Best Lenses For Night Photography From Canon, Sony & Nikon
Pictures clicked in daylight look wonderful but when the darkness falls and the twinkling stars come out, that's when your photo compositions start to look magical! Night photography is also known as long-exposure photography.
It is a difficult technique to pull off, but your pictures will look enchanting and celestial if done correctly. You must have seen pictures of the northern lights, the beautiful glowing fireflies in the forest or the glimmering stars in the night sky. They look breathtaking, don't they?
To click mesmerizing nightscapes, you not only require a good night time camera / night vision camcorder, a tripod or a shutter release cable, but also a reliable lens.
Most modern cameras have high ISOs but pictures clicked in high ISO settings turn out to be grainy and blurry. So you cannot just pick up a random point and shoot camera and expect to get sharp and bright images at night.
This is the reason why dedicated lenses for night photoshoots exist. There are a plethora of night lenses available but which one is suitable for you? To save your time and energy, I have listed down some of the best lenses for night photography.
Table of Contents
- LIST OF BEST LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
- REVIEWS OF THE BEST LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
- BEST CANON LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
- BEST NIKON LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
- BEST SONY LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
- BEST SIGMA LENS FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
- BEST TOKINA LENS FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
- BEST ROKINON LENS FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
- BUYING GUIDE FOR BEST LENS FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
LIST OF BEST LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
BEST CANON LENS for night
CANON EF 24MM F/1.4L II USM
BEST NIKON LENS for night
NIKON AF-S FX NIKKOR 20MM F/1.8G ED
BEST SONY LENS for night
SONY FE 16-35MM F2.8 GM
BEST SIGMA LENS for night
SIGMA 14MM F/1.8 ART DG HSM
BEST ROKINON LENS For night
ROKINON RK24M-FX 24MM F1.4
REVIEWS OF THE BEST LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
SELECT YOUR FAVORITE BRAND
BEST CANON LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
1. CANON EF 16–35MM F/2.8L III USM - BEST LENS FOR NIGHT PORTRAIT
The Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III is one of the most highly praised night lenses among photographers for a long time. Compared to its predecessors, the Canon 16-35mm provides superior performance. Most photographers struggled with lower resolution quality and smudging around the corners with the older versions of this lens. However, the new upgraded model deals with that beautifully.
This Canon night lens makes all your images crisp and bright. Moreover, the present model has full weather protection. However, the main selling point of this lens is its maximum aperture of f/2.8. It is a general-purpose lens but it works the best in dimly lit conditions.
Be it street photography, nightlife, or taking beautiful shots of skylines- there is nothing this lens cannot do!
The wide-angle zoom lens is compatible with APS-C-sized models and Canon EF DSLRs. It comes with two large-diameter dual surface aspherical elements. It is also equipped with two ultra-low dispersion elements which will reduce chromatic aberrations. The lens has a fluorine coating which is both dust-proof and moisture-proof. This makes it an excellent lens for various weather conditions.
Moreover, it has an ultrasonic motor (US) for fast and precise performance. The Air Sphere Coating (ASC) and a Subwavelength Coating (SWC) reduces ghosting and flare considerably. Moreover, the nine-rounded blade diaphragm gives you a good shallow depth of field which improves your selective focus techniques.
When you take your first shot, you will notice that there are almost no distortions near the peripheries of the images. This is a huge improvement, compared to its predecessor. This night lens for canon DSLR will help in clicking detailed pictures even at f/8 but its true potential shows up at 35mm. You will get a beautifully creamy bokeh when you get close to the subject at this focal length.
However, the main reason why this is the best lens for night photography is its ability to take clear shots in backlight. Thanks to Canon's top-notch optical technologies, you will notice that there is almost no ghosting and flaring in such conditions.
The lens has an edge-to-edge sharpness across the zoom range, even when clicked at maximum aperture. Overall, it is one of the few night lenses for Canon that offers efficient yet consistent performance at an affordable price.
