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Why no Nikons?

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#1 Joepie

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 05:47 AM

Hello CN,

I'm thinking about buying a Nikon D3200 for astrophotography. The sensor of the D3200 is one of the best APS-C sensors according to DxOMark and way better than the sensor of the Canon 600D or 1100D. Then how come almost everybody uses Canon DSLR's? Is it because the star-eater noise correction that older Nikons had? Or because of BackyardEOS? Or because a Canon DSLR is easier to connect to a computer?

Apart from that, I only see advantages when comparing the D3200 to the 600D and 1100D. Bigger (1.5 against 1.6 crop), more sensitive, higher dynamic range and more and smaller pixels. Can anybody explain to me why astrophotographers seem to yield better results when using Canon DSLRs eventhough Nikon's DSLRs (D3100 and especially D3200) have better sensors?

#2 guyroch

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 06:06 AM

Newer Nikons are great for astrophotography.

The D5100 and D7000 for instance uses a Sony sensor and these are awesome. I think you nailed with when you said lack of software; this will change over time I'm sure as more and more people are venturing in AP with Nikons.

A word of caution however with the Nikon D3xxx series. The D3100 and D3200 CAN NOT be controlled via software, Nikon has no software development kit (SDK) for these models.

If this were me I would get the D5100 for not much more than the D3200.

Hope this helps,

Guylain

#3 mmalik

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 06:31 AM

Canon is the name of the game; and mod is the secret. Get this... and you'll be all set. Thx

Reviews
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#4 Patrick

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 07:00 AM

Hi Joeple,

I think one of the other reasons is because Canon is supported by a large user base and also a large supply chain for accessories. For instance, Baader and Hutech make a number of widgets for Canon that make imaging easier, but not much of anything for Nikon. A couple of examples would be the Baader EOS DSLR T-ring that allows the use of 2" filters without adding back focus to the optical train. The other is the Hutech Off axis guider designed for Canon. The other thing is that it's nice to have a larger user base that can give advice and techniques while on the learning curve.

All those little things add up to make it easier to use Canon vs Nikon.

Patrick

#5 dcbrown73

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 09:03 AM

I've heard Nikon no longer sells replacement parts either. If you need replacement parts, you MUST to take it too a certified repair center now. That has upset quite a few people.

Canon kills Nikon when it comes to software to control the camera. (Backyard EOS, APT, etc)

#6 Tonk

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 09:13 AM

more and smaller pixels


This is not a factor for Astrophotophy as you can end up over sampling for your FL and seeing conditions. Plus smaller pixels are less sensitive

#7 TimN

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 09:45 AM

I agree with what Guylain said. Get a D5100. This has been discussed numerous times on this forum. The Sony sensor that they use are one of the best for astrophotography. I use one and there is currently enough software for astrophotography and more is being developed all the time. One of the best pieces of software backyardeos is currently being re-written for Nikons. Should you ever want it modified - Brent Oliver a member of Cloudy Nights will do an excellent job.

Canons were the only viable alternative for years and more people are comfortable with and understand Canons. However, with some of the recent changes made by Nikon, they have become a viable alternative. I think competition is great and look forward to even better DSLR's from both companies.

#8 WillCarney

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 10:57 AM

Currently I am testing a Nikon D40x full sprectrum modded. Major draw back is no computer control. On the plus side is that you use a IR remote for bulb pictures. I don't have a cable dangling and pulling the telesocpe. William

#9 TimN

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 11:07 AM

William, you can use a Nikon D40X with full computer control. You need a special cable from Shoestring astronomy and the free program DSLR Shutter to take pictures longer than 30 seconds. You can also use the program TetherPro which will automatically pick up the images from DSLR Shutter and bring them into your computer. You can also use TetherPro to remotely control many of the camera functions. It also aids in focussing and has a histogram. Of course, this will all be made easier with the release of backyardnik, later this year.

#10 jgraham

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 11:18 AM

For a long time the folks at Canon have acknowledged that the amateur astronomy community exists as a market segment and have incorporated several elements that have made their cameras and software astronomy-friendly. I'm not so sure about any of the other manufacturers. Also, I wouldn't say that there are no Nikons, just fewer of them, at least here in the CN DSLR forum. In a Prior Age (35mm film) the sand box was a bit bigger, though Olympus (OM-1, 2 and 10) and Pentax (K-1000) seemed to be fairly common.

