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Archive 2008 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens
  
 
David Clapp
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


I have been experimenting with photographing landscapes in moonlight. Not only is it great fun walking moorland in the dark on your own at 1.30am, but the following day you are glad you did.

I am not into star trails an prefer the shortest shutter speed possible to freeze the stars, but this comes with problems, mainly getting a prime that is capable of producing sharp images with good edge definition at the lowest possible f stop. Using ISO's on my 5D higher than 640 could mean the image will not be accepted by agencies, so I am looking for a 28 or 35mm lens that sharpens up as fast as possible at the lowest aperture.

I bought a Nikkor 35mm f1.4 lens in a hope that it would sharpen up reasonably at lower f stops, but it doesnt get acceptable until f5.6. Despite the centre of the image being acceptably sharp at f2.8, there is a huge difference between f4 and f5.6 in the corners making this lens a lot slower than I had hoped.

What is the sharpest lens in the 28mm or 35mm focal length at the lowest aperture?

Are the Contax 28mm f2.8, Nikkor equivalent or Olympus good in this range?

Ideally speaking I would like good edge sharpeness at f4 to keep the ISO down to 400

Here's one with the Nikkor on my 5D. Its a blend of two exposure, focus bracketed to get a greater DOF at f5.6, ISO 640.

Moonlight shot


Your thoughts please gentlemen....



Apr 19, 2008 at 10:45 PM
dave chilvers
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


Hiya

Had a look at your image and I like it a lot.

I have a Contax 28.2.8 and I reckon at f4 you` be quite happy.(it`s supposed to be at it`s best from 5.6) I`m waiting for an adapter to try out my Oly 21 3.5 but you`d probably have to stop down to f8 I reckon on that lens.

Dave



Apr 19, 2008 at 11:02 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


The Contax Zeiss 28 2.8 is incredibly sharp in the center even wide open but never really gets tack sharp in the extreme corners. The edges, but not the corners, should be nice by 5.6 - 8. The best lens in this range if your looking for truly tack sharp extreme corners is the Leica R 28 2.8 which take the E55 filter and has a built in hood, not the earlier ones.
The Olympus is very nice in the corners by F8 but never really achieves the stellar sharpness of the Zeiss or Leica in the center. The NikKor falls off dramatically just before the corners. The Zeiss is probably the best compromise for Quality/Cost compared to the others in my opinion with the Leica being THE BEST.



Apr 19, 2008 at 11:21 PM
JohnJ
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


Dave

I have a leica R 35/1.4 which I think is already very sharp at f 2 and would probably suite you by 2.8. Not sure how good it is in the corners, it's not something that matters to me.

JJ



Apr 19, 2008 at 11:21 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


Its going to be a LOT easier to find a 35mm lens with great corners than a 28. Three which I have tested on my 5D which all had great corner sharpness: Contax Zeiss 35-70 3.4 Zoom(A bit too much distortion and can be difficult to focus), Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm 2.4(My Favorite overall), Rollei 35mm 2.8(Overall the best by a hair in the corners though I prefer the color/contrast of the Flek.).


Apr 19, 2008 at 11:31 PM
David Clapp
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


Thanks guys, this is the problem. Shoting landscapes in low light means a trade off between higher ISO and aperture. I need a lens with good edge sharpness as wide open as possible to keep the shutter times right town. The 35mm Nikkor is just excellent at f2, but only in the centre, making it great for portraits for example. It doesnt get near sharp enough in the corners until f5.6-f8, by which point I am jacking up the ISO to keep the shutter speeds down.

A fellow FM participant, Matt, has also mentioned the 28mm f2.8 as sharp at f4

Here's another example of the Nikkor, taken at midnight. I know this shows nothing of sharpness at 100%, but an idea of the overall effect of aperture and shutter speed trade off... taken at 12.30am just before the camera was blown over. Luckily I caught the tripod by a leg...!

Sleeping Shell


Edited by David Clapp on Apr 19, 2008 at 11:44 PM GMT

Edited on Apr 19, 2008 at 11:44 PM



Apr 19, 2008 at 11:38 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


Gorgeous images David. Full Moon Tonight here in Fl and you may have just inspired me to get out and shoot. What sort of shutter speeds are you working with by the way at 5.6 and ISO 400?


Apr 19, 2008 at 11:42 PM
David Clapp
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


ISO 640, 35mm Nikkor at f5.6 It should be just enough to get a good exposure in strong moonlight. Make sure its really dark; the sun sets here around 8.30pm but I wouldnt go out until 11pm at the earliest and shoot into the early hours. Its very theraputic, especially out in the wild. You shit yourself at first and then you realise is a wonderful thing to do.

Both the shots are focus bracketed to get the foreground in focus, as shooting at f5.6 is narrow DOF and rendered the foreground soft. You could of course shoot one shot for the sky at f5.6 and then another way longer exposure at f11 using a cable release to get all the foreground in, then blend them in PS.

