What is an Astro Modified DSLR Camera? (and how to get one)

Ever heard people talk about using an astro modified DSLR camera to improve their astrophotography?

See here for example, from a post on Reddit:

astro modified dslr

You might also 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.

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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 DSLRs are not designed to be sensitive to this wavelength, but with modification of the IR filter, they can be.

carina nebula
Image of the Carina Nebula by skeeze from Pixabay

How to get an infrared converted camera for astrophotography?

There are three ways to get an astro modified camera:

  1. Buy an already modified camera
  2. Have your own camera converted by a professional
  3. Perform the modification yourself on your own camera

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:

life pixel nikon conversion

Do the major camera manufacturers sell astro modified cameras?

Yes, the Canon EOS Ra is a pre-astro-modified mirrorless camera that was released in 2019 but discontinued in 2021. You can still buy it used though.

Before the Canon EOS Ra, there were also the Nikon D810A and the Canon 60Da. These were both earlier discontinued.

Canon EOS Ra Astrophotography Mirrorless Camera, Black - 4180C002

How to get your own DSLR camera astro modified

Life Pixel also offers 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).

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 and see more like this in our Astrophotography hub.

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2 thoughts on “What is an Astro Modified DSLR Camera? (and how to get one)”

    • You can purchase a Astronomik OWB Filter – Type 3 that will restore the ability of the camera to be used for terrestrial photography, like the original standard equipment filter

      Reply

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