Nikon has announced a new version of its 36MP D810 digital SLR that has been tweaked to cater to the needs of photographers who love taking pictures of the star-studded nighttime skies.
The Nikon D810A is the first full-frame camera designed specifically for astrophotography that inherits certain qualities from the D810 that served as its blueprint. Like its predecessor, the D810A is an ultra high-definition model that boasts 36 megapixels and the latest image-processing engine, the Expeed 4. However, unlike the D810 and other standard cameras, the D810A is designed to capture the red hues emitted by heavenly bodies, such as the Red Square Nebula for instance.
Specifically, the D810A has an infrared cut filter that allows the transmission of hydrogen-alpha wavelength that is responsible for the red hues coming from celestial bodies. Most cameras used for standard photography are sensitive to infrared light, which is invisible light that can affect the camera's light reception, thus camera makers add a filter to block wavelengths coming from the infrared spectrum.
The D810A is different. Nikon says the camera allows for four times greater transmission of 656nm hydrogen-alpha light to pass through. That, combined with its powerful 36-megapixel CMOS sensor and a slew of other features optimized for astrophotography, makes it a powerful shooter aimed directly at the stars.
The camera also features a long-exposure manual mode that allows users to set exposure times up to 15 minutes, which should give them plenty of room to take more creative shots. For photographers who would like to take advantage of this new mode, Nikon also added a live preview for shots with exposure times longer than 30 seconds. This allows users to check what the image would look like at that exposure.
To help photographers deal with noise, which is a common issue with long exposures, Nikon will also add a noise reduction tool to its NX-D camera software that comes with each of its cameras.
Also, the D810A's ISO has been narrowed down to 200-12,800, which Nikon says is best for low-light sensitivity.
Obviously, this new camera will be a niche product designed for a single, special purpose, and Nikon warns that using the D810A for standard photography will likely result in photos in all the wrong colors.
"When shooting under light sources with a significant amount of near-infrared wavelengths or capturing common subjects exhibiting high reflectance at near-infrared wavelengths, resulting images may exhibit an unusually red cast," Nikon says. "Because an appropriate color reproduction cannot be obtained, this model is not recommended for general photography."
Nikon isn't the first manufacturer to release a digital SLR designed specifically for taking pictures of the stars. For years, astrophotographers have been pointing their lenses at the skies with the use of the Canon 60Da, which has 16 megapixels and uses an APS-C sensor, making the D810A the first full-frame camera for astrophotography.
Nikon has not released information about pricing yet, but a report by The Verge says the D810A will cost $3,800, $500 more than the standard D810.