James Baguely's phone images
30 December 2019
Yes, you can use a phone to get deep sky objects!
People often ask me what is the best camera to use for astrophotography. The answer is fairly complex because of factors like setup and cost. But there's a saying that the best equipment is the stuff you reach for first.
In this case, that camera is an iPhone 11.
James lives in Canberra and recently got himself a telescope - a 10-inch go-to Dobsonian. This scope is actually designed for visual work, but after James was knocked out by what he saw through the scope he decided to try taking photos.
He got himself a saxon ScopePix mobile phone adapter and started experimenting. He learned pretty quickly to use the 3-second count-down timer on the phone, and then found that a 10-second exposure in night mode on the iPhone’s native camera app worked best. The fact that it’s a newer model phone helps, as the new ones are much more sensitive to low light.
Once set up, the Dobsonian tracks the stars on its own. This works best on level ground, so James uses a spirit level to find the best spot in his back yard. Tracking means that he can get his exposures without getting star trails.
As to processing, the photos you see here are single exposures with no stacking. Phone photos aren’t produced in raw format so aren’t suited to a lot of post processing. But as you can see, the images are exceptional for phone pictures. Deep sky objects can be very dim, and the outer nebulosity on James' Tarantula in particular shows how much light the 10” aperture is gathering.
James is loving astrophotography, especially being able to share his images with ot
her people. Of course, having seen what the phone can do, James is eager to progress, and wants a DSLR. Sensibly, he’s looking at a Canon, probably a 200D mk2.
Once he gets that, he can start stacking his exposures and learning about processing. After that, James should expect another big improvement.
I’m looking forward to seeing more images from James in the future.