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Archive 2012 · Night photography problems
  
 
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Night photography problems


I've got a bad case of batwings going with my night time pictures of the Aurora Borealis. scaled down it's not so bad but at 100% (20.533" x 13.6") it's pretty bad. My setup is:

Nikon D7000
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 prime lens
tripod
remote shutter release
shooting in mirror up mode

I've attached a small image and also a screenshot of the upper left hand corner of the same image at 100%. I'm quite sure that the lens is the problem, what do I need to buy or do to correct this problem?














Nov 13, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Paulthelefty
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Night photography problems


What is your exposure time? Does the whole image look like this at 100%? Or just the corners?

My first guess is camera movement, followed by a long exposure with no tracking set up, so the stars are starting to trail. More info would help...

Paul



Nov 14, 2012 at 01:36 AM
plubbry
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Night photography problems


It's the lens. Do a bit of research on "coma" and you'll find out what exactly causes this effect. BTW, many lenses exhibit this behavior to some degree. There are some lens reviews that actually look at this, for example: http://www.lenstip.com/190.7-Lens_review-Sigma_30_mm_f_1.4_EX_DC_HSM_Coma_and_astigmatism.html

To lessen the problem you could stop the lens down to f2 or f2.8. Of course this means less light.

BTW, the new Nikkor 28 1.8 AFS does very well w/r to coma at f1.8 when used on a DX sensor but shows considerable coma on an FX sensor.
http://www.lenstip.com/346.7-Lens_review-Nikon_Nikkor_AF-S_28_mm_f_1.8G_Coma__astigmatism_and_bokeh.html



Nov 14, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Night photography problems


The exposure time is 10 seconds I believe at f/1.4

The arrow looking stars are always in the shape of a V at the outer most portion of the images pointing away from the center of the image. I suppose I bought the wrong lens. Just wondering what lens would give the best results for what I'm doing.

Thanks for the responses.



Nov 14, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Wes Bailey
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Night photography problems


I agree with plubbry - lens coma is your issue. Not much you can to remedy the problem other than stop down. It seems fast primes are prone to coma; I believe Canon's 24 f/1.4 L has this issue as well.

I am in your situation as well. I'm looking for a full-frame fast wide-angle prime for northern lights and other low light shooting but I haven't done much research yet so I can't offer too many suggestions right now. Good luck!



Nov 14, 2012 at 02:49 AM
shmn
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Night photography problems


If you want a coma-free lens at 1.4 then get the Nikon 28mm 1.4. They go for about $2000 (now that the 28mm 1.8 is out...used to be more). That lens does very well 1.4 and exhibits almost no coma. It's used a lot in astro-photography.


Nov 14, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Night photography problems


shmn wrote:
If you want a coma-free lens at 1.4 then get the Nikon 28mm 1.4. They go for about $2000 (now that the 28mm 1.8 is out...used to be more). That lens does very well 1.4 and exhibits almost no coma. It's used a lot in astro-photography.


Holy crap I don't have that kind of cash right now! What about an older D model? I really don't need autofocus.



Nov 14, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Night photography problems


Wes Bailey wrote:
I agree with plubbry - lens coma is your issue. Not much you can to remedy the problem other than stop down. It seems fast primes are prone to coma; I believe Canon's 24 f/1.4 L has this issue as well.

I am in your situation as well. I'm looking for a full-frame fast wide-angle prime for northern lights and other low light shooting but I haven't done much research yet so I can't offer too many suggestions right now. Good luck!


Thanks, please let me know if you come across anything in a reasonable range (not necessarily a 1.4) that doesn't have this issue on a DX. I'll do the same if I see something for an FX. I'm just starting to read about it.



Nov 14, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Night photography problems


Fingerstyle78 wrote:
Holy crap I don't have that kind of cash right now! What about an older D model? I really don't need autofocus.


What about a 35mm? The 35mm f/1.8G is only like 200 bucks. How much does that 7mm of barrel length matter?



Nov 14, 2012 at 11:21 PM
boingyman
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Night photography problems


Looks like coma to me, but could also be a mixture of slight trailing too. It's challenging to get a wide, extremely fast lens on a crop camera (however I'm not too familiar with Nikon lenses). I would consider an ultra wide 2.8 zoom such as the Tokina 11-16 2.8, which will allow you to lengthen your exposure time without trails, especially at the wider end, however I have no clue how the coma is on that lens. I would also do a search about FL/FOV and SS time for stars to prevent trailing.

In this case here as well you could do a Vertorama and stack/stitch, then crop out the borders to remove the coma.



Nov 16, 2012 at 08:24 PM
 

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parsons
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Night photography problems


the nikon 14-24 at 2.8 shows next to no coma either.