What I liked about this lens:
2. CANON EF 24MM F/1.4L II USM - BEST LENS FOR NIGHT SKY PHOTOGRAPHY
This lens was first introduced in 2008. Compared to its predecessor, the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 L II USM has better optics. However, the first selling point of this lens is its focal length. You will be surprised to know that the EF 24mm is the widest f/1.4 lens manufactured by Canon.
Some of you might be skeptical about its reliability since it is a 13-year-old lens. There is no reason to worry since lenses don't go out of trend like cameras.
The Canon EF 24mm is a highly specialized tool. This lens is best for photojournalists and nature photographers who want to capture images or motion in low light. Moreover, since this lens has a very narrow aperture, it is excellent for astrophotographers. The lens allows more light to come in and create vibrant images of the night sky, making it the best Canon lens for night sky.
Does the design have anything which makes this one of the best Canon lenses for night photography? Let’s find out! The lens is durable and well-built. It weighs 650g and is 87mm long. The diameter of the lens is approximately 93.5mm. The body is entirely made of metal. It comes with weather sealing, which is a blessing for photojournalists since they have to be present even in extreme weather conditions.
The lens has an MF/AF switch. The hood for this lens is included. The best part of the lens's design is its Subwavelength Structure Coating (SWC), which reduces flare and ghosting. Moreover, you will find Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) glass elements to reduce chromatic aberrations. The Ultrasonic Motor helps in giving a quiet and fast performance even in low light conditions, making this one of the best Canon lens for night photography.
The lens delivers a stellar performance. With this night lens for Canon, you can get crystal clear images starting from f/1.4 to f/2. It reaches its peak sharpness at f/2.8 and then starts to fade and soften from f/11 onwards. However, this is not the only reason why the EF 24mm is one of best lens for night photography Canon.
The lens comes with micro-contrast. This will render vibrant images which won't require much photo editing. The aperture combined with the focal length will give you excellent bokeh with soft transitions.
With respect to all these features, this CANON EF 24MM F/1.4L II USM rightly gets the designation as the best Canon lens for night sky photography.
What I liked about this lens:
BEST NIKON LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
3. NIKON AF-S FX NIKKOR 20MM F/1.8G ED - BEST LENS FOR NIGHT CITY PHOTOGRAPHY
The original Nikkor 20mm was released almost 21 years back when autofocus was regarded as a big deal among shutterbugs. However, after the original lens became backdated, it ran out of popularity.
Fortunately, the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED was released in 2014 and bought a fresh modern take on the original 20mm. The present model has a better build and a better aperture.
The narrow aperture in this lens makes this the best Nikon lens for night photography. A lens is an affordable option for those who want to click the night sky.
It comes with a hard plastic build with a metal mount. You will also find a rubber gasket for protecting the camera from any dust. The lens is not that small but it does have a compact size, considering that the lens comes with 1.3 stops faster aperture.
Moreover, having a large-sized body is not always a negative characteristic. Having a big lens will allow you to support the camera comfortably in both hands while hand-holding your camera.
The front barrel has a gold ring around it which gives it a "pro" look. The design of this lens is complex and intricate, thanks to its nano-coating and two aspherical elements. The focus ring is wide and thick, which makes it convenient for those who often use manual focusing.
A hood is provided with the lens which fits perfectly in front of the lens. The MF/AF switch on the side allows you to have a manual focus override. All in all, it has an excellent build quality, suitable for rough handling.
The lens comes with a silent wave motor (SWM) technology. This enhances the speed of the autofocus while making the entire operation silent. It has a wide-angle lens so the distance scale has its limits. It has a minimum focus of 0.66 ft and extends to 1.3 ft.
The lens comes with good sharpness and contrast. It has a great center performance at f/4. It is a good night vision lens for Nikon. The bokeh rendered is beautiful and effectively isolates the subject from the background.
Moreover, the lens comes with Nano-Crystal optical coatings which handle ghosting and flaring well. Chromatic aberration is available but these can easily be corrected in Adobe Lightroom. Overall, this is a good lens for night photography.
