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11-14-2010, 10:13 PM   #1
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Adventure into Night Photography

Hey all,

I'm new here, and to Pentax (bought my K-x about 6 months ago)... but I'm not new to photography overall. I hang around usually the RFF or DPR, but need more Pentax friends

After seeing some amazing videos, I've decided I want to get more serious about night photography. Sometimes it will be buildings and such, but sometimes it will be to try to capture the starry night. I'm going to Pennsylvania soon where there's a lot less light pollution and would like to be prepared if possible.

Tonight I started to test out my setup. Currently, I have the kit lens. I do have the 50-135 DA* f/2.8 lens, however, it won't be good for my purposes. I really want wide angles. But I'd like something faster than the kit lens. The goal is to be able to hopefully capture stars when I want to, but without the trails.

I'm wondering what you more experienced folks might recommend? I was looking at the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5... though a tad faster might be better (like an f/2.8). It doesn't have to be new and shiny... I'm willing to buy used. Primes are okay too. Manual focus is fine too.

I shot this tonight with the kits lens at ISO 1600, for a 15 second exposure. I wasn't using the sturdiest tripod but I do have a good one I'll steal from my husband for the trip to PA.



Any and all advice appreciated!

Amy

11-14-2010, 10:39 PM   #2
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Do you want this to be as wide as the kit lens, and faster?

The "cheapest" option I can think of for this sort of work would be the Tamron 16-50 f2.8 lens. It will run you around 500, less used. It's a very sharp lens. You will be hard pressed to find something in the 16-20mm range that is faster than 2.8. You might want to pick up an old fast 50, 1.7 or preferably 1.4, for tighter shots where you simply need more light to get the shot. The 1.4 lets in 4x the light that the 2.8 lens would, with the 1.7 not too far behind. The least expensive option would be the M 50mm 1.7, which should be about 30 bucks. If not, you are being ripped off (and it does happen).

The kit at 3.5 is actually not SO bad for this sort of thing - the tameron would essentially be a half-stop faster? Sometimes, it might be a big deal, but I'm not sure the difference in performance would justify the price (considering your complaint is star-trails, not that you are unsatisfied with the kit lens).
11-14-2010, 10:40 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
Hey all,

I'm new here, and to Pentax (bought my K-x about 6 months ago)... but I'm not new to photography overall. I hang around usually the RFF or DPR, but need more Pentax friends

After seeing some amazing videos, I've decided I want to get more serious about night photography. Sometimes it will be buildings and such, but sometimes it will be to try to capture the starry night. I'm going to Pennsylvania soon where there's a lot less light pollution and would like to be prepared if possible.

Tonight I started to test out my setup. Currently, I have the kit lens. I do have the 50-135 DA* f/2.8 lens, however, it won't be good for my purposes. I really want wide angles. But I'd like something faster than the kit lens. The goal is to be able to hopefully capture stars when I want to, but without the trails.

I'm wondering what you more experienced folks might recommend? I was looking at the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5... though a tad faster might be better (like an f/2.8). It doesn't have to be new and shiny... I'm willing to buy used. Primes are okay too. Manual focus is fine too.

I shot this tonight with the kits lens at ISO 1600, for a 15 second exposure. I wasn't using the sturdiest tripod but I do have a good one I'll steal from my husband for the trip to PA.



Any and all advice appreciated!

Amy
welcome to the forum Amy. for starters, I would like to recommend the Sigma 10-20/f4-5.6, not only because it's the cheapest alternative you have, but it would suit your needs. I don't see the necessity for you to have a faster lens since you are doing long exposures, which would mean you have to step down to f8 and lower. besides, there is no need for you to have an f2.8 lens on such situations and would be on little benefit. the only existing ultrawidewide fast lens right now for Pentax is the DA14 which is discontinued. and the DA15 prime would be much preferred eventhough the DA15 is an f4 lens. hope this helps.

btw, if you go for the Sigma 10-20/f4-5.6, get a used copy for cheaper price. I believe you can find a lot here in the forum fmarketplace.
11-14-2010, 10:54 PM   #4
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I can't step down to f8 if I want to avoid star trails. Pretty much everything I've read so far says get the widest lens you can that is the fastest so you can keep shutter speeds at 30 seconds or below and still capture enough light (of stars) without too much trail.

I was thinking about the Sigma 10-20 f/3.5... I saw the "club" about it here and was looking at some of the photos.

I didn't know about the Tamron 16-50 f/2.8... I used to like Tamron lenses when I was on Canon a few years back so I'll have to check that one out. I wonder if 16mm would be wide enough... ?

11-14-2010, 11:07 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
I can't step down to f8 if I want to avoid star trails. Pretty much everything I've read so far says get the widest lens you can that is the fastest so you can keep shutter speeds at 30 seconds or below and still capture enough light (of stars) without too much trail.

I was thinking about the Sigma 10-20 f/3.5... I saw the "club" about it here and was looking at some of the photos.

I didn't know about the Tamron 16-50 f/2.8... I used to like Tamron lenses when I was on Canon a few years back so I'll have to check that one out. I wonder if 16mm would be wide enough... ?
If the Tamron is not wide enough, then you will pretty much need to look at the sigma 10-20, DA 12-24, or the DA 14 / 15. None of them are faster, but they are wider. I would suggest one of the zooms over either of the WA primes for this application. You might have to get comfortable with less wide-angles if you want speed. I saw one incredible shot from the arctic taken on a 50mm 1.2 lens. It was of a landscape, so it was pretty sharp, but it was also bright and the (multitude) of stars were crisp ... no trails at all. I believe it was the speed of the lens responsible for this. You don't need f.1.2, but f1.4 or 1.7 would be a good step up from f2.8 in that area specifically.

