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SLRMagic 12mm vs. Oly 12mm vs. Oly 12-40 for night sky and northern lights shots

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by quatchi, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    326
    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    Hey,

    I want to start out with night sky photography. I haven't done much expect the usual moon and star shot (nothing to show off so far) and want to go a bit more into that direction. My steep rise in interest results from a trip to Tromso, Norway in the end of February, where I hope to catch and photograph some northern lights. I know, the time frame for practicing isn't that long, but who doesn't love a challenge... :biggrin:

    So, here is my problem: I do own the Oly 12-40 which I plan on using at the long end at f2.8. I am a bit afraid, however, that especially for the northern lights, f2.8 would result in a too long exposure time or to high ISO. tflovik here on the forum advised me to start out with 8sec, f2.8 and ISO1600. What bothers me a bit about that is ISO1600, even on my E-M5.

    That's where my thoughts about temporarily getting a new/used lens come in. The initial price isn't that important, as I plan on selling the lens after the trip to Tromso. Unfortunately, there is no lens rental for m4/3 stuff here in Germany. Otherwise, this would have solved my problem.

    These are the lenses with pros and cons, I am considering:

    SLRMagic NOKTRON 12mm f1.6
    + f1.6
    + manual focus with infinity position
    + cheaper than the Oly 12mm f2.0

    - sharp enough at the edges at f1.6 for landscape/night sky?
    - probably need to buy new as there is currently only one overpriced one at ebay at the moment
    - hard to sell afterwards?

    Olympus 12mm f2.0
    + f2.0
    + manual focus with infinity position
    + probably not that though to sell afterwards

    +/- ok prices on ebay

    - "only" one stop better than the 12-40 I already have

    Olympus 12-40 f2.8
    + I already own the lens
    + manual infinity focus thing again

    - f2.8

    What are your thoughts? Have you used any of these lenses for the task? Is there a lens I missed in the wide angle lineup? To even further complicate the matter: I also own the Pana 20mm f1.7 which I probably will also use. F1.7 is exactly what I am looking for, however, 20mm might be to narrow and the by-wire manual focusing had me getting into troubles when focusing in the night before.
     
  2. norseman1968

    norseman1968 Mu-43 Regular

    85
    Jan 31, 2013
    Norway
    • Like Like x 2
  3. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    919
    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    I wouldn't worry about ISO 1600 on the EM5 at night, but you can always go out on the next clear night and shoot the night sky with your 12-40 and see if it's enough.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Veteran

    364
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    12mm F2

    I have the 12mm F2, and will try it at 2.8 on the next clear night if you can wait for awhile. 25 seconds is about the maximum length of exposure I'd use: stars move too much beyond that, and they'd look blurry. I haven't had a chance to photograph northern lights yet - always cloudy during events. I think the stars shining through the lights improve the shot, and therefore a F2 would be nice to make the stars brighter. I have a nice shot of milky way with the 12mm if you're interested.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. kylebraun2005

    kylebraun2005 Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Apr 19, 2012
    I shot some northern lights and stars in Fairbanks, Alaska over the New Years holiday. Never posted the pictures here, but if you are interested they are over on DP Review. http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3601214 Lens handled beautifully in the cold weather and turned out better than I was expecting.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    326
    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    I would love to, but the forecast says: :happy-084:

    Bildschirmfoto 2014-01-22 um 07.36.00.png
     
  7. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    326
    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    Thanks for all your replies!

    kylebraun2005: These are beautiful images you shot. You should show them in this forum as well! When I looked at your pictures and the EXIF, I saw that you used f3.2 on all of them. Was there a specific reason for f3.2 vs. f2.8 instead of lowering ISO or increasing shutter speed?
     
  8. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    326
    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    I think, we all are. :)
     
  9. chonbhoy

    chonbhoy Mu-43 Veteran

    430
    Apr 23, 2013
    Scottish Highlands
    +1


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  10. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Veteran

    364
    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    Walter
    12mm f2 milky way

    I removed a large purple splotch on the mountain (from a lens flare I think). I've had this issue a number of times with the 12: not so pronounced with the 17.5 Nokton. Still one of my favorite pics though. Street lights lit up trees. I keep hoping for a power outage during a clear night, but no such luck.
     

