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Nikon Z8 or Z9, Anyone Using One for Astrophotography?

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#1 james7ca

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Posted 01 March 2024 - 08:12 AM

I'm thinking about a new camera for my traditional photography (it would be my first full frame since the film days and an upgrade from my current Nikon Z30, et al.) and it would be a bonus if the camera I buy could also be used for some good-quality (YMMV) astrophotography.

 

First, let me say that this will NOT be my only camera, not even my only DSLR or mirrorless, and I suspect that most of my astrophotography will continue to be done with dedicated astro cameras.

 

Secondly, it has to be a Nikon since I've already invested a good amount of money in Nikon lenses (over many years).

 

The final issue is that I'm also considering waiting to see if Nikon introduces a new, high-end, APS-C camera along the lines of the often rumored Nikon Z90. Some people are suggesting that the Z90 will appear by May of this year, but there were similar rumors LAST year for availability in 2023. There are also some grumblings about Nikon getting out of the DX/APS-C camera market which would obviously put anything like the Z90 out to pasture.

 

So, as part of the decision process I'm looking for anyone who may be using either the Z9 or Z8 for astro imaging. I know that both of those cameras should work well for full-frame lunar and solar imaging and fairly casual DSO work, but I'd like to hear about long-exposure imaging under dark skies. Specifically I'm worried about the often-discussed, colored, concentric-ring issue that seems to affect nearly all recent Nikon cameras (and even some that are not so recent, like the D5100).

 

I've read about all of the contributing issues like compressed, lossy RAW/NEF files, mismatched flats, and using either "under" exposed or "well" exposed subs. But, it seems like there is no definitive answer concerning how badly or if at all the Z8 and Z9 are affected. One rumored "solution" for some Nikon cameras is to pair them with non-CPU lenses or any telescope since it seems that in some cases the Nikon firmware processes those situations differently than when using a lens that is recognized by Nikon.

 

Next, since the Z8 and Z9 use a full-frame, CMOS sensor manufactured by Sony I'd like to know if anyone has noticed the "split" sensor artifacts that have recently been reported on some full-frame cameras. I'm talking about the vertically-oriented artifact that runs down the center of the sensor (from top to bottom when in a landscape orientation). It looks like this MAY be typical on some of Sony's full-frame sensors (when used for astrophotography).

 

In any case, both the Z8 and Z9 are using a "stacked," full-frame, CMOS sensor that is fairly new to the industry. So, their behavior on both of the above issues may be different than many of the other cameras. But, does anyone know for sure?

 

There are ways to test for the concentric rings, the only thing needed (apparently) are some sample flat frames (same may be true with the "split" frame issue). Please reference the following thread if you can run these tests or if you can make available some sample flats that were captured from either a Nikon Z9 or Z8.

 

   https://www.cloudyni.../#entry10741252

 

Reference post #1 and post #4 from the above.

 

Note, I found very few images on Astrobin that were taken with a Z9 and almost none for the Z8. Plus, all of those shots were either of the moon or very wide field images of the Milky Way (nightscape type images).


Edited by james7ca, 01 March 2024 - 09:25 AM.


#2 sharkmelley

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Posted 01 March 2024 - 08:01 PM

Unfortunately I don't have any test flats shot for the Z8 and Z9 using my test protocol.

 

However, I have downloaded raw files from DPReview's exposure latitude tests and they clearly indicate that the Nikon Z9 used for that test had the hardcoded concentric rings.  The exposure latitude test for the Z8 was not so clear.

 

In my experience, the rings on the Nikon mirrorless cameras appear both when using a telescope and when using CPU lenses.


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#3 james7ca

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 01:42 AM

Mark, thanks for the summary.

 

Do you know whether the "split" frame problem as seen in some full-frame cameras shows up when doing this same kind of testing?



#4 17.5Dob

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 01:56 AM

NASA just announced that the "official" camera for their Artemis moon missions is going to be a specially modded Z9.
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#5 sharkmelley

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 02:06 AM

Do you know whether the "split" frame problem as seen in some full-frame cameras shows up when doing this same kind of testing?

