Nikon SLR for Long exposures

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by SunnyHours, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. SunnyHours

    SunnyHours Member

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    Hi everyone!

    Since I'm on a tight budget and I can't afford getting a good RF and a new wide angle for my Nikon DSLR, I thought I might combine needs, and get a (smaller than my dslr) 35mm Nikon SLR and a 20mm AF-D lens with it :D

    I'm mostly active during the night and I'd love to have a try at Star Trails on film, so long exposures is a must. So is support for AF-D lenses. Aperture priority could be a nice feature to have as well.

    As you probably guessed I'm new to film, if I use a film that is faster than the max speed on the camera, I get the meter reading and just compensate with shutter/aperture by the number of stops required?

    Also when someone says "I've pushed ASA400 film to ASA800" what does that mean? Did they just double the exposure or does it have a mechanical implication in the camera?
    It'll be my first time with MF so a bright and clear VF is in order :tongue:

    I've been looking at the Nikon FG, FG-20 and EM as they are cheaper than the others. What could be a better investment?
     
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  2. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    You're better off buying a fully manual camera like the FM. Shooting star trail requires very long exposure and is not possible in aperture priority mode. The meter would be wrong because startrail pictures include mostly dark sky. The light level is too low and is below what the meter can read accurately. None camera in aperture priority mode would have long enough shutter speed for star trail. You must do it in manual using B or T. If you use a film that is faster than the max speed of the camera you can compensate but I don't think you can find film that is faster than the max ISO on most cameras. When someone say pushing 400 to 800 they mean that they would set the ISO at 800 and shoot it just like 800 film. And then when they have the film processed the film will have to have be pushed processed generally by leaving the film in the developer longer than normal.
     
  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Pushing film is rating it faster than the manufacturers speed(ISO) When you change the rating, 400->800, technically it's no longer ISO but becomes YOUR EI(exposure Index). You're giving the film less exposure. In this case by 50%. Development needs to be compensated with longer times.
     
  4. DBP

    DBP Member

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    Unless you are going to go for an F4 or F5, support for all the metering in AF-D lenses, not to mention autofocus, will be incompatible with your other needs. But then metering the night sky won't work anyway. For long exposures a camera with mirror lock up is ideal. That includes the Nikkormats/Nikomats and the F series (though the F itself makes you waste an exposure). Best bet would be an F2, F3, or Nikkormat, with the latter being much much cheaper. Night photography is pretty much a dedicated use for my Nikkormat Ftn at this point, as I use an FE2 or F3 or a pair of F100s for everything except time exposures. But it was my primary camera for 15 years, and my Dad's for a 15 before that and there is little it can't do.
     
  5. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Nikon F3 bodies, especially those that aren't pretty, are very affordable. They have both a B and T setting that draws very little power for long exposures.
     
  6. SunnyHours

    SunnyHours Member

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    I just bought a cleaned Nikon FM...Does it have the B and T setting (I'm guessing it's the BULB equivalent?)
    Hopefully I made the right choice...for 110$ shipping included
     
  7. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    The FG has manual mode - as well as aperture priority auto exposure, and has battery independent fully mechanical M90 (1/90) as well as bulb setting for long exposures.
    It does not have MLU but if you use the timer, it will lock up the mirror first before it fires the shutter. Very elegant MLU solution.
     
  8. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Yes the FM has bulb setting. You can get a copy of the manual at Lensinc
     
  9. SunnyHours

    SunnyHours Member

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    Thank you for the link Les Sarile! Any cheap lens alternative I could check out? Hopefully in the Normal or Wide angle focal length under 100$, 150$ tops?
    Are you sure AF-D lenses wouldn't work? I thought it was only G lenses that won't work?
     
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  10. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Nikon AF lenses work just fine on FM's. It's the G series that don't.
     
  11. SunnyHours

    SunnyHours Member

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    Thanks, for a second I thought I had made a mistake buying the FM :tongue:
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    To me, an F seems like the best choice for shooting star trails, or long exposures in general. It's about as straightforward as it gets. No batteries to run out. Just put the camera on T and shoot (or use B and a locking cable release). They are also cheap for the amount of quality you get.

    The problem with my suggestion is that I am not up to speed on the various Nikon lens designations, so I don't know if an AF-D lens has an aperture ring or not. If not, please ignore everything I've said...
     
  13. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    AF & AF-D have aperture rings. The "D" in an afd stands for distance information that is relayed to the camera for flash calculations.

    The newer ultrasonic type motor "G" lenses do not have aperture rings.
     
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  15. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    FM's are all manual, just like the old F's were. FM2's are the same and newer, to boot.

    They have the advantage of being smaller, usually cheaper, and being newer than an F or F2 are usually (I say usually) in better shape.
     
