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The Best Old Telephoto Lenses I Have Tested for Astrophotography

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#1 rekokich

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 04:21 PM

Over the years, I have tried more than two dozen telephoto lenses, until I finally found three or four perfect solutions. But first, there are several general rules which must be understood.


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#2 gene williams

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 09:57 PM

Rudy,

 

Is it possible to get good results on a Baader filter modifed Canon 450D and a good telephoto lens, or do I need to get a good APO?



#3 rekokich

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 01:11 AM

Gene,

No telephoto lens I tested, nor my TSAPO65Q, was suitable for use with a DSLR "clear glass" modified to include deep red and IR.

The APO showed no chromatic aberration at all with the addition of the Astronomik UV/IR cut clip filter (passing 380-680nm), but the telephoto lenses, even when stopped down, showed a tight bright red ring around all stars.

Your Baader filter passes 420-680nm and, in theory, a good APO should be able to focus that part of the spectrum with no chromatic aberration. However, as I have no actual experience with the Baader filter, I would suggest that you consult other members on the particular APO - Baader filter combination you have in mind. I can only guarantee that the TSAPO65Q would work very well.

I do not think telephoto lenses would be suitable for use with your modified camera.

Since I am interested in wide field astrophotography, I bought a new, unmodified, Canon 600D body for use with telephoto lenses.

Best Regards,

Rudy


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#4 vlad dumitrescu

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 03:55 AM

Rudy, why didn t you include any L lenses from canon? I had a 70-200 f/4 that i used unstopped at 200 with awesome results. you can see here a lot of photos mostly shot with the f/4 version. 

http://www.vladdumit...bove/stars.html

 

Now i have the f2.8 version, and while the resolution is better it s under no circumstance as good as the f/4 one. I also tested 200 f/2.8 tele and it is one of the most perfect lens in existence, as well as the 135. Then you should have tried the 180mm nikkor ED, the old one, which is the favorite tool of a lot of astrophotographers. i also have the 300mm f4.5 non ED nikkor which is quite nice .

 

I was expecting a lot more of an article that says "the best telephoto lenses for astrophotography". 



#5 andysea

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 10:12 AM

I have used the canon 70-200 f2.8L ii and also the 100-400 f4.5/5.6 L  with excellent results. 

My canon is clear modded and I use a an Astronomik EOS-clip L filter to block the uv and ir.

the EOS-clip filters are compatible with all EF lenses but not with the EF-s. The latter are designed for crop sensor cameras and the back of the lens sticks too far into the body of the camera and would hit the EOS-clip filter. 

 

The 200f2.8 L is excellent - I am using it right now :)

he 100 f2.8 L macro is also very good. 

 

So so far the best that I have used are the 200f2.8L and the 400f5.6L. 


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#6 gene williams

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 10:36 AM

Andysea, those are great images on your website. Were those taken with the Canon telephotos you spoke of, and the full spectrum modified camera and the clip in filter?  What I am trying to avoid is spending another $1,100 on a quality APO, and instead using my existing Nikkor 180mm ED lens with a Baader-modified Canon 450D that I just obtained.  



#7 andysea

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 01:10 PM

Sme of the wide field are. Here is a  recent ones taken with the canon xs and a lens.

https://www.flickr.c...eposted-public/

 

The 70-200 f2.8 L2 and he 400f5.6 will however set you back way more than $1.100



#8 gene williams

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 02:22 PM

Nice image, andysea. I am not really looking at buying anything else, though.  I would like to make this work with the Nikkor 180mm ED (i.e., what I have versus what I cannot have...lol).  



#9 andysea

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 06:16 PM

Thanks! 

I have no experience with that lens, Jerry Lodriguss however published a review of that lens on his website http://www.astropix....NIKON_180MM.HTM



#10 rekokich

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Posted 28 June 2015 - 07:56 PM

Vlad and Andy,

 

The article was based on the numerous lenses with which I have personal experience - that is naturally limited.

 

The criterion I used in evaluating lenses was optical perfection with no reservations.

 

The lenses I selected are all affordable prime lenses, easily available on the second-hand market, and adaptable to the EOS system.

