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Is the 28mm lens sufficiently wide enough on the 40D to capture reasonable aurora borealis photographs? Given the 1.6 crop factor it seems like it might not be (which would probably mean that I look at either an off-brand lens or rental), although so far my research into this question hasn't really led me to an answer yet.

From what I have read, to shoot good photographs of the aurora borealis that capture as much of it in the frame as possible (such as in this shot), you need a wide, fast lens (and luck), but most of what I have been reading is from a full frame perspective.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I believe that this will be closed as a duplicate to this existing question: What tips and advice do you have for photographing the Aurora Borealis?

But essentially you sure could use that lens and camera combo, but that isn't ideal by any means. I would much prefer to have a fixed aperture zoom lens on a full frame camera to shoot the northern lights. You also would benefit from having a camera with better high ISO performance. This isn't to say your camera isn't capable of shooting it, or even shooting it well - but it isn't optimal.

The 28mm f/1.8 is a fine lens, but 28mm works out to about 45mm equiv which isn't really wide enough for most common aurora borealis shots. On a crop sensor you would be better with something like a 24 f/1.4L(very expensive) or a Sigma 20 f/1.8.

Personally I have the 10-22mm Canon lens which is excellent, although not the widest aperture it works "OK" for this type of photography.

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Saw the other question but figured this one was specific enough to warrant it's own question given the other one is looking at generalities. That said, from what I've been reading on photographing the aurora, f/2.8 seems to be the slowest that people recommended which is why I was looking at the faster glass. First I've heard of the Sigma though so a vote for it is good, although, I've been looking at the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 since it is wider even though it is slower. – rjzii Aug 10 '12 at 15:43
Yes keep in mind high ISO performance is probably just as important in this case as a wide aperture. Could you rent/borrow/steal a 5D MkII? – dpollitt Aug 10 '12 at 15:48
Renting one might be an option in which case the 24mm f/1.4 L II and/or 14mm f/2.8 L II might get rented along with it. – rjzii Aug 10 '12 at 15:53

It really all depends on the desired composition and your vantage point....

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I'm sorry, but there is something about how that is written that rubs me the wrong way. If you need some more information to make a recommendation or commentary please let me know, but as it stands I thought I provided sufficient information in the original question in order for a relevant answer to be provided. – rjzii Aug 10 '12 at 15:26
I think ahockley brings up a good point. It isn't so much about the equipment but what you are trying to achieve? You just say that you want "good photographs of the aurora borealis". – dpollitt Aug 10 '12 at 15:45
@dpollitt - Considering that it could be years before I get the chance again, good photographs seems like a worthy goal. :) Modified the question a bit to give a better idea of the direction though. – rjzii Aug 10 '12 at 15:55

I would perhaps suggest the EF-S 10-22 for the 40D. On a crop sensor camera a 28mm lens will be 44.8mm. Near enough 50mm on full frame. I think you'd need wider for most landscape stuff let along the northern lights. If it's too much money, Tokina do an 11-16 f/2.8 which would also be suitable.

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Samyang 8mm/3.5 good also be a good option (like any other fisheye) to get as much of the aurora in the frame as you can. Although focal length depend quite a lot of the scenery and how you are going to compose the picture.

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While it isn't as wide you might want I get my best aurora photos using a Sigma 16-35 F1.8. Reasonably priced (under $1000) lens and both its image quality and construction are superb. Fast enough shutter speeds to avoid the 'soft' images that come with longer exposures without needing to push ISO. If you can live with 16mm its an awesome aurora\Milky Way lens and a hell of a bargain to boot

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It would be useful to have a reference or two, maybe an image. Also, 16mm isn't really something to 'live with' in most cases, even on a crop sensor :) – damned truths Aug 17 at 11:45

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