Photography can be an expensive hobby, but astrophotography raises it to a whole new level. However, if you’re ready to invest some time into DIY builds, you can take some neat astrophotos with only a $100 investment. Of course, you can go way beyond that, depending on your needs, skill, and of course – your budget. Want to invest $100? Good. Want to go all-in and spend $10,000 on gear? Also good – Nico Carver of Nebula Photos has you covered in all situations. In this video, he shows you five different astrophotography setups and the photos you can get with each.
Nico’s video is quite lengthy, lasting over half an hour. So, for the article’s sake, I’ll keep on the setups on the cheaper end. The cheapest one only requires a DIY star tracker, a tripod, and a smartphone. You can build the star tracker yourself for $30, and Nico also bought a used tripod and a phone adapter for the remaining $70. Alternatively, you can use your camera with this setup instead of your phone.
The perks of this DIY setup are that it’s inexpensive, really quick to build, and it’s lightweight. On the minus side, it only works with wide-angle lenses. Also, it can get boring since you need to turn the tracker manually, and you’ll also need some trial and error before you get everything right.
The next setup is a bit more expensive if you’re not a photographer. But if you are, you most likely already have everything you need: a camera, a lens (even a kit lens will do), and a remote shutter release. If you wish to upgrade – you’ll just need a better lens.
For the further upgrade, you’ll add a motorized mount to your kit, and some accessories like an intervalometer, a dew heater, and a Bahtinov mask). The motorized mount is the biggest investment here, but as Nico points out – this setup will be your “gateway drug” to astrophotography. After you see the results, you may want to go all-in and invest in more high-end gear.
Here’s the preview of the video with timestamps so you can find your way around it more easily. Make sure to also check out the comparisons between each setup and the images Nico shot with them.
- 03:15 $100 “The DIY-er”
- 06:55 $500 “The Keepin’ It Simple”
- 10:58 $1,500 “The Gateway Drug”
- 16:32 $2,500 “The Gettin’ Serious”
- 21:14 $10,000 “The Lifer”
- 26:41 Weight Comparison
- 28:48 Setup Time Comparison
- 30:59 Active Time Comparison
- 32:34 Final Image Comparisons
Do you shoot astrophotography? I’m still on setup #2, planning to build that DIY star tracker and eventually buy a motorized one. So many plans, so little time. If you shoot astro, let us know what kind of setup you use and if you plan to upgrade.