Night Photographers - Advice Needed

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Cl(VII)

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For any of you that may be night photographers (NOT the creepy kind...talking stars, milky way, etc.). What SLR lens do you use? From what I've read I leaning toward the Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II (11-16mm, f/2.8) as a first lens as it should be a nice landscape lens too, and I want to avoid fisheye lenses, and staggering price tags.

So, any opinions on this lens, or another that you have found success with. There is plenty of talk on camera forums about such things, but it is hard for a new person to really sort through all the noise there...at least I "know" this group.
 

ChrisAttebery

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You're looking at a DX lens so I'll assume that you have an APS-C camera. Which one are you looking at? That lens looks decent but it has a really short range (17mm-25mm full frame equivalent). Will it be your only lens? I have a 16-35mm lens (on a full frame) and I rarely use the lower end. If you do you need to get REALLY close to your foreground subject (less than 3').

My suggestion would be to get something like a 18-55mm F4.5-5.6 kit lens as your daily walk around lens and then pick up a second generation (red ring) Samyang/Bower/Rokinon/Vivitar 14mm 2.8. You can pick these up used for around $200. They are manual focus but they are very sharp. It's known as the "go to" astrophotography lens for a budget. You could pick up both of these lenses cheaper than you can pick up that Tokina.

I've taken Milky Way shots with the 18-55mm STM kit lens on my old Canon 70D (APS-C). I've also used my Canon 24-105 F4 on my 6D (full frame). These days I'd use my 24-70 2.8 or 16-35 F4 though.
 

Cl(VII)

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You're looking at a DX lens so I'll assume that you have an APS-C camera. Which one are you looking at? That lens looks decent but it has a really short range (17mm-25mm full frame equivalent). Will it be your only lens? I have a 16-35mm lens (on a full frame) and I rarely use the lower end. If you do you need to get REALLY close to your foreground subject (less than 3').

My suggestion would be to get something like a 18-55mm F4.5-5.6 kit lens as your daily walk around lens and then pick up a second generation (red ring) Samyang/Bower/Rokinon/Vivitar 14mm 2.8. You can pick these up used for around $200. They are manual focus but they are very sharp. It's known as the "go to" astrophotography lens for a budget. You could pick up both of these lenses cheaper than you can pick up that Tokina.

I've taken Milky Way shots with the 18-55mm STM kit lens on my old Canon 70D (APS-C). I've also used my Canon 24-105 F4 on my 6D (full frame). These days I'd use my 24-70 2.8 or 16-35 F4 though.
I have a Canon T6i which is low end by many's standards, but has allowed for some nice star shots even at high ISO. It has an APS-C sensor. I use the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens as my walk around since it is REALLY small, works out to 35mm with the crop, and at 24.2 MPixels I can crop the crap out of things if I need to. I also have the kit telephotos that all overlap, so I have coverage out to 200mm. That will make this lens pretty task specific.
 

OverTheTop

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I had a Tokina 35-200 lens years ago. Nothing but praise for it. Fantastic build quality and the images were much better resolution than any of the other aftermarket lenses around at the time. Their R&D used to be about five years ahead of the pack.

Assuming their quality hasn't slipped (which it hasn't, based on opinion from an avid photographer I work with) it should be a great lens. The Tokina won't be cheap, but it will reward you for years.
 

ChrisAttebery

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It sounds like you have pretty good focal length coverage. This lens will be pretty specialized, but it also covers a range you don't already have. That Samyang 14mm 2.8 would be a cheaper alternative if you don't need a zoom. You're not going to gain a lot with the 11-16mm range anyway.

https://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Samyang-14mm-f-2.8-Lens.aspx

https://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Tokina-11-16mm-f-2.8-AT-X-Pro-DX-II-Lens.aspx

Here's one for sale:
https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1480095
 

mkadams001

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For any of you that may be night photographers (NOT the creepy kind...talking stars, milky way, etc.). What SLR lens do you use? From what I've read I leaning toward the Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II (11-16mm, f/2.8) as a first lens as it should be a nice landscape lens too, and I want to avoid fisheye lenses, and staggering price tags.

So, any opinions on this lens, or another that you have found success with. There is plenty of talk on camera forums about such things, but it is hard for a new person to really sort through all the noise there...at least I "know" this group.

Buy the lens, that one is a keeper. But get something with a more useful range too.
 

Cl(VII)

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It sounds like you have pretty good focal length coverage. This lens will be pretty specialized, but it also covers a range you don't already have. That Samyang 14mm 2.8 would be a cheaper alternative if you don't need a zoom. You're not going to gain a lot with the 11-16mm range anyway.

https://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Samyang-14mm-f-2.8-Lens.aspx

https://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Tokina-11-16mm-f-2.8-AT-X-Pro-DX-II-Lens.aspx

Here's one for sale:
https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1480095
Thanks very much for the time you put into my questions. I had not considered the Samyang previously, so I need to think on that option.
 

