Nikon D40 for astro-imaging

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    Posted by Paul A Brierley at 09:19 on 2011 May 07

    Does anybody on this forum use a Nikon D40 for astro imaging?I want to use my DSLR with my WO ZS66SD for this purpose, and I am hoping for some good results.I am also going to use the D40 with a camera lens, for wide field sky portraits, but. And this is where I would like some reassurance.I have not found anything posted on the net about this camera’s suitability for astronomy. I have yet to find any picture’s of galaxies or nebulae taken with a Nikon D40.So. Does anybody have any information, which you can give me.Thanks.


    Posted by David Mottershead at 12:09 on 2011 May 08

    Hello PaulI don’t own, and haven’t used a Nikon D40, but up until last month I did own a Nikon D50, which is very similar to the D40, originally sharing the same 6 megapixel sensor among other components, although a 10.2 megapixel sensor was available later in production in the D40x. I have now purchased the Nikon D5000.Given the commonality of several key components between the D40 and D50, I would suggest that, based on my use of the D50, that the D40 will produce good astrophotographical results. Have a look at my website in the gallery section where there are a couple of examples of astro images that I did with the D50, (I actually have quite a few more, but just haven’t had time to put them on my site yet!!), I’m not the worlds greatest photographer and am certain those more capable in these matters would produce far better results than I have with this camera!!The main thing to bear in mind here is that the D40 is a discontinued model, (although as with the D50, it can represent an excellent seconhand buy), and more importantly doesn’t have ‘live view’ mode – that is, you can’t look at what you are imaging using the LCD screen, which can really assist when focusing the camera.For what it’s worth, my opinion is that the Nikons, (D40, D50 etc) were very compentent and usable entry level DSLRs when introduced in 2006 (in the case of the D40), that can produce some really good astrophotograpical results. I hope this is of some help to you.


    Posted by Roy Hughes at 12:29 on 2011 May 08

    Paul,Google: Nikon D40 Astronomyproduced several old <2009 links, mainly with missing pics (except one of moon) but with several hints.It looks like, provided you’ve got an IR remote release (priced from 99p to £6), you should be able to use it without too much trouble on manual "B" exposure. Just strap it to a driven scope mount, turn off the flash(!) and give it a try. Anything after that should be the same as any other camera.Roy


    Posted by Paul A Brierley at 06:50 on 2011 May 10

    Thanks David,Roy.I’m going to have ago with this camera and see what it is capable off. But I might decided to buy a 1000D (body only) to use for astro-imaging instead. I’ve seen some excellent work produced by those canon camera’s.And. For the price. They are also, considerably cheaper than a dedicated CCD camera with a similar sized sensor. All I need is a reasonably clear sky, with know Moon interference. Incidentally I used my D40 at the week-end with my William Optics, and imaged a nice Waxing Crescent Moon. You can see the result on my blog…


    Posted by Callum Potter at 10:12 on 2011 May 10

    Hi Paul,I would always advocate trying it out for yourself, rather than relying on perceived wisdom…Especially if you have the gear and its not going to cost you.Having said that, my understanding was that the Nikons do some processing in-camera even in raw formats, which may not be desirable…I use an ancient Canon 300D – if buying new i’d either plump for the latest cheap Canon (1100D), or if flush a 60D or 5D mkII.Callum


    Posted by Roy Hughes at 11:28 on 2011 May 10

    Paul,re CanonsIf you’ve got a stock of old Nikon lenses that you want to use there are a number of cheap Nikon/Canon adapters available on Ebay (some of questionable repute!).Only manual of course but should be OK for astronomy.Roy


    Posted by Graham Relf at 16:29 on 2011 May 10

    I just happen to have seen a photo of Pluto taken with a Nikon D40: hereGenerally I agree with those who say just try it and see what you can get.


    Posted by David Mottershead at 19:58 on 2011 May 10

    Hello PaulLooking at the image of the moon that you took the other night using your D40 I’d suggest that you’ve answered your own question. Great image!


    Posted by Paul A Brierley at 06:54 on 2011 May 25

    Thank you for the link Graham.Seeing Pluto, has given me some encouragement. David.I hope to begin using my D40 later when the night’s return. I have done some experimental test shot’s, through my WO ZS66 and filter wheel, and they are encouraging. I will try M3/M13 and M57 together with some sky portraits. And see how this camera performs.I was very surprised how well my recent Lunar image turned out.Thank you everybody for you’re help…

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