There are a number of lens traits that will determine the quality and usability of a camera lens for astrophotography. There are two basic traits of a lens that will affect how to take your landscape astrophotos: focal length and clear aperture size. For simple non-tracked landscape astrophotography and nightscape images, you will generally want a wide angle lens. Wide angle lenses have a larger field of view (FOV) and allow you to frame more of the Milky Way. Short focal length, wide angle lenses produce a smaller image size at the sensor allowing you to use longer shutter speeds without creating star trails from the Earth rotation. It tends to be more difficult to take landscape astrophotos with longer lenses like a 50mm or 85mm because the narrower field of view makes movement of the stars due to the Earth’s rotation more apparent. When getting used to taking untracked astrophotos, I highly recommend that you check whether the stars are trailing by reviewing the image and zooming all the way into the detail. I’ve heard of several rules that different astrophotographers use to determine how long your shutter speed should be to prevent star trailing.
Note that differences in sensor resolution, pixel size and even the direction you point your camera in the night sky will change how the rule works.
Also, pointing your camera toward the celestial equator line will cause more star trailing than near the poles due to the larger arc length swept by the stars in that portion of the sky.
Once you have determined the maximum shutter duration with no star trailing for your lens or focal length of choice, remember it. That shutter duration will always tend to work for that particular lens on that particular camera.
The take home point is that narrower, longer focal length lenses will require shorter shutter durations to prevent star trailing.
You can see that with the longer exposures, the stars appear to get brighter but start to streak across the frame, especially with exposures longer than 30 seconds. The image below is an example of what we get with a less than ideal setup for landscape astrophotography.
The light gathering capability of a lens is directly proportional to the area of the clear aperture.
Unfortunately, short focal length wide angle lenses also tend to have small clear apertures because shape of the lens at these short focal lengths makes it prohibitively difficult to manufacture the lens with a large diameter opening.
To make comparison between lenses easier, we can calculate a value to quantify how well a lens will perform for nightscapes based on the amount of light it will collect using the lens’s clear aperture area, the angular area field of view of the lens, and the maximum shutter time we can use for the lens without producing star trails in our image (for the chart below, I use the 500 rule as describe above). Feel free to see the expanded chart with additional lenses and explanation by downloading it here. The rating system does not take into account other factors that affect the image quality such as distortion or chromatic and coma aberrations.
The above image is a great example of what you can do with a relatively cheap camera and lens combination. Fast wide angle lenses available from nearly every major lens manufacturer but they tend to be a little more expensive.
I tend to recommend lenses from Samyang or its other equivalent name brands, Bower and Rokinon for astrophotography. Most of these lenses are available for a whole range of cameras including Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, Olympus and Samsung. These lenses are all Manual Focus (MF) only lenses so they will require more patience than your autofocus lenses for everyday shooting but their optics often match or exceed the quality of top-of-the-line Canon or Nikon lenses and at a quarter of the price. All of these lenses are relatively affordable and score above 1,000 with the calculations on the chart above.
For some reason, most of the major lens manufacturers do not correct their fast prime lenses very well for coma or astigmatism. You can read a whole lot more about lens aberrations and how I test for them in my Practical Guide to Lens Aberrations. About Latest Posts Ian NormanCreator at Lonely SpeckIan Norman, co-founder and creator of The Photon Collective and Lonely Speck. Hello Ian, I recently purchased a Sony A6000 and I was wondering if I need some kind of adapter for a Rokinon 24mm F1.4 (ED AS IF UMC) Full Frame Lens that I also purchased? Assuming the Rokinon Lens you bought is for Sony E-Mount, no adapter is needed to use a full frame lens on an APS-C body and it will work just fine. Partly on the advice from this website I purchased a Rokinon 24mm 1.4 lens for my Pentax K20D. I would like advice from people who have used this lens on whether this is the best I can expect or if I should return the lens on warranty and hope the next one is better. The Full Frame Pentax K1 is soon to be released so if you can afford that, it might just be a “star” for astrophotography! The graph was created by camera marketing guru Heino Hilbig of Mayflower Concepts, who spent years heading up marketing for the likes of Casio and Olympus. The biggest victim of the changing landscape has been compact cameras, which are becoming redundant as smartphone camera quality continues to improve — but it is unclear how much of this drop can directly be attributed to the rise of the smartphone camera. Update: An earlier version of this post attributed the plummet of camera sales in recent years directly to the rise of smartphones.
Earlier this month, Hilbig gave an interview in which he stated that “there is no correlation between smartphone growth and camera [market] shrinking.