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 5
  11. norseman1968

    norseman1968 Mu-43 Regular

    85
    Jan 31, 2013
    Norway
    • Like Like x 14
  12. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    326
    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    These are great pictures! I can't wait to experiment with night sky photography. The weather forecast still shows cloudy & snow for the next days, though. :-(
     
  13. tflovik

    tflovik Mu-43 Regular

    39
    May 19, 2012
    Finnsnes, Norway
    Tom Eirik
    You should'nt worry f/2,8 will be fine, and with your camera you could take ISO 3200 shots of the northern light and it would still be a fine picture.
    You wont need ISO 3200 unless it is very dark and with just a weak northern light.
    I have seen ISO 4000 pictures of the norhtern light taken with E-M5 that was very good.
     
  14. CPWarner

    CPWarner Mu-43 Veteran

    244
    Dec 24, 2010
    Cliff
    I recently acquired a 12mm f2.0 for this exact purpose after being very frustrated with setting focus with my Panasonic 12-35mm in the dark. The 12mm as mentioned before allows you to do that. Pretty sharp lens and for me fast enough for what I want.
     
  15. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    326
    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    Shame on me, for I have sinned (and bought a used 12mm f2.0 :biggrin:)

    Finnaly, the sky cleared up yesterday and a beautiful night sky presented itself just a litte bit outside of Munich. I took the chance to experiment a bit with exposure times and see how the stars would turn out.

    Here are the results. Admittedly far away from Norseman1968's stunning milky way shot.
    All with the Oly 12mm f2.0 at f2.0 and ISO 200.

    10sec
    sky-1.JPG

    15sec
    sky-2.JPG

    20sec
    sky-3.JPG

    25sec
    sky-4.JPG

    While the small/regular view of the 25sec image still looks fine, the close up (1:1) shows that the stars are already getting quite long. Next time I should through in some ISO in order to keep the exposure time below 20sec.

    Close up of the 10sec and 25sec image.
    Bildschirmfoto 2014-02-07 um 19.40.53.png Bildschirmfoto 2014-02-07 um 19.41.13.png
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    326
    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    It's me again. :)

    I had another chance to go out and shot the night sky. This time I tried to bump up the ISO. Being in Livebulb mode on my E-M5 allowed me to go as high as ISO 1600. Maybe I am doing something wrong, but the noise at ISO 1600 seems to be very high. Here is the complete shot with a 1:1 crop.


    f2.0 14sec ISO 1600
    sky-1.JPG
    Bildschirmfoto 2014-02-23 um 18.53.27.png

    The shots with ISO 400 (f2.0 20sec) and 640 (f2.0 15sec) are way cleaner. Although, the stars aren't "as plenty" as in the ISO 1600 shot.
    sky-2.JPG sky-3.JPG

    Do you guys have the same amount of noise at ISO 1600? Am I doing something wrong?
     
  17. zulfur666

    zulfur666 Mu-43 Veteran

    254
    Jan 30, 2014
    I still have my 12mm f/2 for sale for anyone interested as I rather downsized my lens collection and use the 12-40 f/2.8 now with my E-M1
     
  18. Timmy

    Timmy Mu-43 Regular

    110
    Dec 3, 2013
    Wiltshire - UK
    That looks pretty normal for my PL3 - although that's no where near as good as your E-M5.

    Have you tried experiementing with the settings on your camera? I think the graduation setting can effect even RAW images, and if you're shooting jpeg then the noise filter settings will have a big effect. RAW bypasses a lot of image processing so will have more noise - which can be reduced in post-processing. Lightroom is not bad for this - there's also a pshop plugin called Topaz denoise which is amazing at removing night photo noise.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. quatchi

    quatchi Mu-43 Veteran

    326
    May 17, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    I am back from my tour to Troms√ły. And what can I say: It was spectacular. On the second night we had a perfectly clear sky. Here is a first photo. I am still going through all the pictures from my trip. Will post some more if you are interested.

    To answer the initial question of the thread: I took the Oly M.12mm F2.0 with me which turned out to be a good choice. Most of my images where taken at ISO800.

    <div class="pixels-photo">
    4.jpg"Photograph Color of the Night by quatchi on 500px">
    <a href="http://500px.com/photo/62725723">Color of the Night by quatchi on 500px</a>
    </div>
     
    • Like Like x 4
  20. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Great thread and photos. There is a new astrophotography section, maybe this thread could be transferred there as there are similar threads in that section.