In this article I am sharing my experiences shooting the Milky Way with Tokina 11-16 DX II lens. I only have limited experience with this lens, only two months as of first writing this.
Note:I will update this articles with more photos using the lens as I take more with it. Photos are taken with Nikon D7100 unless otherwise specified. Given below are the final pictures after post-processing.
Photos of the Milky Way taken with Tokina 11-16 DX II
Milky Way photographed from Vagamon during International Dark Sky Week, 2015
f/2.8, 30 seconds, ISO 3200, 11mm (for sky). Foreground exposed seperately, and then blended together.
Milky Way from my balcony
Another one from Vagamon – single exposure for the sky only – 11mm, f/2.8, ISO 3200, 30s
Tokina’s maximum aperture of f/2.8 is the main reason I decided to get this lens, after reading a lot of good reviews about it. And my decision was right. I had tried a lot with the Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G VR DX, but the results were disappointing for landscape astrophotography. But I have to say that the 16-85mm is a great lens for other uses. It is very sharp from end to end. But the maximum aperture of f/3.5 at 16mm was not enough to get a good number of stars in the night sky.
f/2.8 gathers 1.5 times more light than f/3.5, half a stop faster. So that is a pretty big difference while considering the faint stars in the night sky. Another advantage is the wider focal length of 11mm (about 16mm in 35mm equivalent). So it allows for more exposure time without star trailing; when comparing to kit lenses, like 16-85mm or 18-140mm. So overall I was able to get more than 1 stop of light compared to kit lenses.
These are some 100% crops to show the sharpness (final after post processing).
Center crop. The stars are very sharp wide open at f/2.8 at 11mm – Great. The slight elongation is due to the trailing.
Mid frame crop – Not as sharp as the center, but very good results considering it is a 100% crop.
Corner crop (top right) – There is some coma in the edges.
For a DX or APS-C camera user, it is a very good choice for landscape astrophotography. A nice and sharp lens for usual landscapes as well, after stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8. With 16-85mm, I used to feel the need for even wider field of view. Now that too is solved; Tokina is wide enough.