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Nikon cameras for astro imaging


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Many on this forum say the reason they use Canon is the software for camera control, free with Canon but has to be bought extra with a Nikon. Shame, because Nikon cameras are very good, and their glass is excellent.....

I've approached Nikon about this, and got an interesting series of replies. Essentially, they say that you pay for their software because it is much more advanced than the Canon software. However, they will consider whether to issue a free cut-down version that will do the job, and they suggest I "watch this space" to see what develops.... This would be excellent news for those of us "nikonistas"...

Chris

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Another reason, at least historically, that Nikons were not so preferred for astrophotography is that you could not achieve a "true RAW" / "Mode 3 RAW" image file. I used to use a D70 which applied a

I just downloaded the SDK for my D5100, but I am guessing that there's common core functionality support for multiple models provided by the SDK (there's a library called NkdPTP.dll) and you also get

I think it would be great if Nikon caught up. Their camera models have come a long way recently with improved noise, low amp glow and they have even worked on the star munching ability For me I'm a k

I think the issue is more that Canon's interface is known and understood therefore people can write their own applications, particularly for specialist uses such as astroimaging. I don't use the Canon applications at all, for instance. My understanding is that Nikon don't want to publish theirs and that no-one has reverse-engineered it. Perhaps their worry is that if they publish the control interface then they won't sell any copies of their expensive software because people will use something else.

James

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The popularity of Canon for astro is almost entirely down to the availabity of third party control software. Canon have also released two astro specific 'Da' models which shows willing on the part of Canon to acknowledge AP as a sigificant market sector. Other than that there's no reason not to use any other DSLR brand for astro work. All can be 'modded' in some way to make them more responsive to IR/UV.

Indeed Fuji made similar models to the 'Da' cameras for IR/UV imaging:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2007/7/13/fujifilmispro

which was in some ways was better than the EOS60Da cameras due to the higher dynamic range CCD, lower noise and acces to UV range of the spectrum. Attractive to some users (me included) was the fact they take Nikon fit lenses and when they were finally discontinued the clearance price was a mere £350!

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I guess the fact that Canon makes the EOS SDK freely avaiable has helped make 3rd party control apps a reality... And possibly also encoraged people to look at modding the camera firnware - magic lantern for example...

Also the availability of clip-in filters, replacement sensor filters and readily available info on camera modding will give canon the lead for some time...

I use both Nikon and Canon DSLR's but changed to Canon for more of my day to day stuff after starting to gather a couple of L series lenses...

Peter...

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Nikon SDKs are also free to download, you just need to register to get them (they seem to want to know what you're planning to do with them)

https://sdk.nikonimaging.com/apply/

I've only looked into this recently so I'm not sure how long they have been available for, either they haven't been telling people about their availability or developers just don't like Nikon :(

Shecks

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There doesn't seem to be any approval required, I got them last week, they just ask you to fill out an online form with details about your company, the type of software you are planning on writing etc.

I just told them it was for astrophotography applications and personal use. From my initial look through the SDK and examples it doesn't look like the most intuitive SDK and could do with a nice higher level wrapper that

would be easier for people to pickup and get started. I haven't looked at the Canon SDKs to compare though.

Shecks

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How many different camera models are supported by the SDK there seem to be quite a few different ones to download...?

I was lucky and picked up an unopened copy of Camera Control Pro 2 in a junk box at an auction...But still quiet limited in what you can do for astro use even compared to the free Eos Utils that cone with the Canon cams...

I hope they can get their act together as healthy competition is good for everyone...

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I just downloaded the SDK for my D5100, but I am guessing that there's common core functionality support for multiple models provided by the SDK (there's a library called NkdPTP.dll) and you also get a model specific

module (Type0005.md3 in my case) that's loaded by the SDK/Library for use with particular models, It looks as though you can have a set of these MD3 files and load them dynamically depending on which model camera you are using.

I really should set aside some time to have a play with the SDK, just can't think of anything cool to write ... need motivation :D

Shecks

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I think it would be great if Nikon caught up. Their camera models have come a long way recently with improved noise, low amp glow and they have even worked on the star munching ability :D

For me I'm a keen photographer who has invested in Nikon over the past decade or so, and now I'm venturing into AP I would love to see the support coming through. Ultimately I know I will be going CCD, but in the meantime would love something to happen.

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My D200 was pretty dire compared to the cheap canons I bought secondhand and once they were modded the gap just opened even more...

It took a bit of soul searching when I bought my last DSLR body but the general purpose glass count just swung it...

My macro kit is still Nikon...

Peter...

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I don't think it's about quality anymore. I merely think it's about all the third party software that many rely on that only supports Canon. There is a huge amount of free and low-cost software, and without an equivalent range for a Nikon astrophotographer, it is likely that unless you already have a Nikon DSLR, you'll get a Canon DSLR - no need to make things more difficult.

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I have a vast collection of Nikon lenses but am still thinking about buying a SH Canon body to rip appart for AP modding. There's a 450D body in the local camara shop for sub £100, less than the price of some so called 'astro' webcams.....

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Another reason, at least historically, that Nikons were not so preferred for astrophotography is that you could not achieve a "true RAW" / "Mode 3 RAW" image file. I used to use a D70 which applied a median filter to RAW images before saving them - this became known as the Nikon "star eater" and could not be disabled. It also did not support bulb mode when connected via USB! I honestly don't know whether later Nikons have the same astrophotographical issues or not..?

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Another reason, at least historically, that Nikons were not so preferred for astrophotography is that you could not achieve a "true RAW" / "Mode 3 RAW" image file. I used to use a D70 which applied a median filter to RAW images before saving them - this became known as the Nikon "star eater" and could not be disabled. It also did not support bulb mode when connected via USB! I honestly don't know whether later Nikons have the same astrophotographical issues or not..?

This and their weird NEF format (not a true RAW)

It seems Nikon prefer to sell more software than cameras with their payed app...lol

I tested both with usb remote control, Canon seems more friendly... don't ask me why... :)

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The main problem is that the Nikon SDK can't handle BULB-mode. Hence any software made for Nikons will only allow up to 30 sec exposures which makes it useless for astro work. I don't think this has changed since I last checked...

@Shecks would you mind checking the SDK if this has changed?

/Patrik

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