- Paperback: 162 pages
- Publisher: Rocky Nook (December 15, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1933952164
- ISBN-13: 978-1933952161
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.4 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Digital Astrophotography: A Guide to Capturing the Cosmos
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13 pages - Introduction
22 pages - Compact Digital Camera
26 pages - Webcam
32 pages - DSLR
42 pages - CCD (SBIG, Starlight Xpress)
Choice of a telescope is limited to a half page discussion in the introduction. There a picture of an equatorial mounting, nothing more. The Meade LPI is given two sentences. For CCD cameras, only the SBIG and Starlight Xpress get a mention. There is no index.
One interesting aspect of the book is the large number of formulas for helping you estimate optimum magnification, angle of view, etc. But overall, this book is trying to cover too much material to do any of it well.
Seip's book is concise, highly readable and an up-to-date book on amateur astrophotography. It is clear and well written and perhaps the best primer to read when one is contemplating delving into this area of the hobby.
I would have liked to see a little more elaboration on guiding (manual and auto), on focusing a DSLR (that's what most people start dabbling in), and on the importance of a good mount-perhaps an appendix guide on mount recommendations, stability considerations, the concept of PEC and maybe on drift alignment (a proper mount is the biggest success factor in astrophotography), but this information can be easily found elsewhere on the web and in books (Ron Wodaski has an excellent section on telescope and mount selection and considerations in his book that bears reading). All in all, an excellent book. I enjoyed reading it very much.
Lastly, if you see Seip's astrophotography photos on the web, you will realize how spectacular his photos (and skills) are. Perhaps it is a reflection of his humility that he avoids showcasing his jaw-dropping photos in his own book!
So, even though I'm a committed visual observer, when Seip's "Digital Astrophotography: A Guide to Capturing the Universe" became available (It was first published in German under the title "Astrofotografie digital") I thought what better photographer to acquaint me with what's become such a huge part of the astronomy hobby. And I was right. As an intro, it's superb.
His book is an attractive soft cover volume, profusely illustrated in color and printed on a heavy weight glossy paper with lots of open margins for notes. It enjoys two clear advantages over some other digital astrophotography texts. First, it does not limit itself to one particular type of digital tool/photography and two, being published this year, its camera and software references should be up to date.
A short introductory chapter, "Before You Start" addresses some basics and presents some terms and concepts which will figure in later discussions.
Then comes the heart of the book: four chapters, each treating a type of camera available to today's digital astro-imager:
- Compact Digital Cameras
- Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLR)
- Charged Coupled Device Cameras (CCD)
Within each chapter, Seip
- explains the characteristics of the specific camera type and
mentions its advantages and disadvantages
- mentions the types of photographs suited to it, e.g., only
webcams are recommended for planetary imaging while CCD cameras
are unsurpassed for deep sky objects.
- gives tips on purchasing, e.g., webcams with a CCD sensor are
better than those with a CMOS sensor for astrophotography
- recommends accessories, e.g., his chapter on CCD cameras
mentions software, autoguider connections, filter wheels, focal
reducers, portable power supplies, etc.
- takes the reader, step by step, through the process of capturing
an image and processing it. Understandably, to do this, Seip
necessarily uses specific equipment and software in his
explanations, e.g., his webcam chapter is geared to the Celestron
NexImage camera and Registax software. The CCD chapter utilizes
MSB's Astroart software. Adobe Photoshop is used throughout the book.
As Seip progresses from simpler to more complex cameras, the discussion of digital imaging itself becomes more sophisticated and the reader's grasp of the whole topic becomes deeper. Later chapters discuss topics that definitely would be of concern to intermediate level imagers, e.g., thermal noise, spectral sensitivity, format conversion, field flatteners, coma correctors, etc.
I was impressed that the book was able to educate me about a seemingly complicated subject in a painless way. Plus, I kept thinking should I ever decide to take the plunge into digital imaging, I'll have what amounts to a "cookbook" reference.
The book has an internet tie-in to Stefan Seip's web site. The actual images used to illustrate software photo processing techniques can be downloaded, so the reader can duplicate the steps shown in the book. Also three documents, one on how to treat dust and pixel defects, another telling how to remove a satellite trail from an image and the last listing selection criteria for a CCD camera are available as PDF's.
There is an appendix containing some useful information, a glossary (which comes in handy for a visual observer when a term such as "resolution", for example, takes on a definition which differs from the one that applies to telescope optics alone), a list of resources and reading suggestions and last, but not least, entries giving the exposure info and equipment used for each of the images used to illustrate the book.