 

Also, when used as recommended, and properly guided at full camera resolution, they are all comparable to a field-corrected APO, producing perfect images from edge to edge which can be easily cropped 25% with no evidence of aberrations. I think they are an outstanding value for any wide-field astrophotographer, and are particularly suitable for newcomers.

 

The lenses I listed are certainly not the ONLY exceptional lenses made over the years. For example, a friend recently recommended Pentax 6x7 prime lenses which were designed for a large format flat field, and are also adaptable to the EOS system. Several days ago another member posted a stunning telephoto image of the Snake Nebula, Barnard 72, taken with a Canon lens which costs $12,000.

 

I think the readers would welcome contributions from other members' experiences.

 

Rudy


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#11 droid

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 06:20 AM

OK guys TOS  rule number one "  Posts that are not respectful of other individuals (be they members or not) are not welcome here."

 

You got a criticism fine say it politely, and too the point.

 

No accusations, no bashing.

 

The OP  admits he limited experience with lenses other than what he has.

 

If you don't like that article that's your right as a member.

 

Thank you the moderating team



#12 Michael Covington

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 07:41 PM

There are quite a few other excellent lenses out there, and nowadays, quite a few that can be used wide open.
Canon 300/4 ED IF AF (non-IS)
Sigma 105/2.8 DG EX Macro (very sharp at infinity)
Nikon 300/4 ED IF

Sigma 50/2.8 DG Macro (not a telephoto, but good)

I hear great things about the Canon 200/2.8 L but do not have one.

Standards have risen in recent years.  A lot of lenses today are better than anything money could buy in 1980.



#13 Michael Covington

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 07:42 PM

BTW, the 300-mm Tele-Tessar you describe -- what camera was it made for?  Zeiss Jena or Oberkochen?  There have been a lot of Tele-Tessars over the years.



#14 Michael Covington

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 07:44 PM

Also, I used to have a Nikon 180/2.8 ED IF AF and 300/4 ED IF AF.  These were just a tad less sharp at the corners than their Canon competition, but certainly extremely sharp all over the field if closed down one stop or even half a stop.

It is good to know that the 200/4 SMC Takumar is good.

The Olympus Zuiko 180/2.8 and 100/2.8 impressed me in the 1980s, but in the digital era they are not so sharp.  Digital sensors are roughly 5 times as sharp as 400-speed film.  Lots of older lenses no longer satisfy.



#15 andysea

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 07:47 PM

Got it! I wanted to add my experience with some lenses that I thought worthy of being considered too, and some of the equipment that I have used.

 

I've tested some of the old Pentax 6x7 lenses with a friend. They seem to be really good for NB work. While they provide a very large flat field we noticed some CA. Part of it might be that they were designed for film photography and modern digital sensor are far more demanding in terms of optical quality.



#16 Michael Covington

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 07:47 PM

I have an old 135/2.5 Takumar that is not bad at all, for the price.  Pentax seems to have put more emphasis than others on keeping the resolution uniform all over the field.


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#17 andysea

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 08:02 PM

How about the sigma 50mm f1.4 Art? I heard it's very sharp and well corrected.



#18 calypsob

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 08:24 PM

Yuri toropin tests a bunch of lenses on Flickr which is a great source. From my experience, the toughest test on a lense is its ability to function wide open. 645 lenses such as the mamiya apo line and pentax edif can operate within these conditions without vignetting on apsc sensors. If you can tolerate vignetting, there are many normal 35mm lenses that are great wide open. I've seen several listed but here are more to consider. Samyang 135mm f2, 100mm f2.8, and asperical 16mm f2.8. The sigma 150mm f2.8 tests very well, zeiss 135mm apo sonnar, and leica 180mm f3.5 apo all proven performers on star tests.


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#19 andysea

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 08:45 PM

Do you have a link to Yuri's photo stream? I would love to see his test images.

 

Thanks!



#20 KevinS

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 05:27 AM

In general, prime telephotos should outperform zooms. (And cost less too)

 

I just purchased a very lightly used Canon 200mm F2.8L II USM for $620 from a great online dealer and can't wait for an opportunity to try it out with my Astronomik CLS clip on a T4i at a dark site. That whole rig comes to about $1200, minus the mount. (AVX). That's a cheap, fun date for AP.

