If having your very own telescope and a camera fit for astrophotography is in your bucket list, consider the Nikon P900. In-depth space exploration, stargazing, and a night sky view of the planets are just some of the activities that need a top-quality camera. Fortunately, the Nikon P900 is that one model that fits all your requirements and has various settings for all occasions.
Without further ado, let’s take a brief look at what features make up the Nikon P900:
- The camera comes with a tripod mount. The camera body itself has an average weight of around 916 g.
- The Nikon P900 can capture a multitude of images and video resolutions depending on your type of shot.
- The Zoom Nikon ED VR has 16 elements in 12 groups, plus an ED glass element. The digital zoom offers more accuracy and clarity.
- Normal focus range: 50 cm – infinity. Macro focus range: 1 cm – infinity.
- Both manual and autofocus options are available, with the latter one having an assist light setting as well.
- It comes with an eye-level viewfinder and an EVF/LCD resolution of 921,000 dots. Viewfinder type: 0.5 cm, 100% coverage, and a diopter adjustment of -3 – +1.
- Articulating screen, tilt screen, and selfie screen features are a part of this model as well.
- The ISO features are also quite remarkable in the Nikon P900. The ISO (native) range is 100 (minimum) to 6400 (maximum). An auto ISO activation and adjustment makes capturing more easy and simple.
- Shutter speed range: 1/4000 – 15 sec.
- Exposure range: ±2.0 EV in 0.3 EV steps.
- Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro HDMI, GPS, remote control, and NFC.
If you’re interested in capturing shots of the Milky Way, you’ll know that it’s tricky to do so. You’ll need a camera with specific features to make your job easier.
The P900 has a broad list of specifications and feature combinations that make it suitable for different types of astrophotography. With a brief description of some key features in the previous heading, we’ll continue ahead to explore more opportunities.
If you’re buying the Nikon P900 for Milky Way photography, here are some tips and tricks to help you get started:
Bonus Tip – Take Advantage Of Online Courses!
All of our readers can claim their two month trial of Skillshare premium without having to spend a cent! This allows you to enroll and complete their highest rated night photography course as well as their highest rated astrophotography course as well as any of their other courses that take your fancy within the two month trial. As both of these courses have been produced by professional photographers, you get the best quickly videos teaching you a ton of entry level and intermediate level tips and tricks that you are able to use with any camera body.
As they are usually premium courses that you would have to complete as well as both of the courses having an excellent reputation amongst the photography community, we would highly recommend that you give at least one of them a try. Taking advantage of the two month premium membership trial can be an excellent way to quickly improve your photography skills without having to spend any money.
1. Improve Stabilization
Photographing the Milky Way requires a set of strong hands along with fully stabilized camera settings. The Nikon P900 is a relatively stable camera model for this purpose. Your camera needs more prolonged exposure to shoot a sharp shot. This is why you need to practice stability using your hands in order to shoot long exposures without facing blurriness.
When it comes to stabilizing your camera, there are three ways to do that.
The first is by making sure your hands can steadily hold the camera in one place. You may stack or edit your images as much as you want, but you’ll need clear shots nevertheless.
Secondly, the Nikon P900 camera also comes with a decent tripod. Using a tripod stand makes your job a whole lot easier. Whether you’re on rocky planes or slanting areas, the tripod will definitely get the perfect shot. Moreover, a tripod will also make it easier to hold a large lens or a telescope if you’re integrating them into your camera.
Third, make sure you set the Vibration Reduction to a suitable option. Go to your menu, and choose the settings for vibration reduction. If you’re holding the camera, keep the reduction active, so your camera doesn’t shake too much. If you’re using a tripod, you can switch off this setting because the tripod will minimize all movements.
2. Protect Your Lens
Capturing the Milky Way entails prolonged exposure of your lens to the environment. The trick to keeping your camera safe when it comes to this type of photography is by keeping your lens safe and sound.
You see, the camera lens itself is just as critical as the settings you employ on it. Protecting the camera lens isn’t rocket science, but it does require you to be pretty careful. Even the slightest scratch can render it useless. Here’s what you should do to keep that prized possession safe and brand new:
- Using a lens pouch
Whenever you’re taking your camera outside, keep the lens off the body and store it in a lens pouch. Find high-quality lens pouches with durable material. These will last long and will survive all sorts of conditions. They’re also waterproof, shockproof, and heatproof, so you can travel anywhere with zero worries.
- Cover it with a lens cap
A lens cap works to keep your lens safe from any dust and debris when you have it on your camera. It’ll avoid scratches and will keep the internal body safe too.
- Lens pen or cloth
Keeping your lens clean is also necessary. You can use a special lens pen or cloth to wipe off the lens. Make sure these are of a suitable quality because rubbing a harsh object on your lens will ruin it.
3. Wireless Remote Control
You can use the ML-L3 remote control for Nikon P900 (separately available) to make your Milky Way shooting much easier. Wireless remote control makes it easier to take steady shots. When doing astrophotography, you’ll need to wait at intervals in order to get your shot. Select a long Auto Off time so that your camera doesn’t shut off while you’re operating it through remote control. You can select a timer and use the remote control to make your job easier.
