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GH3 for Astro Photography in near real time
  • Here are some sample Astro Photographs I took with the GH3. I was able to capture 15 objects in a single night. All of these images were out of the camera jpgs. Most were single exposure shots with no post processing at all. I will try to upload the original files here but I don't have the time to re-upload them right now.

    I do a lot of outreach with kids trying to teach them about the mysteries of space. Therefore, I am not as concerned about getting the perfect Hubble image as I am about getting a short exposure image that looks good immediately on the camera's LCD screen.

    I had been using a modified Full Spectrum GF1 at ISO 800-1600 before because my GH2 really has some issues with Read noise and its shutter durations are limited to 2 minutes and 8 seconds in Bulb mode.

    Now I have the GH3 I can easily shoot AP at ISO 6400 which is the last real ISO in the GH3. I still have the option to go to ISO 12,800 while centering objects though. That helps a lot.

    I bought a wireless controller for my Celestron CG-5 mount so I can completely control the telescope and monitor the GH3 through apps on my phone and iTouch. That helps a lot on those days when it is below freezing and I can observe from the comfort of my living room.

    Last night we all went to our semi dark site to observe the meteor shower visually. In addition I also was trying to shoot as many deep space objects with my GH3 as I could. My initial intent was to try to compare the GH3 with the GH2 and GF1.

    However, after one shot of Orion I realized that was pointless. The GH3 is so far ahead of the GH2 for this that the effort to switch the cameras out would be pointless. With the GH3 I could easily shoot things at ISO 6400 and with the reduced resolution of the LCD screen the noise was not visible at all.

    Also the HDR mode proved to be invaluable with high dynamic range objects like Orion's Nebula. The core of the Nebula is several stops brighter than most of it and probably many stops brighter than the outer edges.

    I also was shocked to see that it let in enough light to capture the horse Head Nebula in a single short exposure. I was able to see it in about 25 Seconds at ISO 25,000. Now there was a lot of noise at that ISO. However, that is territory that only a Mallincam could go to before.

    Everyone else there was shocked at the images I could get in less than 2 minutes. They all struggled to get their scopes and computers to work right. Most of them gave up after a few hours of trying or when their batteries died.

    The battery on the GH3 was showing 2 of 3 bars when I packed up after shooting for 8 hours straight. I even used the wifi to upload the pictures directly to facebook while I shot them and it still could have gone all night long and then some.

    It was 29 degrees out when I left and all of the dew that had formed froze on the camera. I guess I realize why weather sealing is a good thing now.

    I will try to do a video that demonstrates how to reproduce these results. However, I have a lot on my plate right now so I am not sure when that will get done.

    Some of these shots were in camera HDR shots. That mode works extremely well if you select the +-2 stop option and then shoot a 15 second ISO 3200 base image. The camera then will combine that image with a 60 second and a 4second image to give you an image that compresses the scenes dynamic range by 4 stops.

    This works very well on Orion's Nebula. However, I would like to find a way to use the bulb function with HDR so that we could use longer shutter durations. Also it would be nice to be able to do RAW HDR shots. The camera already can do unlimited in camera RAW stacking. However, it can't align those shots like the HDR mode does.

    Looks like the GH3 needs to be hacked after all. However, this time it is more for stills than video. The video is essentially perfect for what the sensor is capable of in my opinion.

  • 4 Replies sorted by
  • WOW! That is very impressive, one of the features that is really tempting me to pick up the GH3 is the HDR function, the GH2's video is yet to be surpassed in my eyes, but these images and some of the realistic (not pushed too far - tone mapped) HDR samples from the GH3 on Flickr, are astonishing!

    Thanks for sharing, I look forward to seeing future developments :)

  • @matthere in time, the GH2's video will be surpassed, as was the GH1.

  • @GravitateMediaGroup

    in time, the GH2's video will be surpassed, as was the GH1.

    For 1080p @ 24 FPS I don't believe that is entirely true. Sure there are differences between the GH2 24p and GH3 24p. However, those differences are very slight. The benefit of the GH3 in terms of video is the 1080p @ 60 FPS mode. The GH2 simply can't match that.

  • You mean the gh2 can't match that right?