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Author Topic: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?  (Read 21573 times)

CarlTN

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #30 on: May 09, 2013, 02:00:56 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/

Interesting info, thank you.

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #30 on: May 09, 2013, 02:00:56 PM »

lilmsmaggie

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #31 on: May 09, 2013, 03:20:14 PM »
I'm not a fanboy and I'm not biased but -- She's good at what she does.  Her photographs speak for themselves.  Not everyone shoots wide open and all fast UWA lenses shot at their maximum aperture will exhibit similar issues. 

I've personally seen Jennifer's work - not just night sky stuff.  She lives here in the Sacramento area (actually, she's from Davis, CA.)  She belongs to a member-owned photographic gallery of which I happen to be a member of as well.  Most of her night sky work have exposure times of 30 minutes or less depending on subject, lens employed, her photographic vision and conditions.

Remember, that the lenses in question, e.g. Canon, Rokinon, Sigma, etc. were not designed for astronomical use in mind but for terrestrial applications.  The problem I'm seeing from reading reviews of the Rokinon is QC, and decentering being chief among them.   I'm mean who wouldn't want a lower cost alternative?  As a matter of fact, I'm tempted to see what the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC is capable of doing and will probably rent one to get my own real-world results of night sky images.

Personally, I'd rather use a wide-field telescope or Astrograph and even some of the optics in these designs depending on subject being imaged and atmospheric conditions will exhibit coma --  Obviously, the advantage of shooting night sky images with a lens at its widest aperture is to reduce exposure time and noise -- IMHO stopping down the lens to achieve better results is not necessarily a disadvantage.





She uses many of Canon's UWA and WA lenses including the 24 1.4L to photography the night sky.
Granted, she has access to high quality gear via CPS but she recommends stopping this lens down to 2.8 or even 5.6 to reduce coma. 

Just what one wants to have to do with the expensive as hell 24L they just bought, stop it down to F2.8 or gasp F5.6.  Must be cool to be restricted by being tied to Canon when giving recommendations. 

Stopping way down for say Milky Way shots isn't using the limitations knowledge of the gear to their advantage.    It's using just Canon gear to their disadvantage.
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LOALTD

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #32 on: May 10, 2013, 03:50:16 PM »
The Canon 24/1.4 II seems like the intuitive choice but, as others have pointed out, the coma is really, really bad.  Even stopped down to f/2.8 it’s still quite bad.  It’s almost gone by f/4.0 but…now you’re shooting f/1.4 glass at f/4.0…how does that make you feel?

I’ve been researching this for quite a while and I’m about 95% of the way to buying:
The SamyRokiowyer 14 f/2.8

Not just because it’s cheap, it seems to have FAR better coma-control than anything else available.  I also have a buddy that uses one of these almost exclusively for star-work, and the results are impressive.

I’m a CPS member and have been auditioning tons of lenses that are 50mm and wider…and most Canon glass doesn’t cut it for one reason or another.  The fast glass needs to be stopped down a ton before you get rid of the coma artifacts.  The slow glass (like the 17mm and 24mm tilt shifts) is pretty damn good but…it’s slow…you have to really crank hard on the ISO.

I’ve rented the Zeiss 15 and 21’s but I never had good skies while I was renting them so I couldn’t test them.  Anyone test these bad boys out yet?  Curious if the coma is well-controlled or not.

noisejammer

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #33 on: May 10, 2013, 05:13:20 PM »
Lens selection is part of the problem - but it's quite feasible to use a 50/1.8. It doesn't even matter if your fastest lens is f/2.8. Here's how...

Apart from the most astrophotography, there's no real reason to limit yourself to ultrawide lenses or short exposures. It's quite possible to use easily run 5 minute exposures with a 200 mm lens if you're willing to construct a "barn door tracker."

Basically, the tracker is two pieces of wood connected with a hinge. A screwed rod and an elastic band connect the pieces of wood - one pulls and the other pushes. Now you point the hinge at the north celestial pole (which is located very close to Polaris) and push using the screwed rod. Here's a really good design... http://www.garyseronik.com/?q=node/52 .

Note that this model has a ball head for the camera (so you can point it anywhere) and another ball head (to allow the hinge to be aligned with the earth's rotation.) If you have one, a Manfrotto or Arca-Swiss Cube are better choices for mounting the lower plate but there are far less expensive solutions.