How much do you think the recent drop in camera sales is caused by the rise of smartphone cameras?
The folks at National Geographic just did a solid favor for all the adventurous outdoor photographers out there.
After a lot of speculation and a juicy tidbit here and there, a more complete spec list and first photo of the much-anticipated Canon 5D Mark IV has leaked. Recently I got a message from a person who said that they liked my pictures, but unfortunately they don’t have a "photographic eye." This inspired me to write the following article about basic aesthetics and their relationship to photography.

If you wanna capture quality product photos on the cheap, this short little DIY tutorial is going to be a great resource. Animals stealing action cameras is nothing new—monkeys, seagulls, and foxes have all gotten their 15 minutes of fame this way. This photo shows what Sports Illustrated photographer Simon Bruty packed for the Rio 2016 Olympic games, the 8th Summer Games he has covered.
Tsuneko Sasamoto is a renowned Japanese photographer who is considered to be her country's first female photojournalist, documenting pre- and post-war Japan since becoming a professional shooter at the age of 25. Sasamoto also has the distinction of being one of the oldest photographers on Earth: she just turned 101 years old in September, and she's still making photos.
VSCO today announced the launch of its new Open Studio, a free-to-use massive studio space in New York City. News Corp photographer Brett Costello was robbed of $40,000 in camera gear at a cafe in Rio a few days ago. I really love the combination of street photography and rain, since rain changes the mood and the city completely.
After showing you how to make a tripod using a piece of string, I’m going to go a little more surreal this time by explaining how an old frying pan can be used to get dramatic low angle images. Lightroom is a very powerful tool, and this quick timelapse by filmmaker and photographer Bart Oerbekke demonstrates how a series of simple edits were able to really bring one of his landscape photos to life. The multi-aperture computational camera is an exciting technology that's emerging in the world of photography, and it appears that Nikon wants in.
Want to see how a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer responds to a request for free images in exchange for "credit" from a major news corporation?
Raw photos were shot with the aperture (A ) setting, thus allowing me to adjust f stop and ISO. View of Emerald Grand Hotel at Walker Village from Norriego Beach at Destin harbor, Florida. The automatic photos are good, but if you have some skills in manual mode (aperture, in this case), you can enhance raw photos with some simple post-processing.
This blog is published by Kevin Bruce Taylor, photographer, entrepreneur, and technologist. Let me explain what sort of thinking should go into choosing and using a lens for making astrophotography and Milky Way nightscapes. I usually suggest something 24mm or shorter on an APS-C camera or 35mm or shorter on a Full Frame Camera. This trait lets you collect light from a larger area of the sky and offers a balancing compromise to a typically small clear aperture for light gathering capability. Most APS-C sensor digital SLRs like the Nikon D3100 or Canon EOS T5i come in a kit with an 18-55mm focal length lens. This can be solved by tracking the stars but in turn adds complexity and extra expense for the equipment required to track the stars while make your photos. The important thing for you to do is to generally determine what maximum shutter speed will work best for your particular camera and lens combination. For instance, at 18mm on my APS-C cameras, I have found that 20 seconds works for most photos of the milky way. This makes longer lenses more difficult to use for Milky Way photography and nightscapes because it limits your maximum shutter time. Since the area of a circle is proportional to the square of the diameter, the clear aperture area increases quickly with lens size. Post processing noise reduction can also make a huge difference in your results when you are limited by your lens. About the product links below: I use affiliate links to the respective products that I mention on this page. Canon and Nikon both usually have terrible levels of coma or astigmatism present on their most expensive prime lenses. When you buy through the Amazon or B&H Photo links on Lonely Speck, it costs you nothing extra, but we will receive a small commission (usually 2-4%) to help run the site.
Just remember to change the camera settings to allow the shutter to fire without a proper electronically connected lens, found in the settings.
Open the aperture all the way to 1.4 and be sure to know where infinity focus is on your lens (best to figure that out during the day time). I find it very frustrating to manually focus – I can never seem to get a sharp image at wide open, even of a flat subject like a picture on the wall. Does the extra f-stop of the Rokinon make a noticeable difference when photographing the milky way – I have a canon 600d so am limited in my iso capabilities. As readers have pointed out, how much of an impact smartphones have had is currently unknown. They put every US Geological Survey (USGS) topographical map from across the United States on one easy-to-navigate site and made them easy to print out at home. In it, you see how an $8 IKEA table turns into a full-fledged product photo booth with just a few modifications and some creative foam board placement. A 60TB drive would be massive by any standard, but the latest Seagate SAS drive is mind-blowing for one other very important reason: it's a solid state drive. Then yesterday, while covering an event at the Olympics yesterday, Costello spotted the thief pretending to be him. Louis Post-Dispatch who won the Pulitzer Prize with his paper this year for his coverage of protests in Ferguson, Missouri. This pocket camera has lots of impressive specs, but the ultimate test is the quality of its pictures when you shoot them on a trip – or even when you just take the camera out in your front yard to photograph flowers.

