For quite some time I had been looking for a Digital Camera, which could be used both for holidays and astro-imaging.
Several of my friends (Carsten Arnholm, Paul Gordon, Peter Katreniak and Matthias Meijer) had chosen for the Nikon Coolpix 990 or 995, so I searched if I could buy such a camera.
I bided my time and mid July 2004 I bought a (used) Nikon Coolpix 995, complete with a 64Mb and a 128 Mb card.

Here is a link to a very nice Coolpix 995 User guide.

To be able to use the Nikon Coolpix 995 for astrophotography I needed an adapter, a serial cable to connect the camera with my laptop and software (Snappixx) to (remote) control the camera from my laptop.

Nikon Coolpix 995 specifications
CCD 3.34 megapixel 1/2" CCD
Image Sizes 2048 x 1536, 2048 x 1360, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480 pixels
Lens 8-32mm f/2.6-5.1 (38 - 152mm 35mm film equivalent) (plus 4x digital zoom)
28mm filter thread
Focus 5-area autofocus, spot autofocus, 50-step manual focus; close focus at middle zoom position ranges from 0.8" (2cm) to infinity.
Storage Type 1 or Type II CompactFlash card (16MB card supplied)
Shutter 8 second to 1/2300 second (some limitations in various exposure modes), plus 60-second bulb.
ISO Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, or 800
Flash Built-in TTL Speedlight with GN of 32 (10m). Slow sync, red-eye reduction, flash exposure compensation, and external Speedlights supported (requires optional sync terminal cord)
Connections USB, Video (NTSC or PAL, user selectable)
Battery Li-ion rechargeable (EN-EL1) included (Nikon claims the battery is good for about 220 frames or 110 minutes)
Viewfinder 1.8" 110,000 dot color LCD shows 97% coverage, optical viewfinder shows 85%
Included Camera, EN-EL1 battery, battery charger, USB cable, video cable, 16MB CompactFlash card, camera strap, lens cap, instruction manual, Nikon View 4 CD
Size and Weight 5.4 x 3.2 x 1.6" (138 x 82 x 40mm), 13.8 ounces (390g)

William Optics DCL-28 adapter

To mount my Nikon Coolpix 995 Digital Camera on my telescope I have bought a William Optics DCL-28 adapter which has 28mm thread and can be directly screwed on the 28mm filter thread of the camera lens, without the need for steprings.
This is important because this way the camera lens and the (included) 24mm eyepiece lens have minimal distance and thus vignetting is little.

Mounted on the camera it looks like this:

William Optics DCL-28 specifications
Focus length 24 mm
Thread Size28 mm
Height60 mm
Weight 110 g
Size 1.25" ( 31.7mm )

Nikon Serial Cable PC SC-EW3

This cable connects the Nikon Coolpix 995 with my laptop, thus enabling remote control via Snappixx (freeware).
I also found a link explaining how to modify the existing USB cable so that it also can be used as serial cable: the dual purpose (USB/RS232) cable , but I considered my soldering skills not sufficient to apply the modification.

Snappixx software (Remote Control)

Here is the link to Snappixx (freeware) for remote control of the Nikon Coolpix 995 via the serial cable.

When the serial cable arrived I did not wait long and attached the CP995 to my laptop and launched Snappixx.
It ran without any problems.

I played a bit (indoors) with the settings of Snappixx so I am confident that the next time outside I will be able to control my camera via the serial cable.

Adapting an SLR Photolens with the Coolpix 995

I had been thinking how to use my SLR Photolenses in combination with my Coolpix 995.
Here is my approach, which nicely focusses in daylight, but yet has to be tested 'under the stars'.


From left to right:
  • 300mm SLR Photolens with standard M42 thread [outside]
  • standard TAL-2M eye piece holder [came with my TAL-2M telescope] with M42 thread [inside] and 1.25 inch diameter on the other end
  • standard William Optics DCL-28 adapter including 24mm eye piece and 28 mm thread [outside] for the Coolpix 995
Also see my piggy-back solution for this combination.
Note: as I have sold my TAL-2M this part will be updated in due course.



Zooming in on my observatory:

Coolpix 995 with own lens and max. wide.
Exposure 0.0067 seconds at f/3.7





Coolpix 995 with own lens and max. tele.
Exposure 0.0232 seconds at f/5.1





Coolpix 995 with 300mm SLR Photolens, DCL-28 and max. tele.
Exposure 0.0295 seconds at f/5.1
The first not-too-bad astro image with my Nikon Coolpix 995.
August 6, 2004 03:22 UT. The 20 day and 11 hour old moon.
Captured with 300mm SLR Photolens with DCL-28 and Coolpix 995.

For better focusing: Skytronic 351.068 b/w external monitor


Focusing on the small LCD screen of the Coolpix 995 is not easy, and after a long search I found the Skytronic 351.068 b/w monitor, which o.a. has a Video In connector.
This monitor is originally intended as security monitor: you can see the antenna for wireless operation with a remote camera. If only my Coolpix 995 had wireless facilities ...
I do not know the technical specifications of the monitor, but during a demonstration in the local shop I was happily surprised with the high resolution (better than a normal TV set): exactly what I was looking for.
Also I think this monitor is better than an LCD screen, especially when imaging in daylight, such as the sun.

In the meantime I have used this monitor both when imaging the sun and at night: works like a dream.
I also learned that - with the Coolpix 995 set at infinity - I should focus at maximum telezoom and NOT at maximum widezoom and then zoom in: I wound up with out-of-focus images ....

Power requirements: the monitor runs on 13.5V DC and I assume 12V DC will be OK too; 220V AC -> 13.5V DC adapter is included.
Price: Euro 56,95

I have put the monitor on top of my 12V power supply: a nice spot and easy for me to see.

Solar Imaging Setup

My Solar Imaging Setup
For more information about my setup please visit the relevant Equipment pages

Conclusion

After several years the reality is that I seldom use the Coolpix 995 for astro-imaging: my other cameras do a much better job !