If you do get into using a tracker, it's quite feasible to record galaxies - the Magellanic clouds, M31/M101 and M33 are easy. This does require a measure of sophistication in your image processing - in particular you need to learn about minimising camera noise. This is a good reference http://astropix.com/ but I recommend you buy Jerry's e-books.

Ok - on the Zeiss 25/2
I have one of these. It's an expensive piece of glass. It's also probably the sharpest lens of it's type available. It is certainly sharper than the 21/2.8. Be aware that the 24L has considerable focus curvature. The Zeiss has some but it's better controlled. If you're after the very best possible, the Zeiss 50/2 MP and 135/2 are beyond compare in the SLR business. Both are quite capable of resolving stars to a couple of pixels over the entire frame. It is extremely difficult to focus with sufficient accuracy - magnified live view is the only way and since temperature can swing things around, you're silly if you rely on the lens' hard stop.

Finally - the obligatory plug. If you're interested in astrophotography with a camera, why not join the Canon DSLR Digital Astrophotography group on Yahoo! We have nearly 2900 members (not all of whom are active)
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Canon_DSLR_Digital_Astro/

Full disclosure - I'm one of the moderators.

CarlTN

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #34 on: May 10, 2013, 05:28:50 PM »
Ok - on the Zeiss 25/2
I have one of these. It's an expensive piece of glass. It's also probably the sharpest lens of it's type available. It is certainly sharper than the 21/2.8. Be aware that the 24L has considerable focus curvature. The Zeiss has some but it's better controlled.

Sorry to quote out of context, but this is directly contrary to what Lensrentals found when they tested the Zeiss 25mm f/2.  They found it was not all that sharp, and I assume tested several copies.

The Canon 24/1.4 II seems like the intuitive choice but, as others have pointed out, the coma is really, really bad.  Even stopped down to f/2.8 it’s still quite bad.  It’s almost gone by f/4.0 but…now you’re shooting f/1.4 glass at f/4.0…how does that make you feel?

I’ve been researching this for quite a while and I’m about 95% of the way to buying:
The SamyRokiowyer 14 f/2.8

Not just because it’s cheap, it seems to have FAR better coma-control than anything else available.  I also have a buddy that uses one of these almost exclusively for star-work, and the results are impressive.

I’m a CPS member and have been auditioning tons of lenses that are 50mm and wider…and most Canon glass doesn’t cut it for one reason or another.  The fast glass needs to be stopped down a ton before you get rid of the coma artifacts.  The slow glass (like the 17mm and 24mm tilt shifts) is pretty damn good but…it’s slow…you have to really crank hard on the ISO.

I’ve rented the Zeiss 15 and 21’s but I never had good skies while I was renting them so I couldn’t test them.  Anyone test these bad boys out yet?  Curious if the coma is well-controlled or not.

I rented the 24mm f/1.4 ii, a couple of years ago.  I only used it on a crop camera.  I found that the image did not get sharp toward the corners until stopped down to f/6.3.  I can't imagine how much worse it would have been on a full frame.  And this was just standard daytime "terrestrial" outdoor shooting.  I didn't even bother trying any Milky Way shots with it. 

As wide angle lenses go, I will just come out and say it.  This particular Canon, does seem to represent a poor value.  The Zeiss 21mm Distagon, even though priced a bit higher and "only" f/2.8, would rank a far higher value for money, in my opinion (despite the above).

That said, I am leaning more towards the Tokina 16-28 zoom, but some have said it exhibits weird "halo" flare around things like street lights, at night.  That would not be good for shooting the stars, Milky Way, and upcoming "brighter than the full moon and visible in daytime" comet... 

A friend of mine has this lens for his 7D (go figure), so I plan to try it on my 6D, before I decide which lens to buy.  His daytime shots with it look fantastic (except for the 7D's noise), and I have not noticed any flare. 

Regarding the Rokinon 24mm...I have not yet tried it, but I own their 85mm f/1.4, and it is quite nice.  Very sharp, not decentered, basically no CA that I can see, even in the full frame corners.  It is supposedly an old Nikon optical design.  However, I have it for sale, because I prefer autofocus in this focal length...and because at this time I need a wide zoom more, since I bought the 6D.  I've told myself I need the Canon 100mm f/2, but the other voice in my head says "just use your 135 f/2 and take a few more steps backward"...haha...I think I'll listen to that voice this time!


lilmsmaggie

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #35 on: May 10, 2013, 05:41:21 PM »
Hi noisejammer -- I just posted a question along these lines on the yahoo forum and thanks for posting the barndoor tracker -- forgot all about that -- Doh! 

