Night photography is among the hardest types of photography you can master. Photographing the night sky requires a lot of practice, knowledge and patience.
Fortunately, thanks to the huge portfolio of lens offerings and how well they made them perform those days, night photography is not much of a concern.
If you are an entry-level photographer who is looking to pursue night photography, if you have the right lens you will turn the night into day.
Note, I said the right lens.
The next question that popped up in your mind is, which is the best lens for night photography?
Exactly, to avoid unnecessary research that will consume your time and cut the chase, I have rounded up what I feel are the best lenses for night photography.
Top 7 Best Lenses for Night Photography
7. Sony FE 14mm F1.8 GM – Best Ultra-Wide Angle
Starting the list right away with a beastly prime lens from the G Series of Sony.
Note that not every lens for night photography from Sony is worthy of holding this title, it must be a premium lens to be worthy and entitled to the GM series, another thing whats premium would be its price, this wide angle lens sure come at a painful price but it lives up to that so don’t worry.
It is really well built and has good ergonomics on it, it is a bit on the heavy side but nothing offensive; that must be a way of Sony telling us that they mean business.
It has a great focal range and a really wide aperture, making it a superb choice for astrophotography.
Although you might think it can cause distortion due to its wide aperture, you are wrong. This lens has a 14mm focal length.
It offers minimal to almost non-existent chromatic aberration and unbeatable sharpness. It has edge-to-edge sharpness that will show corners as sharp as the center.
As I mentioned above, this wide angle lens is a great pick if you are into astrophotography, for other types of night photography, keep reading forward and meet the rest of the lenses. Definitely one of the best prime lenses out there.
- Really well built
- Great Ergonomics
- Unbeatable Sharpness
- Good and fast aperture
- A bit heavy and bulky
- Painful price
6. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED – The Most Durable
- Well built
- Good Flare coating
- Moisture and Dust Resistance
- Feature Packed
- Capped at F/2.8 aperture
- On the Pricey Side
5. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art – Best For Outdoor Portraits
If you are a portrait photographer that shoots at night, you will be hard-pressed to find a better lens than the Sigma 85mm f/1.4.
What makes this so good for portraits must be the great focal range and how much of a great performer it is in low-light environments. It has a 85mm focal length.
As far as construction goes it is really well built, with Super-Low dispersion elements and aspherical element that greatly fights off any kind of aberrations.
Apart from that, Sigma doesn’t leave behind a multi-layer coating that backs off any kind of ghosting or flares.
All these promises for the images to come in as clear as we see them.
Something else worth mentioning is the great bokeh effect it gives.
Its aperture consists of 9 aperture blades that provide a smooth and creamy bokeh effect that will satisfy any photographer that shoots at night. It’s one of the most popular prime lenses out there, and that is for a reason!
- Great for Night Portraits
- Good sharpness
- Compact and well built
- Great Prime Lens
- Expensive despite coming from a third-party brand
4. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II – Best For General Use
Next, we have a superb choice from Canon, the EF 24-70mm a zoom lens that sports a great maximum aperture of f/2.8L.
This wide angle lens just ticks all the boxes for everything it is a great all-rounder, with that being said it doesn’t fail to succeed even for night photography.
Due to being really versatile, it gives you the freedom to shoot any kind of nighttime photos from landscapes to street portraits.
It sure sports high-tier coating from Canon, like the Super UD, without leaving behind aspherical elements. They ensure to eradicate distortion and keep chromatic aberration at minimal.
Yes, that goes without saying, it sure suppresses ghosting and flares too, after all, that’s what makes this an ideal walk-around lens.
This wide angle zoom lens is definitely one of my favorite lenses for night photography, and it fully deserves its spot in this list of the best lenses for night photography.
- Canon shows their craftsmanship with this lens solid and durable build
- Great coating
- Maintain sharpness across all focal ranges.
- Perfect for night photography
- On the expensive side
- It is a bit bulky and heavy
3. Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 – Best Mid-Range
Let me throw in a telephoto lens from Tamron, just so I don’t get any hate for night sports photographers.
No, that doesn’t mean this is a bad lens for night photography and I was forced to list it.
Surprisingly enough, despite being a telephoto lens it is a great performer, especially in low light.
It is made in might with sports photographers who shoot at night and also wildlife ones.
Another thing that is quite surprising would be its compact design. It is really well built and is equipped with 5 stop VC mode that offers great stability.
There’s also the anti-freeze system that allows you to shoot in any condition from rain to snow.
The optical design includes extra-low dispersion and low dispersion glass that fend off chromatic aberrations across all focal ranges, even at its maximum of 200mm.
If you are a photographer who likes to shoot night sports and night wildlife, this lens for night photography from Tamron is your friend, don’t hold back.
- Great Aperture
- Great Focal Range
- Well Priced
- Decently build
- Great for night photography
- Weak coating
2. Sony – FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM – Best Runner-Up
Yet again Sony makes another appearance this time with a zoom lens, the FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM.
It promises to push the boundaries of night photography with its sharp lens for night photography that offers superb corner-to-corner performance across all zoom and focus distances.
It is a lens for night photography that offers hard to beat the bokeh effect that will please astrophotographers.
