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Astrophotography in the FAST LANE!

Hi folks! Hope you're all well, wherever you are in the's still raining here in Scotland, but that's about right for late autumn and early winter up here in the northlands!

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I wanted to share some details of a recent imaging session with you where I tested a new lightweight, portable rig with some speedy optics. I've uploaded a video overview on my YouTube Channel, which you can check out below. If you haven't already, please SUBSCRIBE to keep up-to-date with all my furture uploads.

If you prefer some more details about the rig and its evolution, read on and if you have any questions, please just pop them in the comments down below and I'll do my best to help.

Over the past couple of years, I've been using the Samyang 135mm F2 lens with my Canon DSLRs, specifically the Canon 6D and Canon 6D Mk.II and I've got some lovely images with these combos both day and night.

As my commitment and interest in Astrophotography grew, I started to experiment with pairing the Samyang 135 with my dedicated astro cameras, such as the ZWO 533MC Pro and ZWO 2600MC Pro. The fast optics and high quality cameras were a great match and I enjoyed the benefits of collecting a great amount of data in one session, due to the speed of the Samyang at f2. This is even more of a benefit when you image here in the UK, as session times can be limited and are usually few and far between.

I started looking for some mounting options for the Samyang 135 and the ZWO cameras and discovered that ZWO had their own ring systems and Canon EF adapters, so I grabbed them for said lens and camera combos for enhanced stability and ease of use. I did a short video on one to give you an idea of what I'm talking about below.

These ring systems were wonderful and I really enjoyed the convenience of having them built and 'ready to go' when the clouds parted and the stars appeared. The images that I managed to capture with these combinations were great and you can see some examples in the slideshow below.

Like many Astrophotographers out there, I'm NEVER fully! So, I went on the hunt for more components to see if I could streamline the Samyang 135/ZWO Camera pairing even further.

I was ecstatic to find that one of my local dealers here in the UK, First Light Optics (a fabulously helpful company with a super friendly and knowledgeable team), carried an advanced ring system by a company called Astrodymium. I had not purchased any of their products before, but I knew that they specialised in 3D printed components to help make Astrophotography easier for us all.

I placed my order and had the new ring system in a couple of days. I set about building it (which was really straightforward), but how did it differ from the previous iteration I was using? Well, although my previous ZWO ring system is fantastic...and I still use it to this day...I wanted a rig that could include mounting options for my ASIAIR Pro and Plus, a ZWO Electronic Auto-focuser (EAF) and in some cases, a guide scope and guide camera. The Astrodymium Ring System fit the bill perfectly and I ordered a couple of extras to make this rig a semi-permanent build.

Basically the Samyang 135 f2 lens remains fixed in the housing and permanently attached to the ZWO EAF and I can simply swap out the main camera and the guide camera/guide-scope when needed. Also, as my exposures are usually very short due to the fast f2 focal ratio of the Samyang 135 lens, I can generally dispense with a guide-scope altogether, so I pop my ASIAIR Plus or Pro in the 'hot shoe' at the top of the ring system. There is a plate you can attach on the opposite side of the EAF mounting to permanently fix an ASIAIR, but I prefer the convenience of using my ASIAIR units on multiple rigs. However, if I do invest in an additional ASIAIR unit, like the ALL NEW 'Mini' version, I may permanently fix one on.

As I mentioned this little stubby unit is fast, light and highly well as being ready to go at a moments notice, so its definitely a keeper and I'm going to enjoy sweeping some wide-field targets into the speedy gaze of the Samyang 135mm f2! I would HIGHLY recommend this Ring System from Astrodymium, if you have a similar setup to mine, or are planning along the same lines.

Hope that helps and clear skies to your all!

Would you like to see a video showing how I built the Astrodyium Ring System?

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