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Adventures in F2 Imaging

I recently tried pairing my ZWO 2600MC Pro Cooled Astronomy Camera with the

Samyang 135mm F2 lens to shoot some wide field targets in Cygnus.

The weather has been a bit iffy here in Scotland of late and the clouds have been a regular feature of our summer nights here. As many of you know, up here in the far northlands we get a good deal of sunlight for most of the day, especially during the summer months. I spotted a break in the clouds recently and decided to try out a fast and relatively portable rig to capture one of my favourite areas of the night sky...the constellation Cygnus.

I was amazed at the detail in the individual sub-frames, no doubt aided by the superb 2600MC Pro and its excellent image quality.

I popped my Samyang 135mm F2 lens onto the ZWO 2600MC Pro and added the Optolong L-Extreme filter to capture a dual narrowband image. All of this gear was sitting on my Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 GT Pro mount, which was a bit overkill to be sure, but I was in a hurry!

Although there's a guidescope in this image, I didn't end up using it

My Imaging plan

As the Samyang 135 is so fast at f2, I decided to limit my exposure times and didn't want to chance blowing out or overexposing my target, especially as we have no true astronomical darkness yet in my part of the UK. After a few test shots through the ASI AIR, I opted for 60 second subs and set this to repeat 250 times, as I knew that I would likely have to bin a good number of them as the clouds were ever present. I also kept the Samyang wide open at f2.

I left the ASI AIR to do its work and came back out to occasionally check on progress...and to make sure that those clouds had no rain to deposit on my precious gear! I was amazed at the detail in the individual sub-frames, no doubt aided by the superb 2600MC Pro and its excellent image quality. In the end I only kept 101 out of 230 total subs, as the rejects were spoiled due to the regular cloud cover over the session.


Mount: Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 GT Pro with iOptron Tri-pier

Computer Control: ASI AIR Pro

The Results

I downloaded all of my light and calibration frames and set about editing the selection using Pixinisight. As the data was so clean it was a pretty straightforward edit and I was truly impressed at the details contained within the image.

A wide field view of Cygnus

If you have some fast 'traditional' camera lenses in your collection and a dedicated astro camera, I would encourage you to experiment and see what results you can get! This project has convinced me that I REALLY want to image again using this compact set-up (minus the over mount! Lol!) and it hopefully won't be too long until I grab some more photons at F2! Stay tuned!

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