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Night focus with X-E3


u2ontour
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Hi there

I purchased an X-E3 a year ago with the intention to have a lightweight system camera with manual options like an SLR that I can take to my mountain adventures. Since quite some while I try to get sharp night sky shots. I currently use the 15-45 kit lens (I know, this is not where you would expect really sharp pictures, but I hesitate to invest a fortune into a high class lens not knowing whether it's worth it). I currently work with the kit lens, the XF 55-200mmF3.5-4.8, an Agfa 50mm 1.4 (with adapter) and various other manual lenses. 

My problem: Any night sky shot has tiny blurs in it; the stars are not dots but little dashes when zoomed in,  and the pictures are not consistent - I can take the same picture with the same parameters half an hour later and get very different results (in particular with respect to overall sharpness). I could not determine whether it is the wrong parameters or my difficulty to focus at night in manual mode with the kit lens. I would love to discuss your experience with night shots and saw there is little exchange on this forum with respect to this topic (and X-E3 in particular) ... 

- what parameters do you use (ISO>1000 does not come across well and creates stains on the picture, I try to use f3.5 and at most 10sec exposure time to avoid stars moving)

- how do you focus with the kit lens at night? (the standard mode seems to be better suited than focus peaking, but the focus ring does not seem to be accurate and finding the right position is difficult)

- I had the suspicion that the mechanical shutter creates vibrations in the camera that show in the picture -- unfortunately, the electronic shutter cannot be used in BULB mode?

- I did not find any effect of noise reduction, sharpness, long exposure nr  parameters - what's your observations?

I love this camera but am increasingly frustrated as I was dreaming to have my dream-team at hand (light weight, yet superb picture quality) ... 

Thanks so much for your contributions!

Cheers

Ulrich

uploaded picture parameters: jpeg 4240x2384, f/3.5, 15mm (kit lens), ISO1250, 10s, DR200

DSCF2261.jpg

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Ulrich, I assume you are using a tripod? Both the XC 15-45 and the XF 55-200 lenses have OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). The X-E3 has this little idiosyncrasy that the OIS must be turned off to shoot on a tripod, or blurring occurs, especially on long exposures. You can turn off OIS on your 55-200 with a switch on the lens. Your 15-45 is an XC lens, and has no switch, so you must go into the menus and turn off OIS in there. If this gives you any improvement, I would then experiment with a little higher ISO settings and longer shutter speeds.

I haven't done any nighttime sky shots with my X-E3, but I've done a great deal of other night photography with very good results. That is, after I learned about the OIS trick. I expect the X-E3 is up to the task for you. I have two of them, and I find they far exceed my capability.

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There is a lot here to go over ...

(Uh, it may be really off-topic but you may want to change your user name to just Ulrich or something to your liking. This will help keep various kinds of  'bots' from harvesting your email address and selling it to the spam and scam operators). I think Olaf or one of the admins can help you with that.

Some folks post astrophotgraphy over in the Landscape and Nature sections, they may be able to help you.

Your listed parameters are well within normal to prevent star trails, you might try setting DR back to 100. It sounds like you are getting a bit of lens coma aberration. If you try to use a narrower aperture, say f5.6 do you still get the streaking? (To your other question, I personally have gotten the best results by turning all of various the NR parameters OFF for night sky shots and taking care of any issues in the editing process. YMMV.) The 15-45mm is well thought of, but any copy can be a little off.

As far as focusing goes, this may work: during the daytime, focus on a very distant object and get it as sharp as you can -- you should be at or near the infinity mark on the lens -- and use a pen to make a small mark on the lens. At night, use a small flashlight to let you see the mark to manually focus the lens -- side note: red light or green light allows you to keep your night sight, white light causes a bit of night blindness -- You may not need to increase the ISO much for night sky shots, some fujifilm sensors are ISO-invariant -- explaining that is waaaay beyond the scope of this answer, but the short version is ISO 800 or so gets you just as good an image as does ISO 6400 for night sky photos.

These other sites may help a bit:

https://photographylife.com/what-is-coma

https://www.lonelyspeck.com

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Hi both

thanks much for your quick replies, great ideas and I can't wait to test them out. I knew about the OIS setting with the 55-200 lens, but did not know that you can turn it off in the settings for the kit lens. I will for sure try that. Yes, I do shoot with a tripod, just purchased a new one which is not all that heavy and which I can take with me at all times - I am looking forward to working with it. 

And I love your hint, jerryy on putting a mark on the lens during daytime. 

On the name in the forum - I tried to change this but the profile does not let me change anything - may have to delete my account and re-do it. I will check if I can get a hold of one of the administrators to change that. 

And I'm relieved that you made good experiences with the X-E3, I really love this camera for its minimalism : ) 

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

 

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