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Seeking input on building a Nikon Z system

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#1 Carl N

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 11:51 PM

Background: For non AP regular photography I have a D7000 and a pretty large set of lenses, flashes, filters and such. I used it briefly starting out in AP, but jumped to CCD pretty quickly. I have waited through quite a few new releases over the last 10 years to move up to a full frame.
I have been working toward a triple refractor AP setup. My AT 152EDT (native 1216mm at f8 with 1x Riccardi flattener or 909mm at f6 with the Riccardi Reducer), and my Televue 60is (360mm at f6) will carry a Trius SX-694 with Astronomic color and NB filters and QHY 5iii 178C respectively.

What I'm considering:
The Nikon Z and its large flange/short sensor distance, strikes me as the full frame camera to finally jump on. On the regular photography side, I can get the f to z adapter and use my current f mount lenses. It even adds VR from the camera! I can grow a new Z mount lens collection as Nikon releases them, and sell matching f mount lenses to lower the cost.
All I read says Nikon's entry into mirrorless full frame is a spot on hit. The future sale price of my f mount lenses will only go down.

The full frame with 55mm flange along with the other specs of the sensors of the Z6 and Z7 seem a great opportunity to fill the hole finally in my triple AP rig, and get double duty from getting a Z.

I'd like to fill the gap between my 152 options and the 60mm. Something in the 100mm to 109mm refractor range. With the huge opening of the Z and its speed I'd like to get a fast OTA to take advantage, and be able to fill that sensor with flat views with minimal vignetting.

Prior to the Z release I had almost decided to never get a full frame DSLR and just get one of the new CMOS cameras for AP only. Probably a ZWO ASI294MC Pro.

So what do I do?
I'm considering the Z6 over the Z7 with its lower resolution but more sensitive sensor and larger pixels. Or, is this a bad idea for an AP camera?

For the OTA, I'm thinking of the Stelarvue SVQ-100 f5.8 or the Borg 107FL at f3.9. I think the Borg will have less light fall off, if much at all, and it is much faster.

The Borg is $1,000 over my desired budget for OTA and focuser. Focuser must be a FTF, or use a FT handy stepper. Or, be cheap enough to upgrade within budget. The SVQ is closer to budget.
For the camera, replacing both my regular camera and being an AP camera helps swallow the cost of the Z over the Astro only camera.
I realize the ZWO would probably be a better AP camera, and my desire in my triple rig is to optimize for one, and deal with the compromises in the other two. My thought was to guide with an ONAG and the SX-694 on the 152mm, primarily at native FL in both LRGB and NB. Use the 60is to capture the wider field, and the 10? with a CMOS where I could use the many short exposure method to minimize issues since this isn't the scope being guided, per se.
I think changing to the Nikon Z6, probably with the Borg 107 will offer a nice full frame high resolution field between the two.
Most of this is intended to be hobbyist to advanced hobbyist grade results. Planetary is something I'll dabble in for fun, but DSOs are what I'd like to get a few good pictures of. I just don't have time to become so good in processing as I see people here do. I want something that is sharp and focused, well composed, and rich in color and detail enough that if I frame something on my wall most of the general public says "wow that's cool". I'm not interested in pleasing those whom might notice a slight blue halo or two around a particular star that a different filter might correct. So 2 color cameras to process and one mono is fine for me. No offense to those who seek absolute pro perfect quality, they have taught me a lot and advance all our knowledge. I just don't have the time to get that good.

Frankly, getting clean rich data is more fun to me than processing it.


For total budget I was at about $3,000. With $1,000 to the camera and $2k to the scope. Budget isnt tooooo tight, I'll spring for quality. But, with the Z I have the unique timing opportunity of getting the Z6 with Fmount adapter and the 24-70s lens and write it off for my business. So, I can assign the whole $3k to the scope.

Comments? Thoughts? Alternatives?

Edited by Carl N, 14 March 2019 - 11:56 PM.

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#2 whwang

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 03:20 AM

Sounds like you have pretty much sorted it all out.  About Nikon Z vs. ZWO, the key here is whether you need cooling.  If you mostly image in cool/cold weather, then a Z6 will be good enough.


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#3 t_image

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 02:19 PM

It makes sense to "get in" with the Z so you can get the most for for all your F glass you want to sell.

But remember getting hit by the dropping price of F-mount lenses is not base on the time of your entry into the ecosystem,

but according to your plan: to sell when they release a particular lens.

