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Old 23-02-2013, 11:56 PM
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Which modified DSLR/mirrorless cameras are best for astrophotography?

Probably a loaded question- still.

I am looking to complement my Nikon D800E with a modified digital camera mainly for nightscapes and time lapses.

Which cameras do you think are the best for modified astrophotography these days? There have been so many cameras released in the last year its a fairly crowded field.

Greg.
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Old 24-02-2013, 07:31 AM
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Bang per buck I find the s/h Canon 450D/ 1000D is very good.
You can go for the basic mod (enhanced red response) or the FULL full spectrum mod (both internal filters removed)
Just my 2c
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Old 24-02-2013, 08:48 AM
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My Astro 40D from Central DS still performs well.. cooled and spectrum modified. I personally wouldn't get a spectrum enhanced camera without cooling.. makes it a much more powerful camera.

It will take them awhile to develop the mod (4-7 months apparently), but a cooled and spectrum enhanced 6D would be a seriously nice camera at a not too scary price.

Right not you could buy a second-hand 5D Mark II and get it modded for a total under $3000. Not bad for a full frame sensor. At the other end of the scale, a modded 1100D would be a bargain and likely perform better than my Astro 40D.

http://www.centralds.net/cam/?page_id=5308

Phil
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Old 24-02-2013, 09:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin66 View Post
Bang per buck I find the s/h Canon 450D/ 1000D is very good.
You can go for the basic mod (enhanced red response) or the FULL full spectrum mod (both internal filters removed)
Just my 2c
Thanks for that. I'll look up their specs. 1100D gets mentioned as an ideal camera at JTW Astronomy. Their highly modified model (in a new body and with deep cooling) is 2300 Euros so its up against KAF8300 CCD cameras.


Quote:
Originally Posted by philiphart View Post
My Astro 40D from Central DS still performs well.. cooled and spectrum modified. I personally wouldn't get a spectrum enhanced camera without cooling.. makes it a much more powerful camera.

It will take them awhile to develop the mod (4-7 months apparently), but a cooled and spectrum enhanced 6D would be a seriously nice camera at a not too scary price.

Right not you could buy a second-hand 5D Mark II and get it modded for a total under $3000. Not bad for a full frame sensor. At the other end of the scale, a modded 1100D would be a bargain and likely perform better than my Astro 40D.

http://www.centralds.net/cam/?page_id=5308

Phil
Thanks Phil. I have a 40D and I also have a Baader replacement filter I could put in it myself. I have already modded 3 DSLRs successfully before.

How much extra detail/colour does a modded camera get in a widefield type shot? I am looking to use one for widefield not really for deep space.

I am wondering how a modded 1100D would perform against a modded mirrorless like a Sony Nex 5r/6 or a Fuji XE1 (16.3mp Sony Exmor sensors). DSLRs are a little heavy and the noise performance of the Canon EOS sensors generally speaking is behind the Sony Exmor CMOS sensors. My XE1 is quite clean at ISO6400 close in performance to my Nikon D800E.

6D, 5D3, D800, D600, Sony Nex 5r and 6, Fuji XE1 would be my shortlist to start with. I am leaning towards the Nex 6 or XE1. The Nex 6 has apps like an iphone you can download and install (it has wifi). One is a time lapse app like the Nikon D600 and D800 (and perhaps other Nikon models). I like that. Also it can be controlled by an iphone like the 6D.
It would be good to see an astro shootout between Nikon D600 and Canon 6D. Both full frame. Both low noise. Both should make easy ISO6400 30 second clean widefield shots in winter. Nikon has the nice time lapse function but it does not do it in RAW as it outputs a .mov file. It does have a built in intervalometer for shooting RAW and then you have to put together the time lapse. Most of the other features are probably fairly irrelevant for nightscapes.

Greg.
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Old 24-02-2013, 11:38 AM
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For example noise performance at ISO6400:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/stud...41.acr&x=0&y=0

Fuji XE1 with its X trans colour filter array has a handle on colour noise right up there with 6D which is also probably the current lowest noise camera. The 6D seems to have a bit more luminance noise than chroma noise.

