Leica M (Typ 240) Attached to Telescope (3)

Prolog... | T-Mount Adapter | Camera with Adapter | Skymax-127 with Adapter | Skymax-102 with Adapter | Adapters | Camera Attached to Skymax-127 | Camera Attached to Skymax-102 | Results | Conclusions | Appendix: Comparison Leica M and Ricoh GR

On this page, I demonstrate how to mount a Leica M (Typ 240) directly to a telescope with a T-mount adapter in order to take astrophotos. This connection option is available for my two Maksutov-Cassegrain OTAs, the Skywatcher Skymax-102 and the Skymax-127.

Only a camera with interchangeable lenses, such as the Leica M, can be mounted directly to a telescope. That is, the camera body is directly attached to the telescope tube, typically using a T-mount adapter, and the telescope serves as "camera lens." In the case of my Sky-Watcher Skymax-127 (Maksutov-Cassegrain) with a focal length of 1500 mm, the telescope tube is therefore a lens with a focal length of exactly 1500 mm and an aperture of f/11.8. In the case of the Skymax-102, a focal length of 1300 mm and an aperture of f/12.7 results.

I use the Fotodiox Lens Mount Adapter "T Mount to Leica M" (in short: T-Mount-Adapter) for the connection of the camera to the telescope. It already disassembled after its first use, because the grubs could not hold the T-Mount ring and it spun...

 

Prolog...

The Skymax-127 and the smaller Skymax-102 have an eyepiece adapter with T-mount thread at the eyepiece end. At the other end, there is a union nut that connects the eyepiece adapter to the telescope and also allows the eyepiece adapter to be rotated so that the fastening screws for the eyepiece (or the zenith mirror/amici prism) can be optimally aligned. See the photos below for details.

Warning: I connected the T-mount adapter too tightly to the telescope's eyepiece adapter. Therefore, when trying to unscrew the T-mount adapter again, the inner ring (that has the T-thread), which is held by several grub screws, spun. I was only able to help myself by loosening the grub screws (I did not have an exact fitting Allen key either...) to remove the adapter, while the ring remained on the eyepiece adapter. I unscrewed the ring by force (but not by using any metal objects...). Perhaps a rubber blanket would have helped...

I reattached the inner ring to the adapter using the grub screws, but I was not able to tighten the set screws properly, because the Allen key did not fit exactly and spun.

What I am going to do next time, I do not know yet. Maybe there will be no next time, because the results with the Leica M (Typ 240) were completely disappointing...

 

T-Mount Adapter

Here I present the Fotodiox T-Mount adapter for connecting the Leica M (Typ 240) to the telescope, and also the cable release for the Leica:

    

    
         
 

 

 

Camera with Adapter

Here I present the Leica M (Typ 240) with attached T-Mount adapter and partly with cable release:

 

    

    
         

     

 

Skymax-127 with Adapter

Here I demonstrate how to connect the camera to the Skymax-127 using the eyepiece adapter and a T-mount adapter for Leica M (the camera is not shown, you can see this below).

         

Eypiece adapter at Skymax-127 (also used for zenith mirror or Amici prism)

 

Ditto, with attached T-Mount adapter for Leica M - now the camera has to be connected to the bayonet, which you can see at the end

 

Eyepiece Adapter removed

 

 

Skymax-102 with Adapter

Here I demonstrate how to connect the camera to the Skymax-102 using the eyepiece adapter and a T-mount adapter for Leica M (the camera is not shown, you can see this below).

         

Eypiece adapter at Skymax-127 (also used for zenith mirror or Amici prism)

   

T-Mount adapter attached

 

Eypiece adapter removed

 

Ditto

 

Adapters

Here, I present the two adapters - individually and screwed together.

