D300 and 5D: Stationary Astrophotography [3 pics]

Started Dec 16, 2007 | Discussions thread
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Carl
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D300 and 5D: Stationary Astrophotography [3 pics]
Dec 16, 2007

After reading some negative posts regarding long exposure astrophotography with Nikon digital bodies as well as many Canon vs. D300 noise comparissons I was somehow concerned my new D300 would fail to deliver the image quality and details that my 5D delivers.

Yesterday the sky was perfect for the first time since I have the D300 (although as always in the city the sky is very bright), so I was able to do my first practical comparisson between these two bodies.

Setup:

  • Stable Tripod (Manfrotto 458B)

  • AF on a bright star, than disabled AF

  • Image centered on the Orion Nebula

  • Long Exposure Noise Reduction turned OFF

  • Exposure Time: 1 sec (longer would give trailing stars)

  • Canon Lens: 135mm/2.0 L USM wide open at F2.0

  • Nikon Lens: 85mm/1.8 (x1.5 = 127mm on FF) stopped down to F2.0

  • All shots RAW converted to JPG in Lightroom

  • Lightroom "Automatic" white balance used

  • No sharpenning, no noise reduction

I did ISO 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 shots. I am presenting the ISO 1600 shots here which are the intesting ones in my opinion. Air temperature was about 0 degrees Celcius, but the bodies where only 30 minutes outside. I didn't exactly measure it, but the the orion nebula was standing about 45 degrees over the horizon (shooting from the middle of Germany).

Please note that the stars on the 5D/135 image does not look as sharp as the ones on the D300/85 image. This might be caused by the lens, as the Canon one was wide open (might be a little astigmatism), while the Nikon one was stopped down a bit (1/2 EV).

Note also that this isn't a full long exposure test as I was limited to stationary astrophotography due to the current lack of a guiding mount.

In my opinion the results of the D300 come very close to the ones of the 5D. Specially considering the D300 has a much smaller sensor this is quite fantastic. Also I see no real loss of detail (also when activating high ISO noise reduction). Additionally, using the same focal length on both bodies would probably deliver more details on the D300 due to the "crop magnification".

I would be very interested to know what you think about the images and how they compare. Ideas how to optimize the comparisson on further shooting sessions are also very welcome.

1. Image: Canon 5D - Center Crop

2. Image: Nikon D300 - Center Crop (High ISO Noise Reduction = OFF)

3. Image: Nikon D300 - Center Crop (High ISO Noise Reduction = Normal)

Carl

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