Generally speaking the split sensor issue will show up when performing this type of "sequence of different exposure flats" testing.  I haven't yet come across a Sony full frame sensor that doesn't have the issue - that includes Sony cameras, Nikon cameras and dedicated astro-cameras.  But it's very variable i.e. some individual copies have more of a problem than others.  It calibrates out just fine on dedicated astro-cameras but for consumer cameras artifacts are often left behind: a vertical discontinuity down the centre and horizontal bands in the left hand pane of the image which vary from copy to copy.


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#6 vidrazor

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Posted 03 March 2024 - 02:29 AM

Secondly, it has to be a Nikon since I've already invested a good amount of money in Nikon lenses (over many years).

Are you invested in F lenses or Z lenses? If it's the former, why not get a used full frame F body? You can get something like a D610 for relative peanuts.

 

However if you're hot for Z8 or Z9, just get it, and don't worry too much about the concentric rings. My personal experience has been hit-n-miss. It seems, and I'm only speculating, that the rings issue occurs when you don't get enough sub time and you really need to stretch hard.

 

Also, for astro, you don't really want a full frame body, your Z30 is a much better candidate, as most telescopes will vignette on full frame cameras.
 



#7 james7ca

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Posted 03 March 2024 - 08:23 AM

I've got both Z and F-mount lenses and with Nikon's adapter I can use all of the F-mount lenses on a Z body (some don't auto focus but they work manually).

 

In terms of the concentric ring issue, I don't think it gets better with the increased signal-to-noise you get from longer integration times. In fact, it may get worse since these artifacts are competing directly with the signal. However, it's true that if you don't stretch your images that much then you can "hide" a multitude of issues. There may, however, be some effect from the level at which you expose each individual sub. The suggestion usually being that you want to keep the "sky fog mountain" on the camera's histogram further to the right (more exposed). Some also think that you need to avoid using low ISO settings, so ISO3200 may work better than ISO400, etc.

 

As for the Z8, if I knew that Nikon was going to introduce a high-end APS-C camera with a new, stacked, CMOS sensor that had a resolution of between 24 and 30 mega pixels and similar performance and still image features to the Z8 then that is the camera I'd probably want. But, I suspect that if such a camera existed many still photographers would buy that rather than the Z8 or Z9 and Nikon probably wouldn't want that to happen (since high-end, full-frame cameras produce more profit per camera than with APS-C). True videographers, however, would probably always prefer the full-frame cameras.

 

I've been doing some image quality comparisons between the Z8 (≈$3800, full-frame, body only) and the Z30 (≈$607, APS-C, body only) with images from Digital Photography Review and it looks like on a pixel-per-pixel basis there really isn't much difference between the cameras. So, for still photography the only thing you gain with the Z8 is a larger field of view with any given lens/scope. Or, you can go to a longer lens to get more image scale with the same amount of field coverage but with a greater number of pixels in the RAW result. In the latter case you could then reduce the image scale on the Z8 image by resizing and gain a bit of sharpness with a little less noise in comparison to an APS-C format (from the resampling by two thirds or 67% downward). This last case could be the only time that you'd see still image quality improvements with the Z8 over what you can get with the much cheaper Z30.

 

That said, for traditional photography if you frame a subject the same way with both cameras then the Z8 obviously puts more pixels on the subject and once again you can then resample the Z8's output to gain a little quality over what you'd get with the Z30. The advantage here for non-astro subjects is that in some cases you can just move closer to the subject with the larger field coverage given by the full-frame camera and thus get equal framing between the two formats (i.e. full frame and APS-C), But, by moving the camera you also change the perspective for any subject that isn't near to an infinite distance.

 

In any case, right now the Z8 has a lot of features that are missing on Nikon's APS-C cameras. Most of those seem to be for video, but there are some still image features that the Z8 has than may or may not show up on an APS-C camera from Nikon. In fact, as I noted before there are some rumors that Nikon might be getting out of the APS-C market and certainly right now it looks like they are favoring their full-frame products.

