Mt Wilson Milky Way

One of the things I wanted to do on my Fall Tour this year was test out the night photography capability of the Fuji X-T1. I know it has great low light capabilities, but I wanted to see it in action. I needed a wide lens for some astrophotography and didn’t want to break the bank doing it.  Fuji does make a 14mm f/2.8, but I wasn’t too keen on spending $900 for the lens. I decided to try the Rokinon 12mm f/2 lens. This is the equivalent of a 19mm full frame lens.  It is a manual focus lens, but being that it is a wide angle lens the hyperfocal distance for the lens would make it that it would be fairly easy to get things in focus.  As it turned out it was perfect for astrophotography and has become one of my favorite carry around lenses.  I can just set it to f/8  everything is in focus from about 2 ft. and beyond is in focus.  Rokinon makes a silver and a black version of the 12mm lens. I opted to save a few dollars and purchase the silver one. I’m not sure why the lens is more expensive in black.  It sure doesn’t affect the image quality.

Rokinon 12mm f/2 in Silver finish
Rokinon 12mm f/2 in Silver finish

I love how the manual focus adjustment is nice and tight. It makes manual focusing a pleasure to use. When you do mount it on the Fuji X-T1 the camera will not recognize the lens so you have to manually set the camera to know it’s a 12mm lens. Also the images produced won’t give you the proper Exif information, but I can live with that. It will allow you to work in both manual and aperture priority mode and the viewfinder adjusts appropriately to the change if aperture. The aperture ring has a nice click to each setting so you know when you have made a change. The one thing I don’t like is the lens hood that came with it. It doesn’t say on tight and is useless. I’ll have to find another one or figure out how to get it to seal better onto the lens. For less than $400 I’m not going to complain. I hardly use it anyway.

On the 2nd evening of the tour we ventured down to Wilson Mesa. The night was fairly clear with some clouds flying into the scene as the night grew on, but I was able to capture this image of the Milky Way just to the right of Mt Wilson. I took some shots at f/2 and found there was some vignetting with the lens and found it much better at f/2.8 or above. The lens is nice and fast. The main thing is the lens was sharp and no major distortion issues. I give this lens a full thumbs up. I see no reason to spend the extra money for auto focusing at this focal length.

The Fuji performed great. I shot most of the evening at iso 5000 and there was minimal amount of noise at that high iso and it cleaned up nicely afterwards with Capture One. It didn’t quite have the low light sensitivity that my Canon 5D Mark III does but it did perform as I had hoped it would. The one thing I did not like was looking through the electronic view finder was like looking into a snow storm so the only way for me to get the proper image composition was to take a few test shots and adjust the camera to compensate based on the test shots. It’s not ideal and this is where an analog view finder comes in handy. I’m sure a camera like the X-Pro 1 or X100S with the optical view finder would be much better in this situation. It’s nothing I didn’t over come and now that I know what to do it’s not a big deal anymore. The most important thing is the images came out great! I look forward to bringing it out on more astrophotography adventures.

The Milky Way next to Mt. Wilson as shot from Wilson Mesa, near Telluride, Colorado in the Fall, 2014.
Mt Wilson Milky Way | Click to Enlarge/Purchase

Capture Notes:

  • I am regretting that I didn’t go out with you guys after seeing this photo Rick.