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Seeking Recommendations for F-Mount Lenses of Various FL's

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#1 BenKolt

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 12:17 PM

Greetings!

 

I usually lurk around the CCD/CMOS and BII forums, but it was recommended that I bring my lens questions here to the experts.  Hopefully my post here won't cause a rift in the space/time continuum because I am not using a DSLR for astronomy!

 

I would like to start imaging with camera lenses with my existing CCD's.  I've been imaging with a QSI 683 and FLI ML16200 (both monochrome) for several years now, but so far only with various telescopes having typically much longer FL's.  When it comes to using lenses for astrophotography, I am a blissfully ignorant newbie!  I would prefer F-mount lenses as I use Nikon for terrestrial photography and would like compatibility if at all possible.  Recently I purchased F-mount adapters for each CCD.

 

It is my wish to start with something on the order of 300mm FL and then work my way down as I grow a collection of lenses.  My telescope targets tend to be a mix of both galaxies (LRGB) and nebulae (NB), although I imagine these lenses will be used more for NB as I want to capture wider fields of nebula expanses but also, eventually, full constellation and ultra-wide Milky Way shots in both NB and natural colors.  I'd say I'll be stepping from 300mm to, say, 200mm, all the way down to 35mm or so.

 

In fact, I would appreciate recommendations on what kind of collection to build up: which FL's, what to look for in aperture (F-number), what to avoid, etc.

 

Thank you for your attention to this and help in teaching me about using proper lenses for astrophotography.  I have been perusing many of the images posted here and elsewhere using the kind of lenses I think I'd like to get, and they are simply amazing.  Zooming in on targets with a big scope and large focal length is fun, I'll still be doing that, but I'd very much like to expand into wider shots as well!

 

Best Regards,

Ben

 

P.S.  For those interested, I posted about my imaging platform I put together for mounting lenses on my CCD's, autofocusing and auto guiding as well in case you are interested.  I also posted my one and only image so far using a very unsuitable cheap zoom lens.  As expected, that didn't come out well.



#2 bobzeq25

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 12:32 PM

I use camera lenses only occasionally.  I like cheap and decent.

 

An old Nikon 200mm F4 is ridiculously cheap for the quality.  Be sure it's compatible with your body, I use it on a D5500.

 

The new Nikon 50mm F1.8, ditto.

 

My splurge was a Rokkinon 16mm F2 for widefield.  About $350.

 

I also have a 35mm, and 135mm, but they're just OK.



#3 Coconuts

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 02:58 PM

Only if price is no object, Sigma Art 40 mm f/1.4, 85 mm f/1.4, 105 mm f/1.4, 135 mm f/1.8.  The Samyang/Rokinon 135 mm f/2.0 can be good, but buy any of their lenses from someone like B&H who will let you return lower quality buys.

 

All the best,

 

Kevin



#4 Marco1968

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 04:55 PM

Hello Ben,

at the longer focal lenghts, the first F lens that I would recommend is the famed Nikkor Ai-S 180 ED f/2.8 manual telephoto.

A comprehensive, accurate review by Jerry Lodriguss available here:

http://www.astropix....ikon_180mm.html

Even better than the 180 ED (with perfect correction of chromatic aberration) is the very rare Nikkor 300 ED f/4.5 non-IF (non internal focus).

I have one that is by far my favourite glass for astrophotography at 300 mm with DSLR. The real difficulty is finding one but from time to time they show up in the used market.

Do not confuse the 300 non-IF with the 300 IF, the latter is very common, a good telephoto lens, but IMHO not suitable for quality astrophotography.

I have read good opinions on the newer Nikkors 300 f/4 AF for astro but not having one cannot attest personally.

Hope this helps,

Marco

#5 BenKolt

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 07:32 PM

I use camera lenses only occasionally.  I like cheap and decent.

 

An old Nikon 200mm F4 is ridiculously cheap for the quality.  Be sure it's compatible with your body, I use it on a D5500.

 

The new Nikon 50mm F1.8, ditto.

 

My splurge was a Rokkinon 16mm F2 for widefield.  About $350.

 

I also have a 35mm, and 135mm, but they're just OK.

Thank you, Bob!  I'll keep these in mind.



#6 BenKolt

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 07:33 PM

Only if price is no object, Sigma Art 40 mm f/1.4, 85 mm f/1.4, 105 mm f/1.4, 135 mm f/1.8.  The Samyang/Rokinon 135 mm f/2.0 can be good, but buy any of their lenses from someone like B&H who will let you return lower quality buys.

 

All the best,

 

Kevin

Thanks for the tip about Sigma Art lenses.  I've looked up their prices on B&H - will definitely need to save up for these!



#7 BenKolt

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 07:37 PM

Hello Ben,

at the longer focal lenghts, the first F lens that I would recommend is the famed Nikkor Ai-S 180 ED f/2.8 manual telephoto.

A comprehensive, accurate review by Jerry Lodriguss available here:

http://www.astropix....ikon_180mm.html

Even better than the 180 ED (with perfect correction of chromatic aberration) is the very rare Nikkor 300 ED f/4.5 non-IF (non internal focus).

I have one that is by far my favourite glass for astrophotography at 300 mm with DSLR. The real difficulty is finding one but from time to time they show up in the used market.

Do not confuse the 300 non-IF with the 300 IF, the latter is very common, a good telephoto lens, but IMHO not suitable for quality astrophotography.

I have read good opinions on the newer Nikkors 300 f/4 AF for astro but not having one cannot attest personally.

Hope this helps,

Marco

Thanks, Marco, particularly for your info about those IF lenses.  I was already naively looking into those but will now steer clear.

