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10-15-2008, 10:36 PM   #1
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Lens for starry nights

Hi! Finally I have in my hands my K200D

So far, I have the 18-55mm kit lens and bought an FA 75-300mm from ebay. Since my P&S days I've always looking for taking great pictures of starry nights. Right now I live in a city where light pollution is horrid, but when I have a chance of going to my hometown in Baja California I love going outdoors during the night.

Now that I have a DSLR I wish to take the best shots the camera allows me to. The question is, which lens do you think is the best for shooting starry skies? I do not intend to do long telephoto astrophotography, actually I'd prefer wide angle shots which show both the sky and the earth.

Here are some samples taken with my previous super zoom P&S:

Picasa Web Albums - Abdel - Mulegé 2008
Picasa Web Albums - Abdel - Agua Verde 2008

10-15-2008, 11:00 PM   #2
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Your kit lens stopped down is a pretty decent performer at night.
I had very good results shooting fireworks at night ... and I really want to get out and shoot the Milky Way as well ... I have been meaning to get out and have a good (as I have not light pollution in my area.

I have seen excellent results with the DA14 as well when it comes to night shooting.
10-16-2008, 07:31 AM   #3
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I agree, just stop the kit lens down at least a stop or two, use a tripod and remote release, and have fun!
10-16-2008, 01:49 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
I agree, just stop the kit lens down at least a stop or two, use a tripod and remote release, and have fun!
I used f/8 for fireworks ... and probably could have stopped it down a bit more.
But it was very sharp indeed and was impressed with it ... i think the f/8 region is the sharpest for this lens.

10-16-2008, 03:06 PM   #5
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DA 14MM @ f3.5 or f4 likes the stars above(:
This was a 20 minute plus exposure
10-16-2008, 06:18 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adrian Owerko Quote
DA 14MM @ f3.5 or f4 likes the stars above(:
This was a 20 minute plus exposure
Whooooooooooaaaaa, what a cool shot!!!!!! Thanks for posting it...
10-21-2008, 04:40 PM   #7
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Original Poster
Hi!

Thank you for your replies, I look forward to try shooting when I go back to my hometown. On the mean time, I've bought already a remote shutter release for bulb mode.
10-21-2008, 05:09 PM   #8
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With its even resolution, wouldn't the 40/2.8 make a good choice?
And as little as i like star trails, yours is worth looking at!

10-21-2008, 06:48 PM   #9
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I gotta vote for a fast 50 to allow for short exposure times...
(this taken, near 9000ft on a crater wall so I was a lot closer to those stars then usual )

10-21-2008, 07:20 PM   #10
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Geez... makes you wonder what Vincent was on.. no Pentax in them there days.




Starry Night by Van Gogh




02-22-2009, 12:24 PM   #11
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Hello guys,

Newbie here. Why do you guys recommend stopping down a lense for long exposures? Would that not increase your exposure times?
02-22-2009, 12:44 PM   #12
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It will increase exposure time, but it will also give better sharpness, something that really counts when you're taking photos of tiny pinpricks of light projected from millions of light years away. The kit lens described does best when stopped down a bit. On the other hand, the photo posted with the 14mm was almost wide-open, because that's a very sharp lens as it is.
02-22-2009, 01:07 PM   #13
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But consider this... If you take too fast of a shot of the stars, you might get a 1 pixel spec, one dot. Whether you use in camera JPG conversion or RAW->JPG conversion, the conversion algorithm is likely to mistake that speck for noise and erase it. Actually, not "likely to", it will erase it! It you take an exposure of several seconds, you'll get at least a slight 'smear' of more than one pixels. that will enable you to turn-up the noise reduction to completely erase spurious noise, while keeping even the slightest hint of a star trail to remain. It works. See post #9 above. Tho I wish that was a 10 second instead of 30 second exposure.
02-22-2009, 02:35 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by boom Quote
Hello guys,

Newbie here. Why do you guys recommend stopping down a lense for long exposures? Would that not increase your exposure times?
It is a question of the objects you want to photograph. Stopping down for astrophotography has the following results:
  • - improve image quality, as you reach the lens' best aperture, reduced vignetting, maximum sharpness and contrast
  • - reduce background brightness, especially in (sub)urban areas, where light pollution is heavy - this has NO effect on stars! But it will prolong the exposure time for objects over an area (they need longer expsoure, just likt the light pollution, to be obvious)
  • - extend exposure time, which is usually sky-brightness-limited, which makes it possible to show those beautiful longer star trails, instead of just elongated spots.

Nevertheless, the best lens for astrophotography is always a prime lens. Zooms have too many lenses inside, which can lead to flare and ghosting. Another problem is purely mechnical, as the tubes are much more loose (especially in cheap zooms), which can lead to unsharpness or even zoom creep, which ruins the shot - something you don't want, if you invested a night's sleep.

Also, in general, prime lenses are faster to start with and usually do not need to be stopped down beyonf F/4 or F/5, which is an advantage if you want to image deep sky objects, like nebulae.

Ben
02-22-2009, 02:38 PM   #15
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The best lens for shooting images of night sky is not a lens. A sturdy tripod and a motor to track star is the best. You are using a long exposure time no matter what lens you use. I have seen spectacular night sky images shot with the lowly 50 mm standard lens. When the exposure time is over a few seconds the earth's rotation will be getting visible and the stars are no longer a point but a smudge or a trail.
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