I’m a Canon and Fujifilm user, so this is of less interest to me, but I was intrigued by the announcement from Nikon yesterday that they are releasing a DSLR designed for astrophotography. The D810A is a variant of the D810, allowing more transmission of H-alpha light.
This is the same modification that Canon have had for years with the 20Da and 60Da (which I have), and it does make a huge difference when photographing nebulae. The difference here, of course, is that the Nikon is a full-frame camera with 36 megapixels! In addition, they’ve implemented additional shutter speeds of 4, 5, 8, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300, 600 and 900 seconds, which saves messing about with bulb mode.
That said, 36 megapixels will make for huge RAW images – not sure that’s a great idea when trying to stack! And, rather astonishingly, the LCD screen at the back doesn’t flip or tilt. I don’t like using my full-frame Canon 5DII for astrophotography for precisely this reason. The 60Da has a tilt-flip screen, making it really easy to use on a tracking mount, without going into various contortions to look at the screen. The absence of this is a real problem, in my opinion… though I suppose you could operate by tethering to a computer. That said, tethering software for the Nikon is not free, like with the Canon… if memory serves, it rather expensive.
Still, an interesting addition to the marketplace. Goes to show how popular astrophotography is becoming. I wonder how Canon will respond – will they upgrade the 60Da to full-frame now?
Oh yes, nearly forgot, the price! A standard D810 will set you back about £2k, if you shop around. I expect the modified D810a will be about £500 more, if they go by the example set by Canon. I can’t see the Canon 60Da for sale anymore, but it used to be about £1k. A big price difference.
Good to know about it, thanks. Personally, I would rather save up for a dedicated deep space imaging camera for that sort of money because isnt a modded dslr rendered useless for normal photography? So really only useful for astroimaging?
If my perception is wrong and that a modded dslr can still be used for normal non-astro photography then it is an attractive purchase (ignoring the price for now) for its all purpose usage. And a Full frame is of course most desirable. I like those long exposures too, nice. And 36 megapixels, wow!
I actually never use my LCD screen with my dlsr as I always connect it to my laptop for all the astroimaging I have done with it so far. SO a lack of tilt may not have been a deal breaker. But paying even more for laptop remote software probably would! Considering I have been using Canon’s free and excellent EOS Utilities.
isnt a modded dslr rendered useless for normal photography?
Good question. I have used the 60Da for normal daytime photography. You can use an external IR cut filter to adapt the camera for normal use. Otherwise, the images take on a slightly odd appearance, with colour shifts especially in darker areas of the image. Greens are often shifted and there is sometimes a purple cast on the image.
But paying even more for laptop remote software probably would! Considering I have been using Canon’s free and excellent EOS Utilities.
It is the big advantage of using Canon for astrophotography in my experience. So much more software is available, much of it free. As far as I know, there are only a couple of camera control programs available for Nikon – Camera Control Pro which costs about £130 and Images Plus, which is about $50. Crazy, when EOS Utilities is provided free by Canon and has superb functionality.
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