Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM

Eldar

EOS 5D MK IV
Jan 14, 2013
3,247
0
www.flickr.com
Jon, for what it´s worth; I enjoy reading your posts and, even though I am not nearly as educated as you, I share your views. I also think it´s worth saying that most of us see how some twist your words, opinions and reasoning and put statements in your mouth you never expressed. So, please continue. The only way to stretch Canon is to be vocal about what we want them to deliver. A fanclub praising anything they do does not help!

I have a photography friend with a D810 and we hike together, shooting much of the same. My high ISO shots are better than his. But the majority of what we do is low(er) ISO and my 1DX/5DIII is nowhere near the IQ he gets from the D810. Yes, I have some lenses he can´t use on the D810, but we have pretty much the same Zeiss collection, which takes lenses out of the argument. I´ve negotiated a price for a Pentax 645z package, but I hesitate to order, because I really don´t want to drag two camera systems around. But unless the 5Ds or the 5DIV proves to be better than I currently believe, I´ll go for a split system. I´ll get the next 1DXII for my long whites, but I´ll convert the rest.
 

rpt

EOS 5D MK IV
Mar 7, 2012
2,749
9
India
Eldar said:
Jon, for what it´s worth; I enjoy reading your posts and, even though I am not nearly as educated as you, I share your views. I also think it´s worth saying that most of us see how some twist your words, opinions and reasoning and put statements in your mouth you never expressed. So, please continue. The only way to stretch Canon is to be vocal about what we want them to deliver. A fanclub praising anything they do does not help!
+1
 

rpt

EOS 5D MK IV
Mar 7, 2012
2,749
9
India
jrista said:
rpt said:
StudentOfLight said:
jrista said:
Wow, the price went up on that... When I bought it, it was 190 euros, which came out to around $250. It was some of the best $250 I've ever spent, for sure. The only other more worth-while money I spent on astrophotography was my mount...but that is simply because, without it, I wouldn't need PixInsight. :p
Jon, I haven't seen you on the forum much these days, clearly you've been busy doing really amazing imaging.
I echo the sentiments of others here, truly awe inspiring stuff!

Regarding paid software... I guess in the greater scheme of things how much is $250. Considering how much one spends on a lens and body, and tracking mount, how much time, money and effort goes into the planning a trip and executing the shots, etc... If software makes your life easier and/or gives you results that you are happy with then it sounds like a solid investment.
You have a valid point there :)

Aye. You probably couldn't find anything else in the astro world for as little as $250. Some scopes are as low as $400, but those are usually really short wide field refractors that work best with APS-C-sized sensors.


Most decent scopes are around a grand. Very good scopes are five grand or so. Top of the line scopes are over ten grand, and can be as high as thirty or fourty grand.


An entry-level mount is $1500, a midrange mount is $3000-$6000, and high end mounts are again ten grand and can be well over twenty grand (although a new breed of light weight/portable high end mounts has hit the market, like the Astro-Physics Mach1 or the Paramount MyT, which are about $7500...they don't have the 100lb plus capacities, but they are extremely good mounts).


Then you have your cameras. Aside from ILC cameras, you have your CCDs. Those range in price from around two grand for a "midrange" one from Atik, QHY, Starlite, to around five grand for one of the nice SBIG or QSI ones or a little more for an FLI Microline, to ten to fourty grand for one of the big chips (either FF size 36x24mm, or what they call large format in the astro world, which is 37x37mm or now, with FLI's latest new beast, the 49x37mm 50.1mp Microline 50100.)


So, yeah. Seriously, $250 is a drop in the bucket.
Yes, it is a drop in the bucket. I realise that. I have always wanted to do astrophotography. All I have done so far is a few star trails a few "starry starry night" shots and some moon shots. I do want to shoot the Andromeda Galaxy (before it hits us ;) ). Buying the software will be a first step. I think I will need a mount next. I will stick with my 5D3, 7DIi, the 100-400L and the 70-200L for now. Thanks for all the input. Your posts are always informative. Thank you.
 

