Product Assessment: Nikon D810A DSLR Digicam
Nikon’s first full-frame digicam for astrophotographers is loaded with nice options. Earlier than the discharge of the D810A this previous summer season, Nikon had not manufactured a Hydrogen-alpha (Ha) filter-modified digicam for astrophotography. Canon had launched two Ha-enhanced variations of earlier fashions for astrophotography—the 20Da (in 2005) and the 60Da (in 2012)—leaving Nikon night-sky shooters
Nikon’s first full-frame digicam for astrophotographers is loaded with nice options.
Earlier than the discharge of the D810A this previous summer season, Nikon had not manufactured a Hydrogen-alpha (Ha) filter-modified digicam for astrophotography. Canon had launched two Ha-enhanced variations of earlier fashions for astrophotography—the 20Da (in 2005) and the 60Da (in 2012)—leaving Nikon night-sky shooters ready till now. I used to be one in all them. As a longtime Nikon consumer with a shelf filled with Nikon lenses, I ordered one instantly.
Why is an Ha filter-modified digicam higher for astro-imaging than a daily DSLR? The first motive is that the inner infrared (IR) cutoff filter on the modified digicam permits 4 instances as a lot of the deep pink 656nm wavelength of Ha emissions by way of to the sensor than do nonastrophotography DSLR fashions.
COLOURFUL RHO OPHIUCHI REGION The D810A picks up a great deal of element when offered with the very good sky situations of the Atacama Desert, in Chile. Malcolm Park used a 50mm Sigma Artwork lens at f/2.eight for this digital stack of 5 Four-minute exposures at ISO 1250.
Till very not too long ago, the 36-megapixel specification of the D810A would have been considered an obstacle for an astro-camera. A smaller pixel rely means bigger pixels within the sensor, every higher ready to take in faint celestial gentle sources—or so we thought. However judging by the Nikon D810A outcomes, sensor know-how appears to have moved ahead. Every little thing is sharper, and faint stars are smaller, with extra room to crop, if desired. A direct comparability with photos from the top-rated 20-megapixel Canon 6D (launched in 2012) clearly exhibits the 36-megapixel Nikon imaging fainter stars with equal exposures. Nebulas look comparable in each photos, however additional testing is below method to quantify this.
A really helpful function of the Nikon D810A is a brand new taking pictures mode: M*. Comparable in all respects to the M (Handbook) mode to which Nikon shooters are accustomed, it has added preset publicity instances, starting from Four seconds to 900 seconds. Additionally, exposures of Four seconds or longer could be shot in steady taking pictures mode, both till the cardboard is stuffed or till the battery is drained. No gaps in star trails. No buffer points. And there may be an M* setting referred to as “Time” that acts like a bulb: One shutter click on opens the shutter; one other click on closes it. This lets you take particularly timed pictures simply.
BRIGHT AURORA From Thunder Seashore on Georgian Bay, Ontario, Malcolm Park shot a 6-second publicity of an aurora show with the Nikon D810A at ISO 3200 utilizing a 14mm lens at f/2.eight.
The live-view functionality has been enhanced for astrophotography. When dwell view is on, the “OK” button on the again of the digicam acts as a change, boosting the brightness of the live-view display screen on or off. This helps when specializing in fainter stars.
The D810A has been improved over some earlier fashions by extending the utmost variety of pictures from 999 to 9999. Meteor-shower and time-lapse shooters who wish to depart their cameras operating all night time will like this variation. For the longer nights, 999 was not sufficient frames to make use of the on-camera intervalometer. The intervalometer also can deal with HDR picture units of as much as 9999 x 9 frames (for individuals who are taking pictures HDR time lapses).
The on-camera, time-lapse perform means that you can create time-lapse film sequences with out having to course of a video later from tons of of stills on a pc. The digicam compiles the video for you and saves it as a .MOV file. That is very handy if taking pictures an aurora or capturing the movement of the night time sky once you wish to hold it easy. You may all the time shoot nonetheless frames should you’d like. Time lapse is a pleasant choice.
As astrophotographers know, discovering buttons and scrolling by way of menu choices, particularly in the dead of night, could be difficult. Nikon’s answer is to offer an choice referred to as “My Menu.” Merely populate the menu together with your most regularly accessed menu objects. You may program a button on the digicam to take you to this menu immediately. In My Menu, I’ve LENR, the Leveling software, Picture high quality, White steadiness, Time lapse and Intervalometer shortcuts, amongst others.
SUMMER MILKY WAY FROM CANADA From the North America Nebula close to Deneb (high) to Vega (proper) and Altair (backside), the Summer time Triangle is a wondrous ribbon of stars for skywatchers. From his yard close to Bloomfield, Ontario, Malcolm Park used a 28mm lens at f/5 and ISO 1250 with the Nikon D810A. 5 240-second exposures have been digitally stacked for the end result at proper.
There may be an digital front-curtain shutter choice that, when enabled whereas in mirror lockup mode, reduces the shake related to the mirror flip when triggering the shutter, however one function I want Nikon had included on the D810A is the swivelling LCD display screen that’s on the D750. I additionally want Nikon had copied Canon in order that the digicam may apply a single darkish body to a number of uncovered frames.
Sure, the digicam is dear (north of $Four,000), however it prices lower than high-end, one-shot color CCD astro-cameras and can be utilized fairly properly for daytime taking pictures as a daily DSLR, whereas an astro-CCD can’t. The D810A daylight scenes shouldn’t have the distinct pinkish solid that the majority filter-modified DSLRs do, so colour-balancing in Photoshop or different software program will not be mandatory, neither is rebalancing the white steadiness between day and night time use.
Whereas I’ve just a few minor needs (a red-tinted cowl for the LCD display screen, for one), I’m more than happy general with this digicam.
Malcolm Park, an skilled Nikon digicam consumer, lives below darkish skies in Prince Edward County, Ontario. He’s former president of the North York Astronomical Affiliation.
Word: An expanded model of this assessment appeared within the November/December 2015 subject of SkyNews.