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Questions about modifying a DSLR

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#1 Mulc

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 01:51 PM

Hello

 

I am currently using an unmodified Nikon DSLR and am considering buying a used Canon one (I found a cheap Canon 7D) and modifying it for astrophotography.

 

I am interested in this, since my current camera does not natively support bulb via USB and I heard that Canon cameras are better in this regard.

 

For modification, I would get the Baader BCF filter and do it myself.

From looking online, I found that the original filter is glued in place, and I am not sure how you mount the new filter.

 

Questions:

Since I only have Nikon equipment for now, is the 7D a good choice?

Has anyone done the conversion on a Canon DSLR themselves and can give me any advice?

After the modification should I get any additional filters (LRGB or NB) or are they not needed?



#2 photoracer18

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 02:24 PM

Its easier just to wait until a decent modified Canon shows up on CN/AM. That is how I got both my original modded XT and my later modded T3i. 7D/7D II are pro APS-C cameras so they are way heavier than you need. A Rebel like one of mine has a plastic body so won't weigh down your image train like a metal bodied 7D will. I think my T3i cost me about $350 plus it came with AC power and a high end controller for the shutter. I already had a full system built around an older 60D and did not want to use my heavy 60D unless I absolutely had to. The T3i has essentially the same 18 MP sensor as the 60D with less features, none of which pertain to AP.

I would wait for a modded T2i thru T5i to come up.


Edited by photoracer18, 13 August 2019 - 02:24 PM.


#3 17.5Dob

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 03:51 PM

Why not just get a Nikon D5300 ? You should be able to find one already modded for ~$550. If you want to try it yourself, you can get a used D5300 for $275-300.



 



#4 t_image

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 10:28 PM

The good thing is there are a lot of options. With most of the modern cameras you won't really be going wrong..

It might be important to evaluate where you will be headed in AP down the road, and whether going to an astrocam might be a better solve since it will open you up to best case Narrowband imaging which I prefer instead of every nebula shot overwhelmed with a mess of stars....

Of course people can also pull off NB with DSLRs with a few tricks

But I don't know if you have a tracking mount and scope or you just mostly shoot widefield with lenses, etc.

There are many benefits to staying with the same ecosystem (Nikon brand) as Dave hints at above. At least with what is the same, like lenses or batteries or chargers or intervalometers, or adapter fittings, etc.....

Maybe same comfort level, familiarity with handling and menus, support forums and maybe repair places, etc.....

I've enjoyed such experience with models of the same brand and it has kept efficiency up and costs down.....

 

You might also want to consider speculation on the future of DSLRs and especially if you live in US maybe even short term effects of tariffs that may bring prices up on things....

 

When people mention buying on cheap it also brings to mind the one asking about what to buy, needs to 'get it right' the first time,

since there big fail in the rabbit hole of AP is taking baby steps through unsatisfactory (to the user's preferences) equipment [a very expensive path] v. spending less total and getting the right thing the first time so no need to upgrade for years......

 

I'd say a H-a NB filter is very fun, even with the handicap of a color DSLR.

People will add in and say it isn't best, and yes, mono astrocams are better.

To cut out some of the over-generalized talk,

I'll post this link which addresses some of the complexities of using NB with a color camera:

http://www.stark-lab...erRecon_API.pdf

of course don't consider NB until you have a good tracking mount since you'll need lots of exposure time/stacks.....

 

With the replacement filter you can just add adhesive or silicon on the edges to seal it in place. The glass vacuum sealed enclosure the sensor (once IR block filter removed) is in won't be harmed by putting the new filter on it. Watch some youtube videos of other camera mods or the lifepixel or kolari mod guides for clues....

 

Clear skies!


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#5 Merk

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 12:40 AM

+1 on nikon d5300. Also since you already have some nikon lenses you will be able to do some astrophotography with them.

#6 tonyt

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 01:28 AM

I modified my Nikon d5600 and it's one of the easiest cameras to modify. If I lived in the US I don't think I'd bother to modify a camera myself - it's already fairly cheap to buy a modified camera from Lifepixel.

 

One potential problem with doing a mod yourself is getting dust or oil spots trapped between a filter and the chip; with the D5600 I just removed the filter without a replacement, so there aren't two surfaces for dust to get trapped between.

 

Lifepixel would have dust free facilities for making sure nothing gets trapped between optical surfaces during assembly. 



#7 Mulc

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 02:48 AM

To answer some of your questions:

I have an NEQ6-Pro mount with an 8" Newtonian and guiding, so tracking is not an issue.

The weight of the camera is not an issue to me since I am already using a Nikon D700 which is on the heavy side.

I thought about changing to Canon since the Nikon does not natively support bulb from PC control (i would have to make a custom cable) and I heard Canon does, that is the only reason. And I can justify buying a Canon since I would only need a new adapter and am not planning to use it for daytime.

