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12-19-2014, 09:18 PM   #1
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Beginner and need advice on Lens for Aurora shooting.

Hi,

Been lurking here abouts for a long time now but things have gotten a bit more critical with regards to my photography of late.

I am using a K5 and have 18-55 and 55-300 kit lenses. Also a Vivitar 105mm series 1.

I enjoy photography but have not spent that much time getting deep into the hobby.

I intend taking my wife to Iceland for an "Orca's and Aurora" holiday. 5 days 4 nights some time in March.

I have been reading everything I can find on shooting the Aurora.

The most prevalent tip regarding lenses is "Wide and Fast".

The question is How wide and How fast?

Currently looking at PENTAX DA 12-24mm F4 ED AL.

Would this be fast enough though?

I'm hoping to go a couple of weeks before the equinox as it has been said that this is the time of highest activity.

I will also try to coincide with a quarter to half moon so as to get some detail in the foreground. (As opposed to sky only or silhouettes)

Please feel free to dive in with suggestions etc. Budget wise I don't really want to be paying more than about £500 for the lens.

I may opt for second hand though or even look at hiring.

Thanks in advance.

Gaz

12-19-2014, 09:57 PM   #2
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Get a Samyang 10/2.8 or their 14/2.8. They both almost lacks any coma so the stars shows up as they should. the 12-24 would suffice but not be as good.
12-19-2014, 10:28 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by GAZ_XB9R Quote
Budget wise I don't really want to be paying more than about £500 for the lens.
In the world of photographic optics Wide and Fast typically means heavy and expensive. Most f/2.8 lenses will be well suited to your purposes, and as always I prefer to steer people away from using overly wide lenses for landscapes - not all landscapes are about broad vistas, sometimes an effective landscape image can be about smaller things and their relationship with the surrounding landscape.


Pentax K7 - SMCP-FA77mm f/1.8 Limited.
12-19-2014, 10:44 PM   #4
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But to capture aurora a wide lens is preferable as it dances over the sky.

12-19-2014, 10:59 PM   #5
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Digitalis,

I agree with you on that.

However, given the subject matter (Northern Lights) the display should be pretty vast if indeed I am fortunate enough to see it.

I would however like to capture some foreground in my pictures as opposed to the stock, sky only or blacked out silhouetted trees.

VisualDarkness,

Thanks for that. I am looking into it.

TBH I didn't realise that samyang made a 10mm that wasn't a fisheye.

Fisheye's are obviously out. As I want to include some fore ground.

Thanks again guys.

Gaz
12-20-2014, 12:15 AM   #6
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It's a bit of a toss up. Wide is good, but generally you want the whole shot to be in focus when shooting aurora (especially if you're doing silhouettes or portraits), so you are generally gonna be stopped down anyway meaning that a good sensor is more important (and the K-5 isn't really lacking

The Samyang manual lenses are popular among aurora photographers that I know, I've got a 14mm f2.8 next on my list.

Also good luck! 4 days isn't a lot of time to see aurora. Iceland is a little south of the aurora belt, and clouds can be pretty sabotaging...
12-20-2014, 01:49 AM   #7
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ZoeB thanks for your input.

Ive found the 10mm f/2.8 for £298.

https://www.onestop-digital.com/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=.../product/34412

Anyone used this company?

Very tempted at that price.

Gaz
12-20-2014, 01:53 AM   #8
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Just found a review for the 10mm f/2.8.

Not such good news as it suggests that it needs stopped down to f/8 before the resolution at the edge becomes usable.

Further research required i think.

Gaz

12-20-2014, 02:30 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by GAZ_XB9R Quote
Just found a review for the 10mm f/2.8.

Not such good news as it suggests that it needs stopped down to f/8 before the resolution at the edge becomes usable.

Further research required i think.

Gaz
Generally, to get the whole photo to be in focus, you want to be stopped down to f8 anyway. This guy: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alfredsen-Foto/1425352171041646

who lives in the same area as i do recently got the samyang 10mm f2.8, and certainly seems to be enjoying it
12-20-2014, 02:44 AM   #10
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Same shop doing the 14mm f/2.8 for £241.

And looking at the reviews for it, it seems a more rounded lens that becomes superb stopped down to f/4

At that price I'm thinking I can't go far wrong.

I'm just away to search for aurora images taken on K5 with the 14mm.

Gaz
12-20-2014, 03:23 AM   #11
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I can vouch for the 12-24. The main negative is coma at the edges, but it is very sharp. I have used it shooting the aurora here in tasmania and am happy with the results. Have used it with the k5, now using k3.
12-20-2014, 03:35 AM   #12
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I can definitely recommend the Samyang 14. I did calibrate it since it was not that sharp wide open, and then... Just great lens. I did a close comparison of the Samyang with the da 12 24 and ended up selling the Pentax lens.
12-20-2014, 04:34 AM   #13
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For your 'Orca' shots (or other 'non-Aurora' shots) a purchased (or rented) *300 and DA*50-135 would be recommended.

If you don't care about getting better IQ on these shots, then the DA55-300 is still good (and lightweight). But in no way will it rival the IQ of either of these lenses - especially the F/FA/DA*300s.
12-20-2014, 04:37 AM   #14
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too bad you didn't go on an Orca and Aurora trip to Tromsų in late November-- we certainly had plenty of both!
12-20-2014, 05:03 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GAZ_XB9R Quote
However, given the subject matter (Northern Lights) the display should be pretty vast if indeed I am fortunate enough to see it.
The problem is that extremely wide lenses still have to be stopped down before they can deliver image quality that is anywhere near useful for your purposes.
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