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The New Champion Of Astro-Landscape Lenses | Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DN for Sony FE Mirrorless

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN FE Art, Sony A7III | Photo by Sean Goebel, sgphotos.com

Ladies and gentlemen, we have more witchcraft at 14mm. And also at 24mm. The Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DN Art (FE; this is NOT the same optic as the previous DSLR version) …is basically flawless.

OK, we’ll wait to call it “flawless” until we can put it on a ridiculously high-res sensor like the 61-megapixel Sony A7R IV, but for now, let’s just leave it at this: It disproves at least two “impossibilities” that have been assumed about zooms…

Not only does it defeat one of the existing 14mm prime lens champions, the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art, it also performs astonishingly well at both ends of its focal range. In fact, it actually matches the current 24mm champion, the Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM.

Achieving just one of these feats is extremely rare, but achieving both at once is quite unprecedented. The “conventional wisdom” is absolutely that primes are always sharper than zooms, and that zooms are always noticeably softer at one end of the range or the other, or in the middle.

Of course, this isn’t an in-depth, extensive review. We’ll wait for Roger Cicala at LensRentals.com to put 10 copies of this lens on OLAF, and see how that goes. And, of course, more actual nightscape adventures with 40-60 megapixel cameras would be great, too.

[UPDATE: Read my full review of the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DN Art HERE on SLR Lounge! Verdict: Even at 42-61 megapixels, it stands as the sharpest 14-24mm lens ever made.]

TLDR: if you’re an astro-landscape or nightscape etc. photographer of any kind, this is the lens to buy! In fact, it’s even a reason to switch to Sony completely, which is a third rarity for any lens. (Although, there are already adapters to use Sony FE mount lenses on Nikon Z mirrorless.)

Either way, it’s a good time to be a nightscape photographer! But, enough talk. Here’s the proof: (NOTE: these test images were made on a 24-megapixel Sony A7 III)

24mm Test (Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN FE Art | Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art | Click the image to view it full size!

24mm Test (Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN FE Art | Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM | Click the image to view it full size!

That is unprecedented, indeed. The only question left might be, “how does it compare against the DSLR version, the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art?” Well, we weren’t able to perform a direct comparison, however, based on all the tests I have seen, (and I’m really good at guessing coma performance from other people’s truly terrible sample images!) …I think it is indeed safe to say that although the DSLR Sigma 14-24mm is really good, this new Sigma 14-24mm is better.

Just about the only way in which that massive chunk of glass offers a bit more is its vignetting; the mirrorless 14-24mm, as a much smaller optic, does have a faint bit more extreme corner darkening. Of course if, as a nightscape photographer, low vignetting is EXTREMELY important to you, the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 will have the brightest f/2.8 corners of any lens ever to reach 14mm, simply because it’s stopped down more than a stop at that point.

So, if you don’t care about weight, and you do care a ton about vignetting, (and less about coma) …you could stick with either of the older Sigma DSLR lenses that hit 14mm. However, as a wilderness backpacker, this new mirrorless 14-24mm is the new champion.


These test images and the beautiful sample nightscape photo were provided by Sean Goebel. To see more of Sean’s work, visit sgphotos.com or follow him on Flickr.

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Happy 7th birthday, Canon 6D. You’re still one of the best values in astrophotography!

Today, in 2012, the Canon 6D was announced. It only had a single SD card slot and Canon Rebel-style focus point layout, (so I didn’t count it as a top choice for my day job as a wedding photographer) …but its sensor was, and still is, a huge milestone in high ISO image quality. So, happy birthday, Canon 6D! (Also known as the 6D mk1 or 6D classic, now)

Canon 6D – Astrophotography Legend

The 6D sensor was shockingly good in its day. It forfeited just two megapixels compared to its bigger brother, the Canon 5D mk3, but it was actually significantly better than its predecessor at high ISO image quality, particularly 3200-6400 where many nightscape photographers will likely spend a lot of time.

Smart photographers who needed incredible image quality more than they needed the flagship AF and dual card slots that the 5D3 offered, opted for the 6D as soon as its image quality was extensively tested and nightscape, landscape, and adventure photographers, in general, realized that not only did it have great image quality at high ISOs, it had better dynamic range at its base ISO than all previous Canons ever, including all flagships.