ERHP

EOS RP
May 9, 2013
350
145
San Diego
erhp.smugmug.com
jrista said:
Thanks, guys! :)

For what it's worth, the Canon telephoto lenses basically ARE telescopes. :p They are actually along the lines of larger telescopes. A lot of really good imagers I know use $400-$1200 refracting telescopes that are a lot smaller, but regarded as quite high quality in the astro world. There are some top of the line scopes our there with tons of advanced features, like special cooling fans and airflow systems and the like (Officina Stellare HiperAPO, for example) that also cost $10,000 - $15,000. The big difference between a scope like that an a Canon great white is mainly the back end configurability...the ability to use robotic focusers, off-axis guiders, field rotators, etc. You need over 100mm of backfocus to use all that kind of stuff, and Canon lenses only have 56mm of backfocus.

Regarding the exposure. It is not one single exposure. It's actually a bunch of 240 second individual exposures, which are then calibrated (bias subtracted, dark subtracted, flat divided), registered (aligned so the stars match up), and stacked (combined with an averaging algorithm, usually one that also does sigma outlier rejection). The "total integration time" or "total exposure time" is the total exposure time across all those sub exposures. So the image above was created from 35 240 second long exposures.

Here is another one. Horse head and Flame nebulas:



Same equipment, same place, this time about 3h 30m exposure.
Seriously awesome shots! I thought I had a lot of patience waiting for some of the critter shots but nothing like that. Would probably be willing to try something like that if I could find a place with less light pollution. The night a couple of years back the power went out for San Diego and Imperial counties would have probably been great.
 

jrista

EOL
Dec 3, 2011
5,341
23
jonrista.com
Here is another. I just had a run of six clear nights...something I've never seen before...and got a ton of data on several targets. Most were galaxies, the one nebula was Rosette. This is an 11 hour integration (164x240s subs).


5D III + 600mm f/4 + 1.4x (840mm 1.55"/px) on Atlas mount


Two versions, one "narrow band" like and one "natural color":








This is my longest integration to date, at 11 hours. I did this from my back yard with an IDAS LPS-P2 light pollution filter. That's replacing my Astronomik CLS filter, and it's actually quite amazing. Not entirely dark site quality data, but quite good data nevertheless.
 

LovePhotography

Texas Not Taxes.
Aug 24, 2014
233
0
Those photos are the most amazing photos I've seen on this website. My goodness gracious.
Here I thought I'd grown a larger manhood cause I just got a 600mm with TC and 6D and you post something that looks like it was shot with the Hubble. :)
I'm gonna need some Viagra.
 

candc

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 22, 2013
1,263
6
Wautoma, WI USA.
jrista said:
Here is another. I just had a run of six clear nights...something I've never seen before...and got a ton of data on several targets. Most were galaxies, the one nebula was Rosette. This is an 11 hour integration (164x240s subs).


5D III + 600mm f/4 + 1.4x (840mm 1.55"/px) on Atlas mount


Two versions, one "narrow band" like and one "natural color":




This is my longest integration to date, at 11 hours. I did this from my back yard with an IDAS LPS-P2 light pollution filter. That's replacing my Astronomik CLS filter, and it's actually quite amazing. Not entirely dark site quality data, but quite good data nevertheless.
I like the first one the best. Your Astro images are inspirational and now you've got me wanting to try it.

I live next to a small town, its yellow on the dark sky maps but I have a cabin up north, its blue on the maps there.

http://www.telescope.com/Mounts-Tripods/Equatorial-Mounts-Tripods/Orion-Atlas-EQ-G-Computerized-GoTo-Telescope-Mount/pc/-1/c/2/sc/34/p/24338.uts

Is that the mount you are using?

