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Best Nikon Lens For Astrophotography

If you’ve ever tried to capture the beauty of the moon or the big dipper with your phone, then you’ve learned that astrophotography requires a good camera with the right lens.

You can dabble in shooting stars with your kit lens but if you’re looking for the best Nikon lens for astrophotography, keep on reading!

Top Pick | Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8

If you’ve got a decent budget and want to invest in the best of the best, you’ll want to take a look at the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8. With an f/2.8 aperture, it allows you to capture sharp stars without the need for exposures that are too long or stacking images.

Specs:

  • Focal length: 15-30mm
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Minimum focal distance: 11.02″ / 28 cm
  • Weight: 2.42 pounds

This Tamron lens may be one of the sharpest DSLR lenses on the market today. It rivals even the much more expensive Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 and does so at a much lower price point.

It has optical stabilization built-in as well. The entire thing has a fluorine coating finish and an all-weather build that will keep in safe from the elements.

The 15-30mm offers an ultra-wide angle of view, while still being usable on a full-frame body. The one negative is that the Nikon version doesn’t support rear filters. This lens is on the bulky side, which is something to keep in mind when you’re shopping around, but still a little lighter than it’s main competitors.

Budget Pick | Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8

If you’re on a pretty tight budget then this lens is your entry point to astrophotography. While investing in your kit is great, if you’re just dabbling in astrophotography, the Rokinon/Samyang 14mm lens is a solid choice.

Specs:

  • Focal length: 14 mm
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds

This lens is as close as you can get to an astro-specialized lens. It checks all the boxes for shooting stars…wide max aperture, good edge sharpness, and relatively lightweight.

It’s fairly compact, making it easy to fit in a bag or pack as you head out the door late at night. The barrel is made of durable metal, keeping the components safe from falls or dings.

If you are getting this lens to shoot astrophotography, don’t be discouraged by it being a manual focus lens. You’ll almost never be using autofocus when shooting the night sky.

Like the previously mentioned lens, this 14mm one has an ultra-wide angle of view, perfect for capturing the cosmos. One thing I will note about the Rokinon/Samyang option is that it is prone to flare at times. If this is something you could work with, the price tag makes it well worth it.

Z-Mount Pick | Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S

Nikon is still building their Z-mount lenses but this new release might just be the ultimate landscape (and astrophotography) lens. The Nikkor Z 14-24mm will have you capturing photos of the moon, planets, and anything else in the sky with ease.

Specs:

  • Focal length: 14-24mm
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Minimum focal distance: 11″ / 28 cm
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds

There are so many impressive things about this lens, I almost made it the top pick. But since most of you have DSLRs, we gave Z-mount users their own sub-category here. It will be like that for a few years as Nikon shooters begin to see how incredible the Z system is and make the move.

First off, it’s light and compact compared to similar lenses, making it a photographer’s dream if you’re scouting locations with a ton of gear. The optics are crisp and deliver photos with minimal distortion and exceptional sharpness even on the 45.7 Megapixel Nikon Z7ii.

The exterior of the Nikkor Z 14-24mm lens has fluorine protection and is dust and splash-proof. It can easily support front filters, and filters are essential for landscape photography.

One reason why this is a great pick for astrophotography is that the autofocus works great even in low light, meaning that there will be times (even when shooting the night sky) when you might be able to use autofocus.

Overall, this is darn near a perfect lens for any type of landscape shooting, including astro.

Best Prime Astro Lens| Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED

Wide angle primes are perfect for several shooting subjects, including the stars. The Nikkor 20mm lens also falls within a decent price range, making it an affordable option for those who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a new lens.

Specs:

  • Focal length: 20mm
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Minimum focal distance: .66 feet
  • Weight: 12.6 ounces

Not only does it offer an ultra-wide field of view, but the aperture is wide as well. The 20mm focal length combined with the shallow depth of field that f/1.8 maximum aperture delivers will have your raw photos standing out from the rest.

It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting in the dead of night, this thing will capture whatever is in the sky. Like other options already listed, this lens is nice and compact. The only con I can see in relation to this prime lens is that it doesn’t provide optical stabilization.

Ultra-Wide Option | Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D

Venus Optics is slowly but surely becoming more and more known, thanks to their Laowa 12mm f/2.8 lens. The first thing I want to mention about this lens is that it’s a manual focus lens. I understand that’s not for everyone, so I just want to get it out of the way.

The Laowa 12mm lens offers an outstanding ultra-wide angle of view. You can shoot majestic mountain ranges by day and outer space by night. You don’t have to worry about any barrel distortion with this lens either.

When you attach the Laowa 12mm to the Nikon body, you’ll get complete aperture control and full-frame coverage. There is a fluorine coating on the lens that keeps out dust and prevents scratching. As a Nikon user, you’ll likely enjoy that this lens offers front filter support.

One thing I will note is that I’ve noticed a bit of bokeh effect on some of my raw images while using this lens. Personally, I like the look that it gives, but understandably, not everyone will.

Specs:

  • Focal length: 12mm
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Image stabilization: None
  • Minimum focal distance: 7.09″ / 18 cm
  • Weight: 1/34 pounds

What To Look For In An Astrophotography Lens

Whenever you’re considering spending hundreds to thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money, it’s a good idea to know what to look for in a product. Being able to capture the beauty of the sky at night is one of the great delights of astrophotography.

The lens you choose to work with will make or break what your photos will look like. Let’s take a look at what you should be looking for in an astrophotography lens.

Wide Max Aperture

Have you ever tried shooting the stars but had to wait what felt like forever for the photo to be taken? While long exposure is great for time-lapses, not every photographer wants that. This is why you’ll want to keep your eye out for a wide max aperture.

It will save you time behind the camera and you’ll still be able to see all of the stars. Another great thing about a wide aperture is that it decreases the depth of field in a shot. This can benefit you if you choose to use the same lens for product or portraits as you do for astrophotography.

Good Coma Control On The Edges

This happens most often when you’re photographing a light source, such as stars. You’ll want good coma control so that you can avoid having any trailing light or flares that are unwanted.

Most modern lenses struggle with astigmatism aberration, rather than comatic. If you have a lens that you already love but it lacks coma control, you can adjust the aperture. It’s not common for lenses to come with coma control or protection.

So, how do you know if a lens will provide this without testing it first? Well, you’re already doing it! Reading reviews from experienced photographers is the best way to tell if any lens is right for you. The Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8 is a great option if you’re worried about comatic aberration while photographing the night’s sky.

Wide Angle Lenses Are The Best Place To Start

Astrophotography is often seen as difficult because you can’t exactly look in the viewfinder and see what you’re shooting. When in doubt, opt for a wide-angle lens. They offer photographers so much creative freedom.

You can use them for just about anything and wide-angle lenses provide more depth of field. They’re known for capturing greater detail than other styles of lenses. While wide-angle lenses tend to be on the more expensive side, any photographer you ask will say it’s well worth the cost.

If you’re considering dabbling in astrophotography, look for a wide-angle lens that has been raved about by other photographers and you’ll be set. Remember to have fun while you’re shooting! Good luck.

Pete LaGregor

Pete LaGregor

Pete is a photographer in New Jersey and specializes in portraits and commercial photography, but loves shooting landscapes and video for fun. You can check out his work on his website.
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