PrimaLuceLab has turned its hand to helping the Nikon D5500 cut down long exposure noise. The bulky cooling unit attached to the DSLR body might ruin some of its portability, but the Italian company says it allows astrophotographers to take images of a quality to rival cooled CCD cameras without sacrificing ease of use.
The logic behind the cooled D5500a is relatively simple: as cameras and their sensors get hotter, they can produce more image noise. On a long exposure of the night sky, a hot sensor could turn an otherwise perfectly thought out shot into a grainy mess.
According to PrimaLuceLab, the double Peltier-cell cooling system is able to keep the sensor 27° C (48° F) cooler than the ambient temperature. The cooling system has been attached to the back of the camera for ideal balance, and displays the current sensor temperature using a small display on the rear.
One of the major issues with artificially-cooled sensors is dewing inside the camera, something combated with a bespoke system that heats the front filter (and not the sensor). The original infrared-cut filter from the D5500 has been swapped out for a new unit that allows longer red wavelengths to be picked up.
Touch sensitive buttons on the back of the cooling unit allow users to set the exposure length, and decide on how to best bracket shots, removing the need to use a computer to control the camera.
Though it sounds capable, this setup isn't cheap. A regular Nikon D5500 will set you back US$900, while the PrimaLuceLab unit is priced at a cool €2,190 (US$2,400).