Can you recommend a tutorial site or books to get started?
 

jrista

EOL
Dec 3, 2011
5,341
23
jonrista.com
Candc, that is indeed the mount I have. My mount has also been upgraded with the Rowan Engineering belt mod, which eliminates a number of gears in favor of pulleys and belts. That eliminates a good deal of backlash, makes the mount more responsive, makes it quieter, etc. The belt mod is another $200. I've also hypertuned it, which improves performance. You can get a kit for doing that for $200, or buy the various parts you require yourself for less than $60. Hypertuning requires mechanical skill, a VERY careful hand, and a LOT of patience and time...it's a slow, methodical process, and I don't recommend it unless you really know what you are doing.


Both the hypertune and belt mod gave me the performance I needed to get these images. Before them, my tracking was around 2-3" RMS, while my image scale was 1.5"/px. Combined with seeing, before modding my stars were usually 6" or so in size, whereas after modding they are about 2.8" in size. That really matters once you get down to it...tight stars are a key factor in a quality image. I recommend the belt mod regardless of your mechanical skill...it greatly improves the performance of the mount.


Regarding getting started in astrophotography, I don't know of any books. I'm a self starter, I have taught myself everything I know my entire life. My knowledge is all based on theory I knew, theory I learned (usually just researching on the internet), practical experience, and trial and error. I am happy to help when I can, but I don't own any astrophotography books, so I can't really help there. I do know a guy who sells CDs for beginners. Jerry Lodriguss, astropix.com. You could start there.

Astrophotography is the most complex form of photography on the planet, by far. I love to see more people getting interested in it...but before you drop a lot of cash on the hobby, make sure you have the patience for it. The Rosette images above? That was five solid nights of imaging, four hours a nigh on Rosette (and the other four on other targets). That is 20 hours of just image acquisition. Another few hours to gather darks and flats (I needed new darks...usually I use a library for those). Over five solid hours of pre-processing, nearly two for frame analysis and rejection (based on a variety of technical factors in the image...FWHM (Full Width Half Maximum, a measure of star diameters), Eccentricity (a measure of star roundness), Noise and Noise Support, etc.), and over three hours of actual image integration work. That was all done in PixInsight with SubframeSelector and Batch PreProcessing scripts and the PI Integration tools. After that came about nine hours of extensive and detailed processing. That involved a lot of heavy work in PixInsight to remove background gradients (gradients are a bitch, and you end up with lots of them in the city because of LP), calibrate color. I extracted an artificial luminance channel and process that with deconvolution, noise reduction, star reduction, more noise reduction, stretching, and finally contrast tuning. After processing the lum, I went back to the original image and started processing the color (noticed a marked change in color after one step, made a copy at the previous, and then split the processing into two paths to get both images above). The color processing involved extensive heavy noise reduction, but you still have to be careful with that so as to avoid star bloat and color fringing in overly softened detail, star reduction, stretching, color contrast and color toning. Finally I had to combine the luminance with both sets of RGB data, and did further processing on those to again enhance contrast and bring out detail without exacerbating noise. That was over eight hours of processing right there. After that, I then started working on all the exports. First I had to export to Potoshop for final processing (vertical banding NR), then final export back into PixInsight for cropping, resizing, and export of multiple versions of the data at multiple sizes, including full size, 50%, small web size, in lum only and both RGB images. I spent a little extra time creating these two images with detail crops as well:







All in all, it was over nine hours of processing before I was finally finished, and about 14 hours of total processing time. The entire process from start to finish including image acquisition was over 35 hours. On ONE object.

I'm not trying to show off here...I just want you guys to understand the level of effort required to make images like these. It is extremely time consuming, requires very dedicated effort, expensive equipment, and both diligence and patience to get through the first six to eight months (which are usually very difficult, as you struggle with all the mechanical and optical and electronic aspects of your gear before you finally learn how it all works, figure out how to keep it all balanced and operating smoothly and guided well and all that). I spent the last year (literally, I started doing astrophotography Feb. 12, 2014) learning how to do all of this, and the images I've shared here are indicative of both the experience I gained over the last year, as well as all the base theoretical knowledge I had going into things.

