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Author Topic: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?  (Read 20311 times)

Andy_Hodapp

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Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« on: April 28, 2013, 06:53:09 PM »
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.



















Canon 5D MKII, Canon 17-40mm F/4L, Canon 50mm 1.8 II, Helios 44M-4 58mm F/2, Sigma 105mm EX DG Macro F/2.8, Canon 200mm F/2.8L, Yongnuo YN-560 II

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Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« on: April 28, 2013, 06:53:09 PM »

RiceCanon

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2013, 07:38:33 PM »
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.

http://www.davidkinghamphotography.com/

inter211

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2013, 07:48:01 PM »
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

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2013, 07:50:39 PM »
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 :)
5D mk3 with grip, 300 f4 L, 100 IS Macro L, 50 f1.4, 50 f1.8, 40 f2.8 pancake, 35 f2, 1.4x TC III, Zeiss 15mm f2.8, 24 f1.4 L
580EX II, MT-24EX Macro Flash
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Axilrod

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2013, 08:01:41 PM »
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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risc32

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2013, 08:36:03 PM »
i think you want the samyang 14mm. I have one that i use for the sort of silly stuff you can do with 14mm, and astro shots. I've yet to aim it at the stars because i've been so busy, but i'm pretty pleased with it for the more earthly shots i've taken with it.

I took some shots of a wedding couple last night with it. i had to convince them to step closer, closer, closer still. "i swear, i'm not just taking a photo of your belt buckle!"

Andy_Hodapp

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2013, 09:06:54 PM »
i think you want the samyang 14mm. I have one that i use for the sort of silly stuff you can do with 14mm, and astro shots. I've yet to aim it at the stars because i've been so busy, but i'm pretty pleased with it for the more earthly shots i've taken with it.

I took some shots of a wedding couple last night with it. i had to convince them to step closer, closer, closer still. "i swear, i'm not just taking a photo of your belt buckle!"

I think you're right, I just have two questions, does the lens have a hard stop at infinity and is it sharp enough wide open?
Canon 5D MKII, Canon 17-40mm F/4L, Canon 50mm 1.8 II, Helios 44M-4 58mm F/2, Sigma 105mm EX DG Macro F/2.8, Canon 200mm F/2.8L, Yongnuo YN-560 II

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2013, 09:06:54 PM »

Niterider

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2013, 09:41:50 PM »
i think you want the samyang 14mm. I have one that i use for the sort of silly stuff you can do with 14mm, and astro shots. I've yet to aim it at the stars because i've been so busy, but i'm pretty pleased with it for the more earthly shots i've taken with it.

I took some shots of a wedding couple last night with it. i had to convince them to step closer, closer, closer still. "i swear, i'm not just taking a photo of your belt buckle!"

I think you're right, I just have two questions, does the lens have a hard stop at infinity and is it sharp enough wide open?

Yepp it does and it sure is performs wonderfully wide open.


Mr Bean

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2013, 11:42:47 PM »
Regarding the title of the post "Best lens.....", it really depends on what "best" you are after.

If its the best priced lens, then, the Samyang would fit the bill. But, its suffers from a lack of edge sharpness (coma) and it has some subtle funky distortion involved (mustache distortion).

If you want the sharpest lens, then a Zeiss, but the price can be a killer.

Personally, I bought a 15mm Zeiss for this type of work, as it's wide (the sky is a big piece of sky-scape), and sharp.

There are some 3rd party lenses that probably fit in between, but I'd always hire and try before buying, IMHO.
5D mk3 with grip, 300 f4 L, 100 IS Macro L, 50 f1.4, 50 f1.8, 40 f2.8 pancake, 35 f2, 1.4x TC III, Zeiss 15mm f2.8, 24 f1.4 L
580EX II, MT-24EX Macro Flash
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extremeinstability

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2013, 11:57:07 PM »
It's not Canon.  Probably Samyang or their other brands.  Canon is king coma both the 14L II and especially the 24L II.  I used both for that....

http://www.extremeinstability.com/2012-9-22.htm  24L II

http://www.extremeinstability.com/2012-3-30.htm  14L  II

They both have make you barf wings off points of light.  It extends so far in on full frame too.  It really has a way of killing the use for star photography. 

