Best Lenses For Astrophotography

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

11

Tamron SP AFA012C700

22

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2

33

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Introduction

Since our childhood, we were always wondering about the stars, planets and the Milkyway. Many of us were thinking that when we grow up, we will become astronauts and would conquer the universe, right?

Once we’ve grown up, we realized that this isn’t easy at all, and although it isn’t impossible, still, with a quality camera and gear, we can take a look at the stars and shoot astrophotography.

If you’re a photographer who loves shooting astrophotography or even shoots this type of photography for a living, you know that having a quality lens is essential.

Therefore, I’m happy to inform you that in this article, you will find the 5 best lenses for astrophotography, and after you’ve read all the information I’ve brought to you, feel free to choose the one that suits your preferences, budget, and style the most, since all of them are unique in their own way.

The 5 Best Lenses For Astrophotography

5. Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC

The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC is a typical example of how should a lens look and perform like, without asking from you to spend thousands of dollars to have an option to have fantastic results in terms of shooting astrophotography.

To begin with, this unit is exceptionally versatile, it is compatible with all Nikon cameras that are based on a full-frame/APS-C sensor and if you’ve been looking to upgrade your shooting arsenal, then you can start doing so with this lens.

Design-wise, this unit has an excellent build quality, and the reason behind this is the use of metal. As a matter of fact, this model has an all-metal design that does not only look luxurious, but it is very reliable, and known for withstanding daily use!

In addition, its focusing ring is strategically positioned between the trailing edge of the lens hood and the aperture range, and for your information, it is 35mm wide and it is wrapped in a double band of ridged rubber that will guarantee you a higher level of comfort!

When it comes to the elements, this particular model has 18 elements arranged in 12 groups, of which you can find a single Hybrid Aspherical element, 3 High-Refractive Index elements, one glass Aspherical element, and 2 ED elements. When we combine all of them into one, this means that you won’t notice distortion or any kind of chromatic aberrations.

Now, let’s talk about performance.

What makes the 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC be ideal for astrophotography is its fast aperture ( 14mm f/2.8) which distributes a frame fitting, ultra-wide rectilinear view on one side, whereas, the presence of the UMC Multi-Coating will be there for you to put an end to the flare and ghost so that you can get the best possible contrast and transmission of light.

To be even more precise, since this is an ultra-wide-angle f/2.8 lens, the Rokion will offer you an 115.7-degree view on full-frame cameras, and let’s not forget the low coma which is more than ideal for shooting night sky imagery!

Last but not least, I’ve been reported by those who’ve been shooting with this lens that the output is exceptionally sharp, whereas, its autofocus is accurate, and the overall quality of the colors are lifelike. On the Internet, you will find plenty of samples, so you can see this by yourself.

To conclude, if you’re keen on investing in a lens that offers a great value for its cost, then the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC would be an excellent option for you!

4. Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM

The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM is a very unique lens, in fact, some people consider it as a technological marvet, because this is the first zoom lens that has an exceptionally fast/wide aperture! At the same time, if you’re shooting with a Canon camera, then great news for you as well!

Speaking of the design, the Sigma utilizes a strong construction that consists of the rugged brass mount, metal barrel which his made of a so-called “Thermally Stable Composite” material which makes this lens highly capable to be used in both, cold and hot temperatures without interfering with its performance at all. Additionally, there are 17 elements divided into 12 groups along with 5 low-dispersion and 4 aspherical elements, so as you can see, the manufacturer took the job very seriously!

In terms of the features, the 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM comes equipped with a Ring-type, ultrasonic AF motor that has full-frame manual focusing and a 72mm filter size, a constant 1.8 aperture which basically means that its low-light capabilities are indeed overwhelming and let’s not forget the manual override. Interestingly, the manual override will help you focus manually very quickly if you’re working in an AF mode. Those who’ve been shooting with this lens claim that it takes less than a second for this lens to get from the closest focus to infinity, and at the same time, the AF motor is nearly silent. Therefore, I don’t have any remarks for now!

What also got my attention regarding this lens is its sharp output regardless of the aperture, since even at f/1.8 the chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting are non-existent, and if you decide to shoot with this lens, I’m sure that you will instantly notice this! For instance, at f/1.8 and f/1.28, the resolution and the overall sharpness is top-notch, and chromatic aberration can’t be noticed when shooting at smaller apertures ( at f/1.8). Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Another great thing about this unit is the presence of its 9-blade rounded diaphragm that will help you achieve excellent “bokeh” results if you feel that you need that, so, aside from shooting astrophotography, you will be able to shoot portrait, landscape and other types of photography without any problems!

Overall, I strongly recommend you giving the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM a try, because it is worthy of considering and having, mainly because of its terrific low-light performance and its ability to minimize ghosting, flare, distortion, and chromatic aberration without having to spend a fortune!

3. Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2  

The Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2  is a focus wide-angle lens that would be a really good option if you’re an owner of any of Sony’s A7/A6xxx models, due to the fact that this unit packs numerous features and has a very strong design that makes it pretty adequate to serve you in a long-term!

When it comes to the design, this model has a compact, yet sturdy body, whose external metal shell is made of durable, anodized aluminum, whereas, its internal components are made of a combination of composite and metal. As you can see, this lens can easily withstand daily use!

If we take this aside, the Batis 25mm f/2 employs 10 elements in 8 groups, and on its aperture ring, there is even an OLED display that will keep you notified regarding the approximate focus distance, whereas, on the front, you can easily notice a 67mm filter thread, so, for the design part I’m very satisfied!

Speaking of the performance, the Batis 25mm f/2 is very sharp in the center and on the edges, but, its wide-open performance at infinity may cause you some chromatic aberration, however, this may not drastically reduce the overall image quality.

If you think that the image needs correction, then you can apply some in-camera or post camera correction whether you’ve shot JPEGs or RAW format images, but keep in mind that the overall, sharpness and contrast are indeed good for a wide-angle prime lens!

Moreover, the flare isn’t evident in most of the situations, and the reason behind this is the anti-reflective coating, although you may find some minor ghosting effects though. But, where the manufacturer hit a jackpot is at the coma performance. Namely, even at f/2, the amount of coma is barely noticeable which means that you will be more than satisfied to shoot photography of the stars during the night!

In terms of the “bokeh” performance, I have to inform you that the Batis is great here thanks to its 9-rounded aperture blades which will help you achieve excellent “bokeh” results if you use the lens and camera right! Those who’ve had a chance to shoot with this camera claim that they were satisfied with this lens, and I hope that you will be as well if you ever decide to purchase it.

Finally, the autofocus is quiet and quick, and what’s even better is that this unit covers the full-frame of the A7 cameras, and honestly, I couldn’t expect anything less by a Zeiss!

In conclusion, you would greatly improve your shooting experience if you decide to purchase this lens, and trust me, in case you do that, you will be more than satisfied to own such a powerful lens as a part of your shooting arsenal!

2. Tamron SP AFA012C700 

The Tamron SP AFA012C700  is often named as the world’s first f/2.8 image-stabilized, ultra-wide angle zoom lens that is specifically designed to work in conjunction with full-frame cameras. Even though it was released a couple of years ago, even today,  this lens is often the first choice for a variety of different photographers whose favorite style of photography is exactly the astrophotography.

From a design perspective, the optical construction of this lens combines 18 elements divided into 13 groups, plus an XGM element that is is set at the front group, whereas, you can also find several LD glass elements that will greatly improve the quality of your shooting.

At the inside, there’s an Ultra Silent Drive motor whose purpose is to make this lens fast enough to focus onto a specific target while maintaining noise-free, and what will surely get your attention is the built-in image stabilization which ensures up to 4 stops of compensation if you prefer to have hand-held shooting!

But hey, Tamron didn’t stop here! They even implemented an adding fluoride coating to the front element to make it withstand water and dirt, along with a weather sealing and a special, so-called eBand coating whose purpose is to provide greater control over the reflections and minimize the occurrences of ghosting and flare as much as possible!

Moreover, the performance isn’t any different at all! Namely, its wide focal range of 15-30mm, its fast 2.8 maximum aperture and the 9-blade round aperture are surely a great addition since the results will be satisfying for you and for everyone who will be seeing them.

To be more precise, most of the time you won’t notice blur, but pure color accuracy, however, if you want to push this camera to its boundaries, at 100% view, you will notice a bit of blur, but still, images are usable even then!

For example, even wide open at f/2.8, the Tamron SP AFA012C700 produces sharp imagery, and you can completely stop down from f/11 to f/22 because, at this level, images will not be heavily affected. In any case, I’d recommend you stick between f/5.6 to f/8 because this is the “sweet spot”.

Before we end, I ‘d also like you to know that you shouldn’t always shoot astrophotography with this lens, because you can experiment, given its close focus distance of 11″ and its aperture, you can easily to have a fairly good subject-background separation with shallow depth of field.

After all, I’m sure that you already know how quality this lens is, and therefore, even though you’re not obliged to own it, still, the Tamron SP AFA012C700 can be seen as a strong candidate for astrophotography thanks to its endless capabilities!

1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is well-known on the market, and you’ve likely seen this name popping up numerous times on the Internet as you were searching for the best lens for astrophotography. Well, you shouldn’t be surprised though, because this lens is highly suitable for astrophotography, landscape or architectural photograph, and regardless of the type of photography you’ll be shooting, this model will have you completely backed up!

In terms of the design, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is a result of excellent craftsmanship, and from the moment you take it, you will be amazed by the handling and the way Nikon has crafted this product.