My vote for the Zeiss except I've never used their glass for astrophotography.


Lens selection is part of the problem - but it's quite feasible to use a 50/1.8. It doesn't even matter if your fastest lens is f/2.8. Here's how...

Apart from the most astrophotography, there's no real reason to limit yourself to ultrawide lenses or short exposures. It's quite possible to use easily run 5 minute exposures with a 200 mm lens if you're willing to construct a "barn door tracker."

Basically, the tracker is two pieces of wood connected with a hinge. A screwed rod and an elastic band connect the pieces of wood - one pulls and the other pushes. Now you point the hinge at the north celestial pole (which is located very close to Polaris) and push using the screwed rod. Here's a really good design... http://www.garyseronik.com/?q=node/52 .

Note that this model has a ball head for the camera (so you can point it anywhere) and another ball head (to allow the hinge to be aligned with the earth's rotation.) If you have one, a Manfrotto or Arca-Swiss Cube are better choices for mounting the lower plate but there are far less expensive solutions.

If you do get into using a tracker, it's quite feasible to record galaxies - the Magellanic clouds, M31/M101 and M33 are easy. This does require a measure of sophistication in your image processing - in particular you need to learn about minimising camera noise. This is a good reference http://astropix.com/ but I recommend you buy Jerry's e-books.

Ok - on the Zeiss 25/2
I have one of these. It's an expensive piece of glass. It's also probably the sharpest lens of it's type available. It is certainly sharper than the 21/2.8. Be aware that the 24L has considerable focus curvature. The Zeiss has some but it's better controlled. If you're after the very best possible, the Zeiss 50/2 MP and 135/2 are beyond compare in the SLR business. Both are quite capable of resolving stars to a couple of pixels over the entire frame. It is extremely difficult to focus with sufficient accuracy - magnified live view is the only way and since temperature can swing things around, you're silly if you rely on the lens' hard stop.

Finally - the obligatory plug. If you're interested in astrophotography with a camera, why not join the Canon DSLR Digital Astrophotography group on Yahoo! We have nearly 2900 members (not all of whom are active)
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Canon_DSLR_Digital_Astro/

Full disclosure - I'm one of the moderators.
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westr70

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #36 on: May 10, 2013, 05:55:32 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/

Excellent source.  Thanks.
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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #36 on: May 10, 2013, 05:55:32 PM »

Mr Bean

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #37 on: May 10, 2013, 06:11:42 PM »
I’ve rented the Zeiss 15 and 21’s but I never had good skies while I was renting them so I couldn’t test them.  Anyone test these bad boys out yet?  Curious if the coma is well-controlled or not.
I've rented the 21mm and own the 15mm. Wide open @f2.8 both are extremely good for lack of coma, the 21mm was probably slightly better.
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lilmsmaggie

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #38 on: May 10, 2013, 06:15:07 PM »
My vote would be for Jerry Lodriguss:  http://www.astropix.com 

Jerry goes into far more detail and has been imaging for many years as well as having written several books on the subject of DSLR astrophotgraphy.  Canon also has a DLC article written by Jerry:

http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2012/astrophotography_techniques.shtml

 


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/

Excellent source.  Thanks.
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CarlTN

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #39 on: May 10, 2013, 06:16:25 PM »
My vote would be for Jerry Lodriguss:  http://www.astropix.com 

Jerry goes into far more detail and has been imaging for many years as well as having written several books on the subject of DSLR astrophotgraphy.  Canon also has a DLC article written by Jerry:

http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2012/astrophotography_techniques.shtml

 


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/

Excellent source.  Thanks.

Thanks for even more useful info!

LOALTD

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #40 on: May 10, 2013, 07:41:39 PM »
I’ve rented the Zeiss 15 and 21’s but I never had good skies while I was renting them so I couldn’t test them.  Anyone test these bad boys out yet?  Curious if the coma is well-controlled or not.
I've rented the 21mm and own the 15mm. Wide open @f2.8 both are extremely good for lack of coma, the 21mm was probably slightly better.