What I liked about this lens:
4. NIKON NIKKOR Z 14-24MM F/2.8 S - BEST ULTRA-WIDE ANGLE LENS
Nikon is one of the famous manufacturers of the ultra-wide lens. The Nikon Z 14-24mm is a feature-rich lens with remarkably lightweight construction. It is costly but not unreachable if you compare it with other premium lenses.
However, what makes this one of the best lens for night photography? It is partly because of its wide aperture of f/2.8. Such a wide aperture will drive any night city or night sky photographer crazy!
Who wouldn't want a lens which captures more light and has better focusing abilities? The Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 comes with special optic specifications such as ED glass, aspherical elements, and fluorine coating. But the most unique feature of this lens is its flexible compatibility with various filters such as gel filters and screw-in filters.
If you are still not convinced that this is worthy of being called the best Nikon night lens, then read on to know more!
The first thing you will notice about the design is its lightweight construction. It weighs 650g which is lighter than Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 III which weighs 790g. It has a plastic exterior and a metal lens mount. A plastic exterior is not always a bad sign. In fact, many prefer a hard plastic build over metal. Because, a plastic body will not feel bone-chilling cold during extreme weather conditions. Moreover, if your lens is plastic, it is less likely to dent if you drop it.
Plus they are way lighter than metal. It is a weather-sealed, dust-proof, and rubberized seal mount. It has two control rings and an EL display which will give you information about depth and distance. But the best part? the lens comes with not one but two hoods! The first hood, the HB-96 is the standard smaller hood and the HB-97 is a large hood meant for 112mm filters.
One unique feature of the HB-97 hood is that it fits other Nikon Z lenses, other than the Z 14-24mm lens. This means that if you can get a 112mm holder system for the 14-24mm lens, then you can easily change lenses just by changing the hood!
The lens has a great focusing performance. The autofocus works quickly and silently, along with a high level of accuracy. Moreover, since the lens has a wide aperture of f/2.8, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 can easily focus in very dimly lit conditions.
The images clicked in darkness have significantly less noise and can render an image with great brightness and contrast balance. This feature makes the Nikon Z 14-24mm worthy of being one of the best lenses for night sky photography.
The stars in the night sky appear distinct and vivid. It delivers sharp images with good distortion control. The center sharpness is also better at 16mm than 14mm. The downside is that there exists a high amount of barrel distortion exists at 14mm.
Another downside is that it is not a suitable lens for macro. But overall, it provides an all-around performance.
What I liked about this lens:
BEST SONY LENSES FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
5. SONY FE 16-35MM F2.8 GM - BEST NIGHT LENS FOR SONY
The Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is a great wide zoom lens for its mirrorless cameras. It belongs to the G Master lineup, which is meant for premium-grade lenses in the market. This alone gives away the fact that this is one of the best night photography lenses.
It is equipped with high-quality optics. It has an impressive 2.2x range which is a good focal length for general use. This will reduce the number of times you need to swap lenses.
Moreover, the FE 16-35mm also comes with a constant aperture of f/2.8 which sets the stage for night photography. Moreover, you can use standard 82mm filters. It also features a floating focus mechanism.
This allows the lens to render high-resolution even during close-ups. Moreover, the lens is equipped with a Direct Drive SSM for a quiet and smooth focus. Aside from these, you will also find features such a weather sealing, Nano AR, and fluorine coating. All in all, it is an affordable night photography lens meant for daily use.
The Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is a good option for nighttime photography. In terms of design, it weighs approximately 680g and measures 4.8 by 3.5 inches. The polycarbonate plastic barrel comes in a black finish.
The focus and zoom rings are ridged so that you can have a better grip while turning them. The lens's front element has a fluorine coating which prevents dust and grease from settling.
This makes it very easy for you to wipe off fingerprints in a jiffy! You will find two main controls on the lens. There is a Focus Hold function button that can be used to halt autofocus. Another button is for toggling between autofocus and manual focus. The manual focus is driven by dual motors and the focus ring comes with a reasonable amount of dampening.
However, you won't find optical stabilization but this drawback is almost negligible since all Sony mirrorless cameras come with in-body stabilization. Finally, the f/2.8 aperture has an impressive rounded 11-blade design that will help you in nighttime landscape photography and night photography portraits.
