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Thread: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Swissblad's Avatar
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    Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Hi gents

    I've become intrigued by images of the milky way etc, and would like to try same.

    What lens recommendations can you assist with?

    Thanks, S

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Hopefully Paul will reply for you as he's experimented significantly with this. You want fast apertures and low coma, a tough combo to find in normal and telephoto lenses, but easier in wider lenses. I have heard the 14-24 is actually quite good when stopped down to f4. I've also heard the bargain priced Samyang 14 is very good at f4 too. I have not checked my new Sigma 24 art for coma, but if the sky is clear tonight, I can try it out at f4 and faster.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."
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    Senior Member Swissblad's Avatar
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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Thanks Jack,

    Good to know our 14-24mm will be OK.

    Anyone with experience using the Nikkor 20mm f1.8 for astro?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swissblad View Post
    Thanks Jack,

    Good to know our 14-24mm will be OK.

    Anyone with experience using the Nikkor 20mm f1.8 for astro?
    Not with astro specifically, but I had one for a while with the D800's. While it was a decent lens on the D800's, it showed its aged design -- mostly soft-ish corners -- so I sold it when I got my 17-35 since it was superior at 20. I recently sold that one too, since I almost never used it anywhere except 24, and now have the Sigma. The 14-24 is currently the most advanced optical design from Nikon in the 20mm range. The other Likely contenders would be the Zeiss 15, 18, 21 -- but again, I just don't know about their coma profile wide open to one stop down, and coma is what kills lenses for astro.

    The one lens that would be ideal is the old 58mm Nikon f1.2 "Noct" -- virtually coma-free even wide open, desinged as a dedicated "night" f1.2 lens. This is an expensive one, and not to be confused with any of the relatively reasonably-priced 55mm or 50mm f1.2 designs.
    Jack
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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Having used the Nikkor 14-24 and Zeiss ZF 15 myself for aurora/astro shots I totally agree with what has been said about these lenses. The Zeiss performs already excellent wide open @ f/2.8 while the Nikkor needs to be stopped down to at least f/4 in order to achieve similar results although the Zeiss captures do look cleaner.

    According to several reviews published on the web the new Tamron 15-30 seems to perform very well regarding coma.

    Regards,
    Udo
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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Udo View Post
    Having used the Nikkor 14-24 and Zeiss ZF 15 myself for aurora/astro shots I totally agree with what has been said about these lenses. The Zeiss performs already excellent wide open @ f/2.8 while the Nikkor needs to be stopped down to at least f/4 in order to achieve similar results although the Zeiss captures do look cleaner.

    According to several reviews published on the web the new Tamron 15-30 seems to perform very well regarding coma.

    Regards,
    Udo
    I agree with Udo.
    I sold the 14-24mm after I've got the Zeiss which performs very well at f 2.8 with the D800e.
    You should consider buying the D810A to complete it

    https://luminous-landscape.com/nikon...rophotography/

    Best regards
    Pramote
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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    The 14mm Samyang is supposed to have better controlled COMA than the 14-24. Apparently that is a issue of great note for Astro photography.
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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    I have the D800 and Samyang 14mm. The Samyang does have Coma and I'm not very happy with that lens for night photos. From memory the Nikon 20mm 2.8 is better at F5.6 than the Samyang 14 at night, but can not show/get to those photos at moment. Where possible I try for F4 or F5.6 with the Samyang 14mm as is better than F2.8. I'm really needing F2.8 or faster & thinking or hoping the Zeiss 21 or 25 F2.0 will be much better which I'm hoping to get soon. Then theres Nikons 28 1.4D ASPH too... For where I am, latitude 45 south, a 25/28 lens is more suitable for aurora than 14 or 35mm unless theres something huge happening or water reflections also.
    The Sigma 35mm ART has Coma from F1.4 to F2.4. Not sure about other apertures.

    This is with moonlight, straight from camera & resized only, ISO 1600, F5.6 and 15 seconds. White balance as direct sunlight. When theres no moon light I use incandescent white balance. Jan 7th '15.



    This is top Left. Centre of pic looks good though.

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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    I've been using the Nikon 24mm f1.4 for milky way shots. It definitely exhibits coma wide open but performs well stopped down at f2.0 and beyond.

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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    You might also consider the Rokinon lenses. They supposedly perform excellent, exhibit low coma even wide open, and are relatively inexpensive. I have no personal experience but may try to pick up their 14mm and give it a go.

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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    The bane of night photography of subject matter like the Milkyway, or just a nice star scape is coma. Coma tends to create a butterfly wing aberration on the stars towards the edge of the frame and is not really something you can correct in post as you are dealing with thousands of stars.

    I have tried many of the nikkor mount 1.4 and 1.8 wides.

    The Nikon 24mm 1.4, albeit a wonderful lens for landscapes, it's plagued by extreme coma (I found it on mine even at F2.8) and at F 1.4 and 1.8 the butterfly wings look really bad. I was a bit surprised to find this, but now with a better understanding of coma, you can easily see it on the corners in a daylight shot also.

