An Italian astrophotography company called PrismaLuceLab has launched a modded version of the Nikon D5500 DSLR. Called the “D5500a Cooled,” the camera uses a special cooling system mounted on the back to chill the sensor and reduce noise during long-exposure photos.
“It’s the first ever cooled Nikon camera ever for astrophotography,” PrismaLuceLab CEO Filippo Bradaschia tells PetaPixel. Cooled CCD cameras generally have better performance in astrophotography compared to traditional DSLRs, but Bradaschia is aiming to narrow the gap with his company’s new modified DSLR. Unlike other CCD astro cameras on the market, the D5500a Cooled can be used without a computer.
The cooling system is a box that protrudes from the LCD screen space on the camera back — the LCD screen is kept in a flipped out position to the side of the camera. Temperatures inside the camera are reduced by a double Peltier cell by as much as 27°C (~80.1°F) compared to ambient temperature, dramatically reducing noise.
Here’s a “dark frame” comparison at ISO 6400 of a photo with the cooling system on and sensor at -2°C (left) and with the cooling system off and sensor at 20°C (right):