I LOVE to see new people get interested in astrophotography, for sure. But it's expensive. Excluding my 600mm lens (which is a big part of the reason I was able to progress so fast...it is a flat fielded 150mm aperture f/4 "telescope"...those things cost at least $10,000 in the astro world anyway, and often significantly more; most people start out with something like an 80mm APO Triplet at f/6 or so), I've put over three grand into mount, mount upgrades, guide equipment, filters, large capacity deep cycle batteries, laptop, software, and a wide range of accessories. All of that is very low end equipment, and the hypertuning/belt mod barely gets the mount up to snuff (and a lot of the time, it simply isn't...and my IQ suffers considerably...I can share some examples of how.)

If you love this kind of stuff, love tinkering and fiddling, want to learn a highly technical form of art, then you won't have any problems. On the other hand, if you think it just takes a night of pointing a scope at the sky, and a couple of hours of processing to create images like Rosette, or the Orion images, I recommend you at least learn more about the hobby before you spend money. Even a very low end mount is $1200-$1500, and that is the bare minimum. I would rather you guys be educated enough to know what your getting into, than to recommend you just dive in and spend a lot of money on a hobby that you may find is not something you want to or have the time to invest a lot of effort into. There are simpler ways of starting as well. You can get a Polari or AstroTrac and use a DSLR with smaller wider field lenses to get amazing images for about a grand. That's a much cheaper way to start, an while it still requires and investment of time, it's not nearly as much as it took to produce the Rosette images I just shared.
 

Greatland

EOS 80D
Jan 19, 2012
126
0
When I purchased my 600 I couldn't fit it in my backpack so I looked around and the only bag that I could find, anywhere was a Tamrac Expedition 9X bag....I can put my 600 down the middle, with the lens hood still attached...can still put my 1DX, charger, a couple more smaller lenses and some other accessories in the backpack....I NEVER EVER CHECK ANY PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT AS BAGGAGE. Waaaay too many thieves who work for the airlines....My wife carries my second back pack with my 200-400, my MK IV and the rest of my lenses, etc....a lot of carry but when I am in Africa, Alaska, or anywhere else I would rather have too much equipment than be sitting around going, why didn't I bring that with me...
 

candc

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 22, 2013
1,263
6
Wautoma, WI USA.
jrista said:
Candc, that is indeed the mount I have. My mount has also been upgraded with the Rowan Engineering belt mod, which eliminates a number of gears in favor of pulleys and belts. That eliminates a good deal of backlash, makes the mount more responsive, makes it quieter, etc. The belt mod is another $200. I've also hypertuned it, which improves performance. You can get a kit for doing that for $200, or buy the various parts you require yourself for less than $60. Hypertuning requires mechanical skill, a VERY careful hand, and a LOT of patience and time...it's a slow, methodical process, and I don't recommend it unless you really know what you are doing.


Both the hypertune and belt mod gave me the performance I needed to get these images. Before them, my tracking was around 2-3" RMS, while my image scale was 1.5"/px. Combined with seeing, before modding my stars were usually 6" or so in size, whereas after modding they are about 2.8" in size. That really matters once you get down to it...tight stars are a key factor in a quality image. I recommend the belt mod regardless of your mechanical skill...it greatly improves the performance of the mount.


Regarding getting started in astrophotography, I don't know of any books. I'm a self starter, I have taught myself everything I know my entire life. My knowledge is all based on theory I knew, theory I learned (usually just researching on the internet), practical experience, and trial and error. I am happy to help when I can, but I don't own any astrophotography books, so I can't really help there. I do know a guy who sells CDs for beginners. Jerry Lodriguss, astropix.com. You could start there.