  16. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    n6006, has the T setting on it and has AF
     
  17. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    AF for shooting star trails? Hmmmm....:alien:

    Maybe you could also use a built-in flash! :wink:
     
  18. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Using the built in flash would demand some serious calculations.
    1. Shoot the flash.
    2. Go back home and calculate the distance to see in what year you should be back to open the shutter (in case any of you photons would make it back).

    I like the idea
     
  19. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    On a more serious note, from what I know of astrophotography (admittedly, not much), maybe it would be better to choose the lens first, then the camera.

    While any lens which is sharp in the corners and has low distortion (for example, the Micro-Nikkor 55 2.8 AI - good also at infinity) should do, for best results, a lens which is good for night photography should be chosen.
    This often includes, but is not limited to, "Noct" lenses. Apparently the trick is low coma and flare/reflections.
    Also, many non-Noct lenses which do well are not made by Nikon. As it's a relatively small group of lenses, maybe you should do some more investigating, there are some astrophography sites, or repharse your original question.

    Have fun!
     
  20. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    Standard 50mm F1.8 Nikkor is your best bet. Use a piece of tape to lock the lens at infinity. A heavy duty tripod with a good lockable head and maybe some sand bags. If you use a nice quality locking cable release and a piece of card in front of the lens you don't need mirror lock:just set the speed to B with the card over the lens, lock the shutter open and then remove the card. Try 75 minutes at f 5.6 for a clear sky beginning 2 hours after sundown facing North using 400Asa film . If you are shooting during a full moon you may pick up lunar illumination. Aircraft will also leave trails.

    David
     
  21. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    you never know, some green guys from Mars might show up, don't wanna miss the photographic opportunity :D
     
  22. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Jeesh, just use a manual lens.
     
  23. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Here are some of my star trail notes:

    Camera:
    Battery independent Nikon F2
    (I would not hesitate using a Nikon FM series camera if I had one)

    Lens:
    Normal to wide (50mm to fisheye)

    Support:
    Tripod

    Misc:
    Locking cable release
    Stiff black felt square (5 ½ x 5 ½ inch) to block unwanted light on lens from motor vehicles and air craft.

    Exposure suggestion:
    ISO 100; f/8; 30 minutes plus film reciprocity
     

    Attached Files:

  24. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I have friends who have autofocus lenses and have a difficult time achieving good focus because it's difficult/impossible for the AF mechanism to focus on stars and because many autofocus lenses typically focus past infinity, making it very hard to focus manually on screens that weren't made for that.

    I've found with manual focus SLR and rangefinder lenses that the infinity stop works very well for tracked stars and star trails.

    A plastic cup that fits over the lens and is either black or lined with black material is a great aid for blocking plane and satellite trails.

    Also be sure that you don't have any leaks from an electronic viewfinder display onto the film with long exposures. I have one SLR that does that, but it has a mechanical B setting, so I can use it, but have to pull the batteries first. Many electronic shutters run the batteries down very quickly with time exposures. My DSLR using friends have to bring an outboard power supply for their cameras.

    Some lenses are best stopped down 1/2 to a full stop for best image quality, especially at the corners. Test.

    I'm not a real Nikon user, so I can't speak to specific appropriate bodies.

    Lee
     
  25. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    Well considering all of that, forget the n6006 and use a Nikon F or F2. Or a Nikkormat, I have the Nikkormat and it is absolutely fantastic, all the heavy metal kerchung of the F without the pricetag. You can find them for next to nothing, I have seen flawless copies trade for as little as 25 dollars. I got mine free in a lens deal, I purchased a set of lenses from a seller on Craigslist and he threw it in for free.

    I also purchased a Nikkormat FT2 for 40 bucks with a 50mm f1.4 pre-AI, which is a regular Nikkormat with a flash hotshoe and the ability to meter AI and AI-S lenses. I ended up selling it for 100 bucks with a 28 f3.5 attached to it.

    The only caveat is you must use a shutter cord with a locking mechanism, I made the mistake of buying one that doesn't, unless you want to hold a cord for 5 hours.

    Do not use the Nikkormat EL, it has an electronic shutter and thus uses batteries. All other Nikkormats (I have the first-generation FTN) use a battery for the metering system.

    Also, this may or may not be myself bragging about the low-light AF of my EOS Canon 5D digital, but I can AF it at night using radio towers in the distance with their indicators on. I set the focus to center focus, set the metering to spot metering on AF point (not necessary but I find it helps) trip the AF and I'm golden. I have used it to AF a lens that went onto a 35mm EOS with poor low-light AF with success. I'll AF it on my 5D, mark it with something in case it moves, set the focus to manual and turn off the stabilizer, throw it on my EOS 650 and get tack sharp exposures.
     
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  26. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Should have thought to mention:

    You can use a diffraction mask in front of the lens to create diffraction spikes, making it easier to see when you're in focus on a star with an autofocus lens and SLR body. You can purchase them online or make them yourself. Here are links to two different styles most commonly in use these days:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahtinov_mask
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carey_mask

    But I'm not sure how well these would work on a wide angle lens.

    Lee