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Shooting for the Stars: Canon EF-S 18-55 Kit Lens (Part 3)

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The Canon EF 18-55 (kit lens) is a versatile piece of glass, which many people begin their photographic journey with. The convenient twist of a barrel provides an assortment of useful focal lengths—depending on the situation—you can easily adjust the angle of view.

A zoom lens (18-55) can fill a temporary astronomical niche role:

  • Wide-angle Constellation Portraits

  • Milky Way Imagery

  • Lunar Scenic Landscapes

  • Recording Meteor Showers

  • Recording Satellites

  • Recording Planets

  • Recording Comets

  • Solar Imagery (Proper filter only!!!)

  • Atmospheric Phenomenon (sun dogs, rainbows, moon halos…)

  • Star Trails

  • Creative Photographic Opportunities

 

I’m sure I missed a few.

Canon’s 18-55mm lens may not be the baddest optical bad boy, but it will still gladly deliver a black eye, or a slightly bloody nose. Sure, sure—it may not be the fastest lens, the most expensive lens, the highest quality lens, or the most coveted lens—but it can get the job done.

 

Don’t Press the Button!

 

Do you know about that mysterious “image stabilizer button”? No? The switch is located on the barrel—when activated—it…well…stabilizes the image. Under normal circumstances, image stabilization will most likely improve image quality, allowing you to shoot at a slower exposure rate.

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Under special circumstances, image stabilization is known to cause problems. Everything is all hunkey-dorey while a camera is being handheld, but when the camera is placed upon a tripod, image stabilization negatively impacts image quality. The lens may seek out nonexistent vibrations, which causes subtle vibrations.

This is the first thing you should check before burning an exposure, got that?

 

Focus on Infinity

 

Many people are perplexed, when it comes to focusing this particular lens. The camera’s viewfinder is dim and not very accommodating, which makes focusing quite the chore…

…Unless…

…You employ this very simple trick:

 

  • Magnify a bright star / planet (on LCD screen)—focus.
  • Magnify 5x—focus.
  • Magnify 10x—focus
  • Done

 

Here’s a bright object hit-list:

 

  • Venus

  • Jupiter

  • Sirius

  • Regulus

  • Rigel

  • Capella

  • Procyon

  • Vega

 

The seasons (and latitude) dictate which bright object will be above your horizon.

** Remember**

 

  • Use a high ISO (1600 and up)

  • Open the lens aperture (f/3.5 – f/4.5)

 

If you done everything correctly, you will see a tiny point of light within the camera’s LCD screen.

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Don’t try to eyeball the focus—the viewfinder will strain your vision! Zooming in allows you to fine tune the focus, resulting in pinpoint stars. A poorly focused image causes stars to bloat. Remember that.

If you accidentally twist the barrel, yes, you’ll have to focus allllllll over again. So don’t do that.

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If you want to read more about this particular lens, feel free to do so: here…and…here.

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** Canon EF-S 18-55mm Lens Specs **

  • Focal Length: 18-55mm

  • Aperture: Maximum f/3.5-f/5.6

  • Angle of View: 74° 20′ – 27° 50′

  • Filter Thread: 58mm

  • Price: $199.99 (new)

  • More Stats Can Be Found—Here

  • Purchase This Lens—Here

 

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