Lens Choice for Astrophotography & Starry AF

SpecFoto

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Never really done much night sky shooting but the Starry AF has feature has got me pysched to try this. While waiting for my new EM1 MKIII to arrive, thought I would get feedback on what might be the best lens for astrophotography using the new Starry AF feature. What I have for lenses are the Olympus 7-14 f2.8 pro, 12mm f2, 12-40mm f2.8 pro and 17mm f1.8. I live very close to Joshua Tree National Park so I will be shooting foregrounds of Joshua trees with the Milky Way in the background, some will be light painted using Live Composite. Already have a very sturdy tripod and a cable release.

So far all I have found is basic info on the web, but this quick review did comfirm that Starry AF and Live Composite can work together.
https://photofocus.com/photography/an-in-depth-look-at-the-new-olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-iii/
 
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3dpan

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Never really done night sky shooting but the Starry AF has feature has got me pysched to try this. While waiting for my new EM1 MKIII to arrive, thought I would get feedback on what might be the best lens for astrophotography using the new Starry AF feature. What I have for lenses are the Olympus 7-14 f2.8 pro, 12mm f2, 12-14mm f2.8 pro and 17mm f1.8. I live very close to Joshua Tree National Park so I will be shooting foregrounds of Joshua trees with the Milky Way in the background, some will be light painted hopefully using Live Composite. Already have a very sturdy tripod and a cable release.
I'm using the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens. It's very sharp on stars, no CA, coma that I can see. The manual focus feature is essential for me (E-M5 II). I'll post a starry night pic later.
I have a couple of kit lenses that I haven't tried, they may be a bit slow, otherwise the 12-40 PRO is my only m.zuiko lens and therefore my only choice.
 

Catch22nm

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For Astro I think your 7-14 is one of the best lenses. 2.8 is good enough, it’s sharp and you can get the full Milky Way in one image (the bad is it’s large, expensive and does not take filters) my favorite is the 15 1.7 Panasonic Lieca, you will find it has a suprising following for Astro use. Because it’s sharp wide open, just wide enough for Milky Way shots, can be used for Astro panoramas and has a decent for astro 1.7 aperture. I’ve tested it and it works very well for Astro. It’s also super small and accepts filters to protect your lens in the dark. The major problem with it for Astro is the finicky focus ring for manual focus, with Starry AF, this might just make it even better as you are basically getting autofocus for stars.
 
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Wide fast and high quality. The two I have tried to get for this combination are the PL12/1.4 and Laowa 7.5/f2. The 12/1.4 seems to work well but is not always wide enough. The Laowa 7.5/f2 is usually plenty wide and seems to do a nice job with ASTRO. Plenty of examples on here. These two are my Astro go to lenses.

I am anxious to hear about your experience with star focusing on the new body. This is one of the features I would like to try.
 

SpecFoto

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For Astro I think your 7-14 is one of the best lenses. 2.8 is good enough, it’s sharp and you can get the full Milky Way in one image (the bad is it’s large, expensive and does not take filters).
Hmmm....filters. Are there special filters that are needed for astrophotography? Or is it just to protect the lens. With my Oly 7-14 I bought one of the first add on filter kits for it by a firm called Photosphere in Singapore. It's a thick rubber ring, like a donut, that fits flush with the outside lip and has a backplate for attaching a 100mm Haida holder with slip in filters to be used. Works very well and does not vignette, even at 7mm from what I remember.
 
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SpecFoto

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Wide fast and high quality. The two I have tried to get for this combination are the PL12/1.4 and Laowa 7.5/f2. The 12/1.4 seems to work well but is not always wide enough. The Laowa 7.5/f2 is usually plenty wide and seems to do a nice job with ASTRO. Plenty of examples on here. These two are my Astro go to lenses.

I am anxious to hear about your experience with star focusing on the new body. This is one of the features I would like to try.
"Wide, fast and high quality", that certainly describes the Laowa 7.5mm f2 and I would add small in size and takes screw-on filters too. But as this is a MF lens, I really want to use AF lenses and the Starry AF feature, at least at first. Or until Olympus comes up with a new feature to add AF to MF lenses :laugh:

I bought the Laowa 7.5mm for our trips to Thailand (my wife is Thai) to photograph the interior of temples so I wouldn't have to take the bulk of the Oly 7-14 and the above mentioned Haida 100mm filter kit. We will be heading back to Thailand in May and the Laowa with the EM1 MKIII new hand held hi-res shot will have me revisiting many temples to use this combo.
 
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Catch22nm

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Hmmm....filters. Are there special filters that are needed for astrophotography? Or is it just to protect the lens. With my Oly 7-14 I bought one of the first add on filter kits for it by a firm called Photosphere in Singapore. It's a thick rubber ring, like a donut, that fits flush with the outside lip and has a backplate for attaching a 100mm Haida holder with slip in filters to be used. Works very well and does not vignette, even at 7mm from what I remember.
Some people use special light pollution filters for astrophotography, especially in areas with lots of city lights.
https://www.peterzelinka.com/blog/2019/8/light-pollution-filters-for-astrophotography

I am in New Mexico so its easy to get away from the light pollution with a short drive, So for me the filters are for protection, I find that when I am setting up my camera at night in the dark the lens element can get touched or bumped more than in normal conditions. also if you are with other people they might walk into your camera if its dark and they are not paying attention. Especially on long exposure time lapse shots/ trails etc where its important to keep the area around the camera dark and free of flashlights and headlamps etc.

Concerning the Liowa and Wider lenses under 10mm vs Standard wide 12-15 and whats better.

Two things, there is more than one kind of astrophotography and that's why you won't find a simple answer to whats the perfect astro lens.

Some people are all about Full milky way shots, for this you will need something under 12mm like the 7-14, the 7.5 Liowa or the 8mm Fisheye or cheaper manual focus fisheyes. or you will need to use a normal wide and do panorama for the full milky way effect. In my experience, the wider you go the smaller the stars look in the photos while at the same time the milky way looks more grand and magnificent.

Other people like myself are more into getting interesting things in the foreground in my astro shots than just having the full milky way. I don't really care if the full milky way is in every shot but I like to do things like shots in abandoned buildings with the stars/milky way in background or old cars or cactus with the stars behind etc. I actually prefer the look of the normal wides for this because there is less distortion in the foreground subjects and the stars look a little larger in photos and you can still get a good portion of the milky way in your shots as well even without pano.

Then you have the whole, moon shots and far away galaxy/nebulas etc crowd which requires long lenses and sometimes trackers etc. I won't go into that here but I heard starry sky AF works on the moon, Ill confirm this with you guys soon with my own tests.
 
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jdcope

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Not to hijack your thread, but I dont have a lot money for lenses. But I would like to do some Milky Way photography. I do have the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lens, and I also have the Fuji WL-FXE01 wide angle adapter I can put on the P14. I believe that makes it about 10.5mm.
Do you think that will work well for stars and MW shots?
 

j_win

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I've used the 17 f1.8 and the 7-14 f2.8 on my em1 mk2. Im also a total newbie with astro.
So far I prefer the 17mm prime with larger aperture over the 7-14.

Examples below. The mountain shot with stars is the 7-14. The pano is the 17mm.

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