    

T-Mount adapter (left) and eyepiece adapter (right); the union nut is used for attaching the eyepiece adapter to the telescope; the T-thread is located at the end of the adapter where the two screws are

    
     
 

T-Mount adapter screwed to the eyepiece adapter

 

 

Camera Attached to the Skymax-127

And now I present the Leica M (type 240) mounted to the Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope Sky-Watcher Skymax-127 (and also the overall equipment that I used that day...):

    
    
         
 
 
         
 
 

 

Camera Attached to Skymax-102

Finally, I present the Leica M (type 240) mounted to the Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope Sky-Watcher Skymax-102:

    
    
         
 
 
         
 
 
         
       

 

Results

Daylight Tests

    
    

Original view, Skymax-102

 

Original view, Skymax-127

  Original view, Skymax-127
   

Original view, Skymax-102

 

Original view, Skymax-127

  Original view, Skymax-127, post-processed

First, I did some daylight tests after "setting up the technology." I was not able to focus daylight shots well - with the exception of a nearby subject (Hazelnut kittens, right column). However, I had not used viewfinder magnification here. Motives against the light, unfortunately I did not have other motifs at my disposal, turned out having low contrast. Since I had used ISO 1600, there was also a lot of noise in the photos. All in all, these attempts did not make much hope for my upcoming photos of the moon... It also showed that the Skymax-102 produced much more vignetting than the Skymax-127, but it, too, cannot compete with typical lenses for photography. Nevertheless, the Skymax-127 seems the better choice for my upcoming photos of the Aldebran covering by the moon.

Skymax-127

I wanted to use the Skymax-127 with the Leica M (type 240) to photograph the covering of Aldebaran by the moon. This should also serve as a test for the direct use of the Leica M on the Skymax-127. Furthermore, I had built up my Skymax-102 tube so that my wife observed the covering of Aldebaran. Luckily, I took occasionally photos with this telescope and the Ricoh GR using the 1:50 method. Without this second camera I would not have achieved sharp photos of the Aldebaran covering!

Before the covering of Aldebaran (at about 17:50) the sky was still quite bright, and Aldebaran could only be seen in binoculars or with a telescope. When it returned one hour later (18:50 o' clock) on the other side of the moon, the sky was already quite dark. I also took some photos during the covering, when the sky was already a little darker, and the photos therefore showed more contrast.

At the latest, after the end of thecovering of Aldebaran, but presumably already before that, I used the viewfinder magnification function of the Leica M for focusing. Typically, the focus shifted somewhat more than expected when I did so...

Especially the photos before Aldebaran's disappearance are dull and lack contrast. They also clearly show that the sensor was very dirty. In these tests, this did not really matter, but if you want to take serious astro photos, you should clean the sensor thoroughly first. On the later, darker images, the sensor dust is no longer that noticeable.

Phase 1 - Afternoon to shortly before Aldebaran's Disappearance

In this phase, I took about 40 photos. I took the first and early photos to try out the equipment, and then (from the 15th photo on) to document the coverage of Aldebaran. None of these photos were really sharp, although the exposure time was usually 1/500 sec at the beginning, in exceptional cases even up to 1/1000 sec. Towards the end, shortly before 6 p. m., the exposure times went up to 1/250 and 1/125 - with the result that the photos became increasingly blurred (usually having double contours).

Since the sky was still very bright, the contrast was low, so that the quality of the photos is not sufficient for this reason. When I increased the contrast, I got a lot of noise (ISO 1600). In addition and as already mentioned above, dust on the sensor disturbed the photos.

Here are three relatively sharp variations from the initial phase (16:49 to 17:10 o'clock). The noise becomes more obvious when you look at the larger versions.