Who is to say whether they will keep their value or not until they are replaced....

I do wonder about improvements that they will come up with next in the mirrorless arms race.

Definitely mirrorless benefits AP.

Don't get too impressed with all the hype concerning the size of the flange,

if it were so critical in AP you would see people modding their flange if it were (seems like a simple mod).

There are filter mods and even mirror-removals, not as much flange diameter enlargements.

However the Z flange distance to sensor does give such versatility to adapt so many lenses.

I exploit this the most with my Sony-allowing me to pick up used those cheap F and EF lenses!

z6 looks good. Although a difference in MP [z6vz7], I don't see so much difference in 5.9 v 4.3 pixel pitch that would make you sad [unless you love MP in regular photography]. Maybe the trade off gain in sensitivity is worth it. Too many pixels is a lot of info to handle, will never be displayed (unless you crop], and do have set-backs --like perfect focus is more critical.....

 

You have figured out well your personal requirements which makes your research and selection (already done) so easy!

 

Enjoy!



#4 Carl N

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 03:55 PM

Sounds like you have pretty much sorted it all out. About Nikon Z vs. ZWO, the key here is whether you need cooling. If you mostly image in cool/cold weather, then a Z6 will be good enough.


Great point on cooling. I am comfortable giving that quality improvement up on the full frame camera, as well as the limited effectiveness of NB when not shooting mono. I can use the trius on any of the scopes for that. I have seen some great DSLR non cooled images posted here on CN that are well within my tolerance.

Thanks for the input!

#5 Carl N

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 04:32 PM

Don't get too impressed with all the hype concerning the size of the flange,
if it were so critical in AP you would see people modding their flange if it were (seems like a simple mod).
There are filter mods and even mirror-removals, not as much flange diameter enlargements.

Enjoy!

I appreciate your thoughts! One area you discussed isn't clear for me, the flange size. I've always thought any restriction or "throat" in the physical imaging train becomes a source of potential light fall off or vignetting as it approaches or encroaches on the light cone of photons entering from the objective. I never considered why there are no flange mods, but I assume to get a bigger flange size means a new frame for a DSLR. At that point such a mod seems price prohibitive. Further, in the CCD AP world this is a "mod" in that people get larger focusers for the OTA. A bigger opening is better for bigger sensors. A full frame chip peering through a 2" focuser experiences more vignetting than through a 3".
Again, those were my data and working assumptions.

I'd add, the BORG 107 does address having a larger base connection than the 48mm that is the largest of the current "standards" after T-thread. The marketing I read was speaking to maximizing new mirrorless sizes.

Prima Luci Telescopes has a flange adapter made specifically for the Z that allows bigger connections than T-thread will allow. They are also marketing the Z and BORG and looks like they are going to be offering systems with them. Found all that in my research.

Am I wrong? Is this increased flange not going to provide a larger/better even field? Assuming of course I make that flange the smallest opening for my imaging train, I'm thinking that on either the Borg or looking through the 3.5 Feathertouch on the 152, as long as the field is flat this will allow the optimal use of my chip's size.

Will I not crop a significant amount less than on the same chip in a DSLR frame. Say a D850, which is comparable to the Z's?
If not, I may have got myself oversold on it.

Edited by Carl N, 15 March 2019 - 04:35 PM.


#6 t_image

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 11:18 PM

I appreciate your thoughts! One area you discussed isn't clear for me, the flange size. I've always thought any restriction or "throat" in the physical imaging train becomes a source of potential light fall off or vignetting as it approaches or encroaches on the light cone of photons entering from the objective. I never considered why there are no flange mods, but I assume to get a bigger flange size means a new frame for a DSLR. At that point such a mod seems price prohibitive. Further, in the CCD AP world this is a "mod" in that people get larger focusers for the OTA. A bigger opening is better for bigger sensors. A full frame chip peering through a 2" focuser experiences more vignetting than through a 3".
Again, those were my data and working assumptions.

I'd add, the BORG 107 does address having a larger base connection than the 48mm that is the largest of the current "standards" after T-thread. The marketing I read was speaking to maximizing new mirrorless sizes.

Prima Luci Telescopes has a flange adapter made specifically for the Z that allows bigger connections than T-thread will allow. They are also marketing the Z and BORG and looks like they are going to be offering systems with them. Found all that in my research.

Am I wrong? Is this increased flange not going to provide a larger/better even field? Assuming of course I make that flange the smallest opening for my imaging train, I'm thinking that on either the Borg or looking through the 3.5 Feathertouch on the 152, as long as the field is flat this will allow the optimal use of my chip's size.