 

I have noted that 300mm F/4 AF Nikon lens and will consider it since it's available.  I notice that it is a VR lens, which is a plus for my terrestrial photography, of course, but will that cause any issues with astrophotography, even with the VR turned off?

 

Best Regards,

Ben



#8 Coconuts

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 07:53 PM

Ben:  Just bear in mind that the Sigma Art lenses, while better on average than many from camera vendors (Canon and Nikon included), have many with bad corner aberrations.  The four I mentioned above are excellent (and expensive!). To see the difference between two Sigma lenses, here are some field corner checks:

 

Here is the astounding Sigma Art 40 mm field corner performance:

https://www.lenstip...._and_bokeh.html

 

And here is their far worse 24 mm f/1.4:

https://www.lenstip...._and_bokeh.html

 

http://www.lenstip.com is a great source for lens reviews that are relevant to astrophotography.

 

All the best,

 

Kevin


Edited by Coconuts, 21 August 2019 - 07:55 PM.


#9 BenKolt

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 11:56 PM

Ben:  Just bear in mind that the Sigma Art lenses, while better on average than many from camera vendors (Canon and Nikon included), have many with bad corner aberrations.  The four I mentioned above are excellent (and expensive!). To see the difference between two Sigma lenses, here are some field corner checks:

 

Here is the astounding Sigma Art 40 mm field corner performance:

https://www.lenstip...._and_bokeh.html

 

And here is their far worse 24 mm f/1.4:

https://www.lenstip...._and_bokeh.html

 

http://www.lenstip.com is a great source for lens reviews that are relevant to astrophotography.

 

All the best,

 

Kevin

Thank you for the tip and the links, Kevin!



#10 Kevin_A

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 06:45 AM

I have a Rokinon 135mm F2.0 and Samyang 14mm F2.8 and find they are awesome and very sharp for the price if you get a good copy. I bought mine thru Amazon and had to return the 24mm 3 times before getting a good copy that wasn't decentered. I am trying out a new 70-300 AF-P Fullframe Nikon lens right now. It is slow at F5.6 but hopefully the optics will be sharp enough for being a good travel lens with longer integration time required per sub. I also have a Nikon 200-500mm that is really nice but that size is getting into scope territory so I don't use it much for astro as I use my Meade 6000 for that size. 



#11 BenKolt

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:35 AM

I have a Rokinon 135mm F2.0 and Samyang 14mm F2.8 and find they are awesome and very sharp for the price if you get a good copy. I bought mine thru Amazon and had to return the 24mm 3 times before getting a good copy that wasn't decentered. I am trying out a new 70-300 AF-P Fullframe Nikon lens right now. It is slow at F5.6 but hopefully the optics will be sharp enough for being a good travel lens with longer integration time required per sub. I also have a Nikon 200-500mm that is really nice but that size is getting into scope territory so I don't use it much for astro as I use my Meade 6000 for that size. 

Thanks, Kevin!  I'll keep those in mind as well.  Sounds like it's vital on some of these brands and models to check them out thoroughly and be ready to return for a better specimen!



#12 vidrazor

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 01:12 PM

At 300mm and greater, unless you also plan to use the optics for standard photography, you're better off with a small scope and matching field corrector. At the medium telephoto range, the 85mm f/1.8 Tamron, 100mm f/2 Laowa, 200mm macro Nikkor, and 135mm f/2 Samyang are lenses to look into.

At the wide end lenses from Samyang and Laowa offer good performance for reasonable prices.

Try to stick to modern lenses, as they have newer glass, formulas, and coatings that will yield better performance than older optics.

#13 BenKolt

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 02:34 PM

At 300mm and greater, unless you also plan to use the optics for standard photography, you're better off with a small scope and matching field corrector. At the medium telephoto range, the 85mm f/1.8 Tamron, 100mm f/2 Laowa, 200mm macro Nikkor, and 135mm f/2 Samyang are lenses to look into.

At the wide end lenses from Samyang and Laowa offer good performance for reasonable prices.

Try to stick to modern lenses, as they have newer glass, formulas, and coatings that will yield better performance than older optics.

Thanks for the advice.  Yes, 300mm and higher overlaps with telescope / reducer territory, however I do have a desire to utilize these as-of-now theoretical lenses for both terrestrial- and astro-photography.



#14 JDShoots

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 05:54 PM

Ben, I am in a similar situation, I want to overlap my daylight photography with some astrophotography.  But being very new to the game, I have a whopping 1 astrophotograph under my belt and therefore am unqualified to answer you question directly.  

 

My 1 pic was taken with a Nikkor 300 ED f4 AFD, circa 1985ish. 

I also have a 180 f2.8 AFD ED that I will try some day, and a few other lenses I've accumulated over the years.  These older lenses, while ED glass, still have some CA in them that is easy to fix on daylight photos, but may be more of an issue with Astro.  The Nikkor primes are sharp and the old glass is no exception.   There are some to stay away from, but there are loads to consider, if nothing else you'll get a great Daylight lens:)   

 

There are loads of sources online from the Angry Photographers youtube channel to some older review websites, like byThom.com and kenrockwell.com.  I really like the tabular presentation of this guy http://www.naturfoto...urv.html#rating

 

Again aside from chromatic aberrations, some of the older manual focus stuff is sharp as hell, and has great contrast and color rendition.  Depending on your Nikon body, using them can be easy too.  Like the 105 f1.8 AIS, or the 20 f1.8, even the f3.5 has nice glass.  The 28mm f3.5 AIS is like 100 bucks, so is the 135mm f3.5.  I'd love to have the 300 f2.8, any vintage, and I just picked up a 500 f4 AI-P ED.  

 

I am watching this thread to add to my list of great Astro Nikon F mount lenses.  But at least the above are great daylight lenses and will most likely make **** good AP photos too.  

 

JD

 




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