 

For stills the major advantages of the Z8 over the Z30 are the following:

 

1.) Much faster shot-to-shot speeds on the Z8 (20fps at full-resolution with a buffer that can hold just over 80 RAW frames).

2.) Better auto focus (faster, works in lower light, perhaps more accurate). The Z8 also has a pretty broad range of subject recognition (for auto focus).

3.) In-body, pixel-shift image stabilization (i.e. vibration reduction). Very useful for traditional photography, no real use for astrophotography.

4.) Support for pixel-shifted, 2X resolution images (after processing on a computer you can output 180 mega-pixel DNG files that are clearly better than the native 45 mega-pixel RAWs). However, this can only be done on static subjects with the camera on a tripod. I'm not sure whether this could be of any value for astrophotography since you can dither and drizzle with any current camera to get somewhat similar results. The dither/drizzle combination would be better in some ways (pixel rejection and pattern noise reduction) although the camera's pixel shifting might be easier to use and somewhat better on subjects like the moon (given VERY good seeing conditions, otherwise just stack lots of frames). However, for static landscapes the pixel-shifting can produce really amazing results.

 

Item #4 has some interest to me since a full-frame camera can cover the entire disk of the moon or sun at f/10 on my 9.25" EdgeHD. Given that the Z8's pixel-shifted output has an equivalent pixel size of 2.17um that means that the full disk of the moon would be critically sampled or covered with just a single, pixel-shifted frame. But, to be totally effective you'd need perfect seeing and perfect tracking and an EdgeHD can't really cover a full-frame sensor corner-to-corner -- although it might be okay over the center two thirds where the moon would sit. Something to try, although without really good seeing I think it would be a total bust. It would take at least 1/5s [4/5s] to capture the 16 frames needed to produce the 180 mega-pixel output, so I don't think the tracking would be a significant issue, but the seeing will obviously vary during that interval which may make it seem like the subject/moon is moving and that can't happen when you pixel shift to increase resolution. I'd be surprised if it worked very well.

 

Other than the above I can't think of much else that would directly affect image quality or image capture. The Z8 has an eye-level viewfinder that the Z30 lacks and the Z8 has more buttons and dials for camera control. The Z8 also has a top-mounted LCD status display and illuminated buttons. It has a feature that Nikon calls Starlight View that supposedly allows you to see and to manually focus on much fainter targets. On the Z8 you can also set the viewfinder information display to red to help preserve your night vision. Finally, the Z8 supports CFexpress for faster storage.

 

All that said, I'd still like to see how the colored, concentric-ring problem looks on the Z9/Z8. Well, that and the "split sensor" issue that is almost certainly not present on the APS-C cameras.

 

[UPDATE]

I miscalculated the time to capture 16 RAW frames when doing the pixel shifting on the Z8. I was thinking of the 80 frame buffer and not the 20fps rate of RAW capture (a clear mistake, but that's the number that stuck in my head when I did the calculation). So, it would take at least 4/5s to capture 16 frames, not the 1/5s I originally wrote [corrected above].

 

That's quite a difference and it makes it even less likely that pixel shifting would work on the moon. But, it still might produce a fairly good result for a "single" frame, just nothing near to what you'd get with a camera that had a real 180 mega-pixel sensor with a pixel size of around 2um.

[/UPDATE]


Edited by james7ca, 04 March 2024 - 12:55 AM.


#8 vidrazor

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Posted 03 March 2024 - 09:15 AM

All that said, I'd still like to see how the colored, concentric-ring problem looks on the Z9/Z8. Well, that and the "split sensor" issue that is almost certainly not present on the APS-C cameras.

Most of what you've said really applies to terrestrial photography. Have you done any astrophotography with the Z30? Do you get concentric rings?

I don't think pixel-shift shooting the moon is going to give you any advantage, and yes, the atmosphere will be the reason why. Much better to shoot high speed uncompressed video and stack from that. That will maximize the best atmospheric window capture opportunities. Below is an image I took with my EVOlution 8, a Barlow set at 1.5x, and a Player One Uranus-C camera recording in mono, in a narrow spectral window created using a UV/IR filter combined with an IR pass filter. This was 1566 frames at 1 millisecond exposure time, in average seeing conditions.
post-283822-0-03412100-1696478655.jpg
 


Edited by vidrazor, 03 March 2024 - 09:28 AM.