Will I not crop a significant amount less than on the same chip in a DSLR frame. Say a D850, which is comparable to the Z's?
If not, I may have got myself oversold on it.

Hey wow, I would happy to be proven wrong,

not an optics expert.

Just have been reading all the back-and-forth about the MILC wars and the different edges each manufacturer are leveraging.....

I was framing the benefit of the mouth opening  hype as compared with other MILCs only, not DSLRs.....

 

I'll let an optics expert weigh-in on the prediction of benefit.

 

Although it is interesting when a crowd was doing mirror-ectomies to eliminate flap,

(which meant they were going only astro, that at least one didn't think of just opening the mouth larger....)

Guess my point also is if it is indeed something....then maybe we MILC users should think about a mount mod if we just want to go all-in AP?

Or just a screw-in mount for lenses, and attachment for 3" focusers.....

Would be good for AP accessory sales..Focuses, 3" filters, etc.....

Could see sending an order out for a custom fabricated assembly....

 

 

Funny enough I have a special astro-modded/cooled a7s,

where they took the sensor and put it in a heatsink housing with a very large opening,

allowing me to replace the mount easily (have both a F and EF mount).

The field rotator attachment (serves a t-adapter) screws in independent of mount and is large.

If I had such a scope (with 3" focuser?)  I could take advantage maybe?

Alas the only scope I own is a Lunt 100LS Solarscope and due to FOV I haven't noticed.

http://www.centralds.net/cam/?p=7911

 

Yes the light fall-off is a good question,

however the focal distance is a key factor when comparing DSLR v. mirrorless....

The Nikon marketing is talked about as "my mirrorless mount is better than your mirrorless mount."

Consider why Canon or L mount or Sony or Fuji, etc. didn't make such a fuss comparing the mirrorless to DSLR?

 

Because the key factor for the F and EF sizing, DSLR) etc. is the longer focal distance due to the mirror, yes?

So comparing DSLR with mirrorless is night and day.

One could wonder if the talk about the benefit with the new Z mount is good PR to help the transition to a new lens ecosystem v. "why didn't you just keep the same mount complaints, all my lenses are F-mount!!!!!!....."

Granted de-factor a native mirrorless mount seems to necessarily be better....

 

I guess if it is a big to-do then eventually there should be some evidence.....



#7 whwang

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 12:25 AM

I do not see substantial difference between the Nikon Z and Canon R mounts. They should be equally good.  (I am talking about the lens mounts, not the sensors.)  The Sony E was originally intended for the NEX and is a bit too small for FF, so I have some reservation about Sony E.  That being said, I think all of them will give you descent images once you do flat-fielding properly.

 

As for mirrorless vs DSLR, the shorter flange distances of mirrorless offer legitimate advantages on wide-angle lenses. Starting from 85mm and longward, the difference starts to diminish.  I do not quite believe a shorter flange distance offers a significant advantage on field correctors for telescopes.  (Please correct me if this is incorrect.)  Whether the same can be said on focal reducers remains to be seen.  Perhaps the shorter flange distance can offer some design freedom that leads to better image.  I don't know.


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#8 Kevin_A

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 09:57 AM

I have both the Nikon Z6 and the D750. I have imaged with the D750 already on my Meade 6000 triplet 115mm w/FF. It is meant for a full frame image circle and my results were good in regards to vignetting. I forsee no issues with mounting it as you will be using the z adapter that keeps the correct spacing as the D750 is. My only issue i see with the Z6 is that on my scope at 640mm fl, it equates to 1.97 arc sec compared to 1.26 arc sec with my APS-C. That combined with the stronger AA filter than my D750, might not give the resolution you are looking for due to the larger pixels than an APS-C camera. I believe that personally the Z6 would be better suited to a fl of 800 or higher to get better sampling and detail. My cheaper D7200 and D5300 seem to give me better detail due to no AA filter at my 640mm fl. Just food for thought. The D750 and Z6 will give you a bit better noise and well depth.... but resolution detail will be not as good at lower focal lengths due to its 5.95um pixel size. I have only used my Z6 for 14mm f2.8 at 30 sec un tracked exposures so far due to weather and the noise is very very good at Iso800.... better than iso 400 due to firmware algo. I am looking forward to testing when weather permits. Just decide up fron what you want your intended sampling rate to be and tailoring it to a Z6 or a Z7 with its smaller pixels. Just some random thoughts to consider as i like my image detail better on my D5300 at a shorter focal length better than my fullframe even though the fullframe images apear richer in dynamic range.