 

From my purchase research, I found a consensus that stopping down optimizes sharpness but the diaphragm will make nine diffraction spikes when stopped down. It's a trade off. This seems to be the norm for telephotos. Diffraction from the cheap EF-s kit zoom lens was uneven. 

 

Stellarium has a great viewport feature that allows you to preview different lens and sensor combinations on DSO's before you decide on the focal length you want.

 

Also type the lens you are interested in into the search window on Astrobin to see examples shot with that lens. 


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#21 liors

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 06:55 AM

No one yet mentioned a zoom lens, I had an opportunity to test my Canon 24-105L f/4 on M31 Andromeda Galaxy and received wonderful results with Canon 60D unmoded, I set it to 105mm, No vignatting, slight coma on the corners and no false color on bright stars.
Looking forward to allow purchasing the Canon 200mm f/2.8L II USM.

 

Cheers,
Lior



#22 rekokich

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 10:29 AM

The difference between modern and old telephoto lenses is probably similar to the difference between my APO and an old Jaegers 5in F5. Yet the Jaegers becomes essentially color free when stopped down to 3in. It would not surprise me if modern lenses were useable at full aperture. But, since fast 300mm ED lenses are beyond my toy budget, I would appreciate seeing magnified center and corner test images of actual star fields.

 

Lior, I have done a lot of reading on modern zoom lenses. It seems they are now quite comparable in quality to prime lenses. However, all the reviews were made by nature and sports photographers, and I would like to find out more about their performance in astrophotography. Please send your photos of  the Andromeda galaxy.

 

MCovington, my Zeiss 300/4 is the full thickness barrel version, made in West Germany, serial number 5990836. I understand the optical design is quite old. When stopped down to 49mm it really is indistinguishable from an APO, except it shows red chromatic aberration with modified cameras even with the UV/IR block or CLS-CCD filter.

 

KevinS, in my experience stopping down dramatically improves image quality in terms of chromatic aberration, coma and astigmatism. 30-35% diameter reduction is usually necessary on "good" lenses. Some lenses are incurable. Using the lens's diaphragm interferes with the light path and results in diffraction spikes which I find unattractive. You will get perfectly round star images if you use an aperture stop in front of the lens made of a series of filter thread step-down rings.

 

Regards,
Rudy


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#23 Dave Venne

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 12:09 PM

Thanks for the fine article and the thought you put into it. I've recently started using 135 and 200mm lenses from the 1970s with my mono CCD and they've proven very useful for imaging large emission nebulae. I really like how they augment my longer focal length scopes.

 

Although your target audience is beginning DSLR imagers, much of your advice also applies to using lenses with CCD cameras. One difference worth pointing out is for those who image using narrowband filters. Chromatic aberration is almost eliminated in narrowband, so lenses with that problem may be fine performers.

 

This summer I'm going to try the lenses out for LRGB images to see how they perform.



#24 Ron359

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 06:00 PM

OK guys TOS  rule number one "  Posts that are not respectful of other individuals (be they members or not) are not welcome here."

 

You got a criticism fine say it politely, and too the point.

 

No accusations, no bashing.

 

The OP  admits he limited experience with lenses other than what he has.

 

If you don't like that article that's your right as a member.

 

Thank you the moderating team

I recommend the author change the title of his article from "The Best Telephoto Lenses...." to "Some Inexpensive Telephoto Lenses I Have Tested..."   The original title generates a claim and expectation in the reader that his article can't support that leads to reader frustration and just more questions; why didn't you test this one or do this etc. etc..     Ron


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#25 RichA

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 07:25 PM

Interesting that ancient, low-tech (no ED glass, no special coatings) non-apo telephotos could produce decent results compared to something modern.  Of the old teles I've had, Nikon's 400mm f/3.5 was decent, Olympus's 300mm f/4.5 was good (it had a precursor to ED glass) Pentax's 300mm Takumar was TERRIBLE, Pentax's 500mm was terrible, Nikon's 135 f/2.8 Q was ok, and Sigma's 400mm f/5.6 "apo" was satisfactory.  The main problem with the old lenses is spherical aberration and colour error, especially pronounced on digital sensors.  I'm thinking a modern (but expensive) Nikon 200mm f/2.0, 300mm f/4 or f/2.8 or a Borg telephoto/telescope would all be very good.




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