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01-19-2013, 03:39 AM   #1
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Aurora borealis: DA15 ltd or not?

Hi everybody,

I like your opinion about this issue I have.

Me and the misses are going on holiday to North Finland soon. Just a week and as an alternative to the regular wintersports. We booked a little cottage at the border of a National Park and arranged some excursions like dogsledding, snowscootering, etc. But my main reason for going there is to see (and shoot) the Northern lights for the first time. Since this particulair year has some severe sun activity, chances are that we see lots of it.

So down my little luxury-problem
My setup for this trip now consists of a K-5 with a DA14 F2.8, DA* 16-50 F2.8, a DA35 macro F2.8 ltd and a manual Revuenon 50mm F1.4. These are lenses I allready own and from what I`ve been reading on aurora-photography this setup should do the trick quite nicely. But, since I`ve generated a lot of cash during the last month, I`m eyeballing the DA15ltd lately. It has superb optics, great contrast and colorrendering, etc, etc. Everyone seem to love it and if it`s as good as my DA35ltd I won`t be dissapointed.

My only 2 gripes for this occasion with it, it`s just a little slow and small. I`ve been going though numberous aurora-pics on Flickr and other sites, looking up exifs and figuring out my basic settings to work from. I prefer to keep ISO as low as possible (offcourse) and, if possible, I don`t wanna go over ISO1600. I think I`m fairly safe with a F2.8 or faster lens but wouldn`t F4 be a little too critical in low light as aurora`s can be very bright but also really faint?
Second is the size. The DA14 and the DA*16-50 can be handled with thick gloves in near darkness because of their size (BTDT), Is that also possible the DA15ltd?

All-in-all: Would the DA15ltd a sane purchase for this trip or is this just LBA? And even worse, I`ve been looking at the FA31 ltd as well, since it`s F1.9. But 1200,- is too much for a lens that sits close to my DA35ltd and isn`t really wide.

Kind regards, Jacco

01-19-2013, 04:29 AM   #2
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Go with the Sigma 8-16, then you can get some dramatic FOV with the aurora.
01-19-2013, 04:58 AM - 2 Likes   #3
jac
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O.K. It's mostly CaNikon but useful tips here.
How to photograph the northern lights with a digital camera.
01-19-2013, 05:03 AM   #4
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P.S. here's the 15 Ltd. in action
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/attachments/photographic-technique/120543...great-bear.jpg

01-19-2013, 05:22 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Macario Quote
Go with the Sigma 8-16, then you can get some dramatic FOV with the aurora.
Thanks for the suggestion, Macario but the sigma is even slower. I also like the fact that the DA15ltd has allmost no distortion and it`s a focal lenght that I like using normally. My only other concern is that it`s not WR.

QuoteOriginally posted by jac Quote
O.K. It's mostly CaNikon but useful tips here.
How to photograph the northern lights with a digital camera.
Great site, I`ve found quite a few but not so extensive on the photographypart as this one, Thanks!
One other thing, by the time I go there will be no moon. So it`s gonna be very dark.

QuoteOriginally posted by jac Quote
Now you`re making me drool

Last edited by TenZ.NL; 01-19-2013 at 04:01 PM.
01-19-2013, 06:19 AM   #6
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I also like the DA12-24 for aurora depending on the 'landscape' part of the composition.
01-19-2013, 06:20 AM   #7
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I have the DA15mm ltd and have never even seen a DA14mm. But I'm not sure there's much reason to own both. And the 14mm is faster.

If you shoot outside for a longer time, take a plastic bag or some other container where you can let the camera warm afterwards without gathering lots of condensation indoors.

And hope for cold weather! That's because we're (I'm from Northern Finland) close to the time which is statistically the coldest time of the year. And when the temperature's reasonable, it's almost always cloudy. And when it's clear, it's almost always damned cold.
01-19-2013, 07:24 AM   #8
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Well, I guess you`re right but I bought the DA14 very cheap. I figured that if the aperture of DA15 is good enough for the Aurora`s, I can sell the 14 after the holydays. But then again, the DA14 is used in cramped lowlight situations at work (maritime enginerooms) so it has a special purpose for me that the 15 cannot fulfill.

Yes, I`m hoping for cold weather. I allready bought some arctic boots, rated to -40C.



Damn, this is really a severe case of LBA...I allready picked up my carkeys 3 times to go out and buy it

Oh, and thanks for the tip on the condensation, I keep that in mind! Usually I leave the gear inside my insulated backpack, that has worked so far.


Last edited by TenZ.NL; 01-19-2013 at 11:01 AM.
01-19-2013, 07:48 AM   #9
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I don't want to burst your bubble but I think this is a simple case of LBA. Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting you don't buy the lens... just to realize that you probably don't need it. That being said - go pick up the car keys!
01-19-2013, 09:14 AM   #10
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I'd stick with the 14. I've got the DA15ltd and it worked great on a recent trip to Iceland, but the short comings of your DA 14 (size, edge distortion and edge softness) won't really affect your images- and the extra stop could be useful. There was a recent thread about this where I posted some DA15ltd shots @1600:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/209679-lens-aurora-borealis.html

If I were to buy any lens just for Aurora photos it would be the DA 10-17 fisheye- remember that you will be so far north that the Auroras will be all around and overhead, not just above the horizon.
01-19-2013, 10:11 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmort Quote
I don't want to burst your bubble but I think this is a simple case of LBA. Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting you don't buy the lens... just to realize that you probably don't need it. That being said - go pick up the car keys!
QuoteOriginally posted by Professor Batty Quote
I'd stick with the 14. I've got the DA15ltd and it worked great on a recent trip to Iceland, but the short comings of your DA 14 (size, edge distortion and edge softness) won't really affect your images- and the extra stop could be useful. There was a recent thread about this where I posted some DA15ltd shots @1600:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/209679-lens-aurora-borealis.html

If I were to buy any lens just for Aurora photos it would be the DA 10-17 fisheye- remember that you will be so far north that the Auroras will be all around and overhead, not just above the horizon.
Too late, LBA hit me hard:


Severe case of LBA

Just did some testing and I really like what I see. For now I`ll hang on to the 14 but after that trip I`ll decide if I keep it.
01-19-2013, 10:15 AM   #12
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I have owned both the DA14 and the DA15, the DA15 is excellent but must be stopped down; the weaknesses of the DA14 (mainly flare and distorsion) will not be an issue for you.
I would stick with the DA 14; but yu can buy the DA15 to use it for iceland landscape, the is certainly something do to in this area !
01-19-2013, 10:17 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by TenZ.NL Quote
Too late, LBA hit me hard:

Just did some testing and I really like what I see. For now I`ll hang on to the 14 but after that trip I`ll decide if I keep it.
You'll certainly will be happy with it, it is a great lens; btw I have replaced the metal cap which was too "agressive" with the other lenses by a more conventional, plastic one.
01-19-2013, 10:39 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TenZ.NL Quote
Too late, LBA hit me hard:
Ha! Excellent! Always nice to see people get new things. Be sure to post some photos take with the lens!
01-19-2013, 10:53 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by goubejp Quote
You'll certainly will be happy with it, it is a great lens; btw I have replaced the metal cap which was too "agressive" with the other lenses by a more conventional, plastic one.
That is very good to know because I didn`t like the screw in lenscap from the start, thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by dmort Quote
Ha! Excellent! Always nice to see people get new things. Be sure to post some photos take with the lens!
Will do
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