Also 6D jpegs are probably the cleanest so the 6D jpeg engine may be realyl good for astrophotography. I know it sounds like sacrilege but if you set your white balance correctly there is not as much advantage to RAW if the noise is higher than jpeg.

So cleanest seems to be Fuji XE1 and Canon 6D, next would be 5D3 and the Nikons D600 and D800/E. The APS Canons are a tad noisier but still very good and 1100D seems best of that group.

None of this though, takes into account amp glow which is another issue to consider. As well as software support (Canon is king there, Nikon 2nd).

Another consideration to evaluate is well depth and QE. The Nikon D600 and Canon 6D are among the best there in both QE and well depth. The D800 has high QE but smaller wells. 5D3 has reasonable QE (a fair bit lower than these others at 39% versus 57%, 53% and 50%) and similar well depth.

Most cameras on review sites are evaluated on other criteria than astro performance hence a thread that can discuss this.

Greg.
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Old 24-02-2013, 12:39 PM
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How much do you want to pay?
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Old 24-02-2013, 05:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin66 View Post
How much do you want to pay?
I am considering Nikon D600, Canon 6D, both about $1650 for body only on Ebay plus cost of modifying about $600 including shipping, or on a lesser scale Sony Nex 6 modified is about $1200. Fuji XE1 has the lowest noise but noone is modifying them. Unless I do one myself, body only are about $715.

A 2nd hand Sony Nex 5N is about $400. These cameras match Canon APS DSLRs in high ISO noise performance and possibly a bit better (XE1 for sure, it handles ISO6400 no sweat). Perhaps there are other cameras? Pnetax K5 also uses the same Sony Sensor as the Nex and Fuji but some models have the astro track ability.

Nex 6 and Nex 5R have wifi and you can download time lapse apps for $10 or so. Nex 6 can be controlled from an iphone. Both have tiltable screens and are light and lenses are cheap plus adapters exist for other lenses so you could use your Canon or Nikon lenses on one.

Greg.
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Old 24-02-2013, 06:40 PM
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Hmmm
A bit more than a few $$$ for a modded 450/550/1000D.....
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Old 24-02-2013, 08:45 PM
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Here is another one to add to the mix. On my trip to Finland, one night a friend said the best image he saw on the rear screen of camera that night was taken with the Olympus om-d e-m5. I have just done a specifications check on this camera and it has pixel size of 14. Could have something to do with its ability to record faint detail in low light without over saturating the image.
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Old 24-02-2013, 11:16 PM
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The CDS1100D can be run on a 12vt power supply but will still need a computer for focusing as the LCD screen is removed to make way for the heat sink that dominates the rear of the body.
There is a 4gig card sealed into the body that you can capture to if needed.
If you are going to use it for wide fields, you will need to set your lenses F stop while it's attached to another camera, then depress the DOF button while removing the lens, so as to fix the aperture.
I've tried the camera on the Polarie and found that I will need to purchase an extension bracket of some sort to move the camera forward, or possibly up higher, as the power and usb leads stick out quite a way and prevent full movement of the camera on the ball head.
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Old 24-02-2013, 11:33 PM
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I think the 1100D is quite noisy unless cooled - see darks on the Centralds site. Full frame 6D should be very nice. Craig
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Old 25-02-2013, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbradley View Post
......
A 2nd hand Sony Nex 5N is about $400. These cameras match Canon APS DSLRs in high ISO noise performance and possibly a bit better (XE1 for sure, it handles ISO6400 no sweat). Perhaps there are other cameras? Pnetax K5 also uses the same Sony Sensor as the Nex and Fuji but some models have the astro track ability.
Greg.
I have the SONY SLT A77v. Unmodified but it seems quite happy at quite high ISO, 6400, very low noise plus I have yet to see amp glow on any frame.
I have a second A77 body, result of an insurance claim and water damage that lacks a few buttons working but still works. I may look at modifying it one day but at present it copes quite well with LP and 30-60 sec exposures and is a 24 megapixel image.
Biggest issue is lack of support for a 'liveview' function and any remote capability. DSS 3.3.3 will work with the Sony ARW format though
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Old 25-02-2013, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbradley View Post
How much extra detail/colour does a modded camera get in a widefield type shot? I am looking to use one for widefield not really for deep space.
I read in a FAQ or info PDF on Hutech's site that modded cameras aren't necessarily suitable for wide field where the angle of incidence of the light on the chip is greater than 15 degrees. Worth looking in to just to check what the story is, I think.
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Old 25-02-2013, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbradley View Post
Thanks for that. I'll look up their specs. 1100D gets mentioned as an ideal camera at JTW Astronomy. Their highly modified model (in a new body and with deep cooling) is 2300 Euros so its up against KAF8300 CCD cameras.




