cameras | DSLR Astrophotography the best dynamic range vs ISO for D3300 is around 800, you can try ISO400 as well. that will solve your washout issues. I'm using ISO400 for my D5300.
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    Default Re: Basic DSLR Exposure Question

    Hi geethq,

    Thanks for the reply.

    So, keep the histogram peak at one third and increase exposure time while dropping the iso?

    Thanks,
    Jim
    Scopes: Explore Scientific ED102 Triplet APO, Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT.
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    Default Re: Basic DSLR Exposure Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Juno16 View Post
    Hi geethq,

    Thanks for the reply.

    So, keep the histogram peak at one third and increase exposure time while dropping the iso?

    Thanks,
    Jim
    the best ISO for your DSLR is ISO800 or 400 so no need to capture using 1600 that will reduce your dynamic range. you will be able to get 3 may be 5min exposures with ISO400. i'm not sure about 1/3 of histogram peak.
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    Default Re: Basic DSLR Exposure Question

    Jerry Lodriguss has a nice article on his webpage that you might find interesting.

    DSLR Camera Settings for Astrophotography
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    Default Re: Basic DSLR Exposure Question

    Hi Jim,

    You are spot on with the peak placement on the histogram. Use ISO 800 for your Nikon. Make sure your exposure times are the length needed to put the histogram peak where it's supposed to go. The shorter the exposure time, in an LP situation, the better off you are. The reason I say this is both from an LP standpoint and from a guiding error standpoint. Light pollution adds additional background noise, we don't like this. For guiding errors, the longer the exposure time the greater the chance of experiencing guiding errors. So keep them short and put the histogram peak where it's supposed to go.

    Cheers,
    JT
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    Default Re: Basic DSLR Exposure Question

    Thanks and great advice! That’s just what I needed.

    I will follow these recommendations. Thanks!

    Jim
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    Default Re: Basic DSLR Exposure Question

    ETTL or ETTR that is the question.

    There are two different image acquisition and processing techniques, exposing to the left or exposing to the right, that you can use when dealing with light pollution without an LP filter. Both have merit, depend on the amount of light pollution and use different processing techniques. ETTL suggests you should create an exposure at a relatively low ISO so your histogram peaks on the left third line or at the very least is completely off the left wall. ETTR suggests you should create an exposure at a high ISO so your histogram peaks at the right third line of your histogram and does not touch the right wall.

    Almost everything that you will find in the way of tutorials and workflows will be ETTL. when starting out using this method unless your LP is so bad you have terrible results.

    I use ETTL in most situations with a telescope. I use ETTR a little more often when using a standard lens.

    As long as you don't clip darks or lights, smash the left or right side of the histogram, you will have decent results.
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