Astrophotography is the most complex form of photography on the planet, by far. I love to see more people getting interested in it...but before you drop a lot of cash on the hobby, make sure you have the patience for it. The Rosette images above? That was five solid nights of imaging, four hours a nigh on Rosette (and the other four on other targets). That is 20 hours of just image acquisition. Another few hours to gather darks and flats (I needed new darks...usually I use a library for those). Over five solid hours of pre-processing, nearly two for frame analysis and rejection (based on a variety of technical factors in the image...FWHM (Full Width Half Maximum, a measure of star diameters), Eccentricity (a measure of star roundness), Noise and Noise Support, etc.), and over three hours of actual image integration work. That was all done in PixInsight with SubframeSelector and Batch PreProcessing scripts and the PI Integration tools. After that came about nine hours of extensive and detailed processing. That involved a lot of heavy work in PixInsight to remove background gradients (gradients are a bitch, and you end up with lots of them in the city because of LP), calibrate color. I extracted an artificial luminance channel and process that with deconvolution, noise reduction, star reduction, more noise reduction, stretching, and finally contrast tuning. After processing the lum, I went back to the original image and started processing the color (noticed a marked change in color after one step, made a copy at the previous, and then split the processing into two paths to get both images above). The color processing involved extensive heavy noise reduction, but you still have to be careful with that so as to avoid star bloat and color fringing in overly softened detail, star reduction, stretching, color contrast and color toning. Finally I had to combine the luminance with both sets of RGB data, and did further processing on those to again enhance contrast and bring out detail without exacerbating noise. That was over eight hours of processing right there. After that, I then started working on all the exports. First I had to export to Potoshop for final processing (vertical banding NR), then final export back into PixInsight for cropping, resizing, and export of multiple versions of the data at multiple sizes, including full size, 50%, small web size, in lum only and both RGB images. I spent a little extra time creating these two images with detail crops as well:



All in all, it was over nine hours of processing before I was finally finished, and about 14 hours of total processing time. The entire process from start to finish including image acquisition was over 35 hours. On ONE object.

I'm not trying to show off here...I just want you guys to understand the level of effort required to make images like these. It is extremely time consuming, requires very dedicated effort, expensive equipment, and both diligence and patience to get through the first six to eight months (which are usually very difficult, as you struggle with all the mechanical and optical and electronic aspects of your gear before you finally learn how it all works, figure out how to keep it all balanced and operating smoothly and guided well and all that). I spent the last year (literally, I started doing astrophotography Feb. 12, 2014) learning how to do all of this, and the images I've shared here are indicative of both the experience I gained over the last year, as well as all the base theoretical knowledge I had going into things.

I LOVE to see new people get interested in astrophotography, for sure. But it's expensive. Excluding my 600mm lens (which is a big part of the reason I was able to progress so fast...it is a flat fielded 150mm aperture f/4 "telescope"...those things cost at least $10,000 in the astro world anyway, and often significantly more; most people start out with something like an 80mm APO Triplet at f/6 or so), I've put over three grand into mount, mount upgrades, guide equipment, filters, large capacity deep cycle batteries, laptop, software, and a wide range of accessories. All of that is very low end equipment, and the hypertuning/belt mod barely gets the mount up to snuff (and a lot of the time, it simply isn't...and my IQ suffers considerably...I can share some examples of how.)

If you love this kind of stuff, love tinkering and fiddling, want to learn a highly technical form of art, then you won't have any problems. On the other hand, if you think it just takes a night of pointing a scope at the sky, and a couple of hours of processing to create images like Rosette, or the Orion images, I recommend you at least learn more about the hobby before you spend money. Even a very low end mount is $1200-$1500, and that is the bare minimum. I would rather you guys be educated enough to know what your getting into, than to recommend you just dive in and spend a lot of money on a hobby that you may find is not something you want to or have the time to invest a lot of effort into. There are simpler ways of starting as well. You can get a Polari or AstroTrac and use a DSLR with smaller wider field lenses to get amazing images for about a grand. That's a much cheaper way to start, an while it still requires and investment of time, it's not nearly as much as it took to produce the Rosette images I just shared.
Thanks for the words of discouragement :D I expect the dedication it must take and am 100% sure its very frustrating, especially at first but it has to be very rewarding as well. I will do some reading up and decide what level of commitment I am willing to give to the pursuit. I definitely want to give it a go to some extent.

