Last year I had my first attempt at astrophotography and photographing the Milky Way. Last night was a beautiful, clear night so I went out to a relatively dark area to photograph the Milky Way. There are several basic elements to astrophotography: shutter speed (you will need a 20-30 second exposure); ISO (a higher ISO will be necessary – I used 1600 – 2000); and aperture (the wider the aperture the better, i.e. 1.4 or 2.8).
I don’t have a lens with that wide an aperture so I have to use a higher ISO and longer shutter speed. A longer shutter speed may result in star trails which is something you don’t want when shooting the Milky Way.
I set up all the parameters on my cameras before I left the house. It’s much easier to set it up in a lit area rather than doing it by flashlight in the dark. But a flashlight is necessary if you are going to go out and shoot at night. A sturdy tripod is essential too.
I used 2 different cameras – my Nikon D7000 and a Sony a6000. My photos with my Nikon did not result in anything acceptable – my lens did not have a wide enough aperture and too high an ISO resulted in too much grain.
I had better results with the Sony a6000. I just used the kit wide-angle lens that came with the camera and used a 25 second, 1600 ISO exposure. I did have to do a bit of editing in Lightroom.
A wide-angle lens is on my “wish list” but they can be expensive. I did a little research and there seems to be a lot of positive comments about the Rokikon 14mm f/2.8 lens. It is a manual focus lens, but in astrophotography that wouldn’t be a problem because you would be setting the focus to infinity anyway. And at $319.00 (compared to $1200.00 or $1900.00) it seems like a bargain.
I have a chart of the Milky Way visibility which I find very helpful. It is seasonal and the late spring through early fall are the best times to see the Milky Way.
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 ($319.00)
Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 ($1900.00)
Tamron 15-20mm f/2.8 ($1200.00)