The lens performs well and delivers images that have impressive detail and sharpness. You will get high-resolution images that improve at 16mm f/4 up till f/2.8 at 24mm. From 35mm onwards, the images start to soften at f/2.8. Significant barrel distortion is present at 16mm when shot in JPG or RAW format. This will give a curved appearance to your photos. But then again, you can easily tackle this in any photo editing application.
Vignetting is also present if you shoot pictures without enabling in-camera illumination. But flaring and ghosting are less prominent. Moreover, since this is a wide-angle lens, it can make the foreground seem more prominent in relation to its background.
Taking pictures of the city skyline has never been this easy! So go ahead, have great photoshoots at night.
What I liked about this lens:
6. SONY FE 20MM F1.8 ULTRA-WIDE ANGLE G LENS
The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G is one of the most efficient wide-angle night time lenses available. It is mostly compatible with an E-mount mirrorless camera. It might come as a surprise that a 20mm lens is so popular, despite having a whole range of other focal lengths available.
However, a 20mm lens is very useful and causes less perspective distortion. Moreover, with a wide-angle lens of this focal length, you can cover more elements in your composition and still look natural.
The Sony FE 20mm is a well-built lens offering a wide aperture. It offers a wide range of features but the most important feature is its short exposure time. This is what attracts a lot of astrophotographers, nature, and street photographers towards this lens. But, wait! Is this reason sufficient to claim that the Sony FE 20mm is the best night photography lens? Let’s read more about its design and performance before judging!
The lens has a weather-resistant build. It is made of hard, premium-grade polycarbonate plastic which makes the lens body lightweight and easy to handle. The lens has a big focusing ring that can be rotated easily. The front element has an anti-reflective Nano-AR and F-coating, which is a fluorine coating that will protect your lens from fingerprints and smudges.
The lens also has an adequate number of on-lens controls. You get the standard AF/MF switch, manual focus adjustment ring, and aperture adjustment rings. Aside from this, you will also get an Aperture setting, which will help you to use adjust the f-stop using your camera dials. One drawback is that the Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G does not come with image stabilization.
The lens delivers exceptional optical performance. The images produced are sharp and have great contrast. The Sony FE 20mm is capable of preserving details and reduces haziness in pictures. Coma is well controlled and sagittal flare remains absent during night photo shoots. Longitudinal chromatic aberrations are the worst enemy of prime lenses, appearing as green and purple fringes. It's not an aberration that you can easily take care of in editing software.
In fact, it can take forever to manually close the edges. You will be delighted to know that there are no longitudinal chromatic aberrations present while capturing shots with this night sky photography lens. Aside from this, the lens reduces lateral chromatic aberrations as well. Vignetting is present but not in a significant amount.
Sony lens also succeeds in delivering a beautiful bokeh. The rendering of the bokeh is smooth, without any onion ring patterns. Bokeh is an important technique often used in nightscapes so a good performance in this area is beneficial.
Overall, this is fast performing lens that overcomes various optical drawbacks of other Sony lenses. This is a great lens for anyone interested in taking night photography.
What I liked about this lens:
7. SONY FE 35MM F1.4 WIDE ANGLE G MASTER LENS
Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM is a wide prime lens that is marketed for general photography. The focal length of 35mm is versatile and performs well in almost all kinds of photography, starting from documentary to candid portraits. The FE 35mm belongs to the G Master series and boasts of premium-grade build and performance.
It is a lightweight lens that became popular mainly due to its wide aperture of f/1.4. This aperture makes it an ideal night shoot photography lens. The Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM delivers excellent sharpness even at the corners, bringing your composition pop out!
Besides, 35mm is such an ideal focal length for a wide-angle view since it makes the viewer feel like they are present in the captured picture.
The lens is compact and lightweight. Designwise, it looks familiar to the rest of the GM lenses. It comes with the usual matte polycarbonate barrel. There is an orange-red 'G' embedded to signify GM quality. The lens itself has a fluorine coating, making it weather-protected.
