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Night Sky

edited February 2017 Posted in » Nikon D5200 Forum
Greetings All,

Just ventured into this area after doing research on the web etc. Right now, I'm concentrating on night or very low light sky trying to capture lots of stars as well as some foreground or midground scenery such as mountains. However, the Images I've taken appear not to be as "full of stars" nor exposed enough. Here's my set up:

Focal length (kit lens) 18mm
Aperture 3.5
Shutter Speed - varies from 20sec to 1.5minutes
ISO max 1600
WB Auto
Lens in manual
Vibration reduction off
Long exposure NR on
Manual focus
Sturdy Tripod
Ml l3 remote shutter release
Viewfinder covered

I note when I do get a 'decent' image, say of dawns early light over a village with some lights on, that the points of lights appear to be out of focus. I've tried to set up my manual focus during the day by using a distant object then leaving that focus set when I shoot at night. As there is no infinity mark, it becomes a bit of a guess.

I may be getting too much spurious light intrusion even though I'm in AZ in a town with a supposed "dark sky" ordinance.

I would be grateful for any input the on the subject, or the sharing of your success with the D5200.

Thanks in advance.


  • edited February 2017
    What you see may not be focus error, but overexposure. When you have good exposure for the general scene, it's almost inevitable that points of light that are brighter will blow out, and when they bloom they will appear out of focus. There's not a whole lot you can do about this if the exposure for the general scene is what you want. Your setup looks good. You can try to reduce your exposure to favor the lights, but you're likely to end up with excessive noise in the dark areas when you pull up the shadows in post processing, as well as losing the stars.

    About the only thing I would recommend trying, if you can manage the exposure time, would be to stop down the lens a little if you're not doing stars. For stars you're pretty much at the long exposure limit, but for light sources that don't move, a little more depth of field might help.
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