Wednesday, January 31, 2007

50 Minute Exposure with a D200???

Digital night photographers have a fascination with taking longer and longer exposures at night. Part of the fascination is due to the fact that if your exposure becomes long enough, the sensor begins introducing noise to the detriment of the image. Prior to a few days ago, I was under the impression that the latest crop of DSLR's were topping out around 20 minutes, which is far cry from my five-year old Canon D60's limit of four minutes.

(photo: Laura Elskan)

Then I came across Flickr user happylaura's image below. As any night photographer will immediately notice from the length of the startrails, this exposure was significantly longer than twenty minutes. Could it have been created by stacking multiple shorter exposures?

Happylaura (her real name is Laura Elskan) took the above image with the relatively new Nikon D200. It was a single exposure, using only in-camera noise reduction. In other words, no stacking of multiple images, and no post-processing noise reduction such as NoiseNinja. The temperature? It was a brisk 30-deg F. Not unreasonably cold for any serious night photograper.

She also told me that she took another image at 109 minutes! It looks like Canon now has some serious competition in the NPy world, now.

If any other night photographers have any experience with long exposures with the D200, please post them to the comment section.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of Nikon cameras are unusable for NP if used _without_ noise reduction because of the amp noise. Noise reduction deals with it very well, but doubling time of exposure can be very frustrating. Canon doesn't have such issue - long exposures without noise reduction are pretty clean.

Anyway, don't get me wrong, I'm using Nikon for shooting at night :).

To see extreme exposures with D200 check D200 review at (including 4 hour long test shot).

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the D200 noise reduction require running for the same amount of time as the exposure? (i.e., does a 50 minute exposure requires 50 additional minutes for dark frame subtraction before the camera is usable again?)

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Joe.

The in-camera NR takes just over half the time as the original exposure. So, for the 50 minute shot, it took 25-30 minutes to do the noise reduction.

Laura Elskan :)

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can also shoot one frame (shoot a frame for the same time as your exposure with the lens cap on) for multiple exposures if they're all the same time, and then subtract that from each photo using Photoshop or other image processing program. The noise seems to be pretty consistent, as long as the ambient conditions are similar.

That's not how the D200 does it internally, but if I know I'm going to be shooting a few different night exposures with it, I'll do the frame-subtraction myself to save time in the field (and battery life).

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there really no hot pixels on that image? That is my battle with the d70 at night. I've been considering bumping up to the 5d, but I reallly like the Nikon ergonomics.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Laura -

Just this weekend I heard from another photographer that the D200 noise reduction does not take the entire exposure time. That is great news for Nikon shooters. Thanks for pushing the limits on what these tools can do and reporting back. Lovely image, too!



6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To respond to ynse, it's looking like the D200 can handle some of the more typical night shots (less than 15 minutes) *without* the need for noise reduction. See test results here:

Maybe Nikon night shooters don't need to be jealous anymore?

5:09 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Is a nice photo. I have a D200 and I never try take long exposure photos.

Looking your result im sure to try it.

Greetings from Spain

12:35 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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4:21 AM  

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