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  • Writer's pictureCelestial Events SA

Nikon's Mirrorless Z6

As a keen wildlife photographer for many years I am a true believe that beauty can be found everywhere in nature. Whether it be the sleek yet muscular silhouette of a lioness against an African sunset, or a dewdrop glistening on a spider’s sensory hairs, I have found many ways to capture the Earth’s magnificence. However, I also have a passion for the stars, and what lies beyond.

Photographing the great expanse of the night sky is a time consuming, technical and rather antisocial hobby, but the images that can achieved with today’s cameras can be simply breath-taking. There is something truly special and humbling about capturing photons of light, thousands if not millions of years old from objects so fantastical that they have to be seen to believed.

My camera of choice for many years has been the Nikon D7000 and it has proved more than capable to highlight the celestial realm, but Nikon South Africa recently allowed me to use their amazing mirrorless Z6 camera and Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 G ED lens for 2 weeks to further my exploration of the cosmos.

I have always dreamed of a using a full frame sensor, and the Z6, with its 24.5 megapixels, did not disappoint. Through Nikon’s amazing 14-24mm f2.8 lens, the Milky Way is a photographer’s dream. Its wide aperture gobbles up photons like a hungry blackhole, revealing dark dust lanes and a cacophony of hidden colours in the stellar landscape. Combine this with the Z6’s staggering good signal to noise ratio at high ISO’s and you have the perfect tool to immortalise the immeasurable intricate detail of our parent galaxy.

Tomjachu Bush Retreat is a hidden gem just outside Nelspruit and despite being less than 15kms from the city centre, boasts clear skies and wonderful natural foregrounds. Their bushveld oasis was the perfect place to test drive these new toys. Although the photographic gods tried their best to sabotage my adventure, I was able to enjoy a couple of nights of clear skies to put the Z6 through its paces, capturing the Milky Way as it slowly sank towards the western horizon.

In addition to panoramas, I was able to attach the Z6 to the back of my Meade LX 200 10” telescope in order to reach deep into the abyss of space to capture some of the hidden wonders that lurk within. Unfortunately, I was only able to image 1 object due to cloud cover and the sheer amount of data that needs to be captured. The object in question, the Helix Nebula in Aquarius: the dissipating corpse of a dead star. Despite its macabre-sounding description, planetary nebulae such as this are some of the most staggeringly beautiful objects the in the entire galaxy.

In short, the Z6 opened up possibilities that I did not know even existed. The most disappointing part of the experience (except the weather conditions!) was having to return it before really learning how to maximize its potential. Thank you Nikon for the opportunity and I hope that in the future I can embark on a longer voyage of discovery with this amazing piece of technology!

I hope the images captured speak for themselves. Over the next week I will be posting 1 photo a day for you to judge for yourself. I would love to hear your comments!

Ben Coley

Owner, Celestial Events SA


Instagram: @Celestial_Events_SA

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