I got a new lens! I got a wide angle lens primarily for night sky photography. I wanted something wide and fast so I can get the dim stars across wide sections of the sky. The lens I purchased was the Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4. There were lenses that are considered better, but they are more expensive. I researched, read reviews, and determined this is a good lens for what I am willing to pay right now and certainly more capable for this application than my 24-120mm f/4 lens. And with Milky Way season fast approaching, I wanted to have a good wide angle lens, f/2.8 or better, to get some photos.
I have not had good conditions for night sky photography recently nor have I been anywhere dark, but I did let my daughter drive me downtown on a Sunday afternoon and I brought the camera to take some first pictures.
We drove down to one of the parks by the waterfront; it was cold, mostly cloudy and raining on and off. We walked down to the water’s edge and there was a train going across the bridge. This is one of my first shots with the new lens.
You can see some obvious distortion at the edges, but you would expect this at 14mm. You may also notice some lens flare, which showed up in a lot of pictures. I messed around in Lightroom with correcting the distortion, but in the end, I decided that it looks OK for this image. I will experiment with this more in the future.
Below are some shots across the lake. You can see that if I keep the horizon at about mid-frame, the distortion isn’t so bad, but when pointing up a bit to get more of the sky, the buildings really lean back.
Below is a close-up of my daughter taking photos of the dogs at the park. I had to stand very close to her, to get this picture. You can really see the distorted perspective of such a wide lens. If you look at her hoodie, you can see how much larger the part of the hoodie close to the camera looks. Also, her thumb is not really that big. Anything that is very close to the lens is out of proportion with the way we are used to seeing things and items in the background get really compressed.
This lens is also manual focus only, which is not really a problem. For my intended purpose of night sky photography, I will be focusing at infinity and not require auto-focus. Other than that, manually focusing using the view-finder is kind of difficult as objects appear so far away. I tried switching to live view and zooming in to get a focus, but I found that set near infinity (beyond a meter) and with the aperture down a couple of stops from max, everything beyond a few meters is pretty much in focus. In the below image, the lens is focused near infinity on the buildings across the water, but as you can see the water and tree in the foreground are quite in focus as well.
Using an app I have to calculate depth of field (DoF) for 14mm, f/5.6, and a focus distance of 2 m; it says that there is a DoF near limit of 0.74 m and a far limit of infinity. So, not having autofocus is really not a huge drawback for this lens.
I think I’ll have a lot of fun with this lens taking landscape photos and night sky photos when I finally get an opportunity. Perhaps I will have a chance later this month.
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