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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Environmental Portrait Lens Suggestions for the 5D
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09/25/2007 07:06:13 PM · #1
I'm looking for a relatively wide angle prime for doing some environmental portrait work, low light event/landscape photography, as well as some wide field astrophotography.

I currently own three lenses which lie in or near the focal length I plan to use, the 50mm f/1.4, the 24-105mm f/4L IS, and the 17-40mm f/4L, but I need something wider than the 50mm and faster than the zooms.

If I had an unlimited budget, I'd spring for the 24mm f/1.4L or 35mm f/1.4L lens but at this point I'm not convinced I want to shell out $1000+ for a lens that may or may not get used frequently.

The following budget primes are my potential candidates:

* Canon 24mm f/2.8 - Focal length is getting to be a bit wide for portraiture, not all that fast.

* Canon 28mm f/1.8 - Build quality and wider aperture make this my current top choice.

* Canon 35mm f/2.0 - I like the focal length and the lens could definitely be workable but I hear it's pretty soft near the corners, especially on a FF body.

I'm curious to know if anyone here has experience/opinions about any of the above lenses, or perhaps a suggestion I haven't yet considered.

Message edited by author 2007-09-25 19:06:52.
09/25/2007 07:50:13 PM · #2
The 28/1.8 may serve your needs for low light event photography, and almost certainly will for low light landscape (you'll be stopping down somewhat anyway). It will not be satisfying for WF astro work. Look over Larus's portfolio. He previously shot his night landscapes with the 28/1.8, and Now shoots them with the 24/1.4 L. Even the 24/1.4 and 35/1.4, exceptional lenses that they are, will show lots of "bat wings" on bright stars in the corners anywhere near wide open. They are banished to the far corners at f/2.8, however.
The 28/1.8, by contrast, is not going to cut it at all. Interestingly, the 50/1.4 is not a great astro lens either. I have no experience with the 35/2.0, but I suspect that it would not be far from the 28/1.8.
Overall, WF astrophotography is likely to be the most severe test of a lens you will find, with the exception that overall contrast is not that important.
09/25/2007 07:51:30 PM · #3
Oh, FWIW, I do use the 24/1.4 for astro work. I'd love to try the Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagon, but not at those prices!
09/25/2007 07:52:01 PM · #4
Just curious/ignorant, why does the astro work require such a wide aperture? I guess I am assuming these shots are very long exposures.
09/25/2007 07:54:55 PM · #5
Originally posted by routerguy666:

Just curious/ignorant, why does the astro work require such a wide aperture? I guess I am assuming these shots are very long exposures.


The longer the exposure, the more chance of something getting off track and you getting trails or blurs. The wide aperture just allows the shortest exposures possible which is a good thing.
09/25/2007 08:16:41 PM · #6
Originally posted by routerguy666:

Just curious/ignorant, why does the astro work require such a wide aperture? I guess I am assuming these shots are very long exposures.


As Jason posted, it's all about collecting light. A very fast, wide lens is still almost never used wide open. I personally shoot most of my astro stuff with the 24/1.4 @ f/2.8. I'd shoot faster if optical quality would allow, but it does not, not with any available lens (any brand).
09/25/2007 08:30:25 PM · #7
Thanks for the replies, very interesting. What exactly is the cause of the "bat wings"... a result of chromatic aberration or some other optical anomaly?

BTW: I'll be using an equatorial mount to compensate for the Earth's rotation. Even with an equatorial mount/barn door I know it's best to keep exposures under 10-15 minutes but I haven't had too many problems in the past when shooting film with an old 58mm lens (obviously the flaws aren't going to be as noticeable on film as they are with digital).

Message edited by author 2007-09-25 20:31:48.
09/25/2007 08:52:20 PM · #8
The "bat wings aren't CA, and aren't coma either... coma would make stars elongated radially, not circumferentially. I'm not really sure which aberration causes them, but they are one of the most noticeable defects on wide angle astro shots. Other defects include CA (correctable, in large part), general lack of sharpness, and false-color stars (not a lens effect, but a sensor effect). The cure for the last is to stack multiple frames with "dithering" between them.
09/26/2007 01:24:02 PM · #9
Thanks for the input on the false-color stars. This seems to be something I've noticed when doing star trails, although I guess the only fix when doing star trails is to manually desaturate (or otherwise alter) any noticeable stars.

I will likely spring for the 28mm even though it's not going to be that great for WF astro.

I'm thinking Santa might be getting me a 24mm f/1.4L this Christmas if you know what I mean. I'm really liking the prospect of getting two lenses for the price of one by switching bodies (24mm on the FF and roughly 38mm on an APS-C).
09/26/2007 02:27:49 PM · #10
I have the 28 f1.8 and I love it for portraits etc. It has pleasant colors, creamy bokeh and is nicely sharp.

Adding astrophotography to the mix though, brings in a whole 'nother set of requirements.

09/27/2007 02:18:51 AM · #11
Thanks for sharing Spazmo99, I'm definitely thinking the 28mm 1.8 will work out well for what I need in the immediate future.

--
A couple other options I'm looking at for landscape/wf astrophotography work:

* 16-35mm f/2.8L II - It's obviously not as fast as the 24mm f/1.4L or even the 28mm f/1.8 but wide open it seems similar, although not quite as sharp when compared to the other lenses stopped down (16-35mm f/2.8 II vs 24mm f/1.4L)

* 24mm f/3.5 TS-E - Manual focus isn't going to be practical for portraits but I can imagine it would open up some nice possibilities for landscapes and architecture shots...

An interesting comparison of the 24's can be found at: //www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/lenses/24-vs-24.shtml

Anyway, I'm curious to know if anyone has had luck with either the 16-35mm or 24mm TS-E for astrophotography, or if this kind of application is always going to demand a prime..

~Thanks

Message edited by author 2007-09-27 02:21:22.
09/27/2007 03:40:18 AM · #12
I can't help but wonder what the effect might be of using some of the ultra-simple Pentax 'pancake' lenses on the 5D with an adaptor? Would not their low number of lens elements make for some good results?

I am not 100% sure that they are FF capable, but something makes me think that they are.

Message edited by author 2007-09-27 03:41:05.
09/28/2007 04:08:45 PM · #13
Interesting idea eschelar, I'm not sure there exists an adapter that would allow me to use automatic aperture and focus control though which would be a drawback since I'd like a lens that is capable of multiple purposes. A quick Google search showed that at least some people have been using the 40mm pancake lens for astrophotography with good luck but I wasn't unable to dig up much info.
09/28/2007 04:12:17 PM · #14
This may be a naive question, but doesn't using something so wide tend to distort the model's features?
09/28/2007 04:17:23 PM · #15
Any thoughts on the 16-35mm f/2.8L vs 24mm f/1.4L for astrophotography?

I imagine the 2 stop advantage and lower number of elements make the 24mm f/1.4 a better choice, but I wonder how much better.. would it be worth trading my 17-40mm for the 16-35? Or should I keep the 17-40 and spring for the prime..
09/28/2007 04:22:04 PM · #16
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

This may be a naive question, but doesn't using something so wide tend to distort the model's features?


Indeed it does, but there are times where I just can't get far enough from the model to use a conventional portrait lens (tight quarters) or sometimes I intentionally want to distort the scene.

The degree to which the features are distorted can be minimized depending on how the shot is composed and how far the subject is from the camera. (Obviously I'm not going to be doing headshots at 24mm)
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