Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Lens and Testing Venue

I go on Craigslist about once a year.  Come to think about it, that is where we found our Toyota Highlander a couple years ago, now serving us well in Illinois when we go there.  But in my annual perusal a couple weeks ago, an ad for a wide-angle lens caught my eye.  It was for a 14mm F/2.8 Canon lens made by Rokinon - a Korean-made lens that has pretty good reviews on line.  Even new they sell for about a third of a major-name brand, and the seller was taking a discount off the street price, so I couldn't say no! 

It isn't like I don't have other wide-angle lenses, but this baby has less distortion and almost the same field of view of my 16mm fisheye, and is a full stop faster than my 10-22 zoom - very important for night-time shots, in particular the time-lapse shots I've been shooting lately.  This week, with the University shut down, I picked up some extra shifts on Kitt Peak, and had a little time for some test shots after my duties there.

This time of year Orion rises early, but once clear of the horizon it is difficult to get into the field of view with a dome or other item of interest.  But with the wide-angle, it is easy to do so, and with the fast aperture, 30 or 45 seconds at ISO 1600 records enough light to even get some shadow details in the near blackness, and expose short enough to not get too much star trailing. 

The image at left here is off the west side of Kitt Peak showing the western sky.  Visible in the 60 second exposure is the Summer Milky way to the right, and the glow of the Zodiacal light to the left.  Besides the lights of Sells (the capital of the Tohono O'odham reservation), the faint light domes of distant cities can be seen.  Just upper right of Sells is the US/Mexico border town of Lukeville/Sonoita.  The brighter light domes of Why/Ajo is to the right.  I've not identified the light domes into Mexico, but I'm amazed at how well the light domes show up from so far away given how clear the skies were...  A couple nights later we had some thin clouds after our observing session and I took a few frames  of them moving through the rising Big Dipper and Polaris (to left).  This was only  30 second exposure...

Finally a daytime shot of the Visitor Center at the Observatory.  Note how the straight edges of the building remain mostly straight, unlike what you would get in most ultrawides or fisheye lenses.  I'm mostly happy with the lens - I need to do some tracked shots to test it's ultimate sharpness, but for the money seems to be a good value.


Anonymous said...

i was reading this in the teachers lounge, so, naturally, all the teachers hovered around and asked about what i was reading/looking at.

they all think the shots were great... and brag that, of course it's good---it's korean-made! haha.

just thought i'd share that little anecdote. glad you guys are happy with the lense.

David A. Harvey said...

Wow - I'm impressed. Nice corner sharpness and f/2.8 to boot. Make a great meteor lens for the APS-C cameras.

Now bring the puppy over to my lab and we'll put on my full frame 5D - my bet is that it A) either won't fit because it is an EF-S mount or it gets really crappy real fast outside the APS-C format area.

I have a Sigma 12-24mm F/4.5 rectilinear lens that is marvelous on my 1.3X crop factor 1D - looks like garbage on a full frame 5D.

P.S. Its for sale!

Dean said...

Actually it isn't an FE-S, so will fit your camera, and reviews seem to fawn over the sharpness. Distortion is an issue, as is vignetting wide open. I've got the Canon 10-22, but widest aperture is F/3.5, so was interested in something faster and for $300 could afford to play. Check out:
this review