Precision multiband photometry with a DSLR camera

M. Zhang, G. Bakos, K. Penev, Z. Csubry, J. D. Hartman, W. Bhatti, M. de Val-Borro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Ground-based exoplanet surveys such as SuperWASP, HAT Network of Telescopes (HATNet), and KELT have discovered close to two hundred transiting extrasolar planets in the past several years. The strategy of these surveys is to look at a large field of view and measure the brightnesses of its bright stars to around half a percent per point precision, which is adequate for detecting hot Jupiters. Typically, these surveys use CCD detectors to achieve high precision photometry. These CCDS, however, are expensive relative to other consumer-grade optical imaging devices, such as digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs). We look at the possibility of using a DSLR camera for precision photometry. Specifically, we used a Canon EOS 60D camera that records light in three colors simultaneously. The DSLR was integrated into the HATNet survey and collected observations for a month, after which photometry was extracted for 6600 stars in a selected stellar field. We found that the DSLR achieves a bestcase median absolute deviation of 4.6 mmag per 180 s exposure when the DSLR color channels are combined, and 1000 stars are measured to better than 10 mmag (1%). Also, we achieve 10 mmag or better photometry in the individual colors. This is good enough to detect transiting hot Jupiters. We performed a candidate search on all stars and found four candidates, one of which is KELT-3b, the only known transiting hot Jupiter in our selected field. We conclude that the Canon 60D is a cheap, lightweight device capable of useful photometry in multiple colors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035001
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number961
StatePublished - Mar 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Detectors - light pollution - techniques
  • Instrumentation
  • Photometric


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