Hot Shoe Level: A hot shoe is the area on top of your camera for mounting an external flash. You will find that you won't be using your flash a whole lot as an astrophotograher so this is an unnecessary part of your camera or maybe not.
A Hot Shoe Level can be placed in the contact to help level your camera on a tripod. These levels can be bought for less than 10$ or as much as 50$. I've been using the cheap ones and have had no problem. Even the cheap ones are filled with alcohol and have never froze on me even at temperatures below -20F.
Many camera's these days have a built-in level that can be viewed from the display screen or through the viewfinder. I love the in-viewfinder level but in my experience it has to be turned on manually each use often using an awkward to reach button that is hard to access when your ball-head is loose. Hot Shoe Level will save you time.
Remote Switch: A Remote Switch is a great way to control your camera without having to actually touch it. These are available as wired and wireless and usually consist of one button to release the shutter that can be locked down to hold the shutter for an unspecified amount of time when in Bulb Mode.
Intervolometer: An Intervolometer is a programmable remote switch. This is a must have for Star Trail people. How it works: Delay, Exposure Time, Interval, and Number.
Wait what? So you show up on scene but you are early and won't be around to turn the camera on.
Set the Delay to countdown to exposure.
Now you are ready to set the exposure. After you have programmed ISO and Aperture into your camera in Bulb Mode set the Time. Intervolometers work in seconds and nothing faster. So since Im doing Star Trails I want a long exposure:
Set the Exposure Time to several minutes.
Next I will set the time between exposures known as the Interval. Since Im doing Star Trails I want almost no time so you would set the Interval to 1 second.
Set the Interval:
That worked great but now I want to keep shooting til the camera either runs out of battery or memory; whichever comes first. You can choose once or inifinity.
Set the Number of Exposures.
Next issue of Astrophotography 101 I will talk about your camera bag and what you might want to carry in it.
To see Daniel McVey's amazing photos please visit our Photo Gallery.
Also visit his website: www.danielmcvey.com