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12-21-2011, 06:07 PM   #1
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best wa lens for aura borealis

I am buying a k-5 and am trying to pick a good WA lense and I want to make sure that I get one for shooting the aura borealis. I'm not shooting it till next fall but I want a good WA lense now and I'm trying to plan ahead.

I was going to get the Pentax DA 12-24 f4 but I've read that for the aura you don't want anything slower than a f2.8. Does anyone have any suggestions or experience shooting the aura borealis and what lense do you use?

12-21-2011, 06:50 PM   #2
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Experience no, but there have been plenty of great aurora shots posted here using the kit lens, the 16-45 f/4, and other lenses at apertures faster than f/2.8. That said, from a quick search one of the best sets was using the DA* 16-50 @ f/2.8.
12-22-2011, 01:47 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathfinder99 Quote
best wa lens for aura borealis
I guess as fast and as wide as you can reasonably get, that having been said with the K5 you can afford to crank up the ISO.

Suggest you have a look into 15mm primes and at the time consider tripod use as well.
12-22-2011, 03:27 AM   #4
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Any lens from 50mm and wider, manual focus is better, but you need a tripod - not suitable for handheld. K28/3.5 is nice, K24, vivitar/kiron 24/28, M20/4.
I don't have 15Ltd, but DA12-24 and sigma8-16 are good. DA*16-50 may be the best choice due to WR, but depends.

I like the ambient of the scene, so tripod is needed. noise can be bad in dark areas, even for K5.

12-22-2011, 03:52 AM   #5
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f/2.8 lens is what is needed. Although you can crank up the ISO, it will affect quality. Focal length required is 10-14mm so this leaves not many choices. A Sigma 10mm f/2.8 or a 14mm f/2,8 (20mm equivalent) If you can put up with poor IQ, you can use 1600 ISO and the 10-17 fisheye zoom. Exposure should be 30 seconds maximum. Tripod essential. Since foreground is largely irrelevant,a gorillapod will be fine to keep the kit size reasonable. If you do not have the funds for the fixed focal length lenses or the use for them at other times, go for the 10-17 fisheye zoom.
12-22-2011, 05:52 AM   #6
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The 21mm limited comes to mind. "Only" f3,2 but a comfortable focal length for sky views, small, reliable, and with wonderful saturated colours.
12-22-2011, 12:42 PM   #7
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I am happy with my sigma 10mm fisheye. The curvature is not as much of an issue as the stretched corners on a 10mm wide angle. The image from this fisheye sigma lens could pass as a high quality pentax lens, but the lens is like carrying around a cricket ball made from lead.
12-22-2011, 12:57 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathfinder99 Quote
I am buying a k-5 and am trying to pick a good WA lense and I want to make sure that I get one for shooting the aura borealis. I'm not shooting it till next fall but I want a good WA lense now and I'm trying to plan ahead.

I was going to get the Pentax DA 12-24 f4 but I've read that for the aura you don't want anything slower than a f2.8. Does anyone have any suggestions or experience shooting the aura borealis and what lense do you use?

You don't need lenses faster than F:2.8. I shot Aurora with film at 100 or 200 ISO (with digital you can shoot at much higher ISO with better result) and always shot at F:4 ). This in order to guarantee sharp images. It is very hard to focus at infinity wide open with very fast lenses in darkness. Most lenses focuses slightly beyond infinity. The exact focus point is also dependent on temperature due to thermal contraction/expansion. By stopping down to F:4 you remove the effect of these small errors. I would recommend a good prime at around 24mm.
The images below are shot with 1) the 31 Limited (or the A 24/2.8 - can't remember). 2) A 35/2.8 (at 2.8), 3) the 77 Limited.







12-22-2011, 01:13 PM   #9
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Well the images doesn't show and I cannot delete post. Whats happening?
12-22-2011, 02:59 PM   #10
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See if it works now:

The images below are shot with 1) the 31 Limited (or the A 24/2.8 - can't remember). 2) A 35/2.8 (at 2.8), 3) the 77 Limited.






12-22-2011, 03:08 PM   #11
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Thanks for all of the help. So I'm guessing the Pentax 12mm-24mm f4 at ISO 800 should produce good aural images?
12-22-2011, 03:17 PM   #12
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I have that lens - the Pentax 12-24mm F4 - and love it.
I have not shot the aurora borealis, but if Pat Jensen shot the above images with F4, ISO 100 or 200 on film, it seems this lens should be suitable for a digital camera with much expanded ISO capabilities. It is a wonderful lens in general and not horribly expensive compared to the quality of the images and build.

Pat, that first image is just a jaw-dropper. Beautiful work.

This link from within Pat's link to other shots of the aurora borealis is interesting too.

Last edited by yucatanPentax; 12-22-2011 at 03:26 PM.
12-22-2011, 03:19 PM   #13
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Wow, Pål. How did the auroras in picture 3 look to your plain eyes? I've never seen such red auroras, but always bluish/greenish ones.
12-22-2011, 05:38 PM   #14
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The Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 would be great for this purpose. But unfortunately it's not available in Pentax mount. The Samyang 14mm f2.8 might be a good option instead. I've only seen and photographed the Aurora once, 2 months ago. I used my Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 and in my experience, f2.8 was useful. I had to shoot at ISO 800, and keep the shutter speed under 10 seconds since the Aurora was changing so fast.

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