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How to use a DSLR camera with your telescope

Last Updated: 09.12.21


If you are passionate about the sky, the moon, and the stars, you most definitely want or already acquired a telescope. Think about all the great pictures you have seen in magazines about the moon and how exactly it looks up close.

Unfortunately, when you first use a telescope you might get a little bit disappointed because the images you usually see in magazines or wallpapers are taken with professional cameras and highly professional telescopes. What you get to see with your own eyes is a poor reflection of what the moon could look like if you had better eyes. But do not despair! There are some solutions, but they won’t come cheap.

A computerized telescope could easily help you connect your camera to the scope and take high-resolution pictures of what interests you the most. Sure, it may cost you a couple of grand and a few weeks to master the art, but impossible is nothing.

You may even be tempted to choose a great telescope to see Saturn and all the way ‘til Mars but the truth is that if you want to take good pictures of the galaxy, you will also require a DSLR camera, apart from a professional scope.

So here are a few tips and tricks for connecting your DSLR camera to the telescope and start taking your own professional photos, just like in the magazines.


Choose the right telescope

First of all, you must get rid of those scopes designed for children and invest in a more professional piece. A new 80 mm telescope will do the trick just fine without having to check in your trust fund and your life insurance.


Choose the right camera

Without any purpose of advertising a certain product, there are some DSLR cameras that are better than others. Just like in telescopes, the price is quite relevant because it helps you choose better objectives and other features that can enhance your photography skills and make you take clearer better pictures.

Nikon DSLR cameras are some of the greatest products on the market not only because they are sturdy, but also because they have great lenses and plenty of features you can customize in order to turn a regular picture into a real piece of work. Other brands that release qualitative DSLR cameras are Nikon and Sony, so they are worth giving a shot if you cannot afford a Nikon camera right now.



After investing in a good camera and a qualitative telescope, there are just a few more accessories that you should purchase to start shooting like a pro. First is a small device that allows you to take long exposure pictures without even touching the camera.  The shutter release button on your camera will allow you to take this type of pictures within as much as 30 seconds, so you can rest assured you will surprise each interesting moment on the sky.

These special cables can be found in professional photo stores or online, but you have to make sure you picked the right model for your camera. They are quite cheap but they will go a long way if you’re willing to take astrophotography to a whole new level.

A tripod is one of the most underestimated accessories in the world of astrophotography but will take you a long way. Choose a sturdy one with a metal base to be able to support the entire weight of your telescope, including the weight of your DSLR camera. Install it properly and make sure it stays on solid ground. A good tripod will give you the freedom to your hands and increase your visibility when taking a shot.

Another accessory you will require for attaching your camera to your telescope’s eyepiece focuser is a specific T-ring that has to match your particular camera model and the lens mount. A prime-focus adapter, along with an electronic remote controller will help you easily operate the camera’s shutter and minimize vibrations so you can have a steady shot and a clear image.

Different ways of shooting the moon with your DSLR camera

The prime-focus photography is the easiest method you will get a clear image of the moon through your scope and your camera. In this method, you attach the camera directly to the scope which will act as an enhanced lens and help you focus better. You will require a T-ring and an adapter but it’s the easiest way to take photos of the sky.

Watch out for the focal length of the objective lens if you have a refracting telescope and on the primary mirror if you use a reflecting telescope. In order to dramatically increase your chances of taking spectacular images of the moon, your telescope should have a focal length of at least 500 mm. Try to focus your camera and telescope combo as good as you can. You may require practice for this technique, so don’t quit after the first failed attempt.  

Use your camera’s LCD screen to see what you have just photographed and adjust the focalization or the lens in order to improve your shooting skills. Most DSLR cameras also have a “live mode” action that allows you to see on the screen exactly the image on your scope’s lens, so this is also a great method to adjust your perspective, increase focalization, and make sure you set the camera right.

You can also use other photography methods like afocal photography (when you don’t have a professional camera but only your phone’s camera) or eyepiece projection photography.

No matter which method you choose, practice will make you perfect. Also, keep in mind that the atmospheric conditions are extremely important to take a clear shot.



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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