Awesome!  Thanks for the great info!

noisejammer

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #41 on: May 10, 2013, 09:37:44 PM »
Sorry to quote out of context, but this is directly contrary to what Lensrentals found when they tested the Zeiss 25mm f/2.  They found it was not all that sharp, and I assume tested several copies.
Hi Carl -
I respect Roger C's knowledge. Nevertheless, LR did a test to find the best lenses for the D800E. Per LR's test the 25/2 is the sharpest lens they have at that focal length... In a different blog post, Roger comments that it may not be the best choice for landscape use. These comments are not consistent with one another. I've also compared RC's  results with Lloyd Chambers (www.zeissguide.com - you pay for what you get) and Lloyd's at odds with Roger's assessment.

I guess the only way to check this rigorously is to piggyback my 5D2 and a couple of lenses on my (Tak) mount, focus carefully and shoot some images. Predictably, Toronto will be getting wall-to-wall rain all weekend (and I just realised my camera is still at Canon.)

So it's time for navel gazing....

I'm generally quite loath to believe what manufacturers claim - measurements are adverts and the conditions are carefully chosen for maximum effect. Subject to this caveat, here's the spec sheet.... http://lenses.zeiss.com/camera-lenses/carl-zeiss-camera-lenses/camera_lenses/slr-lenses/distagont225.html.

When stopped down to f/4, the 25/2 is supposed to achieve better than 70% contrast (at 40 lp/mm over an 36 mm diameter disc.)

Translation - At f/4, this lens can reproduce 40 x 36 = 1440 off-to-on-to-off transitions with a contrast of at least 70% over the width of a 135 sized sensor. Mild sharpening in pp can easily improve the contrast if needed.

Stars are essentially points. Assume visible light and f/4, then the smallest disc possible is about 2.4 microns fwhm. Thanks to AA filters, our cameras can really only resolve about 2 pixels, or say 12 microns. Camera lenses don't need to be diffraction limited. This is why I can afford them.

Anyway - the 25/2 easily allows resolution of about 2880 transitions in 36 mm, or 80/mm. This means the resolution width is 12.5 microns. Now the camera can only see 12.5 microns so the 25/2 lens is capable of filling the camera's resolution over the 36 mm disc with 70% or better contrast...

Focusing to this level is achievable - motion of the lens through 10 microns on either side of focus degrades resolution by ~20% . A good loupe and magnified live view make it easy.

For astrophotography - it pays to focus the lens at about halfway to the edge. This helps to deal with focal plane curvature.

Ok - to close my comments on this - If you study the corresponding data sheet for the 21/2.8 http://lenses.zeiss.com/content/dam/Photography/new/pdf/en/downloadcenter/datasheets_slr/distagont2821.pdf, you will notice that the 25/2 at f/4 is about comparable with the 21/2.8 at f/5.6. If the 21/2.8 lens is legendary, it is (IMO) barely in the same league as the 25/2, 50/2 and - going by reports - 135/2.

extremeinstability

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #42 on: May 10, 2013, 11:28:31 PM »


I’ve rented the Zeiss 15 and 21’s but I never had good skies while I was renting them so I couldn’t test them.  Anyone test these bad boys out yet?  Curious if the coma is well-controlled or not.

I own the 21 and have at least one example on this page I posted the other day here.  http://www.extremeinstability.com/2013-5-4.htm  Second page has full sized crops of several lenses.

Extreme corner crop here at full size 20,000 ISO on 6D.  http://www.extremeinstability.com/stormpics/2013/2013_05_04_50971zeiss20000rightcorner.jpg  Some coma on just the brightest stars.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 11:31:17 PM by extremeinstability »

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #42 on: May 10, 2013, 11:28:31 PM »

Andy_Hodapp

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #43 on: May 11, 2013, 09:10:02 PM »
So, I've narrowed it down to the Rokinon 35mm 1.4 and the Rokinon 14mm 2.8, I believe that I would be able to get more use out of the 35mm for full body portraits, some landscape and the Milky Way.  I've found both for the same price of $350 and the 35mm just seems like it would be better for me.  If anyone has anything to add about the 35mm I would love to know.
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archiea

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #44 on: May 11, 2013, 09:38:48 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.



How about one of these? (well you did ask for the best!!!!) ;D

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Re: Best lens for capturing the Milky Way?
« Reply #44 on: May 11, 2013, 09:38:48 PM »