    
    

Faint, one of the sharper photos (1/500 sec) - 2700 pixels

 

Somewhat underexposed (1/1000 sec), one of the sharper photos - 2700 pixels

 

Brighter again (1/500 sec), one of the sharper photos ... - 2700 pixels

   

Photo above post-processed - 2700 pixels

 

Photo above post-processed - 2700 pixels

 

Photo above post-processed - 2700 pixels

   

Section from photo above

 

Section from photo above

 

Section from photo above

After this series I only managed to get about three more sharp photos in this phase, all the others are blurred.... Here are the last two pictures before Aldebaran disappeared and the first one without it (to recognize Aldebaran, please open the large versions; note also the red arrows):

    
    

Fuzzy (1/180 sec), penultimate photo showing Aldebaran - 2500 pixels

 

Fuzzy (1/125 sec), last photo showing Aldebaran - 2500 pixels

 

Fuzzy (1/125 sec), Aldebaran is hidden - 2500 pixels

   

Photo above post-processed - 2500 pixels

 

Photo above post-processed - 2500 pixels

 

Photo above post-processed - 2500 pixels

    

Enlarged sections from the last two photos with Aldebaran to better demonstrate camera shake

Phase 2 - Shortly before Aldebaran Reappeared

Here I present four typical samples of the 6 photos that I took in this phase. The sharp sample might be the only really sharp photo of the whole evening, probably because it was more underexposed and therefore had a shorter exposure time (1/1500 sec). Most of the photos resemble the two fuzzy samples, some of them have double contours at the bottom, but not at the top (see the photos of the bottom row). This may be a hint of camera vibrations that, despite exposure times between 1/250 and 1/500 seconds, led to blurring. From this phase on, I increased ISO from 1600 to 3200 to get shorter exposure times.

    
    

Sharp, but noisy because underexposed; such a sharp image was rare - 2400 pixels

 

Fuzzy - 2400 pixels

 

Even fuzzier, my most common result... - 2400 pixels

   

Section from photo above, nothern hemisphere

 

Section from photo above, nothern hemisphere

 

Section from photo above, nothern hemisphere

   

Typical case: sharper in the North (but not really sharp), double contours in the South - 2400 pixels

 

Sections of the southern area with double contours

 

Section of the northern area, no double contours

Phase 3 - Aldebaran Visible again

In phase 3, I took almost 90 photos, 9 of them before Aldebaran was visible again. Here some of the photos were still somewhat sharp, but with Aldebaran on it not a single photo has become really sharp, as you can see from the traces that Aldebaran draws into the sky... Maybe about 10 photos would still "pass" as "pure moon photos." All in all, however, the result was very disappointing for me, and the image quality as such (sharpness, noise) does not convince me either, as a comparison with 1:50 photographs taken with my Ricoh GR shows. Unfortunately, such photos are not as evenly sharp as those taken with a T-mount adapter...

Although Aldebaran is not really the subject here, here are the first "photo-sightings" on the bright side of the moon (approx. 18:50 o' clock) in 200% magnification (the caprioles of Aldebaran are to be owed to the camera and the photographer):

    

First clearer view of Aldebaran

 

Three photos later, Aldebaran was even better to see...

And here are three photos for comparison from the phase until the first sighting of Aldebaran (right photo above). Only the photo in the middle has become somewhat sharp:

    
    

Fuzzy - 2700 Pixel

 

Sharp - 2700 Pixel

 

Fuzzy - 2700 Pixel

   

Section from photo above, some double contours

 

Section from photo above

 

Section from photo above, weaker double contours

Apart from Aldebaran-caprioles "thanks to camera shake there is no further gain of knowledge from further photos. Nevertheless, here are three sharper samples including "Aldebaran tracks" from a little later, when the light was even brighter (which you cannot see "thanks" to the post-processing...):

    
    

Nearly sharp - 2700 pixels

 

The sharpest photo in this group - 2700 pixels

 

Nearly sharp - 2700 pixels

   

Northern section from the photo above

 

Northern section from the photo above

 

Northern section from the photo above

   

Southern section from the photo above, weak double contours

 

Southern section from the photo above

 

Southern section from the photo above

Here I have put together three similar sections from different phases to show that the noise decreased in the course of the observations because the moon became brighter:

         

ISO 1600

 

ISO 3200

 

ISO 3200

The few sharper photos might be a bit deceptive about the fact that most of the photos were blurred. With stronger moonlight and therefore higher contrast, however, the noise remains within tolerable limits. So the question remains, how to prevent camera shake effectively?