#9 james7ca

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Posted 03 March 2024 - 10:24 AM

vidrazor, thanks for the input but remember that we're in the DSLR forum and so I'll limit my discussion to DSLR/mirrorless.

 

As for my Z30, it's a great camera overall (IMO) and I have done some limited astro imaging using it. But, it does appear to have the concentric rings and that sometimes makes deep-space images almost unusable (for me, since I'm fairly critical about image quality). That said, I have used it for full-disk lunar and solar imaging. I also like to test the bounds of what can be done with "simple" equipment (although an EdgeHD and Nikon Z8 combination wouldn't exactly be simple and certainly not cheap).

 

So, I've paired my Z30 with a used 500mm, Nikon Reflex-NIKKOR to take quite a few grab-n-go images of the moon from a fixed tripod. But, on that setup the Z8 probably wouldn't do any better (if at all), although the Z8's very fast shot-to-shot speed could be useful. Given that, my only other option for DSLR/mirrorless shooting would be to pair the Z8 with a longer lens or telescope. I'm sure it would do fairly well on my Takahashi FC-100DZ with a barlow to image around f/16 to f/24 (2X or 3X) and it might even produce usable images over the full disk of the moon or sun when capturing with a single frame. However, that kind of setup would require a tracking mount and there we're getting away from being "dead simple" and quick.

 

In any case, below is how a Z8 would frame a full, super moon (blue rectangle) when working at a focal length of 1600mm (FC-100DZ with 2X barlow). The Z30 can't really cover at this focal length (in a single frame, although I could do a mosaic). Not sure how a barlow would work at this large of a field, certainly not into the corners, but maybe over the center, or enough for the moon/sun. The Z8 also has a square (1:1 format) RAW mode so that could be used for the moon and sun. The Z8 does "RAW" video but I'm not sure how well that would work since the image would be resampled internally by the camera (although not compressed in a really lossy manner). Since it is resampled you'd be throwing away image scale that you'd get with still images, so neither mode is exactly optimal. But, these are the limitations that you face when using a DSLR/mirrorless (at least right now).

 

Note that the Z8 on my EdgeHD could image the entire moon in a single frame and do so at 20fps in 14-bit, still, RAW mode. I suspect that would produce a pretty nice image although it would be undersampled (thus my musings about using pixel shifting) and I don't yet know whether AutoStakkert! v4 will handle a 45 mega-pixel image. I know that Registax can't, don't know about waveSharp or Planetary Image Stacker.

 

Lastly, I know that CN user Tom Glenn has done some really excellent full-disk images using a 9.25" EdgeHD with an ASI183MM camera. However, that requires doing a mosaic and while I too have done lunar and planetary work with that same equipment I have for a long time wondered when it would become possible to capture the full disk of the moon (or sun) with a single shot and at critical sampling on the EdgeHD. The Z8 doesn't quite get there but it may be a long time (5 to 10 years?) before we get a camera that can. Below is a post of mine from 2016 where I discuss what the optimal camera might be for lunar imaging with an EdgeHD.

 

  https://www.cloudyni...dpost&p=7585489

Attached Thumbnails

  • Moon with Z8 and FC-100DX x 2.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 03 March 2024 - 12:57 PM.


#10 james7ca

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Posted 03 March 2024 - 11:49 AM

One last note (for now), the Z8 is supposed to be supported by the Backyard Nikon software (which I already own). Unfortunately, the Z30 is NOT supported (officially, and which I've confirmed with my own testing). In fact, Nikon seems to be taking a LONG time to release its SDK for the Z30. In fact, I do wonder whether the delay is intentional by Nikon, since they may want to limit the SDK to systems that they consider to be more "pro" (i.e. costly) than the Z30 (the Z8 is actually newer than the Z30, so what's up Nikon?).

