Ever heard people talk about using an “astro modified” DSLR camera to improve their astrophotography?
See here for example, from a post on reddit:
You might have heard other terms thrown around like “full-spectrum camera conversion” or “IR modified camera”.
But what does it mean, how does it affect astrophotography, and how to get an astro modified camera?
Read below to find out.
What is an astro modified DSLR camera and how does it help astrophotography?
Astro modified cameras are regular DSLRs where part of the infrared (IR) filter has been removed to allow it to processes color from deep sky objects better.
Specifically, this makes it more capable of capturing images of nebulae by better capturing the Hydrogen Alpha spectral line (656nm) – this is the precise color emitted by hot clouds of Hydrogen gas that occur in emission nebulae.
Regular DSLR are not designed to be sensitive to this wavelength, but with modification of the IR filter it can be.
How to get an infrared converted camera for astrophotography?
There are three ways to get an astro modified camera:
- Buy an already modified camera
- Have your own camera converted by a professional
- Perform the modification yourself on your own camera
1. How to buy an astro modified camera
You can buy infrared converted cameras from certain companies.
Life Pixel is a great website that sells astro modified cameras.
See here for example, they offer an infrared converted Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera:
Do the major camera manufacturers sell astro modified dslr cameras?
They used to. Canon previously offered the 60Da, and Nikon sold the D810A (for both of these the “A” stood for astrophotography.)
However, these cameras are hard to find these days and it doesn’t seem as if Nikon and Canon plan to update them.
See our article on the Nikon D810A and the death of the specialist astrophotography DSLR.
If you want to get hold of one of these cameras, your best bet is to try a trusted second-hand camera seller like KEH Camera.
Another place to try is Amazon, where there are often pre-owned versions for sale. Check the links below:
2. How to get your own DSLR camera astro modified
Life Pixel also offer to modify your camera by manually altering the sensor for you.
This is cheaper than buying a pre-modified model (above), but less risky than trying to do it yourself (below).
3. How to modify your own DSLR
There are tutorials available online to show you how you can go through the process of opening up your camera.
See for example here:
Obviously, there is a risk involved in taking your own camera apart and playing around with the insides and so be sure that it is what you want to do before starting the process!
Are astro modified cameras worth it?
Please let us know if you have any experience of buying an infrared converted camera for astrophotography, or of converting a camera yourself.
How did it go and was it worth it? Let us know in the comments below.
Please also check out our article on the best cameras for astrophotography.