Nikon D810A: The Best DSLR For Astrophotography In 2018

Shoot the stars in glorious full frame.

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We mentioned in an earlier review of the Nikon D810 that it is the only camera you will ever need. That’s only if you never want to aim your camera towards the heavens. The D810A is a modification of the D810 and it is designed to shoot primarily astrophotography. This happens to be the world’s first 35mm full-frame digital camera that is designed to cater to astrophotographers.

Sensor

The sensor inside the D810A is the same as the D810, a 36.3 megapixel FX format CMOS sensor with no optical low pass filter. However the difference with the D810 is that the D810A’s sensor has an IR-Cut filter that passes H-Alpha wavelength. It cuts down the infrared signals that takes down color accuracy and contrasts in images.

But the beauty of the filter is in its ability to prioritize long wavelength red lights. It is up to four times as sensitive to these red lights compared to traditional DSLR cameras where infra-red light as well as red light from the visible spectrum is also eliminated. Thus, with the D810A, it is possible to capture distant stars, nebulae and other formations with utmost clarity and color accuracy.

The 36.3 megapixel sensor is capable of shooting extremely large RAW and JPEG files (7360 x 4912 pixels).

Image Processing

The Nikon D810A uses the same EXPEED 4 image processing engine as the D810.

Auto-focusing

The same 51-point auto-focusing on the D810 is also available on the D810A. 15 of these AF points are cross-type.

ISO Sensitivity

The D810A has a native ISO range of 200 – 12800 which can be further pushed to 32 – 51200. The high ISO performance of the D810A is yet another USP. It can produce extremely clean images even at these high ISO numbers. In some cases the D810A outperforms even its sibling the D810.

Still Shooting

The FX mode of the camera allows it to shoot at a maximum of 5 fps. In the crop (DX) mode you can shoot at a maximum of 7 fps when using the MB-D12 battery grip with a set of AA batteries.

Video Shooting

The camera is capable of shooting full HD videos (1920 x 1080p) at a frame rate of 60 fps.

Rear LCD Screen

The rear LCD screen of the camera is also quite large. The 3.2” rear LCD screen has a resolution of 1,229,000 pixels. Additionally, you also get a split screen zooming feature to compare points on the image to check their sharpness and exposure.

Connectivity

No built-in wireless connectivity. You can, however, use an external Wi-Fi adapter to enable that feature.

Build Quality and Weather Sealing

Build quality of the D810A is as good as the D810. Magnesium alloy chassis with a number of weather sealing.

Conclusion

The D810A is a camera that is geared towards photographers who shoot landscape astrophotography, aurora and those sort of subjects. If you just need a full-frame camera without the OLPF then the D810 is a fantastic camera and would satisfy everything that you want out of your camera. No need to shell out the extra $1000. However, if you live and breathe astrophotography the D810A is a much better choice.

The improved highlight sensitive IR-Cut filter has a markedly improved performance when it comes to shooting distant stars, nebulae and star clusters and not to mention the Milky Way. The presence of the IR-Cut Filter will however produce some amount of red cast in your daytime images or images where you have other sources of light. It is pertinent to mention that the red cast in your images can be corrected later in post-processing.

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