Night-sky Photography with the Sony A6000

As you will no doubt have noticed I haven’t been particularly active over recent months. Work, weather and other interests have been taking up most of my time.

My son is due to make the trip from New Zealand to Canada to visit friends there and has been trying to decide what camera to take. Its come down to two cameras at the moment, that being the Sony A6000 and the new Nikon D55000, both with a standard 15 -55 lens.

Last night we were able to test the A6000 with a f-2.8 to 5.6 16-55mm and fixed aperture f2:8 30mm lens. The intention is to capture night-sky imagery whilst in Canada, the Aurora and various areas of the night-sky.

Below are a few images I have processed from the RAW files from the A6000. It was quickly apparent that the A6000 did provide good JPEGs but the RAW was much better for extended processing. You would still be able to get very good images shooting just JPEG as the headroom of the JPEGs was better than first indications.

The images show the area around the Southern Cross and up towards the Saggittarian Arm of the galaxy. The large Red/orange star is alpha scorpii more commonly known as Antares.

B & W
The southern cross lies on its side towards the right bottom with the black of the Coal Sack directly above. The two bright Pointers are mid image with the Eta Carina nebulosity top right. 20 seconds at ISO 1600 @16mm f 2.8 – Edited in LR & Photoscape. Approx 50% crop.
Raw to jpeg - 3435
This is the full width image of the black and white above. All shooting parameters are as above. Again processed in LR & Photoscape with a H-alpha filter too reduce the red in the image.
Raw to jpeg 4346-1
Shot with the fixed aperture f2.8 30mmm lens. Image scale in much larger thanks to the longer focal length. This shows the Southern Cross and the Coal Sack with the two pointers at the top. Shutter @20 seconds. ISO 800
DSC04350-1
Part of the Saggittarian arm showing the bright red/orange star Antares top right. Shot at 30mm f/2.8, ISO 800 – 20 sec. Push processed in LR & finished in Photoscape.

One of the things that is quickly clear is the difference between 16mm and 30mm. Not only is the 16mm giving a really nice field of view but even at 20 seconds exposure time there isnt a lot of star trailing evident, wheres as the 30mm shows a small amount of star trailing ans a degree of distortion in the final image is evident.

When processing the RAW files in Lightroom  I used the Sony lens correction filters to flatten the image and reduce distortion.

DSC04343
This is an unprocessed JPEG image shot at 16mm, f/3.5 ISO 1600 for 20 seconds. The image itself is quite pleasant but there is a great deal of information that isn’t showing and will require careful processing to get the best from it.

The A6000 provides a good image and noise isn’t too serious at ISO 1600 in the RAW files, however Noise Reduction in camera for the JPEGS wasn’t overly aggressive, but in some of the higher ISO images the red channel was a little too strong. Below is the processed image of the above JPEG. There’s a large amount of headroom in the JPEGs, surprisingly so.

DSC04343-1
Note the Large Magellanic Cloud (galaxy ) is visible in this image at the bottom left, not seen in the original image.

Hopefully in the next few days we will be able to repeat the process with the Nikon D5500 and see which camera has the goods.

2 Replies to “Night-sky Photography with the Sony A6000”

  1. Damn! These are amazing. It astounds me that we can now photograph stuff that was once the domain of the pros. Gotta give this a go with my Lumix FZ1000. A beast of a camera which reminds me in some ways of the HS20. It needs to be tamed…

    Like

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