Nov 17, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Chris S.
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Night photography problems


parsons wrote:
the nikon 14-24 at 2.8 shows next to no coma either.


+1
This is a wonderful lens for night sky photography.



Nov 18, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Night photography problems


http://joey-holliday.com/aurora-photography/#prettyPhoto[gallery-354]/0/


Thanks for the advice. I recently tried the Tokina 116, it was much better. I'm still getting coma at f/3.2 but it looks fine on my website. I want to make some prints though and I wouldn't print anything i have larger than 11" x 14" right now.

So I'm sitting here considering what to do....
1. I am going to upgrade to a D800 or a D600 (haven't decided yet)

2. Can't decide if I want to keep or sell my D7000. Either way the Sigma 30mm 1.4 is going

3. I cant decide which lens to buy. The Tokina 116 is not bad and it's priced really well. The Nikon 14-24mm gets awesome reviews and everyone loves it. But if im going to drop that kind of cash, what about the Zeiss 15mm 2.8? Which is superior? The only other lens I really want/need is a long 300mm or something similar with fast autofocus for Alaskan wildlife.

4. What was used in the older days for night photography? I hate paying for snappy autofocus lenses only to turn it off and focus manually. Is there a good older prime that can fit my needs better for night skies at a fraction the cost that controls coma well?



Apr 16, 2013 at 07:46 PM
ffstory
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Night photography problems


Definitely you lens suffer from coma. You need a better lens with aspherical elements. Or at least stop down more and or crop out the edge of the frame.

Astrophotography is very demanding.



Apr 16, 2013 at 08:31 PM
ffstory
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Night photography problems


Fingerstyle78 wrote:
1. I am going to upgrade to a D800 or a D600 (haven't decided yet)

The D600 is better option due to better high-iso performance and bigger pixels. You would need to invest much more on the tracking mount to minimise blur and track smaller pixels on the D800. Also the sensor on the D600 has much better quantum efficiency. Even older D700/D3 might be better option than the D800.


2. Can't decide if I want to keep or sell my D7000. Either way the Sigma 30mm 1.4 is going

The lens is a problem in this case. However, Sooner or later you will want a full-frame camera with smaller pixels or even specialised cooled astro camera with no bayer mask. However, if you plan to use the same lens the coma will be even worse on a full-frame camera.


3. I cant decide which lens to buy. The Tokina 116 is not bad and it's priced really well. The Nikon 14-24mm gets awesome reviews and everyone loves it. But if im going to drop that kind of cash, what about the Zeiss 15mm 2.8? Which is superior? The only other lens I really want/need is a long 300mm or something similar with fast autofocus for Alaskan wildlife.

Look at Samyang lenses (14, 24, 35, 85mm primes) if you are on budget. They are excelent. Nikkor 14-24/2.8 is safe bet as well. Or the new Nikon 24/2.4G. Unfortunately, none of the old AF-D lenses works and you really need a modern lens design with aspherical elements. Tokina 11-16/2.8 does not work well either. I had it - corners are awful wide open and there is field curvature. The Zeiss could work, but I have no experiences with that.

Fingerstyle78 wrote:
4. What was used in the older days for night photography?


Well, people were just less demanding (did not make a big enough prints to notice). The lens for night photography with aspherical elements (like Noct-Nikkor) were very expensive. To be frank with you the astrophotos from pre-digital captured on 35mm cameras were awful compared to today standards.



Apr 16, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Night photography problems


Thanks, I haven't looked into a tracking setup yet. I wouldn't even know where to start. How much does a decent one go for to set up a D600? My focus is aurora, so it's not really high on my priority list, just kind of curious how much it would cost if I wanted to get some nebulas or something.

The reason that I wanted a D800 was for the insane pixel count during the summer months. Landsape and wildlife photgraphy seem to really take advantage of the D800's features. I didn't realize that the D800 wouldn't be as good for night photography though. Now that you mention it, it makes sense though.



Apr 16, 2013 at 11:44 PM
ffstory
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Night photography problems


For lightweight non-guided tracking mount good for lenses up to 200mm I would suggest to start with basic Astrotrac setup - TT320X Astrotrac (+ battry pack and polar finder), Manfrotto Junior 410 geared head for polar axis, any decent ballhead for camera and Manfrotto 055 class tripod. I was able to take very good wide-angle pictures with the setup similar to that.