Lucky you with a clear sky, we had it here on Friday, but it's now raining and dull, I am hoping for a break early next week as it's full moon tonight and conditions will still be right for a couple of days until the light levels drop.

here's one from last month





Edited on Apr 19, 2008 at 11:54 PM



Apr 19, 2008 at 11:51 PM
David Clapp
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


Well I know one thing, when I do the next moonlight shoot it isnt my 35mm Nikkor I will be using, my CZ28-85 is sharper at f4 and f5.6. There's nothing in it around the centre, both look almost identical but the CZ has the edge. The Nikkor is definately the worse on the edges, BUT the extreme corners is where the CZ loses. The Zeiss zoom is the winner. I think I would really like to see the CZ 28mm prime right now....

After an initial test last week I was staggered to see how sharp the 28-85 is wide open at f3.3 85mm. Certainly a steller performer...

Edited on Apr 20, 2008 at 12:30 AM



Apr 20, 2008 at 12:29 AM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


The CZ 35-70 is the same. My CZ 28 2.8 was actually not any sharper in the extreme corners than the Zoom.

If I go shooting tonight, I will probably be pre-focusing at infinity with my 6x12 medium format field set up. Yep Film. My "wild" will probably be the motor-way as I'm working on a travel project.



Apr 20, 2008 at 12:42 AM
 

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pascal03
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


I like the image very much.... the rest of your gallery has some very nice images as well. Thanks for sharing.

I have an Olympus 24mm that works good for me - Quite acceptable by f5.6 and good by f8.0. However, I am guessing the C/Y Zeiss may have more resolution and better contrast at f5.6.



Apr 20, 2008 at 04:26 AM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


pascal03 wrote:
I like the image very much.... the rest of your gallery has some very nice images as well. Thanks for sharing.

I have an Olympus 24mm that works good for me - Quite acceptable by f5.6 and good by f8.0. However, I am guessing the C/Y Zeiss may have more resolution and better contrast at f5.6.


Surprisingly, the Olympus 24 is better in the corners than the Zeiss 28. Zeiss definitely has more contrast.



Apr 20, 2008 at 01:08 PM
Luvwine
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


I have found Canon's 35 1.4L to be quite sharp by F4 or 5.6. Have you tried the Canon? I would be surprised to find many lenses at that focal length that are better. It beats my CZ 35 PC until well stopped down.


Apr 20, 2008 at 01:47 PM
Grant808
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


I'd suggest a Leica for your needs. Generally better wide open or near it, and no 'intrusive' coating for night shots. I find the Zeiss coatings to clip too much light on the low end unless you want relatively long exposures.


Apr 20, 2008 at 02:34 PM
David Clapp
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


Which Leica? I got recommended the Leica 28mm f2.8 version II or something, but its a staggering cost, 1400! I would rather stay at the cheapskate end if I can as its for one specific shooting requirement rather than needing the lens for many other applications.

Again, the Canon 35mm L is way too expensive...



Apr 20, 2008 at 03:59 PM
JohnJ
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


David Clapp wrote:
Which Leica? I got recommended the Leica 28mm f2.8 version II or something, but its a staggering cost, 1400! I would rather stay at the cheapskate end if I can as its for one specific shooting requirement rather than needing the lens for many other applications.

Again, the Canon 35mm L is way too expensive...


Well there's your problem. Sure there are lenses which perform very well and won't cost you your first born but some of the staggeringly expensive lenses which have been mentioned seem quite cheap once you've used them and if their performance advantage is what you need. Some times it's worth buying the very best regardless of the cost.

JJ



Apr 20, 2008 at 10:15 PM
David Clapp
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


I know exactly what you are saying. I wouldnt skimp on glass, but this moonlight concept may be something I do not persue to any great length.

There is some much understated and excellent glass, hence this forum, I am trying to turn stones over to uncover a few gems that may not exist. I am going to try the Contax 28mm 2.8 and the 35-70 next. These may well offer me the better corners at f4 and certainly wont break the bank.

Any other suggestions are gratefully excepted.



Apr 20, 2008 at 10:59 PM
JohnJ
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


David Clapp wrote:
I know exactly what you are saying. I wouldnt skimp on glass, but this moonlight concept may be something I do not persue to any great length.

There is some much understated and excellent glass, hence this forum, I am trying to turn stones over to uncover a few gems that may not exist. I am going to try the Contax 28mm 2.8 and the 35-70 next. These may well offer me the better corners at f4 and certainly wont break the bank.

Any other suggestions are gratefully excepted.


If you'r problem is simply the star trials created by longer exposures then why not simply PS them to a single point. You can stop your lens down a little to get a better image. I've done 6 minute moon lit shots where the star trails are still manageable (in terms of being able to PS them if you wanted to). I don't mind start trails though.

6 minute moon lit pic

JJ



Apr 20, 2008 at 11:24 PM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


For 35mm try the Carl Zeiss 35/2 ZF. It's getting very high praise and might be reasonable on the used market.


Apr 20, 2008 at 11:35 PM
Rob Riley
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Moonlight photos and sharp lens


great images David and what a beautiful gallery

some notes on this
moonlight is 1/500th the value of sunlight
stars move, well ok, the planet rotates at 15 degrees an hour, so elongated lines from star trails are pretty quick to form






Apr 21, 2008 at 07:59 AM
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