Edited by Kevin_A, 16 March 2019 - 10:00 AM.

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#9 Carl N

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 05:38 PM

I do not see substantial difference between the Nikon Z and Canon R mounts. They should be equally good. (I am talking about the lens mounts, not the sensors.) The Sony E was originally intended for the NEX and is a bit too small for FF, so I have some reservation about Sony E. That being said, I think all of them will give you descent images once you do flat-fielding properly.

As for mirrorless vs DSLR, the shorter flange distances of mirrorless offer legitimate advantages on wide-angle lenses. Starting from 85mm and longward, the difference starts to diminish. I do not quite believe a shorter flange distance offers a significant advantage on field correctors for telescopes. (Please correct me if this is incorrect.) Whether the same can be said on focal reducers remains to be seen. Perhaps the shorter flange distance can offer some design freedom that leads to better image. I don't know.


Your post made me realize how ignorant I am. Frankly, the while mirrorless camera thing has been a shadow to me. They have clearly developed way beyond my awareness, and I am ignorant of anything not Nikon or Pentax in the overall DSLR realm.

So I had no clue, and didn't consider that the Sony, Cannon or other mirrorless cameras might already have a larger flange. My exuberance may be late to the party, as my reading on the Nikon Z was my first awareness of any flange opening getting larger. So, I am guessing when the Sonys and others first started coming out full frame yall had your "oh boy" moment, or perhaps I still overestimate the gains.

Frankly, in terms of the sensor spacing, I fully get the opportunity this creates. But to be honest I'll demonstrate my ignorance again, I assumed the Z was no different than the other mirrorless cameras out there and that had been an advantage already realized. Your post makes me realize I have some reading up to do!

Thanks for your input and helping me learn!

#10 Carl N

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 06:21 PM

I have both the Nikon Z6 and the D750. I have imaged with the D750 already on my Meade 6000 triplet 115mm w/FF. It is meant for a full frame image circle and my results were good in regards to vignetting. I forsee no issues with mounting it as you will be using the z adapter that keeps the correct spacing as the D750 is. My only issue i see with the Z6 is that on my scope at 640mm fl, it equates to 1.97 arc sec compared to 1.26 arc sec with my APS-C. That combined with the stronger AA filter than my D750, might not give the resolution you are looking for due to the larger pixels than an APS-C camera. I believe that personally the Z6 would be better suited to a fl of 800 or higher to get better sampling and detail. My cheaper D7200 and D5300 seem to give me better detail due to no AA filter at my 640mm fl. Just food for thought. The D750 and Z6 will give you a bit better noise and well depth.... but resolution detail will be not as good at lower focal lengths due to its 5.95um pixel size. I have only used my Z6 for 14mm f2.8 at 30 sec un tracked exposures so far due to weather and the noise is very very good at Iso800.... better than iso 400 due to firmware algo. I am looking forward to testing when weather permits. Just decide up fron what you want your intended sampling rate to be and tailoring it to a Z6 or a Z7 with its smaller pixels. Just some random thoughts to consider as i like my image detail better on my D5300 at a shorter focal length better than my fullframe even though the fullframe images apear richer in dynamic range.


Thanks for your input, you've got me thinking on lots of things. I'd love to see results from your Z6!! Please!

It sounds like the pixel scale for this may be even better on my 152 from your thoughts. Have to think all that through and do math later. I've been considering FOV, but haven't done pixel math across all scopes and all cameras to chart my options for any given target yet.

I'm staying away from considering the smaller pixels of the Z7. I don't want to go down the path of talking myself into the extra cost of the Z7. 😊 I want to stay married.

What do you mean by the Z adapter? The one from Prima Luce or the Z to F adapter from Nikon? I think you mean the Nikon one, which I would not use. That is strictly to use as a regular camera for f lenses for me. If used on a telescope I assume you are going from a 55mm opening at the Z flange to a 48mm opening of an f flange. That would eliminate the wider flange advantage. Ultimately I'd like to get that 55mm flange to be my narrowest point in the whole optical train, and it is only 16mm from the sensor.

The Prima Luce Z adapter is larger than T thread or M48. It also allows a Baader 50.8mm filter (2") drawer to be included. With that filter drawer, the filter would be your narrowest point of diameter, from the objective to the sensor. That is a good 2.8 mm increase in narrowest opening capability. Without the filter I'm not yet 100% sure what the internal diameter is of the Prima Luce adapter.