Realistically, you could get a wide angle lens, and then whip out the 50 when the WA is just not fast enough. You never did mention though, what is it about the kit lens? Is it simply too slow?
11-14-2010, 11:15 PM   #6
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I think the kit lens is a bit too slow.

I looked at the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 on ebay and it seems possibly a good option... would also give me versatility.

Though, I'm looking at the Sigma 20mm f/1.8 too... fast, but not exactly all that wide.

And I know you're right... in the ultra wides, finding "fast" is nearly impossible. f/3.5 is probably as fast as I'll get with the Sigma 10-20mm.
11-14-2010, 11:42 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
I can't step down to f8 if I want to avoid star trails. Pretty much everything I've read so far says get the widest lens you can that is the fastest so you can keep shutter speeds at 30 seconds or below and still capture enough light (of stars) without too much trail.

I was thinking about the Sigma 10-20 f/3.5... I saw the "club" about it here and was looking at some of the photos.

I didn't know about the Tamron 16-50 f/2.8... I used to like Tamron lenses when I was on Canon a few years back so I'll have to check that one out. I wonder if 16mm would be wide enough... ?
how bout boosting up the ISO? if not, get a K-5 and get a lot of the much needed speed. you get DR flexibility and quality High ISO capability as well.
11-15-2010, 12:43 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
Though, I'm looking at the Sigma 20mm f/1.8 too... fast, but not exactly all that wide.
Did not think of this one, but it's likely your best bet. How much do they go for?

The wide-aspect outside is relative, but I dont think you are going to see apertures like that in the teens!

11-15-2010, 08:39 AM   #9
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Well I'm starting at ISO 1600, so boosting ISO is a given already. I'd like to get a K-5, but seeing as I just bought the K-x 6 month ago, it's not in the cards right now. I picked the K-x for it's class leading high ISO capabilities

The Sigma 20mm f/1.8 goes for about $500 it seems.
11-15-2010, 10:17 AM   #10
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There's always the DA 14, but it's not so cheap.
11-15-2010, 10:54 AM   #11
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Rockstarr... I was actually looking at that one too.

Basically, what I've read says the formula is a shutter of {600 divided by Focal Length} to avoid star trails. The 10mm lens would allow me 40 seconds (taken APS-C crop into account). At 20mm I'd only get 20 seconds. The kit lens, I shot at 30 seconds and I was getting star movement, so I'd need to go down to 20 seconds, and with it's aperture max of f/3.5, I'd have to up the ISO (I was at ISO 1600 already).

If I'm going to stay in the 18mm range, I think I need to go with the f/1.8 lens... the Sigma 20mm f/1.8.

Otherwise, the ultra-wide 10-20mm is the better choice I think. I could double my exposure time.

Anyone out there actually doing this?
11-15-2010, 01:08 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
Anyone out there actually doing this?
I've experimented a little, but I haven't really thrown any money at it. My k20d does not do well with long exposure noise.

EDIT: weird, most of my post turned into a %.

Image below is 18mm f6.7 20 sec.

As you can see, there are star trails IF you zoom in to 100%, but on the original image they look just fine. If you pixel peep too much, though, you might notice that there is some slight movement. You will actually notice that you need much less time to capture stars (I've gotten images of stars with 1 - 5 seconds) but what you don't capture is the landscape. Anyways have fun experimenting, the DA 14 2.8 is a good selection.

Keep in mind that the difference between a 20 second exposure and a 40 second exposure is 1 stop, and so is the difference between f 4 and f2.8, or the difference between f2.8 and f 2. Therefore, the difference between the sigma 10-20 at 10 (f3.5), and he sigma 20 and 1.8 (f 1.8) is about 0.75 stops. The difference between the Sigma 20mm and the Pentax 14mm is closer to 0.5 (for astrophotography).

So be sure that the extra exposure time you are getting won't be wiped out by your aperture!

Last edited by paperbag846; 11-23-2010 at 10:42 AM.
11-16-2010, 08:47 AM   #13
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Thanks all...

Well, I think I've decided a 14mm f/2.8 is probably the way to go... it'll allow me to do about 30 second exposures and let a little more light in. I may end up going for the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 because of the awesome price and great reviews. The challenge now is to come up with the money before next week!

BTW, here's another night shot I did last night. This isn't what I'm setting out to do... just some testing and such. What I really want to capture is starry skies

11-24-2010, 01:26 PM   #14
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Hey all,

FYI... I decided to go with the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 based on the reviews I read, it's wide nature and the price-point. I would have loved the 16-50mm Pentax, but just a little to rich for me right now. I picked up the Samyang at Cameta Camera today.

Going to try my hand at the starry-night stuff this weekend, so wish me luck!
Thanks for the assistance!
11-24-2010, 03:14 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
Hey all,

FYI... I decided to go with the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 based on the reviews I read, it's wide nature and the price-point. I would have loved the 16-50mm Pentax, but just a little to rich for me right now. I picked up the Samyang at Cameta Camera today.

Going to try my hand at the starry-night stuff this weekend, so wish me luck!
Thanks for the assistance!
Let us know how it goes! Sounds like you found the perfect lens for your needs. I'm quite curious about the Samyang lenses myself. I;ve never seen one in person.
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