Thanks Phil. I have a 40D and I also have a Baader replacement filter I could put in it myself. I have already modded 3 DSLRs successfully before.

How much extra detail/colour does a modded camera get in a widefield type shot? I am looking to use one for widefield not really for deep space.

I am wondering how a modded 1100D would perform against a modded mirrorless like a Sony Nex 5r/6 or a Fuji XE1 (16.3mp Sony Exmor sensors). DSLRs are a little heavy and the noise performance of the Canon EOS sensors generally speaking is behind the Sony Exmor CMOS sensors. My XE1 is quite clean at ISO6400 close in performance to my Nikon D800E.

6D, 5D3, D800, D600, Sony Nex 5r and 6, Fuji XE1 would be my shortlist to start with. I am leaning towards the Nex 6 or XE1. The Nex 6 has apps like an iphone you can download and install (it has wifi). One is a time lapse app like the Nikon D600 and D800 (and perhaps other Nikon models). I like that. Also it can be controlled by an iphone like the 6D.
It would be good to see an astro shootout between Nikon D600 and Canon 6D. Both full frame. Both low noise. Both should make easy ISO6400 30 second clean widefield shots in winter. Nikon has the nice time lapse function but it does not do it in RAW as it outputs a .mov file. It does have a built in intervalometer for shooting RAW and then you have to put together the time lapse. Most of the other features are probably fairly irrelevant for nightscapes.

Greg.
If you're talking widefield (nightscapes) then I wouldn't use a modded camera.. trying to get colour balance with sky gradients etc is very hard. And very little gain with just a red nebula in the field having a bit more punch. If by widefield you mean telephoto (rather than deep sky) then modded is still a big advantage. Depends whether it is the nebula you are photographing or the sky.

I'm not sure that anything I can say about sensors will change your mind, but what any camera can achieve with its JPG engine in-camera you can do in software also and apply to RAW images from any other camera.

Phil
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Old 25-02-2013, 01:15 PM
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Thanks for the replies so far.

Interesting about the widefield nightscape type shot. Perhaps a modded camera does not add much. I assumed it would.

Phil, I think some cameras use some spohisticated pixel level type noise suppression that could only be done in camera (as far as I know that is).

Sure there are plenty of noise reduction softwares around but they vary a lot in ability. So far most of them seem to be quite lacking when it comes to DSLRs. I find Noise Ninja is great for my CCD images but not so great for DSLR nightscapes. Whereas Lightroom's noise reduction is fabulous.

Alex's recent Orion Milky Arm pano was done with a modded Sony Nex 5. It seems to have more colour punch than other cameras. Also I bet its great for picking up Aurora (I am unlikely to use it for that as Aurora is not visible around Sydney latitudes as far as I know).

I am thinking for Milky Way shots a modded camera should give considerably more punch. If it doesn't I'd love to know as I could be going down a money wasting path otherwise. I am happy with my D800E's performance so far but was looking for an upgrade for Milky Way type nightscapes.

Greg.
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