The on-lens functions are well-placed and feel solid. The aperture ring rotates easily and silently. This is useful when recording with in-camera audio.
The AF/MF switch is easily accessible. Other than these controls, you can also find the manual focus control ring and a function button. There are two extreme aspherical elements for controlling astigmatism, coma and other chromatic aberrations.
Wait, the list is not yet over. There is one extra low-dispersion element present. This will help in improving clarity and color balance. Moreover, the rounded 11-blade aperture will help you get a beautiful out-of-focus quality.
The lens has an excellent optical performance. Its performance shines through when combined with a 61 MP A7R IV, which is a full-frame camera. The images rendered are extremely detailed, with corner to corner sharpness even at f/1.4. The hybrid autofocus system in this lens helps you easily focus on the subject.
Vignetting is present at the widest openings but disappears at f/4. However, vignetting can be easily corrected if you use the shadow compensation function. Aside from that, there is no pincushion or barrel distortion present in images.
The Sony FE 35mm provides a quick and quiet focus, which will help you in delivering a pleasing out-of-focus background.
The only downside is that the lens comes with a big price tag, which can be troublesome for beginners. But this Sony lens is worth every penny because it has high-performing optics and an ergonomic design, meant for both seasoned and novice photographers.
What I liked about this lens:
BEST SIGMA LENS FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
8. SIGMA 14MM F/1.8 ART DG HSM LENS
The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art DG HSM Lens was launched in 2017. It is one of the best lenses for night photography. This is an ultra-wide lens, having an impressive optical design. It is designed to deliver razor-sharp images with almost no distortion. The most popular use of this lens has been in the domains of night landscape and astrophotography.
It is not a cheap lens but if you take a look at the features, you will understand why it is worth the price. The lens combines complex optical formula with the superior build quality, making this lens a match made in heaven.
The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art has a robust build, meant for lifetime service. It feels solid in your hands and when you take a bird-eye view of the lens, you will understand that it does look expensive and high-quality. It comes in 16 elements and that explains why it is a whopping 1120g! It is definitely not a lens that you can carry around without a tripod.
So, if you travel a lot, make sure to consider the weight of this lens while packing your luggage. The body of this lens is made of tough plastic and the mount is made of metal. There is a rubber gasket around the lens mount which will prevent dust from entering into the camera. You will find only one switch on the side to toggle between MF/AF and one switch on the front for manual focus. The focusing ring is well-dampened, which makes it easy for you to maneuver it.
This lens is all about speed. It has the widest 14mm lens to exist. It focuses within seconds and does a great job of bringing the subject to the forefront of your awareness. The wide aperture lets in a lot more light and illuminates the darkness to create vivid images.
With the Sigma 14mm f/1.8, capturing moody landscapes or the enchanting night sky is a breeze. Moreover, having an f/1.8 aperture means that you will be able to get a shallow depth of field. This is perfect for a seamless bokeh. Moreover, the images are razor-sharp at the center- something extremely beneficial. But some amount of softening is present at the corners.
What I liked about this lens:
BEST TOKINA LENS FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
9. TOKINA OPERA 16-28MM F2.8
Tokina is famous for making affordable yet efficient lenses and the Tokina Opera 16-28mm F2.8 is no different. This is an ultra-wide, non-retractable zoom lens for full-frame cameras.
It is easy to use and offers all the basic features that you need to get started with photography. In fact, the Opera 16-28mm makes an excellent addition to a beginner's kit. The lens is well built for its price and is relatively easy to handle. The constant aperture of f/2.8 makes it an excellent choice for low-light photography. It provides good optical performance which is a surprise, considering the low price tag. So if you are a beginner, looking for a bang for a buck, this lens will be your BFF.
The lens weighs 940g and has a length of 13.3 cm. It is quite a buff lens, almost similar to the Sigma Art series lenses. I don't recommend using this lens on a smaller APS-C body since it will not balance well on it. Surprisingly, the build quality is excellent. The barrel is made of hard plastic, while the bayonet mount is made of metal.
