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Nikon D3500 difficulties with astrophotography


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Everything I've read suggests the D5300 is one of the best DSLR's out there, and gives better performance than most of the Canons. There's a very high majority of Canon users doing astro as they were first to open up the cameras for external control, but the sensors haven't been as low noise as the sony sensors used in most of the Nikon's. The D5300 is a brilliant camera if you can sort out the tool chain. I use my two Nikons with DigiCameraControl which works really well. I have a D7200 (similar vintage to the D5300, might even be the same sensor) which I control via USB and an older (full spectrum modified) D5100 which I control via USB and a home made bulb cable. With digicameracontrol you can focus on screen using live view, set up interval shooting, shutter delays and it will link to PHD2 guiding and do dithering. It's really good. I tried backyardNikon and didn't get on with it. It will mean you are linked to a laptop, but that's going to happen eventually anyway in this world. Hope this helps.

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57 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

The OP has a D3500 which isn't the same feature set as a D5300. 

Sorry my mistake. Damn dyslexia! Looks like the D3500 can connect, but doesn't support bulb mode, like my D5100. I had to solder up a bulb cable to control the shutter. Works well, but needs a bit of solering. Digicameracontrol can control a usb relay shutter cable( I tried but the USB relay boards from china were nasty with missing transistors and a mini usb that fell off the first time I tried to plug a cable in due to lack of solder), or a serial shutter cable via the RTS pin. This is the way I went, but needs some soldering. Commercial cables are available for £100 or so, but really I'd just buy a used D5300 rather than faff with two camera cables etc.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Idk if you solved your issue or not but I have a d3500 and I specifically bought it becauses it was relatively inexpensive and I wanted to get into astro. In doing so you do find out alot of things you can't do. I have qdslrdashboard and this is the closest you'll get to controling the camera thru another device, I use my android which is a samsung s10 plus. Funny because my s20 plus is taking phenomenon pictures thru a Meade ext70 cause of pro mode where you can get long exposures.

I'll tell you this. I don't regret buying the d3500 because it's made me better in alot of things because in order to get this to work you got to be diligent and crafty. I prob would only ever recommend this camera for wide field astro and milky way. If you have a eqmount or a ioptron skyguider or sky watcher equivalent then you'll get nice pictures.

Using it for DSO, well maybe not thru a scope. I k ke if you want to do that look for a fast refractor, you'll want something like f5. It prob can take great pictures you just can't obtain those pictures as easily as better cameras and it forces you to learn everything about it and new ways of doing things by experimenting, once I do have the money to upgrade I def will but I am still in the beginning phase specially when acquiring new gear. I'm obsessed with this so I know any money is money well spent. I'm also thing about making a mobile stacking aligning plate solving software I can use cause my samsung s10 plus is pretty damn good lol 

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At times my D3500 has driven me mad, however it's taught me a lot about photography and AP. In hindsight I would have got a different camera (didn't know I'd get sucked in to AP at the time) but it has made me patient and I just make use of my binoculars between hitting the button on the Nikon app when taking lights, make myself a giant cub of tea to enjoy whilst taking darks and make the most of it! 

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  • 4 months later...

Hey Keefs, this is a late reply but I recently found an app for my Galaxy S21 to use as an Intervalometer, it's called Intervalometer and I think it cost $5 (+/-). Probably a comparable if not the same app will be available for iPhone I imagine.

Very easy to set-up and use with the SnapBridge app to remotely control your camera so you don't need to constantly press the shutter button.

I'm currently testing it on a cheap android tablet I had lying around so I don't risk damaging my phone. 

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  • 1 year later...

Hello. New here. Saw this post and thought I would shed light on my work around.

qDslrDashboard is what you need but you have to use it on a laptop. Then you can use an install called Auto Mouse Click by MurGee. This will allow you to use the BULB timer for however long you want. You just have to program the auto clicker in milliseconds. You can make a 10, 20, 30 exposure program and you just leave it to do its thing. Once its working, the camera is easy and so good for astrophotography

If anyone is interested I can show how

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