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Archive 2013 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography
  
 
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography


I'm finally making the jump from DX to Full Frame. I've been shooting with the D7000 for about 8 months after finally selling my film cameras. I'm loving the jump to digital, but I can't lie I miss the Pentax 645 every once in a while.

I'm on the precipice of buying the D600 but I'm having last minute hesitation. I've sold all my lenses except for the Samyang 14mm 2.8. I primarily shoot aurora, which obviously means I 90% shoot at night. In the summer, when I'm not fishing or 4-wheeling I do a little landscape photography. It's fun, but there's things I'd rather be doing with my Alaskan summer until the amazing sunsets return with end of summer/fall (Aug-Sept). I'm selling my current camera now on Ebay and I can immediately afford a D600. However, I don't really need it until the said dates said outside of a trip to Veldez and a trip to the Old Denali Highway. I hate to be without a camera so I'm feeling pressured into buying the D600 immediately. However, if I saved for another month or two I could afford something better.

So let me get to the point. Which camera is going to serve me best for night shots with sharp stars, excellent detail (which is currently limited by my Samyang but very acceptable) and brilliant color between ISO 800- ISO 1600?

Another factor is this camera is going to take some abuse. It's often -50 when I head up the Elliot highway to catch aurora without man made light. So I'm hesitant to drop $3-4K on a camera that is going to take that kind of beating. I do my best to minimize the strain by placing the camera in a small case, closing it and setting it close to the door where it can slowly warm up. I hate doing it to my D7000 and that's cheap in comparison to the upgrades I'm looking at. On the other hand, enlargement capability, increased field of view and hopefully better lens performance on the FX is too much to resist. SO, what's the best option and why?



Jun 15, 2013 at 04:14 AM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography


I should also mention that I haven't printed above 24" x 30" yet and I am moderately satisfied with the results of that size with the D7000, but I would like to be able to comfortably print 55" x 68"




Jun 15, 2013 at 04:39 AM
JimFox
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography


D800E would be my recommendation to you. I have a D600 as a backup, and it's a great camera, but it does not stand up to the D800/D800E.

Jim



Jun 15, 2013 at 05:03 AM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography


Thanks Jim, that's a lot of my dilemma. A lot of people say that the D600 is just fine with 24MP on FX and that only nerds in their mother's basements pixel peeping give a Shhh about the level of detail that the D800 and it's 36MP capture.

I say I'm one of those nerds only I don't live in my mother's basement. The other thing that bothers me is that I don't feel like the D7000 delivers the sharpness I'm looking for with the Samyang 14mm. Will this improve with the FX format? I realize that the sensors are the same, the D600's is just bigger, and so is the FOV. But I've heard other people say that the FX Samyang will perform better on an FX body because that is what it was designed for. Sure I can see the field of view argument, but sharpness and detail? I can't see that- since the camera's share the same exact sensors in different sizes.



Jun 15, 2013 at 05:14 AM
playerofwar
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography


D800e all the way. I really really love that camera.
But your Samyang 14mm is not SUPER sharp, maybe upgrading that one to the Nikon 14-24 is better.
For your purposes, a D800e and 14-24 are unbeatable.
But if I would have to choose between D600 and 14-24 vs D800e and samyang 14. I would choose the first!
D800e in DX-cropmode is much sharper than the D7000.
You can also sell the D7000 to fund the first part of the 14-24.



Jun 15, 2013 at 11:41 AM
 

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Chestnut
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography


I'd say D800E will fit your purpose very well. Goo hish ISO performance, and the pixel density and resolution you'll need to print large. The metal body construction will take the abuse better than the D600 as well.

I'm sure there's somebody here that can help with the temperature issue as well.. but yes, you have the right idea - let the camera warm-up and cool-down gently and gradually...

If I were you, I'd go for the D800E without hesitation.



Jun 15, 2013 at 03:13 PM
mike-in-ak
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography


I currently use a D300, D700, and D3s for Aurora photography with AI and AIS MF primes. The D300 is fine if your lens is fast and short and the Aurora is bright.
I try to keep the shutter speed down as much as feasible to catch details in fast moving Aurora.
I have no plans to change bodies in the next year or two.



Jun 15, 2013 at 04:13 PM
runamuck
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography


At minus 50, there is very little moisture in the air. Put the camera and lens in ziplock bags before taking indoors. Any condensation will form on the outside of the bag, while the camera and lens stay dry.

One of my cameras lived in my route truck. Hot by day, cold by night. Never hurt it.



Jun 15, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Best Nikon for Aurora/Astrophotography


runamuck wrote:
At minus 50, there is very little moisture in the air. Put the camera and lens in ziplock bags before taking indoors. Any condensation will form on the outside of the bag, while the camera and lens stay dry.

One of my cameras lived in my route truck. Hot by day, cold by night. Never hurt it.


Thats a really great tip. thanks!



Jun 15, 2013 at 10:17 PM





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