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Thread: Star Trails Camera Settings?

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    Star Trails Camera Settings?

    Seeking insight from this group of great image makers!

    I'm venturing on a winter camping trip here in Maine to one of our treasured State locations Mount Katahdin. I'll be camping up at the base of the mountain at a place called Chimney Pond. It sits at the base of a horseshoe shaped mountain range that rises abruptly behind it.

    I'm lugging my M8.2 and 15 CM, 21 2.8, and mate, along with a tripod in the 12 miles to the base camp at Roaring Brook and then up to Chimney Pond. I really want to get some interesting star trail shots with the pond in the foreground and mountain behind. Any suggestions for ISO and shutter/fstop settings?

    Thank you!

    Gary P

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    Subscriber Member weinschela's Avatar
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    Re: Star Trails Camera Settings?

    Star trails require verrrry long exposures. AFAIK, the only way to do star trails with a M8 or M9 is with a manual cable release (and probably one with a lock) and even then you run the risk of draining the battery. Plus there is no way to turn off noise reduction, which means a second equal exposure. If you assume an hour with the shutter open and an hour for noise reduction, I am not sure the battery can handle it. A SLR with an ac adapter and the ability to turn off noise reduction would be far better.

    Or film of course, with a camera as to which battery is no issue. I am not sure of other settings but for meteors I have successfully used a 35 or 50mm lens stopped down a stop or two from wide open (focused at infinity (duh)) and ISO 400 film. I think for the longer exposure of star trails, you would want to stop down further.

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    Senior Member thrice's Avatar
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    Re: Star Trails Camera Settings?

    You could stack exposures, but the problem being the noise reduction giving you a long gap between shots. Let's hope Leica give us an option to disable the NR in a future firmware, for now star trails are not really a possibility with the M9.

    Bigger battery is not really a problem, with a little ingenuity you can get a spare base plate and drill a hole for wires through it, get a cheap ebay m9 battery and carefully open it to remove the Li-ion cells, then wire some large batteries in parallel, with necessary resistors to provide 3.7v and everyone wins.

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    Re: Star Trails Camera Settings?

    Thank you gentlemen for your advice and insight. I'll skip the stair trails on this trip.

    Gary P

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    Member Steve Fines's Avatar
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    Re: Star Trails Camera Settings?

    The 21/2.8 will be a great lens for capturing the milky way or other night scenes. Focus so the stars are sharp (probably won't be right at the infinity mark on your lens), shoot at f/2.8, find an interesting foreground and keep your exposures shorter that about 30 sec to avoid too much blurring in the stars.

    Bring along a flashlight and play around with light painting - using the flashlight to illuminate the fg.

    I'm not sure on the M8, but on the M9 the longest exposure one can do is about 240 sec, and then the camera does a forced 240 sec NR. Four minutes really isn't long enough for a star trail, and the NR will put a big gap in it.

    For the long exposures (30min-4hours) the base nikon or cannon's will do a much nicer job than the leica.

    I've written Leica several letters about this. Hopefully they can make some changes in the next firmware.

    The other thing is the 21/1.4 . At 1.4 this would be an amazing (and really unique) astrophotography lens. Have to put that one on the 'to do' list.
    ---------------
    Steve
    www.finesart.com

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