And for those who are interested in the newly announced Nikon D810A, below you will find some sample images from the camera. Please keep in mind that aside from the last photo, all sample images were taken as composites with multiple images, then put together via special stitching software for astrophotography. That’s why EXIF data is not present in these images. As usual, you can download images to your computer to see a full-sized version.
It has only been 8 months since Nikon announced the D810 and today the company announced a very specialized camera for astrophotographers, the Nikon D810A. In essence, the D810A is pretty much identical to the existing D810 – the camera has exactly the same body build, ergonomics, sensor, etc. What has changed is the filter stack in front of the sensor, which contains a modified infrared filter that is more sensitive to super low light emitted by the stars and nebulas (specifically, the hydrogen alpha wavelength). In addition, Nikon implemented additional shutter speeds (4, 5, 8, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300, 600 and 900 seconds) to give more flexibility for astrophotography needs. While the announcement is certainly big for astrophotographers, because it is world’s first full-frame astrophotography DSLR camera, I do have a few concerns about this particular release. Having done a bit of research in astrophotography last year (my primary interest was in deep space object photography using specialized mounts and CCD sensors), I learned a little bit about the tools and what’s needed.
Many travel and landscape photographers, including myself, try to avoid shooting scenery with a clear blue sky. As much as we like seeing puffy or stormy clouds to spice up our photographs, we have no control over what the nature provides each day. Sometimes we get lucky and capture beautiful sunrises and sunsets with blood red skies, and other times we are stuck with a clear, boring sky. When I find myself in such a situation and I know that the next morning will be clear, I sometimes explore opportunities to photograph the stars and the Milky Way at night. I am sure you have been in situations where you got out at night in a remote location and saw an incredibly beautiful night sky with millions of stars shining right at you, with patches of stars in a “cloudy” formation that are a part of the Milky Way. If you do not know how to photograph the night sky and the Milky Way, this guide might help you in understanding the basics.
If you love astrophotography, you might want to photograph a unique event called “The Supermoon”, where the moon will not only be full, but will also appear larger than normal. If the skies are clear and you are lucky to see the moon, this will be a great time to get out and try some moon photography. If you have never done it before, you might be wondering what camera gear and settings you should use in order to capture the moon in its full glory. In this short article, I will give advice on how to photograph the Supermoon and explain some of the steps involved in the process.
With Nikon offering a niche D800E camera (which, against some expectations, will likely prove to be very popular) next to its mainstream model, the D800, Canon has decided, after a 7 year break, to take a similar step with the introduction of a modified Canon 60D model, the 60Da. Seven years ago Canon brought 20Da, a modified version of a popular Canon 20D DSLR. 20Da was, essentially, the same camera with a different IR filter and added live view functionality which, while having severe limitations at that time (inability to function in a bright environment), was very useful when manually focusing on stars at night. Changes to IR filter made the camera about 2.5 times more sensitive to Hydrogen Alpha wavelenght (approx. 656nm), which helped the 20Da capture space nebulae much more easily.
By no means I’m anywhere close to being good in astrophotography, especially when photographing deep sky objects. In fact, taking good pictures of distant stars requires expensive telescope equipment with sharp optics mounted on a sturdy self-adjusting tripod, plus an SLR mount to attach a camera, or even better, a dedicated CCD sensor. For normal astrophotography, say when photographing the Milky Way, one can use a pretty standard camera setup, as long as the lens is wide enough and fast enough in order to get sufficient light into the camera. To achieve the best results though, modified DSLR cameras with special filters are often used by serious astrophotographers.