I got another new toy yesterday, so last night I had to go out and play. I've been really getting into trying to master these star shots for the past few months and have found that 9-10 days before full moon is the perfect time for these starlight photos. There is just enough moon to throw some light in the foreground without washing out all the stars. So... Last night was my time. 30% moon, setting at 11:30... Perfect!
So… I bought another bright, prime lens for my collection. It's a Sigma 20mm f1.8. Just arrived yesterday. So far, I'm REALLY impressed. I always used to consider Sigma to be cheap, crappy lenses and vowed never to buy one again about 10 years ago. They seem to have seriously stepped up their quality. I guess they have to keep up with the quality of these ever improving digital cameras. So far I'm pleasantly surprised by the sharpness of this thing. This should be a great lens for star photos. Seems like the wider the better for shooting stars. There are not many stars down by the horizon. The darkest sky is usually right over your head, so a 20mm should be wide enough to see way up into the sky.
This was shot with the f-stop wide open at f1.8. 30 second exposure. ISO 640. Lit by the setting moon, with a tiny bit of lightpainting from a flashlight.
The sharpness of that lens is amazingly good for shooting with the F wide open. A bit of softness and chromatic aberration at the corners. And quite a bit of vignetting, which totally goes away once you get it up to f2.8. The center of the image looks surprisingly sharp. (especially for a SIgma)
I want to wish everyone the happiest of New Years!