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Old 02-12-2006, 09:31 AM
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Reviews on canon lenses for astrophotography?

Hi all,
Not sure this would be the right place for this post....?
Thinking of saving up some cash next year for a nice new canon lense.
I would primarily use it for widefield astrophotography but will also use it for normal use. Something over 80mm to 200mm. anyone got advice on which are the sharpest edge to edge and best value for money? are any of the new L series zoom lenses anygood like the 70-200 f/2.8 or f/4. The 135mm f/2.8 softfocus any good (its a good price)?. How about the sigma apo zooms?
Any advice to what you have and how good it is for (primary use astroimaging)?
Also any links to sites with reviews as to astro imaging with these lenses would be great....
Cheers Gary
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Old 02-12-2006, 10:37 AM
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Gary,

I have heard the 135 f2.8 SF has a lot CA (colour fringing).

I am a bit weary of zooms as there seems to be more variability in quality (problably due to complexity) and the often show more CA. I have seem very nice results with the 70-200 lenses (2.8 and 4, and the Sigma 70-200 2.8). If you can test first then that would be ideal. You should consider the following fixed focals for astronomical use:

50 f1.8 or 50 f1.4 (I would go for the 1.4 as although its a lot more expensive has a distance scale and is better built).
85f1.8, 100 f2 and 100 f2.8 USM Macro - All these are great lenses for astrophotography.
200 f2.8 L - A great lens that can be got new for 950$ from the states. Excellent even wide open. My favourite lens.

The zooms are often not good, but the 70-200 2.8 and 4 lenses are if you can get a good copy. You may have to close down a stop, although the f4 lens may be OK.

Here are some tests you might be interested in:

http://www.pbase.com/terrylovejoy/lens_tests

http://www.pbase.com/lumodomo/lens_tests (some of the images are processed too dark at the corners making it hard to tell ).

Terry
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Old 02-12-2006, 06:00 PM
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Thanks Terry,
checked out your pages some time back, back when I was going to mod my camera.
I`m leaning towards the 200/2.8 or the 135/2.
I did a search on the net with mixed results for both the fixed and zoom lenses. Some say not very good yet most images I have seen (usually stopped down a stop look really good with little distortions etc in the corners. Seen some nice 70-200/4 images stopped to f/5.6 they were good as well.
Do these lenses go well also with the teleextenders without more abberations showing? that way if I get a 135/2 I can use it at 189mm with a 1.4x or at 270mm/4 with a 2x.
Is that a good idea or not? or better of saving for seperate lenses?
Cheers Gary
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Old 02-12-2006, 07:47 PM
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I am happy with the results from my 70-200 F4 L and 17-40 F4 L, but can't provide any quantitive measure of their quality sorry - I'm not that scientific about it. I would say there is perhaps a little violet fringing in both on the brightest stars? I can't compare them to APO, never taken a photo through an APO to compare. There's barely any violet compared to my Megerz refractor, at a guess 5-10% of what I get in the Megrez.

Personally I believe that when comparing L series lenses and those from other manufacturers in the same quality, the comments saying zooms are not as good as quality as fixed focal length lenses are "old days trash talk". That is - back in the old days zooms were worse, now in this L series type quality range I believe the quality does not differ and the convenience factor of zooms is obvious. I think there's a lot of reasons for this including technology advances and the great demand for zoom lenses compared to fixed focal lengths driving the quality of zoom lenses up to match fixed focal length alternatives. Fixed focal lengths often have the advantage of being faster - F1.8 through F4 where as the zooms tend to be F4 - F5.6.

Perhaps might be of interest to you - all the Red Bull Air Race shots on my web site were taken with my 70-200 F4 L used together with a cheapo Tamron 2x doubler - the results surprised me with their sharpness and colour. I suspect the cheap 2x would introduce false colour etc when used for astro work, but I'd hope the $800 canon one wouldn't.

http://www.rogergroom.com/rogergroom...y.jsp?Item=522

http://www.rogergroom.com/rogergroom...ges/000528.jpg

http://www.rogergroom.com/rogergroom...ges/000471.jpg
http://www.rogergroom.com/rogergroom...ges/000472.jpg

My 2c worth

Roger.
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Old 02-12-2006, 08:48 PM
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The Tamron 2x is meant to be really good and I believe is 'non-reporting' so AF is not disabled for an f4 lens (although many tape the pins on the Canon TC to get the same effect).

The 135 f2 is an exceptional lens, forgot about that one. It is meant to very sharp at f2, but suffers a bit from vignetting when used that wide. I was considering that one before I bought the Sigma 300 2.8. I haven't seen much about the 135f2 + TC, but the 200 performs really well with the 1.4x and is quite good with the 2x. You will loose image quality with teleconverters, so you need a good lens to start with.

