Shooting Milky Way with Oly 9-18mm

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by prophet, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. prophet

    prophet Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 10, 2014
    I will be travelling to the Australian Outback shortly, and I would love to shoot some Milky Way pictures. My main lens will be the Oly 9-18mm and I wanted to ask if that will do to take some decent night sky shots.

    From what I read, a fast lens is to be preferred for that type of shots, but, well - I simply don't have a faster lens. Does anybody have some experience with this situation and can shed some advice on what settings (if any) will work to shoot the Milky Way?
  2. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Here is one of many detailed explanations:

    IMO the important things are: shooting raw, no/little moon, the 500 rule. If your camera has Live Bulb that can be interesting to try.

    The 9-18 is not very fast, pushing the ISO a lot could help: which camera are you using?
  3. prophet

    prophet Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 10, 2014
    Thanks. I have the E-PL7, so could use Bulp if necessary. How far can I push ISO without sacrificing too much IQ ?
  4. ido

    ido New to Mu-43

    Apr 5, 2014
    Bulb mode won't really help, as you have to take the "500 rule" to avoid motion blur.
    As for ISO, you should try and decide yourself. Go to a dark room and setup a scene that has some detail (the classic scene is a book shelf, as there can be visible text and also some shadows), set your camera on a tripod and use Manual mode. Choose a medium aperture setting (say, f/5.6), set your ISO to 800 and choose a shutter speed that gives good exposure. (The camera's light meter can help.) Take a photo, then increase the ISO by a stop and decrease shutter speed by a stop to compensate, and take another photo. Do that until you reach the camera's maximum.
    After you've taken the shots, load them on a computer and see which image's quality is degraded too much for your liking and usage. Then you'll know what the maximum ISO you're comfortable with is.
    Keep in mind that you can use noise reduction to get rid of excess noise, and sharpening techniques to bring back details, especially if you use the Raw (ORF) format. If you use JPEG, experiment with different settings in the camera.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  5. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    What ISO is acceptable is a personal thing and depends on how and how much denoise you will apply (different programs, different settings) and the target ouput: computer monitor, big print, etc. IMO 3200 is usually considered acceptable, especially in extreme low light situations.
    Anyway here you are quite limited with options: aperture is limited to the widest values (4 or 5.6 to get a little more sharpness), max shutter speed is limited by the "500 rule" so the correct ISO is the lowest that will give you a "non black" picture :)

    Anyway I'd try ALL the main ISO settings anyway, from 1600 to 25600: once you have setup the tripod and all it is just a matter of minutes to take a couple more shots. Even if you are not gonna use those shots you'll get a first hand feedback on the camera capabilities. You can also find out in PP that you get better results pushing a 1600 shot rather then a 3200. The same goes for aperture 4 and 5.6.
  6. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Pretty much as others have said, as wide open as acceptable, as long a shutter speed as possible without star trailing, whatever ISO to expose properly (even though the sky is pretty dark, don't underexpose it). RAW is a must. Bulb is useful at first for experimenting but once you're set, use manual to ensure consistency (especially if you're going to be stacking later).

    I use ISO1600, f/3.5, about 20-30s for a 7.5mm fisheye (it has really good corners that can be used wide open), then stack multiple exposures to improve SNR before editing. I suspect f/4 on the 9-18 will be pushing it a bit.
  7. prophet

    prophet Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 10, 2014
    Cool, thanks for all the advice!

    Wijang, what's SNR? And how do you blend stacked images?

    I guess there is no point in shooting HDR images of the Milky Way?
  8. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Real Name:
  9. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

  10. free2fish

    free2fish Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 18, 2014
    Ditto to the Samyang 12mm. Outstanding astro lens for M4/3.
  11. physicsdude

    physicsdude Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 11, 2014
    Real Name:
    How do you stack multiple exposures? Do you apply a rotation on each exposure, before stacking? Otherwise you'd end up with trails, wouldn't you?
    Thanks in advance

    Edit: I guess I clicked my way through and got to where you explain your PP techniques :)
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015
  12. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Yeah, I'm using software to compensate for small sensor deficiencies :p