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Recommended Astrophotography and Nightscape Cameras.

What makes a great Astrophotography and/or Nightscape Camera?

What should you look for when choosing a modified astrophotography camera? We have a few recommendations and suggestions for you. As the old saying goes, "The best camera is the one you have with you." Well, we have more specific and detailed recommendations when considering which camera to purchase or have modified as an astrophotography camera.

Most important is build quality. Why spend hard earned money on something that will not last or won't handle everyday use. Or, with astrophotography, your camera must hold up to cold temperatures, long exposures, high ISO settings, prolonged use requiring larger battery capacity, specific functions for mirror vibration control and noise reduction, etc... Most major manufacturers produce great camera models but some are better than others. Simply said, weight comparative to size is one somewhat reliable way to determine if the camera is mostly plastic or if it was manufactured with more metal construction. Also, in most cases, you pay for what you get. You can't realistically expect a $300 camera to produce equivalent quality images as a $4000 camera. Personal budget is a consideration as well. We recommend buying a camera that you can afford but without cutting corners on quality.

Functionality limitations are a problem with some cameras. You don't want to send money on a conversion or camera only to be frustrated with the results because it doesn't perform well when shooting long exposures at high ISO settings. For instance, some cameras won't work very well with custom white balance settings after being modified. Some are very "noisy" when capturing long exposures. Some have limitations which can affect the use of RAW files and its ability to retain accurate white balance info/settings when importing to Lightroom, Camera RAW or Photoshop. Some cameras have built-in design flaws that cause problems for long exposures and/or high ISO settings. Others work seamlessly in almost every circumstance and almost never cause headaches when shooting or post processing.

Obviously, a camera brand that has a complete line of high quality and fully supported lenses or adaptability of quality lenses is important for nightscapes. Lens selection is less of a consideration if you plan to use your camera only attached to a telescope. Remaining functionality as a "normal" daytime camera is a consideration. Electronic viewfinder vs. optical viewfinder is something to consider. Articulating LCD, battery capacity, availability of accessories, software compatibility, lack of built-in functions, white balance capabilities, Wi-Fi and/or USB compatibility, etc... There are many other factors that need to be considered when choosing which camera is best for you. Over the years we have tested almost every make and model, kept notes and test results, considered personal preference and likability, and have compiled a list of the more recent camera models that we recommend for astrophotography and/or nightscape use. We strongly recommend choosing from our Highly Recommended section when selecting a camera for astrophotography or nightscape use. (* = Recommended for Telescope Prime Focus use.)

NEW!! Spencer's Camera & Photo now offers reinstallation of the Sensor Cleaning/Dust Reduction System for most Canon models (we can re-install the system for any and all Canon and Nikon internal filter options). Sony, Pentax, Fuji, and most other camera makes will be added to the list very soon. Simply select the re-installation option within the internal filter section when ordering your conversion/camera and the cleaning system will be reinstalled during the conversion process.

**** Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Fuji, and other SLR users: The Dust Reduction System of most camera models is removed during the conversion process. Please be sure to disable this function within the settings of your camera. Failure to do so may result in a temporary camera error. If your camera displays a Dust Reduction System error you can still disable the function within the camera menu. We are only able to re-install the dust reduction/sensor cleaning system in Canon cameras at this time.****

Highly recommended Astrophotography and Nightscape cameras:

These cameras are proven to be the best models because of excellent performance at high ISO, long exposures, overall build quality, compatibility with software and accessories, built-in functionality, battery capacity, and expandability. For the best astrophotography results and performance we recommend that you choose from this list (New - All Canon cameras listed on our Highly Recommended Astrophotography Camera list will have the sensor dust reduction/auto cleaning system reinstalled when choosing the Visible + H-Alpha option.):

Recommended Astrophotography and Nightscape cameras:

These cameras are great but simply are not quite as good as the "Highly" recommended cameras. They may lack slightly in performance, build quality, image quality, battery capacity, or other minor reasons. For the most part they will perform very well for Astrophotography or Nightscape photography.

Not recommended for Astro-Modification:

  • Nikon D3
  • Nikon D3s
  • Nikon D3x
  • Nikon D4
  • Nikon D5
  • Sony A7 Mark II
  • Sony A7 Mark III
  • Sony A7R Mark II
  • Sony A7R Mark III
  • Sony A7S Mark II

The cameras listed within the "Not Recommended" list have a design flaw that will create an infrared light leak after the modification. An infrared emitting sensor built into the shutter mechanism will "bleed" light onto the imaging sensor and is detectable by the sensor once it has been modified to be Infrared Sensitive. This will cause a very poor imaging result especially when shooting long exposures with high ISO settings. We do not recommend use of these Nikon and Sony models for astro-modification.

The recommended list above isn't meant to be a complete list. It's simply a list of cameras we know you can use for astrophotography and will be happy with the results. If you are considering a certain camera and have questions concerning its functionality or quality, please contact us. (Which cameras are best for Infrared Photography? Here's our recommended IR camera list: Recommended Cameras for Infrared Photography)

As always, please contact us with any questions regarding this or any other product or service we provide:

Order an Astro-Conversion here.


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