|MilkyWay over String Lake, taken with the Rokinon 14mm lens ~ © Royce Bair|
Focus Frustrations and Fix: I must admit, that the first time I tried to focus this manual lens I was a bit bewildered. It seemed to stay in focus no matter what I did! This is due to the incredible depth of field of this 114º angle lens, even wide open. After considerable tests in the daylight and field testing at night, I can make the following recommendations: Don't focus on the infinity mark (some are even confused as to what position the infinity mark is located on the lens barrel).
|Left: This is NOT the infinity position. Right: This is the infinity position.|
HOWEVER, I recommend the following focus position below:
|This is the focus position I recommend when shooting 'NightScapes':|
Shoot at f/2.8, and set your focus halfway between the 10-feet mark and the infinity mark.
Best Ultra-Wide Lenses for Starry Night Photography: The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens has incredible coma correction and quality for a lens of it's price (about $350). It surpasses the coma aberration correction (even wide open) of most lenses in its ultra wide-angle category. I find it has about 1.5 stops of light fall-off in the corners (vignetting), which is easily corrected in the Adobe Raw Converter (via Photoshop or Lightroom). It is also a little soft in the edges, unless you stop down to about f5.6 or smaller; however, I don't recommend doing that if you're using the lens for high-ISO night photography—just keep this lens wide open, and place important areas away from the edges or corners of your composition. When doing daylight landscape photography, I found this lens performed optimally at f/11, with the focus set at 7-feet (f/16 was also very good, but at f/22, I began to notice a little bit of diffraction). If you're a Nikon user (and can afford to shell out about $2,000), the only other lens I'd recommend in this category is the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. This lens is well-corrected in every area, and is sharper than most prime lenses. It is a little sharper than the Rokinon, especially in the corners. Some Canon users like it so much, they even have the Nikon mount adapted to fit their EOS bodies!