NASA has begun using mirrorless International Space Station (ISS) cameras. It marks a significant shift from the traditional digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras they’ve relied on for years. The new camera of choice is the Nikon Z9, a high-end mirrorless camera known for its excellent image quality, low-light performance, and fast autofocus.
For many years, Nikon cameras have been trusted companions for astronauts, capturing amazing images of Earth and space. In January 2024, something exciting happened, i.e., the Nikon Z9 mirrorless camera reached the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time. This marks a big moment for space photography. They’re expected to replace the Nikon D5 DSLRs that have been in use since 2017.
Thirteen Nikon Z9 cameras, fifteen Nikkor Z lenses, and fifteen FTZ II adapters were sent to space with astronauts. These cameras are lighter and more compact than the older ones, making them perfect for space travel. They were also adjusted to handle challenges like cosmic radiation.
There are several reasons why NASA has made the switch to mirrorless cameras:
- Smaller and lighter: Mirrorless cameras are generally smaller and lighter than DSLRs, which is important for saving space and weight on the ISS.
- Better image quality: Mirrorless cameras often offer better image quality than DSLRs, especially in low-light conditions.
- Faster autofocus: Mirrorless cameras typically have faster and more accurate autofocus systems than DSLRs, which is important for capturing moving subjects in space.
- Electronic viewfinder: Mirrorless cameras have electronic viewfinders (EVFs) that provide a real-time preview of the image, which can help compose shots in challenging lighting conditions.
Technical Specifications: The Z9 has some impressive features:
- Camera Model: Nikon Z9
- Sensor: Full-frame CMOS, 45.7MP
- Image Processor: EXPEED 7
- Auto Focus: 493-point hybrid autofocus system
- Video Recording: 8K 24p, 4K 120p
- Viewfinder: 3.69M-dot electronic viewfinder
The Nikon Z9’s arrival on the ISS is a big step for space photography. With its advanced tech and small size, it’s perfect for capturing space’s wonders. However, this partnership between Nikon and NASA will help us learn more about the universe and inspire future explorers.