 

However, I've seen two reports on the Backyard Nikon support pages that say users can't actually connect to the Z8, even with the latest software. But, the Z50 (APS-C, same image quality as the Z30, but a little more expensive and with an eye-level viewfinder) does work with Backyard Nikon since (perhaps) that camera was released way back in 2019.


Edited by james7ca, 03 March 2024 - 11:52 AM.


#11 vidrazor

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Posted 03 March 2024 - 05:53 PM

vidrazor, thanks for the input but remember that we're in the DSLR forum and so I'll limit my discussion to DSLR/mirrorless.

 

As for my Z30, it's a great camera overall (IMO) and I have done some limited astro imaging using it. But, it does appear to have the concentric rings and that sometimes makes deep-space images almost unusable (for me, since I'm fairly critical about image quality). That said, I have used it for full-disk lunar and solar imaging. I also like to test the bounds of what can be done with "simple" equipment (although an EdgeHD and Nikon Z8 combination wouldn't exactly be simple and certainly not cheap).

 

So, I've paired my Z30 with a used 500mm, Nikon Reflex-NIKKOR to take quite a few grab-n-go images of the moon from a fixed tripod. But, on that setup the Z8 probably wouldn't do any better (if at all), although the Z8's very fast shot-to-shot speed could be useful. Given that, my only other option for DSLR/mirrorless shooting would be to pair the Z8 with a longer lens or telescope. I'm sure it would do fairly well on my Takahashi FC-100DZ with a barlow to image around f/16 to f/24 (2X or 3X) and it might even produce usable images over the full disk of the moon or sun when capturing with a single frame. However, that kind of setup would require a tracking mount and there we're getting away from being "dead simple" and quick.

 

In any case, below is how a Z8 would frame a full, super moon (blue rectangle) when working at a focal length of 1600mm (FC-100DZ with 2X barlow). The Z30 can't really cover at this focal length (in a single frame, although I could do a mosaic). Not sure how a barlow would work at this large of a field, certainly not into the corners, but maybe over the center, or enough for the moon/sun. The Z8 also has a square (1:1 format) RAW mode so that could be used for the moon and sun. The Z8 does "RAW" video but I'm not sure how well that would work since the image would be resampled internally by the camera (although not compressed in a really lossy manner). Since it is resampled you'd be throwing away image scale that you'd get with still images, so neither mode is exactly optimal. But, these are the limitations that you face when using a DSLR/mirrorless (at least right now).

 

Note that the Z8 on my EdgeHD could image the entire moon in a single frame and do so at 20fps in 14-bit, still, RAW mode. I suspect that would produce a pretty nice image although it would be undersampled (thus my musings about using pixel shifting) and I don't yet know whether AutoStakkert! v4 will handle a 45 mega-pixel image. I know that Registax can't, don't know about waveSharp or Planetary Image Stacker.

One last note (for now), the Z8 is supposed to be supported by the Backyard Nikon software (which I already own). Unfortunately, the Z30 is NOT supported (officially, and which I've confirmed with my own testing). In fact, Nikon seems to be taking a LONG time to release its SDK for the Z30. In fact, I do wonder whether the delay is intentional by Nikon, since they may want to limit the SDK to systems that they consider to be more "pro" (i.e. costly) than the Z30 (the Z8 is actually newer than the Z30, so what's up Nikon?).

 

However, I've seen two reports on the Backyard Nikon support pages that say users can't actually connect to the Z8, even with the latest software. But, the Z50 (APS-C, same image quality as the Z30, but a little more expensive and with an eye-level viewfinder) does work with Backyard Nikon since (perhaps) that camera was released way back in 2019.

Yes I know it's DSLR forum, my point is you're not going to get too great detail without being able to shoot a lot of frames using uncompressed video, at optimum atmospheric conditions, which occur intermittently at the blink of an eye.

 

That said, you can simply try it with a Z8 and see what you get. You're already sold on the Z8, so just get it. I wouldn't waste my time with the pixel-shift shooting, just get as many frames as possible.

 

BTW, if you get the Celestron .7 reducer for the Edge, the moon will fit nicely on your Z30 sensor, as you can see below. I would not throw a Barlow on the Tak, you're better off shooting without it and cropping.