Skymax-102

I took only a few photos of the moon with the Skymax-102, because it quickly became clear that these were not satisfying, even though it looked like this in the viewfinder at first, i. e. as if the photos were sharp. But despite or because of using a cable release, the photos are not sharp. However, unlike with the Skymax-127, it seems to be a problem of focusing rather than shake (although double contours appear on a few photos). Why the photos are so blurred, although they looked sharp in the viewfinder during quick review, is beyond my knowledge....

    

Original view

 

Original view

 

Section of the photo above

 

Section of the photo above

 

Conclusions

The main purpose of this page is to show how to connect a camera with interchangeable lenses to a telescope with a T-mount option. This is shown for the Sky-Watcher Skymax-127 and for the Skymax-102.

However, the results that I achieved with the Leica M (type 240) at both telescopes do not meet my expectations. On the one hand, the noise behaviour of the camera seems to be partly poor, which I had not noticed before. The noise in the first few photos is not acceptable, whereas on the later photos taken in bright moonlight, the results seem to be acceptable, but the Ricoh GR is also in this situation still better (see Appendix).

On the other hand, most of the shots were blurred because of camera shake, although - or maybe because - I used a cable release. Unfortunately, I do not know yet why the photos are blurred so often. This needs further investigations...

 

Appendix: Comparison Leica M (Typ 240) and Ricoh GR

In parallel to the Skymax-127 with Leica M, I had built up the Skymax-102, through which my wife observed the Aldebaran covering. At this telescope, I took some photos with the Ricoh GR using the 1:50 method. In the following, I would like to present some comparison photos of the Leica M and the Ricoh GR.

Light Sky

I start with photos from the time when the sky was still relatively bright. The noise differences between the two cameras seem to be most obvious here.

    
    

Leica M: Dull, one of the sharper photos (1/500 sec) - 2700 pixels

 

Leica M: somewhat underexposed (1/1000 sec), one of the sharper photos - 2700 pixels

 

Leica M: A little brighter again (1/500 sec), one of the sharper photos - 2700 pixels

   

Ricoh GR: Dull - 2400 pixels

 

Ricoh GR: Overexposed - 2400 pixels

 

Ricoh GR: Darker - 2400 pixels

         
   

Leica M: Photo from above post-processed - 2700 pixels

 

Leica M: Photo from above post-processed - 2700 pixels

 

Leica M: Photo from above post-processed - 2700 pixels

   

Ricoh GR: "Dull" post-processed - 2400 pixels

 

Ricoh GR: "Overexposed" post-processed - 2400 pixels

 

Ricoh GR: "Darker" post-processed - 2400 pixels

         
   

Leica M: Section from the photo above

 

Leica M: Section from the photo above

 

Leica M: Section from the photo above

   

Ricoh GR: Section from the photo above

 

Ricoh GR: Section from the photo above

 

Ricoh GR: Section from the photo above

To make it short: On small samples, the Leica M photos look almost better than those of the Ricoh GR, but if you look closer and magnify them, there is a huge difference in the noise behavior of both cameras: the Ricoh GR is much, much better in this situation than the Leica M.

Darker Sky

So, the final question for me was, how will both fare, when the sky is darker and the moon is brighter? Here are the respective photos (or a few samples...):

    
    

Leica M - 2700 pixels

 

Ricoh GR - 2400 pixels

 

Ricoh GR, darker - 2400 pixels

   

Leica M - Northern section from the photo above

 

Ricoh GR - Northern section from the photo above

 

Ricoh GR - Northern section from the photo above

   

Leica M - Southern section from the photo above

 

Ricoh GR - Southern section from the photo above

 

Ricoh GR - Southern section from the photo above

Once again, the Ricoh GR shows a better noise behaviour than the Leica M, although perhaps not as clearly as for less light.

 

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28.02.2018