Pho­to: Asmus Koefoed/Stock.adobe.com

Astropho­tog­ra­phy is one of the most allur­ing gen­res of pho­tog­ra­phy, which also stub­born­ly accom­pa­nies one per­sis­tent myth: it is very dif­fi­cult and expen­sive. In fact, as in any oth­er genre, you do not need a lot of mon­ey and some sacred knowl­edge to get start­ed. In this mate­r­i­al, we under­stand what basic set of equip­ment is need­ed for a novice astropho­tog­ra­ph­er.

What you need

Let’s make a reser­va­tion right away, in this arti­cle we will con­sid­er equip­ment specif­i­cal­ly for basic astropho­tog­ra­phy — with it you can pho­to­graph the stars, the Moon, the Milky Way and cre­ate beau­ti­ful land­scapes against the back­ground of the night sky. For shoot­ing dis­tant celes­tial bod­ies and space objects, you will need more spe­cial­ized tools — tele­scopes and field lev­el­ers, and this is a top­ic for a sep­a­rate arti­cle.

There are sev­er­al basic require­ments for equip­ment that is suit­able for shoot­ing the star­ry sky. You should have a cam­era that han­dles high ISOs well, a wide-angle lens of f/2.8 or less, a tri­pod, and a spe­cial astro­nom­i­cal light pol­lu­tion fil­ter if you can’t get far out of town. This is the basic set you need and don’t have to spend a for­tune on.

The Milky Way and starscapes are a great start for an astropho­tog­ra­ph­er. Pho­to: pixabay.com

There are a lot of options for all these devices on the mar­ket, so it’s not always easy to fig­ure out exact­ly what you need. Luck­i­ly, you don’t have to buy the lat­est and great­est mod­els. Many entry-lev­el cam­eras and bud­get lens­es will do the job. But, of course, the more pro­fes­sion­al the equip­ment, the more you can do, and the less time it will take to post-process.


While almost any cam­era can be used for astropho­tog­ra­phy, some are more suit­able for this genre. Any mod­el that can han­dle ISO well up to 3200 (ide­al­ly up to 6400) will be fine for shoot­ing stars.

“Does well” in this case refers to the min­i­mum amount of dig­i­tal noise at high ISOs. High ISO (3200 and up) means high light sen­si­tiv­i­ty, which is need­ed to get as much light as pos­si­ble while shoot­ing in almost com­plete dark­ness.

Both crop and full-frame cam­eras will do, but, of course, the larg­er the matrix, the eas­i­er it is for it to cap­ture light from weak light sources (in our case, stars).

One of the best cam­eras for astropho­tog­ra­phy was and still is the Canon EOS 6D Mark II full-frame DSLR. The Canon EOS 6D has achieved almost cult sta­tus in astropho­tog­ra­phy thanks in large part to its excel­lent high ISO per­for­mance. The stan­dard sen­si­tiv­i­ty range of the Canon “mon­ster” reach­es 40,000. Plus, the cam­era has a swiv­el dis­play, which is con­ve­nient when work­ing with a tri­pod and when shoot­ing from sharp angles.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II is a rec­og­nized instru­ment of the “star” genre. Pho­to: canon.com.au

The same can be said about the Sony A7 II. This cam­era is great for night pho­tog­ra­phy and astropho­tog­ra­phy thanks to its excel­lent full-frame sen­sor and excel­lent high ISO per­for­mance.

The third gen­er­a­tion of the same mod­el is also famous for the cool qual­i­ty of astropho­tog­ra­phy, but this mod­el will cost 50 thou­sand more. If you’re will­ing to spend the extra mon­ey, the Sony A7 Mark III is even bet­ter in terms of ISO (stan­dard ISO goes up to 51200, the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion has 25600), and it also has super-sharp aut­o­fo­cus (not the best option for shoot­ing stars and oth­er celes­tial bod­ies, but your cam­era will be more ver­sa­tile).

Com­bined with Sony’s high-aper­ture wide-angle lens­es, both of these cam­eras make for a top-of-the-line astropho­tog­ra­phy tool.

Of the advanced mod­els that are pop­u­lar among ast­pho­tog­ra­phers, the Pen­tax K1 and K1 Mark II can be not­ed. These DSLRs are equipped with a spe­cial Astro­Trac­er func­tion: using the built-in GPS mod­ule, the cam­era cal­cu­lates the tra­jec­to­ry of a sec­tion of the star­ry sky, and dur­ing shoot­ing, the matrix shifts syn­chro­nous­ly with the move­ment of objects — stars and oth­er space objects. Thanks to this, you can get very clear pic­tures of the night sky at long expo­sures, sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduc­ing the work of pho­to­graph­ic pro­cess­ing.

As we not­ed above, there are inex­pen­sive alter­na­tives.

The crop mir­ror­less Canon EOS M50 Mark II has proven itself well. It has an excel­lent pho­to­sen­si­tive matrix, and com­pared to many mod­els from our list, it is very light and com­pact — a sig­nif­i­cant plus if you are going to shoot the star­ry sky far from the cities.

