Orion Nebula - Canon 450D vs. SX50 HS

Orion Nebula as seen by Canon EOS 450D & Tamron 18-270mm lens (100%)

I wanted to revisit my thought that the DSLR (Canon EOS 450D) would take better deep-sky photos than a P&S (Canon PowerShot SX50 HS). The latter has a much more powerful zoom lens, so maybe it could help overcome the limitations of the small sensor. 450D's APS-C sensor has 13.3 times the area of the 1/2.3" sensor used in the SX50 HS.

After some trial & error, I found that my iOptron SkyTracker, once properly calibrated, could be usable even at a focal length of 1200mm (35mm equivalent) if the exposure time is 30 seconds or less. So I decided to take photos of the beautiful Orion Nebula at the maximum zoom of both cameras.

The 450D was able to take a low-noise photo of the nebula with nice-looking colours. But the limit of the zoom was apparent. Also, under the below-freezing temperatures (it was around -2C) the infinity focus of the lens shifted further out after about an hour.

Orion Nebula as seen by Canon PowerShot SX50 HS (40%)

With the SX50 HS, the resulting photos were expectedly more grainy in general at full resolution. I felt that the ISO 100 setting on SX50 HS would still yield a grainier photo than 450D's ISO 400 setting. But the super-zoom lens and stacking were able to make up for this. After taking the photos at the maximum zoom and reducing the size, the photos still had more details than that of the 450D.

Judge for yourself with the two photos above. I should note that even when stacked, 450D couldn't get much more details out.

I guess the SX50 HS is still quite alright after all. Oh, and the focus was more or less stable during the similar long session under below-freezing temperatures. I think 450D needs a better zoom lens... or a real telescope to make it fulfill its potential.

Device: Canon EOS 450D + Tamron 18-270mm Di II VC PZD
Settings: 432mm - ISO 200 - 120s - f/6.3
Filters: None
Time: 2015-02-01 21:46 KST
Location: Naju, Korea

Device: Canon SX50 HS
Settings: 1200mm - ISO 400 - 30s - f/6.5
Filters: None
Time: 2015-01-31 23:12 KST (23:12-23:49)
Location: Naju, Korea
10 photos stacked with RegiStax


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Wesley's Tool-Box on : Orion Nebula revisited

Continue reading "Orion Nebula revisited"
Earlier this year, I took photographs of the Orion Nebula, a.k.a. Messier 42, with the Canon SX50 HS camera or with Tamron 18-270mm lens attached to the Canon 450D. This was before I got my Celestron telescope, so I had high hopes of getting even better p


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Segar on :


I saw your images about Orion nebula, and i think it is amazing! I have an SX50 HS camera, and i use it to astrophotography too. I shoot the Orion nebula too, but with smaller focal lenght. But your photo is very cool! I shoot planetary images with SX50 HS attached to telescope (afocal).
I only want to tell you to keep up the good work! :-)
But can i have a question? Why don't you use DSS (Deep Sky Stacker) for deep sky images? It is very easy to use program, and i think it can make deep sky images better than RagiStax.
Anyway, this images is very good!
Sorry for my english, i am form Hungary.

Best wishes,

Wesley on :

Thanks for the compliments. :-)
I'll try out DSS as you suggested.

Walter on :

Hi, amazing pictures. Congratulations !!!

I have a SX50HS, and I want to get more of it getting night sky pictures. I got pictures from the Moon... but for stars, I couldn't. Do you have a set of instructions for put the camera with optimal settings for sky pictures? I will really appreciate it. - Best wishes,

Wesley on :

For the stars you might want some sort of motorized star tracking mount to prevent blurring from star motion, and then set an exposure time of around 5 to 30 seconds at a high ISO (over 800) setting. After getting the hang of it, you could do finer controls By installing a software hack called CHDK and get better contrast by installing an astrophotography filter.

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