Gear Talk > Lenses

Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?

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Over the summer I am going to move to Montana, this is great because it means I am only a couple miles away for beautiful locations with almost no light pollution.  I have gotten pretty interested in star photography and I really want to capture the Milky Way.  I shoot with a Canon 5D MKII and I have a 17-40mm f/4 and 50mm 1.8 that I use when I do photograph the night sky.  I have been wondering what would be a good lens to use for capturing the Milky Way, my 50mm seems a bit to long and my 17-40mm seems to slow.  I've been thinking about getting a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 because it is wider so I can use a longer shutter speed without getting star trails and faster so I can use a lower ISO.   Having it be manual focus wouldn't seem to be that much of a problem if the infinity is well marked.  I'm just looking for other peoples inputs on what they think would be a good alterative to my two lens or if one of the lenses I already have would be well suited for this.
Here are some shots I've gotten why in Hawaii and in Montana, unluckily, it was cloudy every night for 2-5 so I never got a chance to get any Milky Way shots.

The best resource I know of for night photography is David Kingham.  He specializes in night/Milky Way photography and has a lot of great gear information and tutorials on his website.  Definitely worth checking out.

Get the 24mm f/1.4L II lens. It is definitely the best lens for Milky Way/night sky shooting. At 1.4, you take in 4 times the amount of light as 2.8. On top of that, 24mm has the perfect FOV for the Milky Way to fill the frame. IMO, there seems to be too much empty space when shooting it at <20mm

Mr Bean:
A few thoughts....
ISO 1,600 or 3,200 is a reasonable speed, without too much noise for exposures of around 30 seconds, using a lens 21mm or wider (I notice you have a 5D mk2, I have the mk3, so, I'm not sure how the mk2 compares with high ISO).

f2.8 in a lens is what you will need to keep the exposure time down. And here is where the journey starts, to find a lens that has good, wide open sharpness. If you want to do a lot of night shots, I'd suggest hiring the lens first, to give you a taste of what it's capable of.

A manual focus lens can be a good option, as they usually have a hard stop for infinity (most AF lenses don't). Makes it easier to get the focus right, while fumbling in the dark :)

I feel like you kind of answered your own question, go with the Rokinon 14mm.  It's cheap and it's really wide, you can go 40+ seconds on your exposures.  Also, I'd try shooting at ISO 3200, even with the Mark II.  Make sure your noise reduction is off and use mirror lockup. 


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