What’s more, it is really compact and lightweight making it an ideal choice for active shooting.
This is a really flexible lens for night photography since it can offer great recording content too, especially run and gun type of content. Yes, it won’t matter if you do it in daytime or nighttime, it will be there to deliver.
Overall, this is an amazing lens for night photography.
- Splendid Focal Length
- Extra-wide aperture
- Great Video Capabilities
- Compact and Lightweight
- You can encounter dim corners
- Distortion time to time
1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM – Best For The Money
Wrapping up the list with a great prime lens from Canon, the value this bad boy brings to the table is simply unbeatable.
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM has a great focal range of 50mm, which means the images you will be taking will come as we view them with our own eyes.
The maximum aperture of f/1.8 will prove worthy and on top of all that it comes at a really cheap price that is affordable even from a kid photographer (that was a gimmick by the way).
It is a bit fragile, which is understandable when you think of its price, yet that is what makes it compact and lightweight.
It features a stepping motor STM that delivers near-silent and continuous AutoFocus for movies and stills, but the autofocusing capabilities are not something to die for, yet again; we are not allowed to whine when you consider the cheap price it comes with.
It also has a good coating to fend off ghosting and flare. The aperture is quite fast and it collects a lot of light, making this lens great for low-light situations.
While it has some drawbacks, overall, it offers great value for the price it comes with. You will be hard-pressed to find a better option at the given price.
If you are on a budget and want to squeeze the most features you can on a lens for night photography, then this is a great option. Its one of the most popular canon lenses for night sky photography and that’s all you need!
- Great Value
- Greatly Priced
- Great Focal Range
- Great Aperture
- Weak Focusing Capabilities
- Cheap construction
Things You Need to Consider Prior to Buying
If you didn’t like any of the above, keep reading so you get a better overall idea, of what to look for before buying a lens for night photography.
Aperture is crucial in general when you are buying a lens.
For night photography is even more, due to being the part that determines the low-light performance.
A high ISO is what would be ideal and a fast Aperture.
So simply put, the ISO defines the speed of light that reaches the sensor while aperture determines how much light goes in.
Night photographers, along with me, think that the definitive aperture for night photography would be up to f/2.8.
As far as focal length, a small and wider focal length would be the best fit for night photography.
So for example a 20mm lens, or a zoom one that goes around 14-20.
Basically, the smaller the focal length or wider, the better.
However, I’d avoid 8-10mm lenses, since they are so wide they are prone to causing distortion. The focal length range depends on what you are planning to use the lens for.
Anti-Flare and Ghost Coating is a feature that is mostly found on high-end lenses.
So if you own a budget lens chances are high for it to lack this kind of coating.
As the name implies, ghosts are basically odd shapes that can appear in your pictures.
Yet another thing that is caused by a low-quality lens.
Chromatic Aberration is a color failure, this occurs when the lens fails to focus all colors at the same point. Basically, the color lights pass through the at different speeds, causing a chromatic distortion.
This can be a burden when taking night photography, so make sure you pay attention if your lens is capable of keeping it animal.
There’s nothing else that compliments night photography as good as the bokeh effect.
They go hand to hand due to city lights blending in so well in the bokeh effect.
The bokeh effect is basically out of focus, and an aesthetically pleasing effect that blurs the background in round dots.
Below you will find an example of the bokeh effect in the nighttime.
Another example, where the subject is focused in details while the background comes in bokeh or say “blurry” effect.
What else do i need for night sky photography?
Night sky photography is a very complex subject, and it requires the proper gear, knowledge and practice so you can get the best outcome.
You can buy all the most popular lenses for night photography, but if you don’t have the skills and proper gear for night sky photography, you won’t have the best outcome.
If you’re a beginner, i recommend you practice other fields before jumping into night sky photography, because they are easier to learn.
Here is the gear you will need for photographing the night sky:
- A camera
- A strong tripod
- Fast SD Cards
- Master The 500 rule
- One of the lenses for night photography we mentioned
Frequently Asked Questions
Which would be the best lens type for Night Photography, Zoom Lenses or Prime Lenses?
Both of the lenses have their benefits and drawbacks.
However, a prime lens will offer sharper image quality and a faster aperture but it has a fixed focal length, which is not that much of a problem for night photography.
The best camera settings for shooting night photography?
Well, this depends mostly on your type of photography, you can do astrophotography or portraiture, etc and each of them differs.
But I can give a few tips, make sure you set the white balance to auto, manual focus is a must also shooting in raw, and as far as ISO goes you can set it between 100 or 200.
Will I need to Use an Extra Speedlight or Cameras Flash for Night Photography?
No, not really, I know where you coming from with this question, but it is not necessary just make sure you balance your camera and play around with the ISO speed.
Well, there you have it, we reviewed the 5 best lenses for night photography that you can buy.
Night photography is a great field, but I wouldn’t aim the beginner photographers to it, it might be tricky at some parts.
Still learning the basics and having the right lens, will definitely make things easier.
Just make sure you do your homework on the lens you planning to buy and see if it tick all the boxes you looking for and need.
So you are working indoors and you need some extra light no worries, here are some nice softboxes that will be used for you.
This is it, hopefully, everything was clear and helpful.