TL;DR: My new lens is super cool; see the picture at the bottom.
Back in May, when we climbed aboard Julia, a package was waiting for me – a little treat! I had ordered a fancy pants lens specifically for astrophotography, the photography of shooting the stars. This is the Rokinon 24mm F1.4 Aspherical lens, from henceforth to be known as my Astro lens.
Prior, I had been using a Sigma 18-250mm f3.5-6.3 lens, which at it’s shortest (18mm) is a wide angle lens. I call that lens my Walkabout lens, because it is a super zoom AND a wide angle, so a nice all-in-one lens. I also have a Sigma 10-20mm 1:4-5.6, called my Wide Angle.
Now, I’ll get a little technical on why my new lens is great for astrophotography. Although all three lens are wide angle lens, my Astro lens is a middle ground on angle of view out of the three lens (74 degrees of view versus 84 versus 109). Another key factor in an astro lens is the ability to go into manual focus, which my Wide Angle lens does not have, therefore it can not be used for astrophotography. And finally, the F number is really important. It can get super technical, but just think of it as dilating your eyes. The Astro lens with the f1.4 allows almost 8 times more light into the sensor than the Walkabout lens at f3.5.
I learned all this stuff by reading online and watching lots of YouTube videos. My favorite site for astrophotography info is Lonely Speck, who also has this very handy table of lenses, based on their stats. That’s where I found my Astro lens.
Last Sunday we got a clear, beautiful night, and I was able to do my first full panoramic of the Milky Way above Mystic Sands Resort. For some technical composition info, this was taken with 14 shots stitched together. 30 second exposure, f/1.4, ISO 1600. I used Photoshop to stitch the panoramic, plus content awareness fill to fill in some blanks and I adjusted the exposure of the lights at the resort and the Mystic Sands sign. There is no adjustment of the Milky Way itself – although it was a clear and beautiful night with the Milky Way visible to the naked eye, the camera and lens are just much better than the human eye.
Enjoy! Many more to come I hope.