I recently went to Vega State Park for the first time ever. Eeeeeeeever, it is at the base of Grand Mesa south west of Grand Junction. I chose this because it was a location far removed from any light pollution and is relatively high enough in elevation without it still being in winter mode (oh like the top of Grand Mesa is). the combination of the two make for some extremely dark skies. The disadvantage was the half moon, I decided on staying to well after moonset which was close to 2 AM
The sky itself was dark enough even with the half moon that once the moon got low enough in the sky the Milky Way was still quite visible as you can tell with the image below as the moon was still casting shadows on the pier.
I also had recently purchased the Canon Rebel T2i (550D) as a small light weight backup top my 5D MKii and I REALLY wanted to see how well a consumer grade Dslr from Canon fared at night photography, I had not shot a camera like that since the xti days (now that is a long time)
As you can tell, not too bad. The vertical one was shot with the 24-105 F4 lens at 6400 ISO. Perhaps a little too much for the camera to handle cleanly, but I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of a $200 consumer grade camera though I would not shoot it at 6400 ISO, even with heavy noise reduction with either Topaz Denoise or NIKs Dfine software was I able to cleaned up the noise enough for my tastes.
To be honest with that one test, once the moon had set and it was getting extremely dark. Dark enough for air glow to become quite apparent (see my previous blog post), I ended up putting the Rebel away and worked strictly with the much better low light performing 5D camera with the 14mm F2.8 Rokinon where I could comfortably shoot at 3200 ISOs and much higher and shoot up to 35 second exposures without much star trailing
I will leave with this last image taken with my 5D and compare it to the photo immediately above from my t2i and let you see the difference. Let me what you think of the low light performance of these consumer grade camera. Of course, all of which while using proper techniques