Astrophotography is divided into two styles. There are long exposures that show stars sweeping the sky in dizzying circles. Then you have short exposure shots that are your more traditional glamor photos of the Milky Way.
In order to take either of these recordings, you will need the appropriate equipment to take those recordings. It doesn’t matter whether you are experienced in astrophotography or are just starting out. A new player in the market called Move Shoot Move just launched the world’s smallest star tracker at an affordable price.
Why Use a Star Tracker?
When it comes to astrophotography, a star tracker can help you get better pictures. Your exposure lengths are no longer limited to 30 seconds or less due to a moving sky, and you can reset camera settings like ISO and aperture.
Equatorial camera mounts are oriented to align with the polar axis of the night sky so you can take long exposure images that are free of star trails. Astrophotography requires long exposure images to collect as much signal (light) as possible, and that is exactly what you can do with a star tracker.
The earth rotates so that stars are not stationary relative to us. Our planet rotates every 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.09 seconds. This means that stars will become blurry after a long exposure – 25 to 30 seconds or more of exposure when using a wide-angle lens.
However, the earth’s axis of rotation runs almost through Polaris. So if you can line up a moving platform on top of it, you can expose for much longer because your camera is now moving in sync with the earth’s rotation.
Why Consider Move Shoot Move (MSM)?
There are many options on the market that are capable of adjusting the Earth’s rotation so that you can take long exposure images (at almost any focal length) of the night sky. To properly track the stars that appear to move across the night sky each night, these star trackers must be polar aligned and balanced.
Move Shoot Move, however, does it differently and more efficiently. This company has developed a sophisticated system that includes a laser – a super powerful, bright green laser pointer that can be seen for miles. To align the Move Shoot Move polar with the laser beam, all you have to do is make sure that your tripod is level and point the laser at Polaris (the North Star). That’s it.
There are countless apps for iOS and Android even to find Polaris. In addition, the Move Shoot Move device is the smallest and lightest of all available options, weighing just 466 g.
This device moves your camera in the opposite direction, but at the same speed as the earth, to prevent the stars from tracking in your picture, so you can easily take a long exposure.
In practice, the best way to set up MSM is to put the tripod down and then make sure it is level. Align the rotator on Polaris, attach your second ball head and camera, and correct the scales by realigning them
The MSM is powered by an internal battery that can be charged by any 5 volt charger for your mobile phone. This device uses a USB-C jack for the power cord, but a USB-A to USB-C cable is provided. This is handy as you might not have one if you don’t have other USB-C devices.
In my tests, the battery lasted half a dozen or more 300-round timelapses, enough to get you through at least 2 or 3 night shots. However, my tests were done on warm summer nights. The battery life is shorter in winter. While the built-in battery is handy, in the field if you detect a low battery (the N and S switches flash as a warning), you can’t just swap in new batteries in the field.
The icing on the cake
Move Shoot Move is not only a star tracker, but also a platform for time-lapse recordings during the day or night when panning horizontally.
The MSM tracker is inexpensive, well built, and compact for easy packing and travel. If you can’t support telephoto zoom lenses, you won’t get crystal clear “deep sky” views, just the more detailed views of the night sky.
The MSM’s tracking capabilities are comparable to those of the big star trackers, which cost over $ 400. The price is only half. That said, this device is an entry-level investment and delivers accurate professional results.
Specialist in night photography, Elizabeth Ruggiero explains:
“The MSM rotator is the best thing that has happened to my night photography in a long time. It makes it very easy to get night pictures with depth and detail (not to mention how small and light it is). I travel a lot for photography and this will travel with me on all trips. I recommended it to my students and many have bought it and are so satisfied. I’m thinking about teaching a night workshop with the MSM on site. “
You can follow their work on their IG or through their website.
Visit the Move Shoot Move website ⬅️ for more information