Noise management techniques astro time-lapse

Joe Belanger

New time-lapser
Hi everyone,

I was wondering if anyone could share their techniques for getting the best noiseless time lapse when shooting astro. Shooting at, say, 3200 ISO then pulling into Lightroom for post. Too much NR and you lose detail and too little you get enough noise (obviously). Just wondering what techniques you use to minimize noise in this type of time-lapse.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.



New time-lapser
I think it really comes down to hardware. Lightroom's noise reduction is actually quite good, but there's only so much that can be done in post when you have a noisy sensor.
I really like astrophotography, but my camera really doesnt. I can't shoot at any higher than ISO 400 before I get noise that I'm really unhappy with. I spent decent chunk of change on an f/1.8 zoom lens, but it still isn't quite enough for astrophotography. I am currently saving for a a full frame camera (hopefully the Canon 6D Mk ii whenever it comes out), as they generally perform better than crop sensor cameras in high ISO applications.


I've only been shooting the Galaxy for about 2 years. What I found was, using a crop camera, I didn't need to push the ISO too high. Using 6400 and 3200 ISO gave me histograms with data mostly in the lower 1/3 of the curve. These photos in post were difficult to use as the data and color were limited. After using lower ISO in brighter nights, I found I could get more data to process, as well as control noise a lot better, and with better results in the overall photo.

I usually plan to shoot the Galaxy when there is some light out. In the South West US the sky gets really dark and the stars come through real bright. A little ambient light from a setting 1/4 moon in the East, or faint city lights 80 miles to the North help a lot to bring out detail in the time lapse. Which allows for less noise, and more data to process. My metric to getting the right exposure is to use the histogram and keep all the black off the right side, and keep the peak of the histogram between 1/3 or 1/4 on the curve. I've been out shooting at Death Valley in total darkness, and it was a ISO 6400 night at 30 seconds, f/2.8. Although still usable with the crop camera, it didn't have enough data to do much NR or WB adjustments. Thus the ability to post process them was limited. That's why I prefer a little light when shooting the Galaxy and Night Sky.

Recently I've been using the (Low Level Light) technique to get a foreground in the time lapse. Not only does it help to give the scene a dynamic foreground, the added lighting helps keep the sky dark while still providing clear noiseless detail in the lighted areas even at high ISO. This type of scene can be shot with f/2.8, ISO2500, or ISO 2000, and 20 second exposures. And there is a lot of data for WB adjustments, and NR.

Anyway, I hope this helps. Try the low level lighting, it's a game changer for me.

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