An Italian astrophotography company, PrimaLuceLab (translated: Firstlightlab), has launched a modified version of the Nikon D5500 DSLR called the D5500a Cooled, and is aimed specifically for astrophotographers. Like an aftermarket PC mod, the 5500a Cooled is equipped with a massive heatsink and cooling system to keep the sensor temperatures down during long exposures.


PrimaLuceLab’s Nikon D5500a Cooled uses dual Peltier cells (solid-state refrigerators) to create a thermoelectric cooling effect that allows users to maintain the temperature as much as 27°C (80.6°F) below the ambient air temperatures. Keeping the sensor cool allows for longer exposures to take place without noise being created by heat. The black frame below shows the effect with the cooler on (-2°C) vs. off (20°C) at ISO 6400.

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Since the thermoelectric cooling can lead to moisture and condensation, the camera is also fitted with an anti-dewing system that prevents air from condensing on the surface of the sensor. The infrared-cut filter of the stock Nikon D5500 has been removed and replaced by a filter that allows longer red wavelengths–specifically those beyond the H-alpha line–to pass and be recorded; similar to the modifications to the Nikon D810a.


California nebula (NGC1499) captured using the D5500a Cooled

The cooling block has touch sensitive controls that adjust the value of the current temperature of the sensor, the desired temperature, the speed of the cooling fan, and the intensity of the anti-dewing system.


The PrimaLuceLabs Nikon D5500a, which comes with a 4-year warranty, is available now and costs €2190 (about $2413). If you are serious about astrophotography, this might be well worth the investment as sensor cooled cameras tend to create cleaner images. In comparison, a stock D5500 retails around $650 on B&H.


Via: DP Review