I just bought my first digital camera that I could use in taking photos of the night sky. 🙂
Algorab, my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2
It was a 14-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 digital camera which I named Algorab. (For astronomy enthusiasts, the name came from Delta Corvi, the most notable star of Corvus, which simply means ‘The Crow or Raven’ in Arabic. It is is a double star, 3.1 and 8.5 magnitude, pale yellow and purple, on the right wing of Corvus.)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 is a ultra-compact digital camera with an effective resolution of 14.1 megapixels. The lens offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a useful 28mm wide angle to a 112mm telephoto and features a true optical image stabilization system with which to fight blur caused by camera shake.
Crepuscular rays | image taken using Algorab
The main reason why I bought this camera is because of its long exposure capability (up to 60 seconds). Long exposure times permit the camera to gather enough light to take a quality photo, even in the darkest of environments like the night sky. If you want to keep the noise levels low and use lower ISO levels in dark environments long exposure times can be very useful. Most people don’t normally need to take very long exposure photos, but they can provide an amazing creative opportunity for amateur astronomers. For example you can take long exposure shots of the night sky to capture the movement of stars across the sky, capture night-time vistas, landscapes at dusk, etc.
Orion over a light-polluted area
I’ve already used a previous model of Panasonic Lumix before and I got amazed when I first learned about its impressive feature. FH2 compared to Lumix FS7, however, has significantly better wide angle (28 mm vs 33mm) meaning it can capture around 20% bigger view. FH2 also has more than 10% larger sensor and has a slimmer compact body (0.7″ vs 0.9″).
Moreover, this model can also record 1280 x 720p High Definition (HD) video.
Another feature that I love about this camera is its Intelligent Scene Selector which allows its user to select the best option from Macro, Portrait, Scenery, Night Portrait, Night Scenery and Sunset by detecting the environment.
Overall, this budget product is excellent for its affordable price. It has a well balanced performance for a point and shoot; it’s easy-to-use, has good image quality and it contains certain features that are typically found on higher end products.
I’m really excited to use it to take images of the upcoming planetary conjunctions. 🙂