Shooting for the Stars: Canon EF 24mm Prime


Small, lightweight- yet image quality is crisp.

I’m talkin’ about the Canon 24mm prime lens!

This lens is coated to help combat ghosting and flaring, which is a plus when imaging a full moon or bright planet. Imaging near street lamps can induce flaring, despite this coating. Beware.

Compared to the Canon 50mm Compact Macro, the chromatic aberration is not as apparent due to its shorter focal length. The angle of view is a comfortable 84°, which means large constellations fit inside the frame.

Big Dipper

Here are a few things to keep in mind when imaging the sky with this lens:

  • Expose for no longer than 30”
  • Learn to see the ‘big picture’

Due to its 84° angle of view, it can difficult to imagine what would fit nicely within the frame. Experiment and see what works. An exposure of only the sky proves to be visually unexciting. Take another gander at the Big Dipper image, above. Wouldn’t it be much more visually appealing if it had a skyline of trees or mountains? A lens like this can fit that and more.

As I said, the chromatic aberration with this lens is not that apparent.

Here’s a crop of the Big Dippers handle:

Crop of Big Dippers handle

Compared to a lens like the Canon Compact Macro, its virtually non-existent.  You know the drill-have a look!:

Crop of Jupiter. Take note of nasty purple halo

This is a crop of a larger image of Jupiter taken at opposition. It was shot with the Canon Compact Macro a few years ago. Notice the aura of purple/blue around this gas giant? That is chromatic aberration. It’s a natural symptom of light refracting through glass, unless corrected for with layers of coating.

Keep in mind, objects like the moon appear really really really tiny within a 84° frame.

In order to make an image with the moon at least somewhat pleasing, you’ll HAVE to include a foreground object. Anything! Otherwise, the moon will become lost within all the negative space within the frame and you’ll put people to sleep with your images.

Why is this? Partly, because a foreground object provides an image with perspective.


Also, When people look at the night sky in the real world, they rarely just look at the sky. The immediate scenery is always included. Trees. Buildings. Sand Dunes. Mountains. Water. Anything Earthly will enhance any sky photograph.

Look around, see what’s worth framing along with the stars. Or planets. Or moon.

Moon, Jupiter, and Trees

Focusing is easy with the Canon 24mm prime.

All that’s needed is for it to be racked to infinity. Zoom lenses don’t have this option, which out in the field makes them a pain in the ass to focus starlight.

It’s lightweight construction takes up little room in a pocket or bag. Any lens that takes up little space earns a gold star in my book.

Overall, the Canon 24mm prime is a useful tool to own for imaging the night sky. I wish it were faster, but isn’t that always the case?At a price of $550.00, it’s not exactly too cheap, either.

At f/2.8, it’s at the threshold for being a little slow for a prime. But in general, it’s image quality is worth giving a shot.

Published by FlyTrapMan

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