Another reason to swap to Canon is replacement filters. For Nikon, I can only get them from LifePixel, but since I am from EU the filters get very expensive and I can buy Canon ones locally.

For staying on the same brand I agree, that a lot of my daytime photography gear could be used with it, but the intervalometer, batteries etc change with the camera so there is the possibility of having to get new ones.

In the next few years, I would like to get an astrocam with a set of filters, but I would rather save that purchase for a later date and pile up some money to get something good at that time.


Tonyt, you said you did not replace the existing filter and just removed it. Is there any issues that could arise from not having a new filter installed. I have an old camera I have not touched in years and could try that as a temporary solution.

In that case, I should get an additional IR block filter right?


T-image as you put it, I would like to get the right thing and not spend too much or even get gear I don't even need.
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#8 mmalik

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 07:50 AM

Read here...

 

 

Sum total is this... remove LPF-2, keep LPF-1, and use D2.... More here.... Regards


Edited by mmalik, 14 August 2019 - 07:53 AM.


#9 nofxrx

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 09:21 AM

Read here...

 

 

Sum total is this... remove LPF-2, keep LPF-1, and use D2.... More here.... Regards

Nikon uses a single filter for the D5X00 system so the only option is either do not replace the stock filter (Full Spectrum) or replace the stock filter with a Baader/etc IR block filter.

 

OP, I would get a D5300 (or 5500/5600), they have just as much automation as Canon does (check out BackYard Nikon) and the noise is really easy to deal with from what I have seen. Canon is still great, so I am not trying to bash them, just stating the brilliance of the D5300.

 

With either choice, if you do it yourself and you remove the stock filters you would need to add an IR Block somewhere in the image train (attached to camera via clip in filter, or attached to the t-adapter via a 2" mounted filter, etc) if you were using a refractor or lenses for AP. If using a newt you should not need an IR Block.

 

Cheers!


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#10 Mulc

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 09:46 AM

Mmalik thank you for the info, you made me realize there are actually two filters for Canons and I only need to remove one.

Nofxrx I have a Nikon D700 at the moment and why I think about switching to Canon is because I cannot get exposures over 30 sec while using PC control and I am lead to believe Canon offers this.
Using NINA for control.

#11 Merk

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 10:19 AM

Hi again, I also live in Europe and had the same thoughts like you. At the end I went to a local guy that fixes cameras and told him if he could remove the ir filter in front of the sensor of my nikon d5300. He said yes, I also took him some pictures of the procedure. So I had the filter removed by a professional for only 40 euro. Now I use a 2 inch uv/ir filter with my refractor telescope.

#12 Mulc

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 10:36 AM

Hi again, I also live in Europe and had the same thoughts like you. At the end I went to a local guy that fixes cameras and told him if he could remove the ir filter in front of the sensor of my nikon d5300. He said yes, I also took him some pictures of the procedure. So I had the filter removed by a professional for only 40 euro. Now I use a 2 inch uv/ir filter with my refractor telescope.

Let me just ask you: Can you take exposures longer than 30 sec by controlling the camera from PC?

That is the main issue, as I do not want a separate trigger like I have now.


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#13 KLWalsh

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 06:47 PM

Mmalik thank you for the info, you made me realize there are actually two filters for Canons and I only need to remove one.

Nofxrx I have a Nikon D700 at the moment and why I think about switching to Canon is because I cannot get exposures over 30 sec while using PC control and I am lead to believe Canon offers this.
Using NINA for control.

Check the Shoestring Astronomy website. They sell special cables that allow computer controlled ‘bulb’ exposures > 30 sec.
Much cheaper than buying a new camera.

http://www.store.sho...products_ds.htm

Edited by KLWalsh, 15 August 2019 - 06:50 PM.

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#14 tonyt

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 09:57 PM

Tonyt, you said you did not replace the existing filter and just removed it. Is there any issues that could arise from not having a new filter installed. I have an old camera I have not touched in years and could try that as a temporary solution.

In that case, I should get an additional IR block filter right?

No issues from removing the filter other than needing to block the ends of the spectrum, which I do by using either an IDAS D2 light pollution filter or an Optolong L-Enhance filter.

 

If you're in a cold part of Europe the Nikon d5600/5300 is almost as capable as a cooled OSC camera. It could keep you happy for years before jumping to a mono camera with filters.

 

I don't use darks or any other calibration frames for that matter. This image is from a few days ago under the full moon using the L-Enhance filter and TS115 @f/5.6, 14x5 minutes:

Swan150819_DBE.jpg10% - Copy.jpg

 

The moon was just far enough away that moonlight wasn't shining directly on the objective.