    The Nikon 24mm 1.8, is lighter, and seems to have more plastic, but it has less coma. I still have this lens and have had good night results with it at F2.2 and sometimes F2.0, depending on the angle to the sky. For regular star trail work, this is a great lens, as it does not flare as bad as others.

    Rokinon 24mm 1.4, is not bad, but will pick up really bad flare if you are working around a building or anything that has artificial light. It has a huge amount of play in the focus ring, (just like the 14mm Rokinon) and can be hard to dial in at night. As for Coma, I have used it at F 2.0 with good success.

    These are not as wide as I prefer to go as I find often I am looking for 14mm.

    The Rokinon 14mm is a wonder both for image quality and price. At F2.8 it displays almost no coma and mine is very sharp at infinity to the edges. There is a pretty good sample variation with this lens however.

    The Nikon 14-24, is still my main go to night lens, (I do more star trail work than Milkyway). Mine is very sharp at infinity and F2.8, has almost no vignetting and no coma. It's really an amazing lens, but it is a nightmare for flare as any light coming in from the side will create a horrible flare issue.

    The Zeiss 18mm F3.5 is not bad, it has no coma at F3.5 but will vignette pretty harshly. The vignetting will easily correct in post, (LR). This is my sharpest wide lens for the stars, sky, etc. but it does not have a good hyper focal range at F3.5, so elements in your image that are close in tend to be out of focus. For Milkyway work, you can easily bracket this and if you stack for star trails, again you can bracket . I am always impressed with just how sharp the trails are to the edge of the frame with this lens. It's light weight and compact, when compared to the the 15mm and 21mm Zeiss.

    I briefly used the Zeiss 15mm, but I found it to display a enlongated coma issue wide open and it's a very heavy, expensive lens just to use for for night work. The 14mm Rokinon I feel can deliver pretty close results to this lens wide open, without coma.

    I had high high hopes that the Sigma 24mm 1.4 art would be coma free, however all the tests I have seen of it show it to have very extreme coma, possibly worse than the Nikon 24mm 1.4 wide open. So I passed on this one.

    The Sigma 35mm Art 1.4 is coma free wide open. There has been a lot written about this lens and it's total lack of coma. A wonder of a lens. It's not wide enough for most of the work I do however but I have it for when I can get out west to the wide open spaces.

    There was a nice write up over on LuLa about the D810A. After reading through it, I am tempted if Nikon gets the price point down a bit. Or maybe pick up a used one in a year or so. It's a very clean camera, even in the extreme high iso ranges, per this review and the IR filter seems not to really put a huge issue on daytime work. There is some slight cast, but nothing like the cast I had expected. The D810A also has a true intervalometer, that does have it's own timer, thus you can use it past 30 seconds, (something that cannot be done on the D810 but could be if Nikon wanted to). You can find the review here:

    https://luminous-landscape.com/nikon...rophotography/

    Adam has a very interesting workflow, that involves stacking for the Milkyway, something I have not tried before, which allows you to use a much higher iso and then remove the trails that would be there since you are stacking.

    This is an article I wrote for getdpi last year on star trail work, but in it I also talk about some of my findings about Milkyway or star scape work.

    http://photosofarkansas.com/2014/09/...raphy-results/

    It is definitely a different form of photography, one that gives me a lot of pleasure, but has not been commercially successful for me.

    Paul
    Paul Caldwell
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    www.photosofarkansas.com
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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Quote Originally Posted by tcdeveau View Post
    You might also consider the Rokinon lenses. They supposedly perform excellent, exhibit low coma even wide open, and are relatively inexpensive. I have no personal experience but may try to pick up their 14mm and give it a go.
    The Rokinon, is a rebranded Samyang as I mentioned above.
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    Senior Member Swissblad's Avatar
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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Thanks for the input gents. I will test the Nikkola 14-24mm and take it from there.

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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    I am glad I opened this thread. Paul thank you for the informative and well written post. Also, thank you for doing my homework for me.

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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Any opinions of Nikon 20/1.8 G for Milky Way and wide field images. I will use lenses for landscape as well, so prefer ability to mount filters. TIA.

    John

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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Pretty much all fast wides from Nikon I have tried have coma, the 20mm 1.8 being no exception. Coma is pretty visible at F 3.2.

    The center of the image will be fine, edges will need a lot of work to do due to the coma issues.

    The new Milvus 18mm 2.8 is basically coma free wide open, obviously not in the same price range as the Nikon 20 1.8. Others to look at are the 20mm 1.4 Art Sigma, this lens has coma however it's slight when compared to the Nikon. By F 2.0 the images are very good even at the edges. Rokinon 20mm 1.8 has low coma but terrible astigmatism, probably the worse I have seen in any fast wide.

    For star trail work, the Nikon 20mm 1.8 will be an excellent lens.

    Paul Caldwell

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    Re: Best wide-angel lenses for astrophotography?

    Paul,

    Thanks for your comments. I don't plan to use the lens for star trails, so I guess I need to go back to the drawing board. Sigma is out because it doesn't take standard filters.

    John

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