That website list's an upgraded version of that mount with a belt drive. Is that similar to the belt drive mod you recommend?

http://www.telescope.com/Orion-Atlas-Pro-AZEQ-G-Computerized-GoTo-Telescope-Mount/p/102340.uts


Thanks for the advice and sharing your images, its always a pleasure to view them.
 

jrista

EOL
Dec 3, 2011
5,341
23
jonrista.com
Yeah, the Atlas Pro is basically a ready-to-go version. It's about $500 more expensive, whereas the belt mod itself is $200. If you have mechanical skill, I would say get the original Atlas and the belt mod, save the $300. If not, the Atlas Pro is a good mount.


I'm also not really trying to discourage, just make sure you know exactly what's involved. If you are up for it, it's an awesome hobby, and it is most definitely rewarding.
 

Vern

EOS 7D MK II
Jun 11, 2013
412
76
A few recent shots with the 600II -/+ 2XTCIII. I have wondered about the IQ of the combo and thought others might appreciate some real world shots. Wildlife around Jackson Hole and in Yellowstone made good subjects. All images were shot with the 1Dx body and processed using DPP4 + DLO + sharpness of 6 and then processed to lower res JPEGs to post.

#1 Bighorn profile: 1/250, f5.6, ISO320; 600II alone
#2 Bighorn trio: 1/1250, f11, ISO1600; 600II + 2XIII

a few more w the 2X to come.
 

Attachments

Vern

EOS 7D MK II
Jun 11, 2013
412
76
#1 1/800, f11, ISO 800, 2XIII and cropped from full frame to 2000X1100 - lots of thermal turbulence in this one
#2 1/1000, f11, ISO800, 2XIII -minimal crop - this one had a focus issue, I think. The file shows the central focus point in focus on the animals neck. Maybe 1/1000 was not a fast enough shutter at 1200mm? I hate I goofed this one b/c this was the closest wolf all week.

Overall, the IQ of 600II + 2X III was quite acceptable when the lighting was good (IMO). However, I think I underestimated the shutter speed needed to stop motion of subjects and the combo did not handle back-lighting well (none shown since I already deleted those files before deciding to post this).
 

Attachments

FEBS

Action Photography
Today, I decided to buy the EF 600mm f/4.0 L ii, so this afternoon I made a trip to my local vendor and bought the 600ii together with a second 1Dx.

Took a while to get to this point. Last year during my safari in Zimbabwe, I mentioned that I used a lot the 560mm of my 200-400 1.4x. However for birds this was not enough. The 784mm of that lens (internal and external 1.4 extender) has only a f/8 aperture with only one focus point. As I am going to Uganda in September, I wanted more reach. So my lensset for that trip will now be the 600 f4.0 ii +1.4x, 300 2.8ii, 70-200 2.8ii, 24-70 2.8ii and the 16-35 f4.0. I hope to get the wildlife further away but also the birds, of which there are a lot in Uganda, wildlife in the equators forest and of course the silverback on the CF card. After my trip I will post some shots over here.

Other suggestions for lenses for that trip ?
 
Aug 16, 2015
1
0
jrista said:
This is my longest integration to date, at 11 hours. I did this from my back yard with an IDAS LPS-P2 light pollution filter. That's replacing my Astronomik CLS filter, and it's actually quite amazing. Not entirely dark site quality data, but quite good data nevertheless.
How did you adapt the IDAS filter to your drop-in holder? Did you remove the glass and inserted the IDAS?