My better half took a few aurora borealis photos with her 7D2. Any thoughts/pointers/tips to share?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
OP winterwonderland Forum Member • Posts: 64
Re: My better half took a few aurora borealis photos

Alen K wrote:

winterwonderland wrote:

Alen K wrote:

I am envious! I have never taken an image of an aurora. But I hope to in the near future.

Regarding your lens, you (or rather your better half) could certainly benefit from a faster lens. If you want a similar focal range, the Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 would give it to you at a reasonable price. The Lenstip review showed low coma even wide open and reasonable resolution. The worst optical problem is high lateral CA, which is largely correctable in post.

Hmm, but will that Tokina be an upgrade to the Sigma 10-20mm she already owns, or? I ask because that Tokina is quite a price hop... We are checking out options for her, hence why i am asking.

The Tokina is a stop faster at the short end (wide open) and two stops faster wide open at the long end. That is significantly better light collection, which is a priority for astrophotography, especially untracked and especially for aurora (and meteors). According to reviews at Lenstip, the coma in the corners is a little better on the Tokina, as well. Resolution of the Tokina is also significantly better both in the center and at the edges. To top it off, the Tokina has a lot less vignetting at f/2.8 than the Sigma has at f/4. Vignetting is easily corrected in post, but it's always better to have less.

https://www.lenstip.com/451.1-Lens_review-Tokina_AT-X_PRO_DX_11-20_mm_f_2.8.html

https://www.lenstip.com/267.1-Lens_review-Sigma_10-20_mm_f_4-5.6_EX_DC_HSM.html

So, for astrophotography, I would consider the Tokina to be a definite upgrade. Mind you, I have never used either lens. I base my recommendation only on these test reports. But I have found Lenstip reports pretty consistent with experiences reported by users of other lenses.

Regarding prices, I don't know what you are seeing locally (Norway). In the US and Canada, the Tokina is actually less expensive than the Sigma. (For a new version of the Sigma, which given the lens's age is hard to find new.)

I am not saying that the Tokina is an ideal lens for astrophotography. But it is better than the Sigma, which is quite an old lens and not anywhere in the league of anything Sigma has released more recently.

PS. To get really serious about photographing aurora, a full-frame camera is much better than an APS-C camera because the lenses you can get covering any given field-of-view (FOV) are typically much larger in aperture area. For example, to match the FOV of the 7DMII at 15mm focal length, you would need 24mm on full frame. The fastest focal ratio for a 15mm lens for Canon EF/EF-S is f/2.4 (the Irix Firefly or Blackstone), while the fastest focal ratio for a 24mm lens that fits is f/1.4. That is a light collection ratio of 7.5 times in favor of full frame. Even if the f/1.4 lens needs to be stopped down to f/2.4 like the other lens, it still collects 2.5 times as much light.

Wow. Lots to cover here...

@Yar1971 - Thank you for some interesting pointers.

Not sure if i have misunderstood you or if you read wrong, but the lens we used for the photos in my OP, cannot go further down than f/4, it seems...

You believe that her experimenting with up to 15 second shutter speed will help the quality in her photos?

Also, 7d mark ii is not a FF camera, correct?

@Alen K - Well, she's not looking into being a super serious aurora photographer, as it'd mean she'd have to get a new camera and lenses for that camera, specifically for aurora. She's more of a versatile photographer, you see. And since she's running around with Canon 7d mark ii, we are examining which lenses she should opt for for that particular camera. That's why getting a new camera is not an option for her.

So far, it seems like Samyang 14mm f2.8 is a great option for her, when it comes to finding a lens that'll do a better job than her current Sigma 10-20mm does. The Samyang seems to bet getting praises both on this forum and also on several photographer blogs and sites, such as here: https://www.space.com/rokinon-samyang-14mm-f2.8-lens-review - and it's actually very well within our budget as well, costing only $170 (for the mark i edition of the lens, that is). Any thoughts on that?

So, with the Samyang 14mm ultra wide-angle lens + the mentioned Tokina 10-20mm, we at least have 2 choices. Any other suggestions?

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