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Nikon presented the new Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera in August 2018 and offers advanced technical features that make it perfect for use in astrophotography with telescopes. For this reason we chose the Nikon Z6 and we decided to create our AstroKit together with the Z-M48 adapter that we are specifically designing and that converts the new and large 55mm diameter Nikon Z bayonet into an M48 thread for a simple connection to telescopes. The Adapter can also accommodate 50.8mm (2”) mounted filters as an added convenience.
We are working with Nikon to develop the AstroKit and to integrate the support of the Nikon Z6 in our EAGLE system, this is how we want to proceed:
1) we will precisely study the dimensions of the new bayonet and develop the Z-M48 adapter to connect the camera to the telescopes
2) we will develop the Giotto filter drawer to connedt to the Nikon Z6 and to allow users of Nikon mirrorless to change the filter without disassembling the camera and to have an integrated off-axis guider, all while maintaining the sensor at 55mm from the front M48 thread of the adapter. This way it will be possible to connect the entire camera + filter drawer + off-axis guider system directly to most of the correctors / reducers for telescopes.
3) we will test the remote control via USB of the Nikon Z6 through software in Windows environment to allow remote control with EAGLE
4) if possible (depending on the remote-control commands via USB provided by Nikon) we'll add the remote control of the Nikon Z6 in EAGLE CORE
5) we'll check the camera power requirements and create a power adapter to power the Nikon Z6 directly from the EAGLE (this way removing the original battery and preventing the possibility of running out of battery during astrophotography sessions).
1) New Nikon Z bayonet:
For the new Z series, Nikon has specially developed a new Z bayonet that offers a larger diameter (55mm) than the previous Nikon F bayonet used in all Nikon DSLRs. A wider bayonet offers greater free opening that minimizes vignetting even with fast focal ratios optical systems. This makes it perfect for use even with fast focal ratio telescopes. Nikon Z cameras are not compatible with the classic Nikon T2 and M48 rings.
2) Sensor placed at only 16mm from the bayonet:
The mirrorless design of the Nikon Z6 allows for the senor of the camera to be positioned closer to the bayonet and then to allow optical systems even with short backfocus to reach prime focus. Since there are no moving parts, this also means that the shutter flip does not shake the imaging setup, ruining exposures due to vibrations. In some situations, the placement of the sensor allows for prime focus on Newtonian based telescopes without the need of a Barlow lens or tele-negative lens.
3) Large FullFrame sensor (24x36mm) with 24 MP:
The Nikon Z6 offers a sensor with 24MP equal to 6048×4024 with a pixel size of 6 microns. This feature is a great advantage in astrophotography as it helps to maintain less background noise than cameras with sensors (of comparable quality) with smaller pixels. The 6 micron size also makes it ideal as a camera for the most common focal lengths of telescopes: for example the resolution capacity with a 1000mm focal length telescope is 1.24".
4) Z-M48 adapter with connection for 50,8mm diameter filters:
We are designing a Z-M48 adapter to convert the Z bayonet to an M48 thread, commonly used in photographic adapters for telescopes. The M48 size, which differs from the standard T-thread, to allow for a larger imaging circle. This adapter will have a low profile (to allow the camera + adapter backfocus to be less than 30mm) and will allow you to insert a 50,8mm (2") diameter filter. This way you can easily insert a light pollution reduction filter in front of the camera sensor. With the addition of the optional Giotto filter drawer, users can change filters without disassembling their imaging setup and have an integrated off-axis guider, this way having the sensor at a perfect distance of 55mm from the M48 front thread. This is a big advantage when used with focal reducers and field flatteners as the entire system easily accommodate the 55mm backfocus usually requested.
Q: Is the camera already available?
A: No, the Nikon Z6 will be available from December 2018 and we are waiting for the delivery of the first elements to finalize our adapter and send it into production. If you are interested, you can pre-order our Nikon Z6 AstroKit by emailing us to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Sony already produces mirrorless Full Frame cameras, why don't you use these models?
A: Sony does not allow you to control the camera through the USB port (which is normally done with all Nikon and other brands cameras). For this reason, astrophotography software does not support Sony A7 cameras and, in the same way, we cannot integrate Sony mirrorless cameras in our EAGLE system.
Q: Why did you choose the Nikon Z6 and not the Z7 for your AstroKit?
A: Nikon presented two new mirrorless at the same time: the Nikon Z6 and the Nikon Z7. The Z7 has a Full Frame sensor with higher resolution (8256 × 5504, 45.4MP) which, therefore, uses smaller pixels (about 4 microns). In addition, the Z7 has a higher cost so we selected the Z6 as a camera that we suggest for telescope use.
Q: My telescope uses the M42 T-Thread, what can I do to use the system?
A: There are a wide selection of M48-M42 adapters widely available on the market. We highly recommend using M48 when using FullFrame cameras, to ensure the largest possible imaging circle and avoid vignetting.
|Sensor||Nikon CMOS 24MP|
|Resolution||6048 × 4024|
|Sensor dimensions (mm)||35.9mm x 23.9mm|
|Sensor diagonal (mm)||43.5|
|Pixels dimensions (µm)||6|
|Readout Noise (e-)||No|
|ST4 integrated autoguide port||No|
|Telescope interface||Baionetta Nikon Z|
|Connection to PC||USB-C|