Namely, its outer barrel is crafted with a metal alloy, the focus ring is rubberized, and you can also notice dust and moisture seals which will greatly improve the build quality of the lens itself, and make this lens be an excellent companion anywhere you go!

In addition, the internal components include two extra-low dispersion (ED) elements 3 aspherical lenses, and a nanocrystal coat, which, when combined, will ensure consistent performance while maintaining the sharpness and the overall contrast quality strong even at the widest aperture settings.

But that’s not all! Nikon has incorporated a so-called Silent Wave Motor which will guarantee you nothing less than an ultra-high-speed autofocusing, and since I’ve mentioned this, I think that it is the right time to talk about the performance and the features.

For your information, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is excellent in low-light conditions, since the included motor is pure excellence because instantly, the lens focuses on a specific target and remains quiet! At the same time, the autofocus accuracy is overwhelming, and you can even focus as close as 10.8″ at the 24mm setting. Therefore, I have to admit that Nikon has done an excellent job here!

Moving on, the sharpness is very strong at 14mm, and if you stop down to f/5.6, you can notice that the center and the mid-frame performance is indeed good. However, if you zoom at large apertures, the performance bay drops a bit, but once you get to f/5.6, the performance gets strong again.

In the end, I’d also like to mention that the ghosting effects and flare are barely noticeable, and the same can be said regarding the distortion, however, at 20mm, the distortion is non-existent and I think that you will be satisfied with the lens when you view from this aspect as well.

To summarize, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is a top-notch option for photographers that use a camera made by Nikon, and if you have an opportunity to get this lens, do not hesitate to do so!

Astrophotography Lens Buying Guide

Photography is a very wide field, and there are numerous things that you should take a look at before you make an actual purchase. Regardless if this is a camera, lens, tripod, or any other type of gear.

Lenses, specifically, require a deeper understanding, and therefore, you should know where to look at, before you choose the one you think is worthy of your attention.

Here, I will name you some tips that will help you a lot in terms of choosing the ideal lens for astrophotography.

Focal Length

If you want to shoot landscape astrophotography or nightscape images, you should prioritize having a wide-angle lens, because they have a larger field of view and this allows you to frame more of the objects you intend to shoot.

However, choosing wide-angle lenses with short focal lengths will output a smaller image size at the sensor, and this comes handy especially if you opt to use longer shutter speeds without dealing with trails that may be caused by the Earth’s rotation.

Basically, the shorter the focal length, the wider the angle the lens will be.

500 rule

As you were researching the lens for astrophotography, you’ve likely seen that nearly all of the articles have this “500 rule”. So, what does this mean?

The most simplified definition you can get is that that this rule stand refers to how long your shutter speed should be to ensure that you won’t deal with star trailing. Namely, if you divide the number 500 with the focal length of your lens, the result would determine the seconds the time of your exposure expressed in seconds before star trails are apparent.

For instance, if we assume that you divide 500 by 14, the result is 35.7, hence, this means that the maximum exposure length is 35.7 seconds.

Lens Speed

Astrophotography requires shooting meteors, comets, and other constellations. So, you would need a fast lens to capture their movement. But, what does “fast” actually mean? Well, this refers to the focal ratio, the wider the aperture of the lens is, the faster the lens will be in terms of speed.

Price

Lenses whose purpose is to help you achieve excellent results in astrography aren’t cheap at all. And although some people prefer to purchase pre-used ones, still, you don’t have an insight into how the previous photographers were using them. At a glance, they may seem completely normal and would likely serve you for a while, but still, multiple questions are rising. In this article, the aforementioned lenses are set in such an order, that they can suit the budget of numerous people.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Which is the best lens for shooting stars?

A: Although I won’t name you the best lens for shooting stars since everything is a matter of taste, and everything depends on your budget, and shooting style, the closest answer to this question would be that you can find the ” best” lens in this article!

Q: Do Nikon and Canon produce a lens specifically for astrophotography?

A: Well, since they are crafting fast, high-end lenses that are set in the 300mm to 600m range with apertures from f/2.8 to f/4, I can say yes, they do produce lenses that are suitable for astrophotography.

Q: What aperture is recommended for astrophotography?

A: In general, you have to know one thing. If you choose an aperture that is as wide as possible, then the shutter speed is going to be as long as possible.  So, “the ideal” aperture is the one around f/28 to f/5.6.

Q: Is a 50mm lens suitable for astrophotography?

A: Usually, the 50mm focal length is meant for everyday photography,  since these lenses aren’t wide narrow, but something in the middle. However, you may still be able to get some good results though.

Conclusion

Have you already chosen your next lens? I hope that you did, because I’ve given my best to keep you informed regarding the best lenses you can encounter on the market. Also, I hope that you’ve found this article very entertaining and informative at the same time, so, if you’re still in doubt, I would tell you that you should feel free to choose whichever you want, because all of them are known on the market and are also very quality!