However, you’ll need to repeatedly use the remote control if you need long exposure images since long exposure doesn’t work via remote control. If you’re using the Subject Tracking feature for moving objects, wait till it’s done before you use the remote control.
Using the remote control allows you to multitask without making a mess. It also helps to capture clear and focused shots under challenging conditions or places.
4. Get Some Reading Material
Milky Way photography isn’t something you can master overnight. Each planet, each constellation, every eclipse, all angles, light settings, etc. requires step-by-step progress. However, you’re not alone in this regard. Amateurs, hobbyists, and professional photographers alike experiment with their equipment.
At the end of the day, you’ll only be able to find your unique style after doing your research. This means you should pay attention to every detail of the instruction manual when you learn to use the camera.
Read online blogs, magazines, and reviews from fellow astrophotographers in order to learn and adapt their techniques. Keep up with social media websites and read their pieces of advice on photographing for special events.
5. Use the Autofocus
You can activate the autofocus mode from the downward multi-selector. This option has multiple focus modes. Choose the autofocus and adjust your settings.
You should use autofocus when the distance from the subject to the lens is 50 cm (1ft. 8in.) or more. At the maximum telephoto zoom position you’ll be zoomed in 5.0 m (16ft. 5in.).
When the autofocus is at infinity, it works only for a single autofocus setting. This means you may have to keep working with the camera to maintain focus on your object, but it’ll bring out a much clearer result than manual focus.
Moreover, you can change the AF area mode if you’re photographing on a wide scale, such as the sky. For movie recordings, you can choose between single AF or full-time AF. If your object is fixed or hardly moving, you can go with single autofocus. If you’re shooting a comet or a rocket or the ISS, the full-time AF may give better results.
However, the autofocus may not work well under certain conditions. If the object is too dark or if it’s hardly visible, the Nikon P900 won’t detect it. Similarly, if you’re shooting a bright object in a bright sky, the autofocus will have difficulty in finding it. Just make sure the lighting shows off your object distinctly, and your camera is placed steady in order to capture clear shots.
6. Take Advantage of Shutter Speeds
The shutter speed can be viewed and adjusted from the left-hand side of your camera screen. You can use these modes for your shutter speed settings:
- P: Programmed auto.
- S: Shutter priority auto.
- A: Aperture auto.
- M: Manual.
The extent to which you can control your shutter depends on how much you’ve zoomed in, your aperture, and ISO sensitivity. The shutter speeds and aperture value determine the exposure in your images of distant objects.
If you’re taking pictures of the Milky Way, you have a number of objects to focus on. However, each one of them is incredibly far and is rarely visible under certain conditions. Nonetheless, the Nikon P900 will help you capture them with a lot of focus and clarity.
Though the camera settings themselves are pretty versatile, astrophotography also requires your expertise. Make sure you choose a visibly clear object that contrasts with its surroundings, and can easily be captured with autofocus.
Then, depending on the level of exposure you need, adjust your aperture and shutter speeds. This will give you the most precise shot of even the most seemingly distant and blur objects.
7. Adjust F Stops Manually
F-stops or focal stops refer to the aperture opening of a camera lens, which allows light to come in. The F stop also determines the intensity of focus on, as well as around, the subject. With the intricacy involved in astrophotography, it’s essential to make sure your F stops are at just the right level.
The Milky Way is a cluster of all sorts of vibrant objects. Therefore, make sure your autofocus is set on the exact object you’re trying to capture. Adjust the focal stops until it allows the ideal amount of light into the shot.
If you can understand the science and techniques of focal stops, much of your work in Milky Way photography will be simplified. You won’t need a lot of edits, and you won’t have to worry about the object being too blurry or too faint.
Moreover, adjusting the focal stops manually will allow you to explore the various aperture and exposure options you can get with every shot!
8. Use the Scene Mode
One of the reasons why astrophotographers love the Nikon P900 is its scene mode. The myriad of settings and combinations is understandably confusing for a lot of us. Even expert photographers easily get confused under certain settings. However, this model has built-in scene settings that can give you the best results for Milky Way photography.
The Moon scene is specially designed to shoot the moon in its full swing. However, you can also use it for photographing the Milky Way. Both scenarios have a lot of similarities, so the results of the Moon mode are remarkable on the Milky Way as well.
Similarly, if you’re gazing at the night sky and find a once-in-a-lifetime view, don’t waste the opportunity. Use the Night scene mode and get the perfect focus, aperture, shutter speed, etc. to capture the moment. This ease makes the Nikon P900 your true companion even with difficult shots.
9. Functions Key
Color adjustments in editing take a lot of time if you don’t adjust your camera settings prior to your photography session. The Functions key gives you all the options you need to adjust and set suitable conditions for your shoot.
If you can work well with this feature, you’ll save yourself the trouble of editing. Instead, your pictures will turn out more authentic and real.
Activate the Virtual Horizon setting when photographing a large view. Since the Milky Way has many objects in each sight, this setting will ensure that your shots are as vibrant and colorful as the actual views are.
Moreover, this will bring out the autofocus and aperture effects even more. The virtual horizons will also adjust any abnormalities in your natural view (on slopes or rocky surfaces).