#11 Joepie

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 12:35 PM

Newer Nikons are great for astrophotography.

The D5100 and D7000 for instance uses a Sony sensor and these are awesome. I think you nailed with when you said lack of software; this will change over time I'm sure as more and more people are venturing in AP with Nikons.

A word of caution however with the Nikon D3xxx series. The D3100 and D3200 CAN NOT be controlled via software, Nikon has no software development kit (SDK) for these models.

If this were I would get the D5100 for not much more than the D3200.

Hope this helps,

Guylain

Sure does. I see that the D3200 isn't supported by Tetherpro as well. What about the D5200? Does it have an SDK?

@ mmalik:
I think the 60Da is too expensive. Furthermore, I want to remove and replace the filter myself.

@ Patrick: True that, however I thought that there are replacement filters for Nikon's DSLRs as well (astronomik?)

@ dcbrown73: That's good to know.

@ TimN: The D5100 is an option, however I'll probably buy the 1100D now I know that I can't control a D3200 via software.

#12 guyroch

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 01:06 PM

I see that the D3200 isn't supported by Tetherpro as well. What about the D5200? Does it have an SDK?


As far as I know only the D3xxx is not controllable via software. The D5200 is fine.

Guylain

#13 guyroch

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 01:07 PM

I'll probably buy the 1100D now I know that I can't control a D3200 via software.


The 1100D is a good choice, some amazing astro-images were taken with that model.

Guylain

#14 whwang

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 07:48 PM

I think the lack of software (like BYE for Canon) support for Nikon is partially a consequence, not really a cause. In early days, quite a few people tried Nikon for astrophot. D50 was once a popular choice (though not as popular as Canon) among astrophotographers in Asia. I took this with D80 quite a few years ago.
http://www3.asiaa.si...s/M31-2008.html
You can imagine in those days, not being able to control the camera with a laptop isn't really a disadvantage. A timer cable was good enough.

Since EOS 20D, Canon's sensors evolve very fast. Mode 3 problem of Nikon (plus the issues of raw compression) scared away many people (including me). Then the software support became important and further separated Canon from others. This is my 5D2 version of M31:
http://www3.asiaa.si...11-preview.html
Without the great sensor and BYE, it is almost not possible to create such a photo. (Dither and Bayer drizzle are essential here.)

Things are getting better for Nikon now. Guylain is working on a Nikon version of his software. The author of digicamcontrol (tether software for Nikon) is willing to take feedback from astrophotographers. Mode 3 is no longer a problem. Sensors in Nikon DSLRs are now at least as good as Canon ones (if they don't outperform Canon). I believe soon Nikon users will come back. This includes myself. I never left Nikon for daytime photo. Now I have my D800 ready for astrophoto to replace 5D2.

D600 is quite cheap now. Anyone wants to try it? :)

#15 averen

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 09:05 PM

I see that the D3200 isn't supported by Tetherpro as well. What about the D5200? Does it have an SDK?


As far as I know only the D3xxx is not controllable via software. The D5200 is fine.

Guylain


Yes, this appears to be the case. Also the D5100 is controllable as well and a good deal less than the D5200. However the D5200 has the ability to be fully controlled over USB where the D5100 will require a DSUSB adapter. To my knowledge the following cameras can do bulb over tether:
D800/D800E
D7100
D5200
D600

We recently started supporting Nikons in Sequence Generator Pro.

I know some of the earlier Nikons had a "star eater" noise reduction algorithm in them where your stars would disappear! Stars generally seem to take on a bluer tint with Nikons, at least in my experience...this may be able to be corrected in post.

Personally I've never used a Nikon for astro-photography. I think some of the newer cameras might really start to change that. Especially the D800E at 36.3MP! But the price is a little hefty...not too bad when compared to other full frame cameras though. However that would make a killer wide field setup with those small pixels!

The D5100 seems to be a solid performer as well. I used one when developing the Nikon support in Sequence Generator Pro and I really liked a lot of the features as compared with my T2i. I did feel that the T2i had better high iso response and less noise than the D5100. But as a solid all around camera the D5100 felt a little better in my hands and I really liked the flip out screen. AP for my DSLR is a secondary function though...so it first has to be a good "family camera".