Cl(VII)

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I had a Tokina 35-200 lens years ago. Nothing but praise for it. Fantastic build quality and the images were much better resolution than any of the other aftermarket lenses around at the time. Their R&D used to be about five years ahead of the pack.

Assuming their quality hasn't slipped (which it hasn't, based on opinion from an avid photographer I work with) it should be a great lens. The Tokina won't be cheap, but it will reward you for years.
I've had a lot of fun at night with 50mm primes.
Buy the lens, that one is a keeper. But get something with a more useful range too.
Thanks for the input gents. Having the basics covered with the kit lenses and the 24mm prime (I love that lens for day trips with the family) is letting me learn while doing well by my Dad duties of documenting family activities. This is my first venture into a more niche activity/lens, so the input is appreciated.
 

Charles_McG

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I spent a lot of my youth shooting the night sky. All my experience is out of date, as I used one of these:
C8.jpg

taking single frames of gas-hypered color reversal slide film. Ektachrome, IIRC.
 

mccordmw

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I can gorgeous, sweeping, outdoor shots with a Sigma 8-16 mm lens. It's the widest angle, non-fisheye lens. I have a lot of fun with it.

https://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/wide-angle-lenses/8-16mm-f45-56-dc-hsm

It is a bit slow for night skies though. But it does work.

This collection shows what this lens can do.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/sigma8-16/pool/

Another tip for night photos; use a graduated ND filter to help block out any ground light pollution. It'll let you get those star photos that pop while minimizing overexposure of the ground.



The Sigma 8-16 gives great panoramas, but for crisp star imagery, I like a faster ISO in the 200-400 range. You need that speed to really define the star pinpoints of light. For that, I use my go-to lens that I use for 90% of all my photography. That's the awesome Canon 50 mm prime f1.2 lens. This lens defines buttery Bokeh. Lightning fast lens. Open it up to f1.6 (the sweet spot for this lens), put it on a tripod, and get some gorgeous night skies.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/20778516@N00/pool/

Almost everything I have in my non-free galleries are shot with the 50 mm prime.

https://mccordphoto.zenfolio.com/f75195963
 

Cl(VII)

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I can gorgeous, sweeping, outdoor shots with a Sigma 8-16 mm lens. It's the widest angle, non-fisheye lens. I have a lot of fun with it.

https://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/wide-angle-lenses/8-16mm-f45-56-dc-hsm

It is a bit slow for night skies though. But it does work.

This collection shows what this lens can do.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/sigma8-16/pool/

Another tip for night photos; use a graduated ND filter to help block out any ground light pollution. It'll let you get those star photos that pop while minimizing overexposure of the ground.



The Sigma 8-16 gives great panoramas, but for crisp star imagery, I like a faster ISO in the 200-400 range. You need that speed to really define the star pinpoints of light. For that, I use my go-to lens that I use for 90% of all my photography. That's the awesome Canon 50 mm prime f1.2 lens. This lens defines buttery Bokeh. Lightning fast lens. Open it up to f1.6 (the sweet spot for this lens), put it on a tripod, and get some gorgeous night skies.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/20778516@N00/pool/

Almost everything I have in my non-free galleries are shot with the 50 mm prime.

https://mccordphoto.zenfolio.com/f75195963
That 50mm prime sounds like the most beloved Canon lens on the planet. I don't think I've read a single negative thing about it, and the results are beautiful. A bit more than I'm looking to spend now though. My boss, who is a Canon guy, often talks about the 50 mm prime and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens as being the two he takes 95% of his pics with.
 

jpoehlman

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ImageUploadedByRocketry Forum1495559106.156493.jpg

Shot handheld with a Canon 28mm f/1.8 lens. Body is a 6D at ISO6400 and 1/3 sec exposure wide open at f/1.8.

With a tripod, it would have been better.

To me, it do pends on what you are really looking to capture, full big sky or something more specific.
 

Cl(VII)

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View attachment 320656

Shot handheld with a Canon 28mm f/1.8 lens. Body is a 6D at ISO6400 and 1/3 sec exposure wide open at f/1.8.

With a tripod, it would have been better.

To me, it do pends on what you are really looking to capture, full big sky or something more specific.
I'm going for shots akin to what Chris shows above. Big sky with some ground reference. Below is the best I've done so far. This was a completely unoptimal time for a pic like this as it was December (galactic core not visible), too close to civilization, thin clouds, not late enough, and camp fire adjacent (though I like the effect of the fire off the tree).

 
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