Nikon has revealed the D810A, an astrophotography-focused version of its D810 full frame DSLR. Though the new camera will retain many of the specifications of the 36.3-megapixel camera it's based on, it will enable DSLR stargazers to capture the cosmos in highly detailed and vibrant images thanks to a number of astro-centric features including a modified infrared (IR) cut filter.
The D810A follows in the footsteps of the Canon 60Da by being an astrophotography re-tuned version of a currently available DSLR. The key change is a modification of the infrared cut filter, which is optimized to allow transmission of the hydrogen alpha spectral line. This results in four times greater sensitivity of the 656 nm wavelength, and the ability to capture the strong red H-alpha light emitted by nebulae and galaxies.
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Other alterations which should make the D810A better suited to shooting celestial images, and other scientific applications, include a new Long Exposure Manual Mode for shooting at a range of shutter speeds from four seconds to 900 seconds (15 minutes), in addition to Bulb and Time settings. A Virtual Exposure Preview Mode can also display an estimated preview image when shooting at shutter speeds longer than 30 seconds in Live View. This could save time and make it easier to set focusing and composition for longer exposures.
The ISO range of the D810 has also been tweaked slightly to 200-12,800 (expandable to 51,200) which means it will be better suited to space photography, whether using Nikon's F-mount Nikkor lenses, or a telescope attached via a third party adapter. Nikon's Capture NX-D software will also now feature a new option for Astro Noise Reduction for use with D810A image files.
While all of this should make the D810A a great tool for those wanting to photograph otherwise difficult to capture cosmic features, Nikon does stress that the camera is not recommended for general photography. This is because the modified IR filter will result in colors looking wonky in everyday snaps. Typical DSLRs suppress the effect of light nearing the red range of visible light for better portrait and landscape photography.
Core features which are staying the same from the D810, but which are worth pointing out for people not too familiar with its spec sheet, include the high resolution 36.3-megapixel FX full-frame (35.9 x 24.0 mm) CMOS sensor and Nikon's Expeed 4 Image processing engine. Its shutter/mirror box architecture and electronic front-curtain shutter mode also help minimize vibrations and keep images sharp when shooting at very slow shutter speeds, handy for space shots.
The Nikon D810A is due to start shipping in May, priced at €3,699 (that's about US$4,200, though actual US pricing has yet to be confirmed) body-only.
Product page: Nikon D810AView gallery - 4 images