The very best lenses for my personal favorite compact camera system for astrophotography: the Fuji X-Series.
This is a list of the highest scoring lenses for untracked nightscape photography and astrophotography. The score is a direct representation of light gathering capabilities based on the formula:
Score = (aperture area) × (angular area) × (suggested shutter speed)
Where the shutter speed is the longest suggested shutter speed in seconds based on the “500 Rule” (500/focal length). Aperture area is the surface area calculation of the clear aperture of the lens and the angular area is the angular field of view in square radians. This score is a mathematical calculation based purely on some simple physics. It doesn’t account for other considerations like the lens’s build quality or optical aberrations but it’s a good gauge of overall light gathering capability. You can also see the complete list of scores here, complete with calculations and further explanation.
All of the lenses listed here are my personal suggestions for photographers looking to get the absolute best astrophotography results with the Fuji X-Series cameras like the X-Pro1, X-E1, X-E2, X-M1, X-A1 and X-T1. These are the lenses that I use for my X-T1 and are the ones I would recommend most. Some of these lenses are manual focus lenses by Rokinon. If you’re willing to learn how to use manual focus, Rokinon lenses are spectacular performers. Note that I’m excluding from this list some of the larger Rokinon lenses like the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8, Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 and Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 even though they are excellent for astrophotography and are all available for the Fuji X mount. The reason they aren’t recommended below is because they are not dedicated mirrorless designs and so they tend to be rather large and heavy for a compact system camera. All of the lenses listed below are designed specifically for mirrorless cameras so they are more compact and balanced on small camera bodies like the Fuji X series.
If you would like to know more about the thoughts that went into creating this list, please read my article on how to pick a lens for Milky Way photography.
- Standard wide angle makes for a slightly tighter crop that’s good for panorama stitches. Very fast autofocus for regular shooting and a useful and an accurate manual focusing distance scale makes focusing on the stars easy. However, some coma aberration at the extreme corners at f/1.4 keep this lens from being perfect for astrophotography. Stop it down to f/2.0 for the best results.
- Score: 2967
- Sample Image:
- Read the full review of the Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS lens.
- Probably the best all around lens for astrophotography on a mirrorless system because it has the best combination of super-wide field of view and large aperture. It’s coma performance is very good, even at f/2.0. Manual focus.
- Score: 2176
- Sample Image:
- Extremely compact autofocus lens with a wide field of view. Nearly a pancake lens which makes the camera nice and light. This lens surprised me because it performs pretty well wide-open at f/2.0 and is one of the cheaper lenses available for the X-Series cameras. Great lightweight walkaround lens that also makes great astrophotos.
- Score: 1505
- Read the full review of the Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II Lens.
- Ultra-wide angle fisheye that is both fast and extremely wide. Fisheye distortion requires you to keep the horizon in the center of the frame for a non-distorted look but the extreme field of view allows for exposure times that exceed 30 seconds without star trails. While often considered a novelty lens, a fisheye can provide some amazing views of the Milky Way. In some careful and patient hands, the results can be spectacular, especially when defished. Check out my article on how to defish photographs for spectacular results.
- Score: 1237
- Super-wide angle field of view with excellent sharpness wide open at f/2.8. Autofocus with a manual focus clutch mechanism similar to the XF 23mm f/1.4 R makes this lens great to use for regular shooting too. The manual focusing distance scale is accurate and makes manual focus very nice. It also has no coma aberration, even wide open and so it performs very well for astrophotography.
- Score: 1032
- Sample Image:
For another good comparison between various Fujifilm lenses for astrophotography, check out Jason Pitcher’s blog post where he tests out the Rokinon 12mm/2, Fujifilm 16mm/1.4, 18mm/2, 23mm/1.4, and 35mm/1.4 in a direct side-by-side comparison!
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