 

Backyard Nikon is a pretty limited program. I bought it a while back because it listed my Nikon 1 V3 as compatible, which it was not. I had to literally send my V3 to the fellow in Canada who wrote the program so he could work with it firsthand to get it working. He does list the Z50 as compatible, I can't imagine why your Z30 isn't, but it's probably a similar case to my V3. If you're willing to send him your Z30, and if he's willing to experiment, he may be able to get it to work. I don't think it's really all that great a program however.

The Z30 is readily listed in the libgphoto2 database as fully controllable, so it will be controllable from KStars on a Mac or Linux machine via the INDI server, using the native Nikon driver in Ekos.
 

Attached Thumbnails

  • edge w reducer.jpg

Edited by vidrazor, 03 March 2024 - 10:20 PM.


#12 james7ca

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Posted 04 March 2024 - 01:55 AM

...The Z30 is readily listed in the libgphoto2 database as fully controllable, so it will be controllable from KStars on a Mac or Linux machine via the INDI server, using the native Nikon driver in Ekos.

 

That's useful information, thanks.

 

I'm still thinking about the Z8 versus waiting for a better APS-C from Nikon. Unfortunately, no one knows whether a high-end APS-C camera is coming from Nikon (ever, let alone in the next few months). One option I'm thinking about is to rent a Z8 so that I can do some testing and try a few things that don't appear to be covered in the manual or in any of the reviews. For example, does pixel shifting work when the camera is set for APS-C framing (i.e. when you are using a DX lens)? The latter would be useful with some of my DX lenses, since the Z8 apparently locks the camera into the APS-C format when you mount a DX lens to the camera body. I have Nikon's DX 12mm-28mm VR Power Zoom lens and that would make an even better landscape combination if it could output 80 mega-pixel images (twice the resolution as when not using pixel shifting).

 

As to Backyard Nikon (or BYN), I've already been in touch with the developer and they say that the Z30 can't be supported since Nikon has not yet released the SDK for that camera (which is true as I checked with Nikon). But, both the Z50 and Z8 SDKs have been released and both of those cameras are apparently supported by BYN. Now, whether the Z8 will actually work with BYN is another question, since as I previously stated I've seen two reports that the Z8 will not connect to BYN and the developer's response was that they have no idea why it isn't working. To be fair (to BYN), it could be a simple configuration or user error, but I kind of expect that it will turn out to be a programming error in BYN. That said, BYN does work on the Z50.

 

A barlow should work on the Takahashi FC-100DZ to image the full disk of the moon, since that scope is an f/8, 100mm refractor that has a relatively flat field out to the full diameter of the sun or moon (i.e. 0.5 degrees). In fact, the latter is one reason why I chose that scope since it can capture the entire moon quite sharply on a sensor like Sony's IMX183 (as with my ZWO ASI183MM, here is a link to one sample image on CN, but taken without a barlow and thus the entire disk of the moon can be captured in one framing at this same image scale when using the ASI183MM). That said, barlows are not particularly flat field optics but Astro-Physics states that their Advance Convertible Barlow can produce "round stars over 90% of the field" of an APS-C sensor with an f/8 refractor and that's actually more than you'd need for just the center of the Z8's field (to capture the moon).

 

In fact, the super moon will just barely fit within the height of an APS-C field when used at the f/10 focus of my EdgeHD (but, really too close for comfort on the APS-C, fits easily in full frame). Of course, lesser moons will fit on the APS-C frame since you can place the moon's terminator horizontally within the field (i.e. a "half" moon fits easily).

 

Plus, I already own the Astro-Physics barlow as well as Celestron's 0.7X reducer for the 9.25" EdgeHD (unfortunately, the latter isn't a particularly good performing reducer). However, the EdgeHD at f/10 is a really sharp scope.


Edited by james7ca, 04 March 2024 - 04:15 AM.


