Nikon D200 for night photography

Last week Andy Frazer posted a 50 minute exposure by Laura Elskan from the Nikon D200 on his night photography blog. The discussion that followed in the comments blows the doors off dSLR night photography equipment discussions -- here's why:

  1. The 10 megapixel Nikon D200 is $1400, almost half the price of a Canon 5D. Yes, the 5D has 3 more megapixels. No I don't want to start a Nikon vs. Canon debate.
  2. The Nikon D200 appears to be clean up to 15 minutes without noise reduction. As a Canon 5D shooter, I'm really amazed. The 5D is pretty clean in the 6-8 minute range, but starts to show a purple glow at the edge of the frame beyond 8 minutes. There are also D70 noise tests from the same website.
  3. The Nikon D200 reportedly does dark frame subtraction in just over half of the original exposure time. With the 5D, in camera noise reduction takes the same amount of time as the exposure. With the 5D, if I make a 20 minute exposure, then noise reduction takes 20 minutes. The D200 would apparently be able to process noise reduction in about 12 minutes. The 5D and 1DSII do allow you to start shooting again right away by holding the noise reduction in the buffer, but noise reduction eventually has to run for the exposure time. And don't run out of batteries before it does!

We'll see what the next generation of cameras holds in store for night photography. I'd like a 22 megapixel camera with clean 20 minute long exposures and a screamingly sharp 21mm f/2 prime lens, please.

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