The Fuji XT-1
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
For years I have imaged with my trusty Canon 1100d. It was the camera that got me started in imaging and it is the same camera that has been with me through my adventures for the past 7 years both day and night. It has been a great camera and I don't think I will ever part with it. The Canon will always have benefits when taking deep sky astrophotography images too due to the support it has across multiple software packages that I use. But, recently I have started imaging with a Fuji XT-1. I knew instantly that the camera was going to be worth a try for astrophotography. It handles noise much better at a higher ISO than my Canon 1100d and it instantly seems more sensitive to nebulosity and hydrogen alpha wavelengths. It has a flip screen and unlike the Fuji X-PRO 1 has the ability to accept an intervalometer.
So far I have had the XT-1 out on two evenings and I wasn't wrong in knowing that this camera was going to be a good performer. My first run was with the XT-1 set up on the telescope. My main deep sky imaging rig consists of an 80mm doublet Williams Optic refractor, mounted and controlled by an HEQ5. The scope is guided by an Orion 50mm guidescope and a QHY5 guidecam.
My first target was M45 - The Pleiades cluster. It is a region of new star formation which has has a lovely bright area of nebulosity that I thought would be an ideal starter target for testing the XT-1 capabilities without having to gather many hours of data. During the setup I found the flip screen a savior and the ability to see the stars on the display screen made focusing and framing incredibly easy. Given that it is a camera that I have used very little, I didn't struggle too much with it in the dark and it all felt quite intuitive. I set the camera running with 5 minute exposures at ISO 1600 for a total of 2.5 hours. I also took some dark frames of the same exposure time.
Eager to see the results, I set about trying to process the data and this is when I hit my first issue. It turns out that the FUJI RAW files .RAF are not well supported in particular with Deep Sky Stacker. I soon resolved the issue by converting the RAW files into TIF format and then continuing to process as normal. Having to convert the images is a little bit of a pain and an unnecessary step but until there is a resolution it just has to happen. The image I actually really like. I can see areas for improvement and I always do with every image that I have taken and it is just steps of progression.
My second target for the Fuji XT-1 was the Milky way. I took full advantage of getting home from work to clear sky and a stunning milky way running high over head. This time the set up was simply the XT-1 mounted on the Skywatcher Star adventurer tracking mount with a 35mm lens. I set the lens to f/2.0 and set focus to infinity. Again, the ability to see the stars on the screen and the flip screen made setting up and framing a doddle. I ran 30 subs at 2 minute exposures. The cloud that was due had started to move in so I moved the camera along the milky way to set Cygnus in the lower part of the frame now with the idea of stitching the two different frame together. I have never done this before so I thought it would be worth a try. Keeping the settings the same I set about trying to catch another 30 subs of which I lost a few due to the cloud finally beating me into submission.
I stacked the two batches of images in DSS and then using Microsoft ICE I stitched the images together with no effort at all (pretty impressed by that piece of software) and in Photoshop and Lightroom I processed the image to its final state.
Again I have been blown away by the Fuji XT-1 performance. The data I collected is not the best, I have star trailing due to my own slap dash setting up but the data is clean and the sensitivity to the Hydrogen alpha is impressive for a non-modded camera. I am also really chuffed at my first effort of trying out a pano shot!! I think I will have a bit more of that in the future please!