Though, admittedly, that base ISO dynamic range was still 2-3 stops behind Nikon and Sony, so if you also do a ton of shooting at ISO 100, then I must stop praising the 6D for a second and suggest that you consider the similarly priced (used) Nikon D750, which recently had its 5th birthday, I  might add. The D750’s high ISO image quality is not as good as the 6D’s, (though it’s close!) but its dynamic range at ISO 100 is still considered “insane” *1 by today’s standards. (Just like the D600 and D610, BTW.)

*1 “insane” is a scientific measurement that means “way better than most photographers will ever need. In fact, you’re more likely to see a bigger difference in image quality by just making sure you use perfect technique, than switching from this camera to anything better.”

Although the Canon 6D lacks a lot of pro features, it wins big in one way- that “magnify” button can be programmed to offer 1-click 100% zooming, unlike the Nikon D600 and D610. It even plays back the zoomed-in image if the LCD is off!

Indeed, when shopping used, you can easily find a good condition 6D for $700-800, making it one of the best values on the market today for anyone who needs a hard-working full-frame sensor in a very affordable package.

Why buy a Canon 6D instead of a newer camera?

By the way, if you’re curious: why wouldn’t you buy a newer camera instead, let alone a camera for a newer, more future-proof mount? There’s the 6D mk2 and the 5D mk4 for Canon’s EF DSLR mount, both which are old enough to be found for decently good deals on the used market. Plus, there’s the Canon EOS RP which is the newest mirrorless camera body in their RF lineup, yet it debuted at a mere $1300 and can be found for under $1000 used, if you’re patient…

Glen Canyon, Utah | Canon EOS RP, Irix 15mm f/2.4

The answer is, yes, all these newer cameras are good, great even. BUT, they’re all not as “clean” at ISO 3200+ as the 6D sensor, as per photonstophotos.net. Shocking, but true.

Oh, and what about the Sony A7-series cameras that are also starting to get old, the 1st-gen and 2nd-gen A7, A7S, and A7R series cameras? You can definitely find them for under $1K, that’s for sure! But, this is because as underwhelming as the 6D’s other specs are, (autofocus, card slots, etc.) …the early Sonys are worse. Also, most of their oldest sensors are far worse at high ISO image quality.

The only old Sony A7-series cameras that have equal or better high ISO performance versus the Canon 6D are the A7R2, A7S, and A7S2. (As well as the A7R3, if you count it among the now-replaced cameras since the mk4 is here, but the R3 is still a $2500 camera, and remember, we’re shopping for a ~$700 full-frame body.)

So, if you’re just breaking into astrophotography now, if you’re on an extreme budget, and especially if you’re at all familiar with Canon cameras already, then the 6D is still your best value, despite being 7 years old. Whether or not it’s actually the right choice for you depends on your total budget for both lenses and bodies, and of course the other features you are likely looking for beyond image quality. Last, but the polar opposite of least, remember: it’s not about the gear, it’s about getting out there and shooting.

Search for a used Canon 6D on B&H (Latest price check: $689.95-$879.95, depending on the condition)

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2020 Astro-Landscapes Photo Calendar Available Now!

The 2020 Astro-Landscapes calendar is finally here!

It took me two years, but I’ve finally captured enough photos to create the next calendar I had dreamed of making: A panoramic landscape adventure photography calendar.

This is no ordinary landscape photo calendar, though. I had another ambitious goal for my next photo calendar: I’ve annotated the calendar days themselves with a few of my favorite types of landscape photography opportunities, such as a moonrise at sunset or moonset at sunrise, or nights when photographing the Milky Way could be optimal during a new or low crescent moon.

Now, each month you’ll not only be able to enjoy another photo from somewhere in the beautiful American West, but you’ll also be able to quickly glance at a few great shooting opportunities every week!

The 2020 calendar will be 7×12″, and is NOW SHIPPING! There will only be 200 printed, and only the first 100 will be signed and numbered.

Local pick-up is available, however, calendars cannot be reserved without entering into the system, so please order your calendar using the second link below, and you will be contacted for a chance to meet up around Orange County, CA.