#13 vidrazor

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Posted 04 March 2024 - 03:10 AM

Renting a Z8 might be a good idea, albeit a bit pricey. The libgphoto2 library also lists the Z8 as fully controllable, so you could use the native Nikon driver in Ekos to control it as well. Actually all Z cameras except the Zf are listed as fully controllable, as you can see below. A Z7 could be an option. So if you have a old Windows laptop laying around, just load Linux into it and install KStars, update the INDI library including all 3rd party drivers, and the astrometry files for GOTO plate solving and polar alignment, or pick up a Pi4 and install Astroberry + astrometry files on a 128 gig or greater MicroSD card, and control it via WiFi from an existing Windows laptop. If you have a Mac you can just install KStars + the astrometry files (you may need to update the INDI library as well).

Attached Thumbnails

  • nikon Zs.jpg

Edited by vidrazor, 04 March 2024 - 03:14 AM.

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#14 Andy Lucy

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Posted 04 March 2024 - 08:26 AM

There is a thread in the forum for astrophotographytool software about support for the Z8 and Z9.  The developers hope that the support will be available in version 4.44 (the current version is 4.42).  Apparently Nikon switched to 64 bit drivers for the Z9 - which means that APT has to be converted to 64 bit operation to work with the Z9.

 

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#15 james7ca

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Posted 05 March 2024 - 09:19 AM

By referencing the "NIkon Z8 Professional Technical Guide — Pixel Shift Edition —" I found the following statement:

Image areas can be selected using [Image area] in the photo shooting menu. Image areas other than [FX (36 x 24)] can also be set for pixel shift shooting.

So, it looks like pixel shifting is supported for all of the RAW image sizes — FX (full frame), DX (APS-C), 1:1, and 16:9.

 

This is good to know (if actually true) since it means you can use pixel shifting with DX lenses and as I noted before I already have Nikon's DX 12 - 28mm VR Power Zoom lens. This lens covers 99° on the DX diagonal so it's a rectilinear ultra-wide lens. Thus, with pixel shifting it will be able to output 78 mega-pixel images for things like landscapes (after processing in RAW mode with Nikon's NX Studio software). I know that some of the lenses that I currently have are definitely undersampled on my Z30, so pixel shifting should clean those images up even for simple tracked star fields. Normally I have to do a dither and drizzle to get that improved output so pixel shifting might provide a relatively quick and easy way to do improved quality star fields (at least for a short exposure sequence that can be taken in a single pixel-shifted clip).

 

I've also verified that PixInsight can open DNG RAW files so it should be possible to convert DNG RAW files to FITS or XISF for processing in PixInsight. Or, at least that works for DNGs output from Photoshop and it looks like Adobe's Camera RAW software can open Nikon's NEFX (Pixel Shift RAW files) and convert that to DNG for import to PixInsight. The point being that you may be able to get a completely RAW data flow from the pixel shifted output from Nikon's NX Studio and then into PixInsight for further processing. But, that would be a fair amount of work for a long sequence and it might not be that useful over just stacking a regular set of subs.

 

The Z8 also has a so-called 1:1 (square) format that can produce a pixel-shifted 121 mega-pixel output. That latter could be useful for lunar imaging (full disk of the moon).

 

Note that pixel shifting should even be useful for images that are going to be processed in a program like AutoStakkert! since the images should be shifted quite accurately by both half and full pixels. That might make the images out of AutoStakkert! even better than with no shift at all. In some sense it will be like an automatic, very accurate dither although limited to something like ±1.5 pixels (for a 32 image pixel shift). Of course, that assumes that AutoStakkert! can accurately detect sub-pixel shifts but that seems to be the claim made by some users. In this case you'd just need the pixel-shifted NEF files directly from the Z8, no need to run the images through either NX Studio or Photoshop, although you'll have to use PixInsight to convert NEF to FITS RAWs (easy to do with a batch process, I've done this many times).

 

In any case, here is a table with the possible output resolutions (note that a crop to square using the full pixel height of the APS-C/DX frame would produce a pixel-shifted file with about 50 megapixels (7184 x 7184 pixels at an equivalent pixel size of 2.17um):

Attached Thumbnails

  • Nikon Z8 Pixel Shift Sizes.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 05 March 2024 - 11:27 PM.



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