The Canon EOS M50 Mark II crop mir­ror­less cam­era is a com­pact and afford­able alter­na­tive to full-frame mod­els. Pho­to: camerajabber.com

In any case, for astropho­tog­ra­phy, the cam­era is not as impor­tant as the lens.


For shoot­ing astropho­to, the main thing that is required from the lens is a high aper­ture ratio and the abil­i­ty to shoot at a wide angle (be it a zoom or a spe­cial wide-angle fix).

You don’t need weath­er pro­tec­tion as you can only shoot star­ry skies in clear weath­er, and you don’t need a fast aut­o­fo­cus dri­ve as you’ll be focus­ing in man­u­al mode. In gen­er­al, you can choose a lens with­out aut­o­fo­cus, this will help save a lot.

So the com­pa­ny Samyang (Roki­non) has some excel­lent fast fix­es with man­u­al focus at a very inter­est­ing price. For exam­ple, the Samyang 12mm f/2.0 or the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 are excel­lent lens­es for shoot­ing the night sky with excel­lent sharp­ness, which will cost only 24 thou­sand rubles each.

Among the inter­est­ing zoom lens­es is the Sig­ma 18–35mm f/1.8, which is suit­able for APS‑C cam­eras from var­i­ous man­u­fac­tur­ers. This glass has become a true leg­end in the astropho­tog­ra­phy com­mu­ni­ty due to its com­bi­na­tion of ver­sa­til­i­ty, aper­ture and sharp­ness.

The Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM is one of the best lens­es for star­ry land­scapes. Pho­to: sony-club.ru

If you are going to use your lens not only for astropho­tog­ra­phy, but also for land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy, then it is bet­ter to pay atten­tion to mod­els with pro­tec­tion from bad weath­er.

For exam­ple, the Sig­ma 14mm f/1.8 and Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM wide-angle primes are some of the best in their class. These lens­es will be able to catch the max­i­mum light from the stars and at the same time keep any objects in the fore­ground in the field of sharp­ness.


The most impor­tant acces­so­ry for astropho­tog­ra­phy is a tri­pod. You’ll be shoot­ing at slow shut­ter speeds that pre­clude hand­held shoot­ing, so a sol­id, sta­ble tri­pod is an absolute must-have.

When choos­ing a suit­able mod­el, you need to pay atten­tion to sev­er­al basic para­me­ters. First, the tri­pod must be able to sup­port your cam­era and lens. This is espe­cial­ly true if you plan to use a heavy DSLR like the Canon EOS 6D. Also remem­ber to add the weight of your lens.

Sec­ond­ly, the tri­pod must have a cen­tral hook for hang­ing addi­tion­al weight. This ensures that the cam­era tri­pod is not blown away by a sud­den gust of wind.

Third­ly, it is bet­ter to pay atten­tion to tripods with a ball head. It will allow you to adjust the posi­tion of the cam­era more pre­cise­ly, mak­ing it eas­i­er for you to frame your shot.

There are many tripods on the mar­ket that meet these require­ments, such as the Man­frot­to Befree Advanced or the more bud­get-friend­ly alter­na­tive, the Ray­lab Pro 75. These tripods can sup­port heavy cam­eras while being com­pact and easy to use.


Some­times, to take a pic­ture of the night sky, you may need an addi­tion­al fil­ter to help deal with light pol­lu­tion. This acces­so­ry is espe­cial­ly rel­e­vant for res­i­dents of megac­i­ties, because the search for a clear “unlit” sky next to them can be a real quest.

On the left is a pho­to with­out a fil­ter, on the right with a Hoya STARSCAPE fil­ter. Pho­to: flyingsharkphotography.com

Light pol­lu­tion fil­ters, such as Hoya STARSCAPE, help remove the orange glow in the sky from sodi­um lamps, the most com­mon type of street light­ing. If you don’t have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to go far from the city, this is a real life­saver that will save your pic­tures from the par­a­sitic orange tint.


As with any oth­er genre of pho­tog­ra­phy, astropho­tog­ra­phy has a few spe­cif­ic require­ments for equip­ment.

Your cam­era should be able to han­dle high ISOs well with­out cre­at­ing too much light noise. You should have a fast lens, for zooms a max­i­mum aper­ture of f / 2.8 will be a good indi­ca­tor, for fix­es — f / 2. The lens must be able to shoot at a wide angle so that you can cre­ate beau­ti­ful starscapes.

Be sure to set aside some mon­ey for a tri­pod — you will be shoot­ing at slow shut­ter speeds, so you won’t get sharp shots with­out a tri­pod. As an addi­tion­al acces­so­ry that will allow you to cope with light pol­lu­tion from the metrop­o­lis, a spe­cial astro­nom­i­cal light fil­ter will come in handy.

* when prepar­ing the mate­r­i­al, mate­ri­als from thephoblographer.com resource were used


От Yara

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