7D with 17-55 f2.8 for northern lights


jlwk78

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Dec 2, 2010
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#1
Hi all,

Would like to seek your advice on this. I am using 7D + 17-55 f2.8 for the upcoming shooting of northern lights. Will be bringing a tripod too. Is f2.8 good enough or do I need to get 24mm f1.4 as I am afraid the ISO is not sufficient. Thanks.
 

daredevil123

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Oct 25, 2005
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lil red dot
#2
Hi all,

Would like to seek your advice on this. I am using 7D + 17-55 f2.8 for the upcoming shooting of northern lights. Will be bringing a tripod too. Is f2.8 good enough or do I need to get 24mm f1.4 as I am afraid the ISO is not sufficient. Thanks.
You might want to consider a UWA as well. But F2.8 is usually enough. Most friends who went there went there with fullframe cameras though.
 

jlwk78

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Dec 2, 2010
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#3
Would love to get a FF but is the setup good enough? Or is it really a need for FF? Thanks
 

SkyStrike

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#4
Would love to get a FF but is the setup good enough? Or is it really a need for FF? Thanks
Depending on the intensity of the aurora, you might be able to get away with lower iso. But in general I guess the iso might be in the region of 1600 to 3200 at f2.8. Exposure is usually short like let's say 3sec... If exposed for too long. It will look like one big patch of green stuffs.

And I would also suggest a wider angle lens... Even 14mm on ff is not enough for me.... Samyang have a 12mm 2.8 at a reasonable price.
 

daredevil123

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lil red dot
#5
Would love to get a FF but is the setup good enough? Or is it really a need for FF? Thanks
The key is to achieve a shutter speed that you need by bumping ISO. So ISO noise performance becomes key. That is why many opt for FF. As for shutter speed, you might want to avoid too long exposures, which might result in the stars starting to trail. The calculation is
500/focal length = max number of seconds. Focal length needs to be adjusted for crop factor.
So for your 7D if shooting at 17mm:

Max shutter speed = 500/(17*1.5) = 19 seconds. So your shutter speed cannot be longer than 19 seconds, meaning, at your widest aperture, you need to bump your ISO up so you can get a properly exposed photo at shutter speed not longer than 19s.

This is make sure stars do not trail. depending of the speed of movement of the northern lights, your shutter speed may need to be even shorter, if not you end up with a big patch of green fog looking thing. That is why ISO comes into play. Keep bumping ISO to reduce the shutter speed to get the effect you want. If your camera ISO noise performance is not that great, you will end up with a very noisy picture which you need to spend lots of effort to reduce the noise in PP.

This is a good start:
http://petapixel.com/2014/04/18/beginning-photographers-guide-photographing-northern-lights/
 

Last edited:

jlwk78

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Dec 2, 2010
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#6
Depending on the intensity of the aurora, you might be able to get away with lower iso. But in general I guess the iso might be in the region of 1600 to 3200 at f2.8. Exposure is usually short like let's say 3sec... If exposed for too long. It will look like one big patch of green stuffs. And I would also suggest a wider angle lens... Even 14mm on ff is not enough for me.... Samyang have a 12mm 2.8 at a reasonable price.
Thanks for the recommendation. Samyang not Autofocus? Prefer lens with AF.
 

JacePhoto

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Oct 1, 2007
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#8
Aurora Settings:
ISO 1600
20 - 25 seconds
F2.8

Remember to get Bunny Boots. Your feet will freeze badly due to the cold that you won't want to take pictures. Protect your feet.
 

SkyStrike

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#9
Thanks for the recommendation. Samyang not Autofocus? Prefer lens with AF.
Well, when shooting in the dark, AF is not really helpful, most of the time (if not all the time at least on my camera), unable to focus.
 

Octarine

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Jan 3, 2008
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#10
Thanks for the recommendation. Samyang not Autofocus? Prefer lens with AF.
Have you heard about hyperfocal distance? Helps to set the infinity focus.
http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
Example: For your 7D with Samyang 12mm, a focusing distance of 3m will give you already infinity focus, even with f/2.8.
The lens has a scale up to 1m and everything beyond (white 'L' shaped mark) is already considered 'infinity'. Don't turn to the hard stop, leave the focus ring just before.
http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/11427/12mm-f2.8-samyang-ff-fish-eye/p1
Remark: the Samyang 12mm f/2.8 is a Fish Eye lens. The 12mm f/2.0 is a 'normal' lens for APS-C sensors.
 

Last edited:
Aug 17, 2005
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#11
Have you heard about hyperfocal distance? Helps to set the infinity focus.
http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
Example: For your 7D with Samyang 12mm, a focusing distance of 3m will give you already infinity focus, even with f/2.8.
The lens has a scale up to 1m and everything beyond (white 'L' shaped mark) is already considered 'infinity'. Don't turn to the hard stop, leave the focus ring just before.
http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/11427/12mm-f2.8-samyang-ff-fish-eye/p1
Remark: the Samyang 12mm f/2.8 is a Fish Eye lens. The 12mm f/2.0 is a 'normal' lens for APS-C sensors.
Good info sharing, thanks.
One question, do u use any handheld simple portable device to measure the distance, like in this case 3m?
Bcos i'm not good at estimating the distance.
 

daredevil123

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Oct 25, 2005
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lil red dot
#12
Good info sharing, thanks.
One question, do u use any handheld simple portable device to measure the distance, like in this case 3m?
Bcos i'm not good at estimating the distance.
We usually just estimate. And it doesn't have to be exact and there are a couple tricks to it. You can read up tips in an article I wrote a while back here:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/albe...al-distance-and-how-to-use-it/335968716599576
 

Octarine

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Jan 3, 2008
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#13
Good info sharing, thanks.
One question, do u use any handheld simple portable device to measure the distance, like in this case 3m?
Bcos i'm not good at estimating the distance.
Plenty of Boy Scout tricks in the Internet, doesn't need to be accurate to the decimals. Check the length of your tripod, fully extended, and you get another way to measure.
The 3m is just an example. As mentioned, the 12mm lens doesn't have a scale with 3m mark. Everything above 1m is already 'infinity'. Turn the focus to the end (hard stop), then a bit back to be within the white L shaped mark. Done.