How to Take the Perfect Photos of the Night Sky From Your Backyard
You're just a few steps away from becoming an astrophotographer.
Spending more time at home has its perks. When else will you ever have the opportunity to completely reorganize the attic, cook a four-course meal, or scrub your home from top to bottom?
But after a while, all that extra time in the house is bound to present a problem: major boredom. You could let your boredom drive you to madness, or you could head out to the backyard and pick up a new hobby, like astrophotography — a.k.a. photography of the night sky.
To make the most of your astrophotography experience, we've rounded up the best nighttime cameras, along with a few lenses, tripods, and other accessories to up the ante. Read on for our picks.
Canon EOS Ra Mirrorless Digital Camera
One of the best cameras in the game, this model from Canon is designed for capturing the fine details of the night sky. Built with 30x magnification in Live View shooting and extra transmission sensitivity of hydrogen-alpha rays to emphasize the colors of nebulae, the EOS Ra is a must-have for serious astrophotographers.
To buy: target.com, $2,500
Sony Alpha A7 Mirrorless Digital Camera
This Sony camera is a great night photography option for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest draws is its enhanced color reproduction performance. In other words, this camera will capture all the colors of the solar system, rather than simply producing an image of a black sky with tiny white stars.
To buy: target.com, $1,998
Nikon D7500 DX-format Digital SLR Camera
This DSLR from Nikon is one of the more affordable options on this list, but it's still equipped with plenty of useful features. Top-notch image quality, ISO range, and image processing make this camera ideal for shooting everything from the stars to your favorite subjects here on Earth.
To buy: target.com, $929
Sigma 14mm DG HSM ART Lens
Few camera lenses compare to the Sigma 14mm. Manufactured with the largest glass mold in photography, this lens allows photographers to shoot the sky with precision, and without the worry of distortion, flare, or ghosting. This version is formulated for Nikon, but the Sigma 14mm is available for a range of other cameras as well.
To buy: target.com, from $1,599
Samyang 14mm Wide Angle Auto Focus Lens
The great thing about this lens is its weather-sealing technology, which means it can be used outdoors no matter the forecast. It's also smaller and lighter than many other lenses in its class, all while maintaining phenomenal image clarity, contrast, and high resolution. Like the Sigma 14mm, you can purchase this lens for multiple cameras.
To buy: target.com, from $569
Manfrotto 290 Xtra Carbon Fiber Tripod
With a maximum height of 65.2 inches, and adjustable aluminum locks, this tripod from Manfrotto is bound to help you capture some incredible shots of the night sky. It also manages to be super-light and extra-sturdy at the same time.
To buy: target.com, $159
Vanguard Alta Pro 2V Carbon Fiber Tripod
This premium-quality tripod works just as well for shooting video as it does for photos of the sky. Not only does it guarantee perfect leveling on any type of terrain, but the tripod's head moves flawlessly and fluidly for solid panoramic shots and smooth video movement.
To buy: target.com, $400
Sirui T04S Light Carbon Fiber Tripod
This tripod may be small, but it packs a powerful punch. The Sirui's head tightly grips cameras for a no-slip and no-worry photo session. It also comes with a stabilizing hook and rubber feet to help keep your camera steady for precision shots.
To buy: target.com, $300
Looking Glass Perch
While it may be tempting to use any old chair for astrophotography, you'll quickly realize regular, bulky seats just won't cut it. This foldable wooden chair is made specifically for stargazing — it's high enough that you can easily look into your mounted camera without straining, and it's slim enough that it won't get in the way of your tripod's legs.
To buy: etsy.com, $250
Stargazing Viking Chair
While these narrow, wooden seats look like something out of a medieval reenactment, they're actually the perfect chairs for astrophotography. Known as stargazing chairs, these reclined seats allow photographers to get the best view of the night sky. They're best used for freehand photo sessions — no tripod required!
To buy: etsy.com, from $75
Looking for something a little cozier to sit on than a wooden chair? Opt for a water-resistant fleece blanket. This one neatly folds into a tote for easy transport.
To buy: potterybarn.com, $35
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