So with filter narrowest opening is 50.8mm. Not sure yet without filter.

[I also would reference the Prima Lice website for selection of a Z6 over a Z7 for AP. ]

As for spacing, nothing I have would have the 55mm spacing requirement I see as common for DSLRs, except for the TV-60is. The Borg and my Riccardi FF and FF/FR have a shortest back focus distance of 77mm. So I will have to have plenty of M63 extensions to the camera from the focuser ends. I also will have all corrective optics mounted internal to the OTAs. In the BORGS case ahead of the focuser so spacing isnt as relevant, it's just attach and focus, and the Riccardi's inside the focuser tubes for the most rigid connections.

#11 whwang

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 11:20 PM

Hi Carl,

 

You are not ignorant at all.  The mirrorless thing is very new.  Sony has pushed it for a few years but only with limited penetration into the market.  Last year is probably the real Year 0 for mirrorless, after N, C, and Pa announced their full-frame mirrorless.  Things will evolve from this point quite rapidly.  We can keep watching.


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#12 Kevin_A

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 08:33 AM

The z adapter is the nikon one for the nikon glass that came with the z6, as i will have to use it on my Meade 115 due to my 3" field flatterers reducer required 55mm sensor distance spec. I guess it all depends on the scope etc you use. I am not sure how much advantage shorter flange distace will have with any availabe glass there is today. From what i understand it might benefit sub f1 lenses only, but i could be wrong. One thing i do like about the z6 is that it does have EFCS which starts the exposure without any shutter activation at all. It wont affect very long exposures but maybe shorter ones. I will post photos once i get some un-cloudy skies but do wish i had gone with the 130 instead of the 115mm meade. 


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#13 Carl N

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 09:14 AM

The z adapter is the nikon one for the nikon glass that came with the z6, as i will have to use it on my Meade 115 due to my 3" field flatterers reducer required 55mm sensor distance spec. I guess it all depends on the scope etc you use. I am not sure how much advantage shorter flange distace will have with any availabe glass there is today. From what i understand it might benefit sub f1 lenses only, but i could be wrong. One thing i do like about the z6 is that it does have EFCS which starts the exposure without any shutter activation at all. It wont affect very long exposures but maybe shorter ones. I will post photos once i get some un-cloudy skies but do wish i had gone with the 130 instead of the 115mm meade. 

If I were you, remove that Z adapter, get a prima Luce, then use extensions to get your spacing. Unless with the 115 there is already no vignetting, As you stated, the flange opening and sensor distance are a gain only when the light cone is steep in a fast lens/scope. Looking forward to pictures!



#14 Kevin_A

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 10:16 AM

Nikon Darks Comparisons - ISO200/ISO400

Yes, i dont have much vignetting at all as the meade 115 is for a fullframe camera and the 3in FF/FR is too. My wife would probably kill me if i bought more stuff right now too hahaha. My next purchase will probably be a mono QHY183 or similar.

As soon as things warm up a bit and the clouds stop i will get some imaging done.

 

Just fyi.... here is some darks comparison i did a month ago comparing my nikons. This is no scientific test but all are at same settings at room temp... and maybe you will appreciate.


Edited by Kevin_A, 17 March 2019 - 10:17 AM.


#15 PistolPete13

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 08:52 PM

Hi,

 

I'm just dipping my toes into astrophotography the last few weeks but I've been a 30+ year Nikon user.  I also have a D800e and D500 body.  I picked up a Z6 just before Thanksgiving and I haven't touched the other bodies since.  The feel and weight of the camera is night and day compared to the DSLR (for me).  This is coming from someone who wouldn't think twice about carrying both the D800e and D500 with battery packs and 200-500 f/5.6 and 80-200 f/2.8 lenses attached along with a backpack of lenses with a tripod.

 

In terms of normal photography, there have been some complaints about the focusing system and its ability to track fast moving subjects when compared to a top line DSLR like a D850 or D500 but Nikon is working on firmware upgrades.  For normal shooting, I don't think you can go wrong with a Z6.

 

Nikon USA has started a new promotion with the FTZ adapter is now free with any Z6/Z7 purchase.

 

If you want to peek at some sample photos, take a look at my Flickr gallery.  Pretty much everything after November of 2018 was taken with the Z6

 

https://www.flickr.c...olpete13/albums

 

-Pete 


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