Being a keen astro photographer at a hobby level, I needed to get my Canon EOS 400D modified – a process which involves removing the filters which stop HA lightwaves getting through to the camera sensor. I looked around the net for viable information and engineers who were able to do modifications and came across “Cheap Astro Photography” – a site hosted on a .co.uk domain.
I was stunned at the low prices and available camera models on there and it didn’t take me long to decide to upgrade to a newer model camera rather than modify my own existing camera which at the time of writing is around 10 years old!! The camera expert there is called Juan and I wrote to him asking about EOS 1300D availability (modded) and he replied that they were in stock and ready to ship.
I placed my order and the astro modded canon camera arrived a couple of days later complete with manuals, a free memory card, battery charger, battery, cables and a carry strap. Excellent service from CheapAstroPhotography (hence my desire to review here).
So here is the camera.
Juan also places a sticker on the top showing the redness captured in the Horsehead Nebula in the constellation Orion – which I thought was a nice touch and gives me something to aim for! So service wise everything is absolutely spot on. I had a query regarding the package and Juan responded immediately and resolved my question no trouble at all. Being a little on the internet savvy side, I consider going to unbranded places such as Cheap Astro Photography a bit daunting – and sadly I am certain that many people feel the same – however I can categorically state that there is no problem whatsoever – I did my research first and found a number of good reviews about the company and not one bad one. Bear in mind that paypal or credit cards can also offer protection – not that you will need any shopping with Juan – he is a trusted trader in astronomical photography “circles”.
The purpose of this review isn’t to enter into technical details regarding camera mods or astro photography – moreso it is the intention that I provide an honest review about the service and camera performance at a basic level.
So moving on, what can my astro modded canon eos 1300d (I had thought of the 650d but decided against it) – actually produce? Well lets take into consideration a couple of factors – firstly I am in a very highly light polluted area, so the viewing conditions are nothing short of appalling here. For example, I can never see the Milky Way and other constellations are faint. Andromeda (which is visible (just)) in dark skies is never visible with the naked eye to me – and I can barely find the pointer stars either. My main telescope is a skywatcher 200p (I have reviewed it on this site) – I am pleased with that kit. I have now added DEC and RA motors to it to track the motion of the stars as the night progresses – this is the first step in allowing me to indulge in astro photography at a cheap cost.
Once the motors were in place, I could then take my new camera and mount it on the scope (I needed an adapter ring for this – about 18 quid). Basically I remove the cover shown on the camera above, and clip it onto the adapter which then goes directly to the scope mirror. There are no lenses needed and this process of connection is known as “prime focus”.
I also bought an automatic shutter release for the camera which I can program to take 1 min exposures one after the other as many as I need – bear in mind my sky, and my scope at an 8 inch mirror – see below the Pelican Nebula in Cygnus near Deneb.
So as you can see above, the Ha comes out perfectly from the camera supplied by Cheap Astro Photography and I hope this review does Juan justice – I am a total noob at space photography and yet with his camera I managed to get the above picture in atrocious skies with a standard telescope. With practice I will be able to sharpen that up – I have no doubts at all. (JFI it is 60 x 1 min subs at ISO 400 stacked with Deep Sky Stacker and processed in Paintshop Pro X8 – most people use photoshop).
For service and the camera I give CheapAstroPhotography 100.