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! Pantip just completed what is the first and only real world review of the new Sony 28mm FE lens. Wide angle converter for 16 and 20mm lenses at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, NL, BE, AT, CH, SE, FI, NO, PT. Fisheye converter for 16 and 20mm lenses at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, NL, BE, AT, CH, SE, FI, NO, PT.


Whenever you go for a shopping just click on those links and buy whatever you want and I will get a small commission for it without you having to pay one single penny extra!
Maybe you missed this: New wide and fisheye converters for the 16 and 20mm APS-C E-mount lenses. If this is indeed sharp edge to edge even at F2, isn’t that a bit of egg on face for the Zeiss 35 2.8? My Sigma 10-20mm lens is one of the softest lenses I own but I just love the color that I get from it.
OOF rendering can be objectively measured by measuring the transition of blurs in the out of focus areas. This can be the case, but a lot of the time it is just someone making an illogical or irrational statement, failing to find proof for said statement and wanting to continue backing said statement. A Derby store has brought an unusual foot therapy to the city which involves fish nibbling at your skin.The treatment requires you to soak your feet in a warm pool teeming with hungry 'doctor fish'. 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. I like the lens a lot if you consider the (for the Sony FE standard) relatively affordable price!
If I say there’s a spaghetti monster in the room but his strength is unmeasurable, is it that his strength is unmeasurable of perhaps that the spaghetti monster does not exist? Just like I don’t want a speaker that gives an unrealistic bass, I want one that portrays the audio realistically. I should have learned by now that intelligent respectful conversations cannot be had on SAR. The creatures, known as Garra Rufa fish, are natives of Turkey and like to eat away dead and scaly skin. 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. It’s a whole lot easier when the colours are objectively right to begin with and you edit them to your preference. You’re unwillingness to see value in what Brendon calls character merely illustrates that. The therapy is said to be good for exfoliating the skin and to promote circulation - as well as feeding the fish. 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.
You can always make a scene warm in photoshop afterwards, but it is often very difficult to get completely accurate colours. 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. Reactions to the treatment have been mixed with initial descriptions ranging from 'tickly' and 'weird' to 'unusual' and 'relaxing'. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience.
Scientific CCDs have exceptional sensitivity, and have efficient Peltier cooling of the sensor. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so. Gara Rufa fish originate from an area of Turkey where the heat of the waters mean few nutrients or plants survive.
This makes the fish naturally hungry and, by a happy coincidence, they are also partial to dead skin.



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