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Pentax K3 Astrophotography & Interval Composite Mode

Pentax K3 Astrophotography & Interval Composite Mode

Tuesday February 11, 2014

With the Pentax K3 astrophotography has been given a boost with the “Interval Composite” shooting mode. Interval Composite, as the name suggests, allows you to stack a number of images in camera to produce one single RAW file which contains all the exposures. This is obviously of great benefit when you consider disk-space on your computer and indeed your camera’s SD card. No matter how many exposures you make you will end up with one single RAW file! I immediately thought of star trails with this feature and have tried it twice in the past few weeks, and the results look very good.

Pentax K3 Astrophotography: Star trails using Interval Composite drive mode

Startrails with the Pentax K3 and Interval Composite drive mode. Approx 40 minutes of exposures, each exposure 20 seconds.

The first attempt was at Cradle Mountain, on New Years Eve. The image above was in fact the last 40 minutes of 2013! It was all captured in one image, after dozens of exposures using the Pentax K3 Interval Composite mode.

Pentax K3 and Star Trails, Mt Wellington Tasmania

Pentax K3 Astrophotography: Star Trails, Mt Wellington Tasmania. This was one hour’s worth of 15 second exposures, taken once every 17 seconds at ISO 100.

I took the image above just a couple of nights ago on top of Mt Wellington in Hobart. This was a full hour of 15 second exposures, taken once every 17 seconds. I started the exposure around 10:00 pm, so the glow in the bottom right is the last of the suns light for the day. The glow in the bottom left is the city lights of Hobart. After close to 200 images I had one easy to manage 29 MB RAW file to play with!

The Pentax K3, with its 24 MP, AA filter-less APS-C sized sensor is the new flagship of the Pentax brand, and the first Pentax DSLR to be released under the Ricoh stewardship of the brand. With talk turning to an updated 645D (Medium Format) from Pentax, it does seem like exciting times in the Pentax camp. I will write more about the other features of this camera, such as the AA filter “simulator”, the more I use it.

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