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Modified camera creates clear pictures of the sky thanks to cooling mechanism

An astrophotography company released a cool modified version of the Nikon D5500 — literally. The Nikon D5500a Cooled from PrimaLuceLab adds a cooling mechanism to the back of the camera to reduce noise during the long exposures needed for shooting galaxies, star clusters, and other subjects in the night sky.

A digital camera’s sensor heats up the longer it is exposed to light and when the sensor heats up, it is more prone to creating noise in an image. A bit more noise may not be a big deal under many circumstances, but adding small grainy dots to an image of tiny pinpricks of light can create a significant quality issue.

Related: Stars shine brighter with Nikon’s new D810A astrophotography DSLR

This demo photo was shot with the Nikon D5500a Cooled

This demo photo was shot with the Nikon D5500a Cooled

Filippo Bradaschia

The Nikon D5500a Cooled solves that problem by adding a cooling mechanism to the back of the camera. That mechanism will eat away the camera battery and add a good bit of weight to Nikon’s mid-level APS-C camera, but astrophotography offers an image quality boost during those long exposures. The cooling mechanism allows the user to adjust the temperature of the sensor as well as the speed of the cooling fan with controls on the back.

Along with that large cooling back, the modified camera also adds a sensor filter designed specifically for photos of the night sky. The sensor filter increases the camera’s sensitivity to the red wavelengths.

The modifications also include an anti-dewing system and a power cable — since the cooling mechanism needs too much power to shoot on battery alone. The adjustments also mean that the tilting touchscreen cannot fold into the back of the camera for storage.

According to PrimaLuceLabs, the modified D5500a offers the quality of CCD cameras designed specifically for astrophotography, but is simpler to use, since the dedicated CCD astronomy cameras require a laptop to shoot with.

That modified camera will cost a cool $2,422 without a lens though, quite a hike from the plain D5500’s $650 list price.