7 Best Lenses for Night Photography in 2020

By Tati Taylor 13 days ago Cameras & Lenses

Our choice of recommended lenses for night photography.

lens for low light

The quality and type of lens are crucial for the success of photography in the dark. Beginners are often challenged with this choice as well as the difficulties of the genre. For that reason, we’ve prepared the list of the best lenses for night photography you can rely on.

Top 7 Lenses for Night Photography

  1. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 - Our choice
  2. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L - Impressive super wide-angle zoom
  3. Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 - The best budget night lens
  4. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L - An everyday standard
  5. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 - Excellent for portraits and more
  6. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 - Great for portraits
  7. Nikon AF-S FX 24-70mm - Get it for the VR

Naturally, there can’t be one single piece of equipment that will universally be recognized as the very best. There constantly appear alternatives for different styles of shooting and available budgets. In the list below, such alternatives are all put together to help you select the most appropriate option.

1. Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Our choice
best lenses for night photography

Mount: Canon EF | Diaphragm blades: 9, Rounded | Autofocus: Yes | Min focus distance: 85 cm | Max magnification: 0.12x | Filter size: 86 mm (Front) | Dimensions (ø x L): 94.7 x 126.2 mm | Weight: 1.13 kg

⊕ Incredibly sharp
⊕ Makes beautiful bokeh
⊕ Light weather protection
⊕ Good autofocus
⊖ Bulky

This is one of the best lenses for night photography in this price segment. It is sure hefty and working long hours in handheld mode will put some strain on untrained muscles. However, the result is worth a bit of a struggle. It immediately finds the focus, doesn’t fear humid weather, and produces clear pictures. The price is also agreeable.

2. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L

Impressive super wide-angle zoom
low light camera lens

Mount: Canon EF | Diaphragm blades: 9, Rounded | Autofocus: Yes | Min focus distance: 28 cm | Max magnification: 0.16x | Filter size: Gel Filter (Rear) | Dimensions (ø x L): 108 x 132 mm | Weight: 1180 g

⊕ Ultra-wide viewing angle
⊕ Metal case
⊕ Almost invisible chromatic aberration
⊕ Min focus distance
⊖ No filter thread for screw filters
⊖ Does not have a stabilizer

We believe that this model is a valuable tool for professional work. It can be used not only for its main purpose, that is for shooting nature and landscapes. It shows really good results in reportage, especially if you think over the subject of the picture well and use all the specifics of the "wide-angle" for the good of the concept.

3. Canon RF 35mm f/1.8

Best budget night lens
lens for night city photography

Mount: Canon RF | Diaphragm blades: 9, Rounded | Autofocus: Yes | Min focus distance: 17 cm | Max magnification: 0.5x | Filter size: 52 mm (Front) | Dimensions (ø x L): 74.4 x 62.8 mm | Weight: 305 g

⊕ Crisp optics
⊕ 1:2 macro reproduction
⊕ Bright aperture
⊕ Reasonable price
⊖ Wide-open diaphragm causes vignette
⊖ Absence of sealing or fluorine coating

Yet another great option is this wide-angle lens with many great features. It has a convenient control ring that allows setting all the important values. Once you get used to how it works, changing settings is a swift process. It also has a stabilizer that can be very helpful in the genre we’re discussing today or any other occasion when there is little light. The price of this lens is quite sensible. For someone with a camera of the same brand, this will be an exceptionally purchase as they work together beautifully.

4. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L

An everyday standard
lenses for night sky photography

Mount: Canon EF | Diaphragm blades: 9, Rounded | Autofocus: Yes | Min focus distance: 28 cm | Max magnification: 0.21x | Filter size: 72 mm (Front) | Dimensions (ø x L): 80.4 x 105.5 mm | Weight: 760 g

⊕ Impressive sharpness
⊕ BR Optics against color fringing
⊕ Close focus for 1:4.8 magnification
⊕ Wide aperture
⊖ Perceptible vignette as you open the diaphragm
⊖ No stabilization

This lens for night photography is actually an update of an earlier version that was very popular on its own. It captures images of great quality and shows its best performance on 20MP devices. It is still an option for a 50MP camera because the quality is sufficient but the price is much lower compared to the dedicated models. If you want a lens of this kind but the price of this model is too high, pay attention to third-party manufacturers. For instance, the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art is more affordable but still allows taking beautiful sharp shots.

5. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4

Excellent for portraits and more
lens for night photography

Mount: Sony E | Diaphragm blades: 11, Rounded | Autofocus: Yes | Min focus distance: 80 cm | Max magnification: 0.12x | Filter size: 77 mm (Front) | Dimensions (ø x L): 89.5 x 107.5 mm | Weight: 820 g

⊕ Image quality preserved at the corners
⊕ Satisfying background blur
⊕ Captures bright colors
⊕ High-precision autofocus
⊖ No in-lens image stabilization

This lens looks expensive at first sight but that is before you look at its quality. You can easily compare it to a Zeiss Otus 85mm because the two are quite similar. They come pretty close if you look at the optical qualities. Even though Sony could be called slightly inferior, it has autofocus and a more reasonable price to gain favor with. It is definitely not a travel option but a decent night lens. You can also take incredible portraits with this lens, especially if you’re shooting on a Sony A7R II, as they make a powerful setup together.

6. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2

Great for portraits
lenses for night sky photography

Mount: Canon EF | Diaphragm blades: 8, Rounded | Autofocus: Yes | Min focus distance: 45 cm | Max magnification: 0.15x | Filter size: 72 mm (Front) | Dimensions (ø x L): 85.8 x 65.5 mm | Weight: 580 g

⊕ Reduced bulk
⊕ Good center sharpness from max aperture
⊕ Uncommon depth of field control
⊕ Resistance to any weather
⊖ Edges don’t equal to center at clarity

If you’re looking for an uncommon lens for astrophotography, this one will be hard to beat even though some features will be more useful in other genres. Due to the very wide aperture, the lens gathers lots of light and creates very clear shots. You also get unique control over the depth of field that can be set anywhere in the available range. The lens has a flaw of losing some sharpness towards the edges, however. Still, it is a great option and if you have varying interests in photography, you will find much use for this model.

7. Nikon AF-S FX 24-70mm

Get it for the VR
lenses for night sky photography

Mount: Nikon F | Diaphragm blades: 9, Rounded | Autofocus: Yes | Min focus distance: 38 cm | Max magnification: 0.27x | Filter size: 82 mm (Front) | Dimensions (ø x L): 88 x 154.5 mm | Weight: 1070 g

⊕ Impeccable sharpness
⊕ Quick, noiseless AF
⊕ Sophisticated and effective VR
⊕ Very soft bokeh
⊖ Catches flares
⊖ Some CA towards the edge

If your camera is of this brand, you will certainly love owning this model of the lens. There is little to say about the image quality except that it’s superb. The mount has a sealing gasket to prevent water from penetrating the camera but the lens itself could use some waterproofing as well. For a Nikon-oriented photographer, this lens is a must-have.

Image Name Features  
lens for night photography
Sigma 85mm f/1.4
Our choice
  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Min focus distance: 85 cm
  • Max magnification: 0.12x
  • Filter size: 86 mm (Front)
CHECK PRICE
lens for low light
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L
Premium
  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Min focus distance: 28 cm
  • Max magnification: 0.16x
  • Filter size: Gel Filter (Rear)
CHECK PRICE
low light camera lens
Canon RF 35mm f/1.8
Budget
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Min focus distance: 17 cm
  • Max magnification: 0.5x
  • Filter size: 52 mm (Front)
CHECK PRICE

How to Choose the Best Lens for Night Photography?

lens for astrophotography

Purpose

Since high-quality optics never come with a small price tag, it is necessary to make your choice thoroughly. If your interest lies in several genres, it is sensible to look at the best lenses for night photography that can double for the other genre equally well. Thus, knowing the purpose of a particular lens is very important.

Aperture

The aperture has the highest value in a lens. It’s important to understand how things work to select good lenses and use their full potential. The aperture defines how much or little light will be transferred to the matrix. The wider you can open it, the more light will be allowed to penetrate the system, the clearer your image will be. This is absolutely crucial when you’re shooting at night or in a dimly lit room.

Sharpness

It’s hard to name a genre where sharpness isn’t valued but finding a lens that can provide it is somewhat difficult. Pay attention to the very corners of the image because the wider aperture can cause blurriness towards the edges. Additionally, some lenses can’t avoid causing distortion. In this genre, you are likely to face some coma distortion which stretches out any points of light into ellipses. If you don’t want your stars to look like smudges, avoid the lenses with this flaw.

Dispersion

The lens should be made from the super-UD glass with ultra-low dispersion and feature some aspherical elements in its shape. This is helpful for avoiding distortions and aberrations so when you’re picking the large aperture lens search for these two elements in the description.

FAQ

  • • Is 50mm lens good for night photography?

The best lens for low light photoshoots is the one with a wide aperture. If you look at the 50mm fixed prime Canon lens, you will see a lightweight piece of optics capable or maintain sharpness. Combined with an affordable price, it is a great option for beginners.

  • • What is the best lens for low light photography?

Sigma 85mm f/1.4

  • • Which Nikon lens is best for night photography?

Nikon AF-S FX 24-70mm

  • • Are mirrorless cameras good for night photography?

This type of camera is great but you need to pay attention to brands and models. Nikon, for instance, provides excellent ISO sensitivity and dynamic range. You have to keep that in mind while comparing it to, say, a Sony device with slightly different characteristics.

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