And also like someone above said not a lot of affordable software supports them...I'm hoping we help to change that as well!

Jared

#16 Joepie

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 02:30 AM

I've bought the 1100D yesterday. I was thinking about buying the D5200, however it costs twice as much and since I will primarily use the DSLR for AP and I'm a novice, the choice was easy. I will probably upgrade to a D5200/D600 after a while but not before I've replaced the filter of the 1100D, made a peltier cooler and a lot of pictures of course.

Edit: Thanks for all the replies btw :smirk:

#17 mmalik

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 04:01 AM

Congrats; and thanks for not crossing over (yet at least). In my opinion, implied AP embargo of Nikon should continue until Nikon produces 'astronomy' version of one of their cameras to at least show that they care about AP. Thx

#18 Joepie

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 04:50 AM

I didn't know there was an embargo. I can understand why you would ignore Nikon (because they ignore us), however everyone with a passion in engineering/hacking would see this as a challenge to modify their cameras in such a way that AP is possible in the way it is with Canon. If I had the time and soldering/programming skills, I would have bought the D3200, made some kind of connection with it and an application able to automate all tasks related to AP. Maybe I'll do that in the future.

If AP meant that you'd just have to buy a ready made kit that would work with the flick of a switch, I wouldn't have started with this hobby and I assume many more.

#19 ccs_hello

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 07:24 AM

D3200 somehow can be remote-tethered. Actually, remote controled/liveviewed wirelessly, if a ($45 street) WiFi dongle WU-1a used.
There is an app for that (Android).

Wu-1a is a simple PTP over Wifi bridge, thus we know the data is passing thru the regular PTP method into D3200's USB port.

Earlier discussions here on CN.

Clear Skies!

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#20 ccs_hello

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 07:36 AM

I didn't know there was an embargo.

Not quite.
Majority of older Nikon DSLRs up to D40x (D40x, I think) were using CCD image sensor. They employed a non-defeatable older version of the Hot Pixel Suppression (HPS) algorithm, nick named star eater. Thus the ugly "mode 3" method to bypass the HPS step is required.
In that era, N made it very difficult to get its SDK while Nikon's own tethering software costs a lot.

The situation has changed quite a bit...
Recent Nikon DSLRs are all using CMOS sensors (less heat generated to make Liveview possible) and are using a refined version HPS algorithm with less Pacman-like behavior.
Nikon DSLRs' SDK (AFAIK) is now free.

N still has add few minor "tint" and intentional crippling (e.g., no lossless NEF) on lower end gears. Talented Nikonhacker(s) are removing some of them.
It is looking nicer and nicer. D5100 (using SONY Exmor IMX071) IMHO is very nice. Several days ago, refurb model was selling at $429 with a kit 18-55 VR lens included, $5 shipping (see here! Now sold out, of course.)

Clear Skies!

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#21 averen

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 08:43 AM

Nikon DSLRs' SDK (AFAIK) is now free.


They are free, however they are now where near as nice and easy to implement as Canon's SDK. I assume this is likely a reason that there isn't a lot of Nikon software out there. Canon seems to put a good amount of effort into their SDK where is seems like it's an after though with Nikon.

Jared

#22 Duka Istvan

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 09:35 AM

Hi, i'm the developer of digiCamControl, i want to clarify a thing with D3200 it is true this model isn't supported by the nikon SDK but this model can be controlled via MPT/PTP command and my software support almost same way like D5100.

BTW i started to add to digiCamControl some basic astro features like bulb mode for D800/D600/D5200/D7100 and for other models via serial communication port. I'm open to any feature suggestion.

#23 ccs_hello

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 07:21 PM

Duka,

Thanks for the info and a big welcome to Cloudy Nights!

Clear Skies!

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#24 brave_ulysses

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 09:41 AM

hi duka,

i recently found this and it looks like a great piece of software. i'd be interested in a native linux version and bulb exposures.

thanks!

clay

#25 Duka Istvan

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 01:29 PM

hi duka,

i recently found this and it looks like a great piece of software. i'd be interested in a native linux version and bulb exposures.

clay


This software use a lot of Microsoft technology for camera control and for user interface so isn't possible to port it to a another OS (mac or linux).






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