1.4 vs 2.8 is so huge though obviously.  So with that in mind, I'd think the Samyang 24 F1.4 would be damn tempting to give a whirl.  Wider than 24 would be nice though as it actually is limiting on Milky Way even vertical shooting.  But of course bye bye F1.4-F2.8

I now have the Zeiss 21 and Samyang 14, neither of which I've done this with yet.  Samyang 14 has some hefty vignetting wide open that may not help much.  Least it doesn't wing/coma like Canon.  I'm actually planning to take it to the Badlands for that soon on a 6D.  But really, as you can see from the F1.4 24L stuff there is potential for craziness with high ISOs.  If only 1/3 of the frame wasn't winged the hell out.  So in the end I'd say taking a 14 Samyang and 24 would be a great idea.  The 14 Rokinon version was down to what, $300 or so? 

http://www.lenstip.com/330.7-Lens_review-Samyang_24_mm_f_1.4_ED_AS_UMC_Coma__astigmatism_and_bokeh.html
http://www.lenstip.com/245.7-Lens_review-Canon_EF_24_mm_f_1.4L_II_USM_Coma_and_astigmatism.html

Least the Samyang 24 will have noticeably less wingage than the Canon.  Too bad it's not the same prices as their 14 lol. 

Apop

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2013, 03:42:16 AM »
an adapter and a nikon 14-24 ?

Frodo

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2013, 04:47:42 AM »
The Samyang 14mm f2.8 is probably the best value lens for Milky Way images.  14mm means you capture more of the night sky and it means that 30 second exposures do not produce visible star trails.  Wide open is plenty sharp and better than going to a higher ISO.  Lightroom profile corrects both vignetting and the moustache distortion without cropping too much of the image.  There is no hard stop at infinity and with some lenses, infinity is way off.  In mine it is perhaps only a couple of millimetres on the scale.

Here is a photo of Kapiti Island near my house. 5DII, Samyang 14mm f2.8, 30 sec @2.8, ISO 3200, processed in Lightroom 4.
If gear matters: 5DII, 7D, G11, Samyang 14/2.8, EF 24-105/4, EF 35/2.0IS, EF 50/2.5 macro, EF 85/1.8, EF 200/2.8II, EF 400/5.6, Ext 1.4x, Lifesize conv, Ext tube EF25, 430EXII, 270EX, Yongnuo 603C

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2013, 04:47:42 AM »

Frodo

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2013, 04:54:45 AM »
And here is the Milky Way during a hike in New Zealand's South Island.  There was quite a bright moon rising which shone on the hills, but not enough to obscure the Milky Way.  Note the absence of the yellow light from city lights in the previous photo - we were a long way from city lights!
5DII, Samyang 14mm f2.8, 30 sec @2.8 ISO 3200, Lightroom 4.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2013, 04:56:44 AM by Frodo »
If gear matters: 5DII, 7D, G11, Samyang 14/2.8, EF 24-105/4, EF 35/2.0IS, EF 50/2.5 macro, EF 85/1.8, EF 200/2.8II, EF 400/5.6, Ext 1.4x, Lifesize conv, Ext tube EF25, 430EXII, 270EX, Yongnuo 603C

Mr Bean

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2013, 08:22:36 AM »
Nice pics Frodo. I'm hoping to do the same from here (Australia). Unfortunately, either the weather or the full moon (or just past) has stopped me in the past couple of weeks.

Out of interest, how do the corners appear at 100% with that lens?
5D mk3 with grip, 300 f4 L, 100 IS Macro L, 50 f1.4, 50 f1.8, 40 f2.8 pancake, 35 f2, 1.4x TC III, Zeiss 15mm f2.8, 24 f1.4 L
580EX II, MT-24EX Macro Flash
EF 12mm and 25mm II Extension tubes

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2013, 08:22:36 AM »