I post-processed the photos slightly, adding just some sharpening and minor color adjustments. You just have to turn the camera dial to the green icon, point the camera, press the shutter, and then the camera takes a photo, making its own decisions about f stop, ISO, etc. Aside from my work in photography, I want to help photographers and other small business with marketing strategies that will improve efficiency and profits in their daily operations. Tracking is possible with the use of a manual barn door tracker or motorized equatorial mount, sometimes controlled by an autoguider that provides feedback for the motor mount movement.
For the sake of maximizing the signal to noise ratio in your images (for better image quality), you should try to use as long a shutter speed as you can without trailing the stars.
In photography, the signal is photons that the camera is collecting and the noise is from any number of things such as stray energy like heat energy from the camera electronics or the environment.
For nightscapes and astrophotography, we usually want to be able to resolve as much detail in the night sky as possible, especially really dim features such as nebulae and faint stars.
Choosing a lens for untracked nightscape photography then becomes a balance between choosing a short lens for less star trailing and a slightly longer lens that may offer a larger clear aperture at the expense of slightly shorter shutter speeds. The two different lenses should be expected to achieve very similar nightscape results with very different fields of view. Another method for reducing noise is image stacking and can be very effective when you are lens limited. I have learned that amazing things happen when you ask for help so remember that we are always here for you. Get to a dark location, find the galactic center of the Milky Way through a phone app (something like SkyView Free), and set the ISO so that the histogram is peaked in the middle, if not a little to the right (which will probably be around 6400). I wouldn’t worry too much about shutter failure unless you have only one camera and you need to use it for reportage, scheduled shoots, or other photography-for-pay where you need to be ready to shoot 24-7-365.
Incredibly creative, he frequently manages to surprise and delight us with his unusual portrait assignments. Fret not, this guide will explain those EF-S, STM stuff to you, and a small history lesson to help you better understand. Last Friday, Carson was contacted by what appears to be a CBS account on Twitter that regularly Tweets requests for image usage. Of course, when these photos are sent to the Internet, they’re automatically converted to jpg format. I'm also interested in sharing my experiences with other photographers, especially those who are at the beginning stages in learning how to use their cameras, how to compose different scenes, and how to take advantage of lighting. Star tracking is an essential technique for imaging of deep space objects with lenses and telescopes that have comparatively long focal lengths. Once you venture past 30 seconds at all but the shortest focal lengths, you will tend to see some star trailing.
Higher signal to noise ratio images will have higher image quality with clearer details, better color saturation, smoother tones and less relative noise. A physically larger aperture for any given focal length will help us achieve more detail in any given portion of the night sky. The long lens collects more light at a time from a smaller area of the scene while the short lens collects less light at a time from a larger area of the scene.
So which lenses have the best combination of a wide angle field of view and a large aperture? A better scoring lens will only improve upon these results by collecting more light for a final image with less noise.
By stopping down and closing the aperture a little bit, you can reduce the effect of aberration.
For nightscapes, however, where we are usually capturing the landscape as well, tracking the stars will in turn start to streak the landscape in the foreground. Just to demonstrate, the animation below simulates different shutter speeds (corrected for exposure brightness changes) to show how longer shutter speeds can create star trails. One important thing that will affect signal to noise ratio in your astrophotos is the clear aperture of the lens for any given focal length.
Without being able to track the stars with an equatorial mount, the limiting factor of the 100mm is then its field of view which will only allow us a 5 second exposure before the stars start to trail.
Once you’ve fully mastered the limits of your equipment, you are only limited by your imagination. Here is a dropbox link to a full res image and three close up crops of stars I shot last night. This example leads me to the next consideration for a nightscape lens: clear aperture size. In order to collect a little more signal to make up for the slower lens, I used a higher than recommended shutter speed of 30 seconds.
Mars is the bright (overexposed) light in the center of the full image and on the left of the crops. If you want a different camera, and are mostly doing deep sky imaging, I would suggest also considering purpose-built astronomy camera units. Scientific CCDs have exceptional sensitivity, and have efficient Peltier cooling of the sensor.

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