Thank you in advance for your support, and here’s to 2020 being full of beautiful adventures!


Order Now! (limited supply remaining, discounted price) $14.99 + shipping






My Passion For Panoramic Photography

I’ve loved panoramic photography ever since I first picked up a camera about 20 years ago. I’ve always enjoyed creating “extreme” panoramic images, however, when I decided that I wanted my next photo calendar to be a panoramic calendar, I realized that most of my existing panoramic images simply would not work well in the desired format.

So, I made some compromises on my goals for the perfect aspect ratio, (7×12″) and I set off on many wilderness adventures to capture more images. Many of my adventures were centered around a singular photographic goal, and yet the images which found their way into this calendar turned out to be almost entirely the unexpected moments of serendipity and breathtaking light which simply cannot be predicted a year in advance.

For this reason, I decided to add not just helpful information about photo opportunities, but also a brief story behind each photo to help set the scene and give a brief glimpse into the moment itself. I am currently writing a book containing many more of these adventure stories, which showcase such authentic moments in the wilderness, and hopefully encourage other photographers to seek out the beautiful opportunities that nature has to offer.

My Passion For Astro-Landscape photography

I first began calling my imagery “astro-landscapes” when I became interested in nightscape photography, and for a period of time, it was the only subject I pursued. After a few years of nightscape photography “dedicated” adventures, however, I realized something- On all of the trips I took, many of the truly memorable moments, and indeed most of the best photographs, were not nightscapes, but images depicting whichever moments were simply the most breathtaking in terms of unique weather, seasonal phenomena, or serendipitous alignments of the sun or moon with earthly subjects.

During this process of discovery, not only did I realize that Astro-Landscapes was about so much more than just nightscape photography, but also, my desire to simply be outdoors as often as possible grew. Inevitably, also, my desire to sit at a computer and post-produce the images dwindled. I came to the following conclusion: I’d rather be outdoors capturing real moments of nature, instead of “fabricating” them later on a computer.

This has been my driving force ever since, and each of the images in this set of 13 represents very basic photographic techniques: Many are single exposures with nothing more than color-correction and cropping to a 7×12 aspect ratio, and others are very simple panoramic stitches, or basic noise reduction layers. In other words, these moments unfolded with the exact timing, scale, and juxtaposition that you see in each image.


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Moonset at Sunrise in the Alabama Hills | Eastern Sierra, California, August 2018 Nikon D750, 70-200mm f/2.8, 200mm, f/8, ISO 100, 1/100 sec

I wish I could say this moment was perfectly planned months in advance, but the truth is, it snuck up on me completely un-planned. I was car-camping in the Alabama Hills during a solo road trip, and had only planned to do a little nightscape photography before getting back on the road.

As per the usual for most of my road trips, I was too exhausted from driving and hiking all day, so a 40-minute nap at 1 AM turned into a 4-hour nap. When I awoke, the moon was still well above the distant, jagged peaks of the eastern Sierra.

At first, I didn’t think anything of it; I was more concerned about getting on the road as soon as possible. Thankfully, the fading stars and pink-blue light of astronomical dawn lured me into telling myself, “just a couple quick shots, then I’ll get going.” Another 30 minutes later, as the last few stars were disappearing and the moon was getting awfully close to the horizon, it finally hit me- I was about to witness one of the holy grails of mountain landscape photography: a perfect moonset at sunrise.

Except, it wouldn’t be perfect; I was in the wrong spot. After snapping two “safety shots” at 200mm of the first kiss of purple alpenglow on Mt Whitney, I threw my gear in my car and raced “backwards” away from the scene to a slightly more distant vantage point. That few hundred yards was exactly what was needed to allow me to start a timelapse in which the moon nestled perfectly into the visual notch to the right of Mt Whitney, as the sun’s first rays washed over the majestic Eastern Sierra.

This image was processed in Capture One Pro 11. I found that Capture One did the best job of representing such bright, warm colors and tonality without appearing artificially saturated, nor excessively “preserved” as some bright highlight tones can appear in other raw conversion software.

Thank you again for your support!


Order Now! (limited supply remaining, discounted price) $14.99 + shipping