Terry
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Old 02-12-2006, 08:55 PM
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the canon 200mm f2.8L
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Old 02-12-2006, 09:05 PM
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Houghy, i have and use the Canon EF 135mm F/2.0L, it is superb, and with the EF1.4 converter you can have nearly 200mm as well, you wont be dissappointed, but they are not cheap.

Leon
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Old 03-12-2006, 08:09 AM
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Thanks again Terry, Roger, Houghy and Leon.
Great shots Roger, my oldest son loved all those plane shots!!..., very nice...
I`m leaning towards the 70-200 f/4 or the 200/2.8..the convenience of the zoom even though it might be more of a pain focusing etc and being slower seems a good choice for astrophotography and normal day use. If I got the 200/2.8 I wouldn`t use it so much on day trips etc but I would love it in the dark....
Thanks guys on your comments......
I better start saving for my next present...
Cheers Gary
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Old 04-12-2006, 09:07 AM
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Canon Lenses for Astrophotography

Hi All,
Just been reading all the posted comments on Canon Lenses for Astrophotography use, wonder if I missed something, are these "ED" Glass ones that you are talking about, I know Canon made some "Fluroite Glass" ones (very expensive) but as this glass is very brittle they have gone to ED Glass so ive read, looking around NIKON ED lenses seem much cheaper and with an adaptor should work on the Canon (not auto though) comments please.

cheers....Jim
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  #10  
Old 04-12-2006, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerg
That is - back in the old days zooms were worse, now in this L series type quality range I believe the quality does not differ and the convenience factor of zooms is obvious.
I beg to differ, pic up just about any prime lens at it will be sharper than a zoom at the same focal length and f-stop. The Canon 70-200f2.8IS might be an exception but most will agree that the 200f2.8 and 200f1.8 primes still beat it. But for everyday photography zooms sure are handy.
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petal666
I beg to differ, pic up just about any prime lens at it will be sharper than a zoom at the same focal length and f-stop. The Canon 70-200f2.8IS might be an exception but most will agree that the 200f2.8 and 200f1.8 primes still beat it. But for everyday photography zooms sure are handy.
I couldn't agree more Ben !
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Old 05-12-2006, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Boy
I couldn't agree more Ben !
Same here...
Have a look at ebay, sometimes you can find nice lenses for Praktica or Zenit cameras.. they are very good, being copied from or made for Carl Zeiss from Jena (E Germany).
I am sure the you will not have a big problem deling with T mounts... And the proce will be only a fraction of what you will have to pay for Canon on Nikon or whatever....
Bojan
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  #13  
Old 05-12-2006, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bojan
Same here...
Have a look at ebay, sometimes you can find nice lenses for Praktica or Zenit cameras.. they are very good, being copied from or made for Carl Zeiss from Jena (E Germany).
I am sure the you will not have a big problem deling with T mounts... And the proce will be only a fraction of what you will have to pay for Canon on Nikon or whatever....
Bojan
Hi Bogan, have tried a bunch of older Carl zeiss, zenit, richo and pentax lenses and none of them performed very well ( to much CA and coma), the only exceptions are with the shorter focal length ones 24 to about 55mm where there are some nice ones around that give nice sharp pics. anything with a longer focal length just does`t cut it with a DSLR..
Cheers Gary
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Old 05-12-2006, 04:29 PM
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You cannot get a better lens than any Canon Super Telephoto. These have a Fluorite element and ED elements. You also have to pay a premium price. There is no cheap alternative. Even the top Nikon lenses can be dissapointing in their performance for astro images.

I know I am slightly biased. Any zoom will give major CA. Only very good primes may give a reasonable image. When I see an image as good as this from any brand of lens other than Canon, I will be werry werry quiet. Kill the wabbit?

http://avandonkbl.bigblog.com.au/dat...1124131416.jpg
http://avandonkbl.bigblog.com.au/dat...1124131416.jpg
Bert
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Old 05-12-2006, 11:23 PM
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Bert,

Exceptional image/s as usual. I don't think your really need to argue that point as properly processed full size images settle that pretty quickly! However, I'd be interested to see how that lens performs with the 20D or 350D.

Terry
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Old 07-12-2006, 03:01 PM
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Hi Roger,

There is still a notioceable difference in zooms vs primes. I own both.