The focus ring has a moderately sized focus with no hard stops. The lens comes in 15 elements in 13 groups, along with three aspherical elements and three low-dispersion elements. The nine rounded blades and the minimum focusing distance of 28cm are enough to create a pleasing out-of-focus. It also features a One-Touch Focus mechanism that easily switches between autofocus and manual. However, the lens does not feature image stabilization.
It is a relatively silent and quick lens. The images rendered are high-quality. The color balance and contrast are great. However, the sharpness reduces at the corners at the widest aperture. The sharpness again improves when stopped down. Chromatic aberrations and distortion is controlled but when you move towards wider apertures, distortions get more pronounced.
But then again, flaring and ghosting are well controlled. The lens comes with a good quality plastic lens hood and soft case. But the downside is that the lens is not compatible with screw-on filters.
What I liked about this lens:
BEST ROKINON LENS FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
10. ROKINON RK24M-FX 24MM F1.4
The Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC is a great night lens that is suitable for both APS-C and full-frame cameras. The Rokinon 24mm is a fast lens and is the widest among the f/1.4 aperture lenses. The build quality is good and despite the large size of this length, it does not feel extremely heavy in your hands.
The optical features are reasonably great. It provides sharp images and chromatic aberration is well-controlled. It is an affordable option for beginners and professionals alike. Maybe it is not among the best lenses for night photography but it is surely a hidden gem among budget lenses.
The lens is build of good quality plastic. It feels solid and durable in your hands. The lens does not change in length while focusing. This is a manual lens so you can shoot only with manual focus. But this is not an issue for night time photographers, since they use manual focus most of the time. Its fast aperture is ideal for low-light conditions and for creating a shallow depth of field.
You will find four extra-low dispersion elements, along with two aspherical elements which enhance the clarity of images. Moreover, the lens comes with a UMC coating which controls lens flare and ghost to give color-rich images. There are eight rounded aperture blades that will help you get a beautiful out-of-focus quality.
If you are interested in night photography, you would want a lens that can perform well at the lowest aperture setting. A lot of chromatic aberrations might be present in the lowest aperture, especially coma and astigmatism.
These aberrations are troublesome for sky pictures since they can make stars appear as pinpoints. However, the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 has minor aberration and even at f/1.4. At f/2.0, coma and astigmatism are absent.
The images are sharp and almost noise-free. The field of view is natural like you would see through your eyes. Moreover, creating a panorama stitch with the 14mm is easier. All of these features make the Rokinon RK24M-FX 24mm one of the best lenses for night sky photography.
What I liked about this lens:
BUYING GUIDE FOR BEST LENS FOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
The lens is an important part of your camera because it allows you to determine the contrast, sharpness and color rendering of your photos. Besides standard lenses and kit zooms, there are different camera lens types that will make you different photographers because these optics will offer you new things.
When you are buying a night photo lens, you must keep in mind a few factors that will influence your lens. These are as follows:
When you are buying a night photo lens, you should try to opt for a short focal length and wide-angle lenses. These lenses have a large field of view which will allow you to capture more of the night sky. Moreover, have a wide angle lets you collect more light from a large area. Taking pictures of the night sky with a longer lens is more difficult because of the narrow field of view.
In night photography, we would want to preserve as many details as possible. A larger aperture will allow you to gather more light and therefore highlight the details to the maximum.
Taking pictures at night is challenging, and in such situations, the lens you possess must show image stabilization. This will help you get blur-free shots at night and also allow you to capture pictures at slower shutter speeds and less ISO.
Night photography is an art that takes time to master. The camera merely records what is in front but the lens creates the image. Having a fast wide-angle lens makes the entire process easier. The market is full of options but choosing the right lens is important.
Just keep in mind to choose a shorter focal length along with a wide aperture for dark situations. After you choose among the best night photography lenses, you will be set to click some great shots!
Yes absolutely. Just set your ISO to 1600 with the lowest aperture. Also, remember to use manual focus.
You can click the best pictures at night with the widest aperture and a fast lens. Usually, an aperture of f/1.4 is suitable.