Best lenses for astrophotography: The ultimate guide from Lonely Speck


posted Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at 10:00 AM EST


Astrophotography is a particularly demanding genre of photography that emphasizes a distinct set of qualities and characteristics of lenses. Qualities such as autofocus speeds (or being capable of autofocus at all) and sharpness when stopped down become less important, whereas characteristics such as having a focus scale and the amount comatic aberration are given utmost importance. This can make shopping for a lens for astrophotography difficult, as traditional lens reviews may not hit on the factors important to star-gazing shutterbugs. Thankfully Lonely Speck's Ian Norman has put together an excellent "Ultimate List of Best Astrophotography Lenses" guide.

In the guide, Norman breaks it down by camera mount and category. I highly recommend reading his full guide because it has an immense level of detail, but I wanted to highlight a few of his recommendations here.

For Nikon shooters, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G often comes up in discussion as being one of the best wide-angle zoom lenses available. As an ardent user of one myself, I certainly agree that it is a phenomenal lens. However, that doesn't necessarily mean its excellence will carry over to shooting nightscapes. Norman notes that the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 lens is not only roughly $500 cheaper than the Nikon 14-24mm, but it is sharper and has less issues with coma. This is not the only time in Ian's guide that brand-name lenses are supplanted by their Sigma, Tamron and Rokinon/Samyang counterparts. For example, the Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lens is an excellent and affordable option that offers great performance for astrophotography, albeit without autofocus capabilities, which again doesn't matter for photographing stars but could matter to you for other types of photography.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 lens

There are some lenses on the horizon that look interesting for astrophotographers as well, such as the autofocus version of the Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lens mentioned above and the Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens, which we have covered before.

Ian Norman's astrophotography lens guide is excellent and should serve as a great starting point for anyone looking to upgrade their gear for photographing the night sky. If you'd like to learn more about astrophotography in general, Lonely Speck is one of the best resources on the internet.

(Seen via Lonely Speck)