Below is a general overview of my equipment & techniques…
I use a Nikon D300 and two different lenses: a 10.5mm Nikkor full frame fisheye (15.75mm equiv) for star shots & a Nikkor 18-70 (27mm -105mm equiv) for the moon & planets; ISO 3200 for star shots &1600 for planets or the moon. A tripod is used - but no motorized tracking.
The wider your lens’ angle of view the longer the exposure You can take. With the full frame fisheye I can take up to 30 second exposures before the stars’ motion begins to become obvious (i.e. elongated instead of a pin point). The sweet spot is typically around 20 seconds - after that any atmospherics such as extremely thin clouds or slight haze (that isn’ t apparent to your eyes) begins to show up. The 18-70mm can go for about 22 seconds max for stars & planets before they begin to elongate at 18mm (27mm equiv). With the moon exposure length is a moot point as it is so bright.
Note: All the examples shown below (Figs.1-4) were processed with DxO Optics Pro v10 - but PhotoLab should create the same output using the same tools… have not experimented yet.
DxO’s prime noise reduction makes a huge difference with the ISO 3200 star shots of course; and no surprise - the lens sharpness tool is important too (I typically do not use unsharp masking). Chromatic aberration with “purple fringing” turned on is a must when using the full frame fisheye particularly for the stars at the outer edges of the image - can be useful at times with the 18-70mm. “Color Rendering” is usually set to Category: “Camera Body” with the “D300” rendering. Other than that I rarely need to manipulate the image very much.
One exception is for eclipse shots - I like to have stars visible with the moon. So the moon is exposed close to blowing out and after going through DxO Optics Pro v10 I used Photoshop to reduce the brightness of the moon back to what I experienced with my eyes. It will be interesting to see if PhotoLab’s local adjustment tools can pull off the same result - haven’t tried it out yet.
Please click on images for a larger size…
Fig.1 Crop of a lunar eclipse (not the same one as in Fig. 2 below). 18-70mm lens.
Fig.2 Lunar eclipse. 18-70mm lens.
Fig.3 Taken at 9600 feet (2,926 meters) in a remote area of a large mountain range.
The center of our galaxy (the Milky Way) framed by the constellation Sagittarius (near bottom). 18-70mm lens.
Outside my home, near sea level, clear night. The Milky Way & the constellation Sagittarius (near bottom).
Full frame fisheye.