Photography

Modified Nikon D5500 keeps its cool during long exposures

Modified Nikon D5500 keeps its...
PrimaLuceLab has its sights set on astrophotographers with the D5500a Cooled camera
PrimaLuceLab has its sights set on astrophotographers with the D5500a Cooled camera
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PrimaLuceLab has replaced the original camera's filter
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PrimaLuceLab has replaced the original camera's filter
A breakdown on how the PrimaLuceLab cooled Nikon D5500
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A breakdown on how the PrimaLuceLab cooled Nikon D5500
The rear control unit gives sensor temperature readings
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The rear control unit gives sensor temperature readings
PrimaLuceLab has its sights set on astrophotographers with the D5500a Cooled camera
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PrimaLuceLab has its sights set on astrophotographers with the D5500a Cooled camera
An image comparison with the cooling system on (left) and off (right), shot at ISO6400
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An image comparison with the cooling system on (left) and off (right), shot at ISO6400
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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.

A breakdown on how the PrimaLuceLab cooled Nikon D5500
A breakdown on how the PrimaLuceLab cooled Nikon D5500

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).

Source: PrimaLuceLab

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