#15 tonyt

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 10:02 PM

And this one was about a week before with 1/4 moon, 61EDPH @f/4.5, d5600 @ISO400, L-Enhance filter, 9x7 minutes. Got a trifecta with Lobster, Cat's Paw and Bug nebula all in a row smile.gif

 

_61edph_pawlobster050819_DBE.jpg10% - Copy.jpg

 

My processing is minimal.



#16 tonyt

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 10:31 PM

And this with the IDAS D2 filter, WO Redcat 51, 14x6 minutes. The camera performs very well for it's price IMO :)

 

ic4605_redcat_210719_DBE.jpg10% - Copy.jpg

 

 

 

 



#17 guyroch

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 10:44 PM

I thought about changing to Canon since the Nikon does not natively support bulb from PC control (i would have to make a custom cable) and I heard Canon does, that is the only reason. And I can justify buying a Canon since I would only need a new adapter and am not planning to use it for daytime.
 

That statement was true 7+ years ago.  It's no longer true. 

 

All Nikon cameras released from 2013'ish and after (starting with the D5200 and D7100) do support bulb over USB.

 

Regards,


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#18 17.5Dob

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 10:44 PM

Mmalik thank you for the info, you made me realize there are actually two filters for Canons and I only need to remove one.

Nofxrx I have a Nikon D700 at the moment and why I think about switching to Canon is because I cannot get exposures over 30 sec while using PC control and I am lead to believe Canon offers this.
Using NINA for control.

That is an antique of a Nikon.....(But a really good one !)  You "can" get shutter control with your D700 camera via an additional serial to USB, a DSUB cable,and control your entire operation via BackYard Nikon. Many people still use the D5100/D700 brothers. You just need the DSUB cable and and a program to run your camera.

Every Nikon newer than that supports bulb via USB, one cable, easy peasy. (  Not counting their base model D3xxx line)

Canon sensor tech hasn't advanced in over 10 yrs. Nikon has blown light years past Canon in that time. All of the 3rd party manufactures jumped on the Nikon bandwagon years ago.

Get a DSUB cable for your existing camera, or a used D5300.. There's not a single camera in Canon's lineup that can match a D5300 for pure astro. Your D700 is just as good, minus the extra megapixels.

 


Edited by 17.5Dob, 15 August 2019 - 10:47 PM.

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#19 Merk

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 06:09 AM

Let me just ask you: Can you take exposures longer than 30 sec by controlling the camera from PC?

That is the main issue, as I do not want a separate trigger like I have now.

Hi sorry for the late answer, I am on holidays.

 

Yes I use backyard nikon and SGP, both can take more than 30 sec exposures.

 

The newer nikons like guyroch said don't have issue with that anymore.

 

Also the best apc-s for astrophotography now is the nikon d5300, 5500,5600 so why go Canon.



#20 mtnskies

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 03:01 PM

I have a nikon d7200 use backyard eos. I image in the 1 to 4 min range with camera the usb cable.

#21 MikeECha

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 05:00 PM

 

 

Questions:

 

Has anyone done the conversion on a Canon DSLR themselves and can give me any advice?

After the modification should I get any additional filters (LRGB or NB) or are they not needed?

I moded my Canon T5 (1200D) myself. Actually two of them. In both cases I intended to keep the LPF1 filter in place but, broke  it both times trying to remove it. So I settled for full spectrum mod, no problem. The hard part is not the removal of the filter. The hard part is to put the sensor back at the right position without the appropriate tools so that the sensor is orthogonal to the scope optical axis and at a distance where the camera can focus to infinity. We are talking about fractions of a mm at three spring loaded points with a lack of a common reference surface and very little space to land your tool. I had to buy tools and spent a lot of time with trial and error. I like that kind of projrcts so I had a lot of fun. But buying a modded one would have been a more cost effective option.

 

If you go for full spectrum mod, you need at least IR/UV cut. I use an Astronomik CLS or a CLS-CCD clip on filter depending on the occation. The CCD one adds heavy light pollution cut. I used to use a camera lens so I did not have many option for LP. But with my new real telescope I will probably not use the strong Ccd as often.

 

That is my take on it. Hope this helps.



#22 Im2bent

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 08:22 PM

No issues from removing the filter other than needing to block the ends of the spectrum, which I do by using either an IDAS D2 light pollution filter or an Optolong L-Enhance filter.

 

If you're in a cold part of Europe the Nikon d5600/5300 is almost as capable as a cooled OSC camera. It could keep you happy for years before jumping to a mono camera with filters.

 

I don't use darks or any other calibration frames for that matter. This image is from a few days ago under the full moon using the L-Enhance filter and TS115 @f/5.6, 14x5 minutes:

attachicon.gif Swan150819_DBE.jpg10% - Copy.jpg

 

The moon was just far enough away that moonlight wasn't shining directly on the objective.

Tony that is one sweet image. I just bought a 5300 and am going to go full spectrum like you. How do deal with preventing dust on the sensor since it is exposed?




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