You will find that ;

- Zoom lenses typically need to be stopped down to f/5.6 to f/8 to achieve optimum levels of contrast/sharpness. I know the 24-70 and 70-200 are still quite decent at f/2.8, but they do pickup rapidly once you reach 5.6 and smaller.

- Primes will typically have much better bokeh (out of focus regions). Irrelevant for astro, very relevant for people shots.

- Because primes are a lot faster at their maximum aperture, they don't need to be stopped down to such small apertures such as f/8 to achieve high levels of sharpness and contrast. i.e. take my 35/1.4 vs a 24-70@35mm @ f/2.8 on both lenses. The 24-70 is shooting wide open, but the 35 1.4 has the advantage of being stopped down a couple of stops. Lenses are typically sharper when not shot wide open, and thus at f/2.8 the 35/1.4 will absolutely knock the socks off the 24-70. Also the same holds true for the 85/1.2 vs a 70-200 @ 85mm - the 85/1.2 will blow away the 70-200, it isn't even close.

It is quite a noticeable difference and though I own a few L zooms, I generally always use the L primes where I can.

I'll keep using my feet to zoom until they release some f/1.4 zoom lenses

cheers

Gav


Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerg
I am happy with the results from my 70-200 F4 L and 17-40 F4 L, but can't provide any quantitive measure of their quality sorry - I'm not that scientific about it. I would say there is perhaps a little violet fringing in both on the brightest stars? I can't compare them to APO, never taken a photo through an APO to compare. There's barely any violet compared to my Megerz refractor, at a guess 5-10% of what I get in the Megrez.

Personally I believe that when comparing L series lenses and those from other manufacturers in the same quality, the comments saying zooms are not as good as quality as fixed focal length lenses are "old days trash talk". That is - back in the old days zooms were worse, now in this L series type quality range I believe the quality does not differ and the convenience factor of zooms is obvious. I think there's a lot of reasons for this including technology advances and the great demand for zoom lenses compared to fixed focal lengths driving the quality of zoom lenses up to match fixed focal length alternatives. Fixed focal lengths often have the advantage of being faster - F1.8 through F4 where as the zooms tend to be F4 - F5.6.

Perhaps might be of interest to you - all the Red Bull Air Race shots on my web site were taken with my 70-200 F4 L used together with a cheapo Tamron 2x doubler - the results surprised me with their sharpness and colour. I suspect the cheap 2x would introduce false colour etc when used for astro work, but I'd hope the $800 canon one wouldn't.

http://www.rogergroom.com/rogergroom...y.jsp?Item=522

http://www.rogergroom.com/rogergroom...ges/000528.jpg

http://www.rogergroom.com/rogergroom...ges/000471.jpg
http://www.rogergroom.com/rogergroom...ges/000472.jpg

My 2c worth

Roger.
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Old 07-12-2006, 03:02 PM
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oh btw Roger, the 2x tele won't introduce false colours but it really hurts your sharpness big time.

You need to be shooting at f/11 with it to really get good results out of it. Thats pretty typical for teleconverters, the nikon is the same. I'd recommend the 1.4x over the 2x for this reason.
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Old 07-12-2006, 03:04 PM
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I use the 135/2 on 5D's and haven't had it vignette at f/2 ever, though not for astro though (though i can't imagine how that would matter).

The only lenses I've seen vignette on my 5D are the 16-35/2.8 (only a very small amount), the 24/1.4 and the 35/1.4. I'd be surprised if telephotos vignette, normally it's just the wide angles.

cheers

Gav


Quote:
Originally Posted by CometGuy
The Tamron 2x is meant to be really good and I believe is 'non-reporting' so AF is not disabled for an f4 lens (although many tape the pins on the Canon TC to get the same effect).

The 135 f2 is an exceptional lens, forgot about that one. It is meant to very sharp at f2, but suffers a bit from vignetting when used that wide. I was considering that one before I bought the Sigma 300 2.8. I haven't seen much about the 135f2 + TC, but the 200 performs really well with the 1.4x and is quite good with the 2x. You will loose image quality with teleconverters, so you need a good lens to start with.

Terry
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Old 07-12-2006, 04:33 PM
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Gav,

You have to stretch astrophoto's enormously so vignetting becomes far more obvious. Luckly, there are some good techniques (eg flat fielding) to deal with this, although its preferable to have even illumination to start with. I saw some comments on the 135 f2 vignetting from Christian Buil's site ( www.astrosurf.com/buil ) and photozone. The vignetting is gone by f2.8 anyway.

Gav, I seem to remember you had the 300 2.8 IS. Are you happy with that lens?

Terry
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Old 07-12-2006, 07:16 PM
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yeah the 300 is killer glass
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