Capturing images of the night sky is no easy task. You need a camera with particular features that can assist you in astrophotography, and you also have to understand its functions very well. One of the best cameras for this kind of photography is the Nikon D7000. It is equipped with the best sensors and features that help you take the most incredible pictures of the stars and galaxies above you. If you work it right, you may be able to capture things that even you can’t see.
The D7000 comes with a 23.6 x 15.6 mm CMOS sensor, which will give you the highest resolution images that reveal every star that hovers above you. It does so using the RGB color filter array and the built-in fixed low-pass filter. Both of these features allow your images to be crisp and brightly focused. With 16.2 million effective pixels, you can be sure to zoom in all you want without your image pixelating or breaking. Such features will give you the most breathtaking pictures of the stars, galaxies, and any astronomical entity you want to capture.
If you have decided on dedicating your time to astrophotography, then be ready to spend lots of time under the open sky and take in all that it has to offer. The results will be gratifying but only after lots of effort and hard work. At times you may want to give up, or you may find the camera a little difficult to operate, but in those moments, you must tell yourself to persevere.
Here are 5 tips on using the Nikon D7000 for astrophotography.
Astrophotography can be tiring, and the process might seem tedious, but you can always imagine the experience as being meditative. Being patient is vital because the world and the stars move at a different pace than us. The earth is currently rotating at around 1000 miles per hour, and you don’t feel it because of the gravitational pull. But you should remember that this is an incredibly fast speed, and because of this, your pictures may get distorted or come out blurred. However, you need to keep trying.
The nature of astrophotography is based on trial and error, and you might have to take many bad pictures before you end up with a decent one. You may also have to change the camera settings many times before you finally figure it out. So it is obviously experimental and will depend on how fast you can figure your camera out. The Nikon D7000 will assist you immensely in this regard.
With this camera, you will be able to use the viewfinder or the screen to take your pictures. It comes with an eye-level pentaprism viewfinder that has 100% coverage and a 0.94x magnification. It also gives you a type B BriteView clear matte screen Mark II with AF area brackets that help you figure out the image’s focus and framing. Alongside this, you are also provided with dedicated ports for remote photography where you won’t have to click the shutter button, which can potentially distort your image.
In order to get that perfect shot, you need to take into consideration the composition of the image. Now, taking pictures of the stars and the galaxies is all okay, but there are thousands of photos of the same stars taken the same way. Through composition, you can create your own distinctive way of photographing the night sky. The first step to doing this is to adjust the framing. You have to look at the horizon line and make sure that it complements the sky but is not intruding too much.
A simpler way to add something exciting and distinctive is to place an aesthetic element in your scenery. It can be a tree, a rock, a mountain, a human, or even a car. If you place any item that directly contradicts with the sky, the image will turn out to be great. This is called creating contrast. Different elements will give the image a different feel, but each image will be equally pleasing to the eye. Once again, the Nikon D7000 can be your best friend who helps you through this.
With its built-in diopter adjustment (-3 to +1.0m-1), you can use the viewfinder to locate any item in the distance and create remarkably proportioned images. In fact, the D7000 offers 39 AF points and 9 cross-type sensors, which can help you focus on both the element in front of you and the elements in the sky. You don’t have to worry about the mountain getting blurry images of the stars. You will have both!
Travel When You Need To
No photography is easy. You have to continually work hard and navigate places that will give you the optimal results. Astrophotography may require you to travel between locations. As mentioned above, you may want to add elements to the image, and for that, you will need to travel. Sometimes, you may not find a place suitable for astrophotography, or the background lighting is too harsh, or there may be too much dust in the air. All these problems are very real, and they may require you to move about.
To combat these issues and get better results, you would have to travel to more convenient places. You will have to find places where you can see the sky clearly from. It is highly inconvenient if you do astrophotography in cities. The surrounding brightness causes the stars to dim down. You are left with a very bright image with barely anything visible. So you will have to go someplace remote, or far away from the city, preferably in the desert or in the mountains.
With the Nikon D7000, you can move around relatively easily. It is a very light camera that weighs less than a kilogram, so you can travel without it being a burden. With its magnesium alloy body and self-cleaning sensor unit, you can also be sure to take it to the desert or the mountains without the threat of it breaking or malfunctioning. It also has an operating temperature range of 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, you can travel to the harshest conditions and still use the camera. Additionally, its lithium-ion battery will make sure it functions even after you have traveled a great distance without recharging.
Know Bulb Mode
The most essential part of astrophotography is knowing the bulb mode. The bulb mode is essentially the shutter speed. When photographing anything in the daytime, you will need a fast shutter speed to capture prompt reactions. Still, at night you need to open the shutter for as long as possible to get as much light in as possible. This way, you will be able to get many more stars in the image.
The Nikon D7000 has a minimum shutter speed of 1/8000 seconds and a maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds. Keeping your shutter open for 30 seconds is the best way to photograph the night sky. This is because the mirror inside the camera will absorb light coming from the sky for 30 seconds and will produce an image out of the light that is collected. Unlike the human eye, the camera can be manually programmed to absorb any amount of light. This way, it can sometimes see things that even we aren’t able to.
The D7000 has incredible features that assist with the bulb mode. With the TTL exposure metering, the camera uses a 2016-pixel RGB sensor to decide how much light goes in. It also has several exposure modes, including aperture-priority, automatic, bulb, i-TTL program flash, manual, program, and shutter-priority. All of these are paramount in deciding on what kind of image you want.
Low ISOs Are Essential
Last but not least is the ISO level. As a continuation of what is said above, ISO levels are also prime players in how much light enters the camera. The shutter speed and ISO levels go hand in hand. Usually, it goes something like this: the higher the ISO level, the higher the shutter speed, and the lower the brightness of the image. This is because at high ISO levels, the camera doesn’t have to worry about letting light enter the image, so you can use these levels in daylight photography where natural light is available.
At night, the game changes, and you will need a very low ISO level to capture anything visible. Doing this will cause your shutter speed to go down because the camera will need time to let light enter the mirrors. However, if you’re using a sturdy tripod and controlling the camera through a remote, it shouldn’t be a problem.
The Nikon D7000 has ISO levels that range from 100-26500. ISO 100 is optimal to showcase bright stars and galaxies for astrophotography. This camera also has an exposure compensation of ±5 EV range, in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps. These features help take pictures in all kinds of conditions where you don’t have to worry about configuring the camera repeatedly. So grab your D7000 and reach the stars.