As for the D800. There is another negative aspect about it - insanely huge files. Astrophoto workflow is very image processing depanding. You want to increase signal to noise ratio to get black black, remove amp-noise, hot-pixels that will inevitably appear during long exposures. For me astrophoto workflow means capturing 15x light frames, 15x dark frames, 15x flat-fields and 15x offset files, converting all of these to FITS files, then averaging, subtracting, stacking, demosaicing to 16bit TIFF files (each is more than 72MB from 12mp camera), then post-processing etc. I have a solid quad-core computer but even that struggles a lot when processing files from 12 megapixel camera. I can only imagine what would happen if I attempted to process 36 megapixel files from D800. It could well take several hours even on a state-of-art computer...



Apr 17, 2013 at 09:26 AM
mike-in-ak
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Night photography problems


Fingerstyle,

Greetings from southcentral Alaska. My son is stationed at FWW with you.

What you got is like others have said, coma. It is a lens issue and a new body will not correct it. You can stop your lens down to about /4 and you should see the coma reduced quite a bit.

I shoot a lot in the dark as well and usually use old manual focus Nikkors as they are relatively inexpensive. The only lens I have ever seen without coma wide open is the legendary Noct-Nikkor but it is 58mm and costs an arm and a leg.

I have tried various lenses including the Nikkor-H 35mm /1.4, Nikkor 24mm /2 AI, Nikkor 28mm /2 AI, and a recently acquired AF Nikkor 20mm /2.8D. The 20mm shows significantly less coma than all the others.

I may rent a Zoom-Nikkor 14-24mm /2.8 one day to see how it does but at present can not swing the purchase.

I use a D3s and D700 for their high ISO range. Currently in the DX sensor line the D7000 / 7100 hold the lead in high ISO. My DX is a D300 and it gets really noisy above ISO 1600.

We are running out of "dark" for about 4 months now so you can take your time in deciding which way to go. You might want to look at what Tokina and Sigma have to offer in the wide zooms as well a fair number of Aurora shooters are using their products.

Good Luck and hope you like Alaska.

Mike



Apr 17, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Night photography problems


ffstory wrote:
For lightweight non-guided tracking mount good for lenses up to 200mm I would suggest to start with basic Astrotrac setup - TT320X Astrotrac (+ battry pack and polar finder), Manfrotto Junior 410 geared head for polar axis, any decent ballhead for camera and Manfrotto 055 class tripod. I was able to take very good wide-angle pictures with the setup similar to that.

As for the D800. There is another negative aspect about it - insanely huge files. Astrophoto workflow is very image processing depanding. You want to increase signal to noise ratio to get black black, remove amp-noise, hot-pixels that will
...Show more

The computer isn't really a concern as my GF is a motion designer and she has a 12-core Mac Pro with a massive solid state drive.

I also have an old Goldstar tripod that is built like a tank. I haven't put a ball head on it yet but that's in the works. I think I need a welder!

A tracking device would be great, but I don't have the money for that right now unless you can suggest a cheap option (under $400)

The reason that I was considering the D800 are:

1. Now that it's nearly summer there will be no aurora and all I shoot is landscape until Sept/Oct. Those 36 megapixels are very appealing to capture all the detail of Alaska.

2. I'm terrified of ending up with a D600 that spits oil on the sensor.2K is an aweful lot of money to deal with a problem like that. Not sure if it's still an issue but the complaints are well documented. Am I safe buying a re-furbished one? It really is out of my pricerange but the 1600 is a bit more reasonable.

Your input is greatly apopreciated. I always like to get as much as I can before buying such an expansive camera. Thanks again.



Apr 17, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Fingerstyle78
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Night photography problems


mike-in-ak wrote:
Fingerstyle,

Greetings from southcentral Alaska. My son is stationed at FWW with you.

What you got is like others have said, coma. It is a lens issue and a new body will not correct it. You can stop your lens down to about /4 and you should see the coma reduced quite a bit.

I shoot a lot in the dark as well and usually use old manual focus Nikkors as they are relatively inexpensive. The only lens I have ever seen without coma wide open is the legendary Noct-Nikkor but it is 58mm and costs an arm and a leg.

I have
...Show more

Thanks Mike, great to hear from another Alaskan. I love it up here!!! I recently sold the Sigma and purchased the 14mm Samyang f/2.8 because I can't really swing the Nikon 14-24 either. for $400 you can't go wrong. minimal coma wide open and the field of view is enourmous, even on my D7000 DX body. I recently rented the Tokina 11-16 and it was way better than my Sigma 30mm for several reasons, but the Samyang blows it away in terms of coma on the edges. I highly recommend the Samyang for aurora/night sky photography. I'm headed up to the white mountains this weekend for some landscape shooting with the new lens and maybe some star trails if the aurora doesn't show itself. I'll be sure to post some pics. Not sure if I can post my link here or not but if you'd like to see my photos from last weekend's show it's joey-holliday.com

I'm not ready for summer. I live for winter!!!



Apr 17, 2013 at 08:17 PM
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