How to Pick a Lens for Milky Way Photography

How to Pick a Lens For Milky Way Photography

The lens is the most important factor in the image quality of a landscape astrophoto.

There are a number of lens traits that will determine the quality and usability of a camera lens for astrophotography. Let me explain what sort of thinking should go into choosing and using a lens for making astrophotography and Milky Way nightscapes.

There are two basic traits of a lens that will affect how to take your landscape astrophotos: focal length and clear aperture size.

What Focal Length?

For simple non-tracked landscape astrophotography and nightscape images, you will generally want a wide angle lens. I usually suggest something 24mm or shorter on an APS-C camera or 35mm or shorter on a Full Frame Camera. Finally, about 16mm and shorter on a 4/3 camera will do best. These wide angle lenses offer some advantages when shooting images of the Milky Way:

  • Wide angle lenses have a larger field of view (FOV) and allow you to frame more of the Milky Way. This trait lets you collect light from a larger area of the sky and offers a balancing compromise to a typically small clear aperture for light gathering capability. More on clear aperture later. 
  • Short focal length, wide angle lenses produce a smaller image size at the sensor allowing you to use longer shutter speeds without creating star trails from the Earth rotation.

The shorter the focal length, the wider angle the lens. Most APS-C sensor digital SLRs like the Nikon D3100 or Canon EOS T5i come in a kit with an 18-55mm focal length lens. It can zoom from a relatively wide angle 18mm to a medium telephoto 55mm.

Star trails (as shown in the images below) are caused by the rotation of the Earth. For any given angle of view, or any given lens, there is a certain amount of exposure time before the Earth will have rotated enough to start to “smear” or “trail” the stars across your image frame. 18mm on an APS-C sensor is considered a relatively wide angle lens but even so, the angle of view is narrow enough that you will start to see star trails on exposures longer than about 20 seconds.

It tends to be more difficult to take landscape astrophotos with longer lenses like a 50mm or 85mm because the narrower field of view makes movement of the stars due to the Earth’s rotation more apparent. This can be solved by tracking the stars but in turn adds complexity and extra expense for the equipment required to track the stars while make your photos. Tracking is possible with the use of a manual barn door tracker or motorized equatorial mount, sometimes controlled by an autoguider that provides feedback for the motor mount movement. Star tracking is an essential technique for imaging of deep space objects with lenses and telescopes that have comparatively long focal lengths. For nightscapes, however, where we are usually capturing the landscape as well, tracking the stars will in turn start to streak the landscape in the foreground.

star trailing

Use the magnify function on your camera’s image review to check for star trailing. Reduce your exposure time a little or use a wider angle lens to minimize the effect.

When getting used to taking untracked astrophotos, I highly recommend that you check whether the stars are trailing by reviewing the image and zooming all the way into the detail.

Rules to Prevent Star Trailing

I’ve heard of several rules that different astrophotographers use to determine how long your shutter speed should be to prevent star trailing. For full frame cameras, the chart below roughly uses the so called “500 Rule” which means that you take the number 500 and divide it by your focal length to determine the maximum number of seconds of your exposure before star trails are apparent. For example: If we have a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, we can take 500 and divide it by 24 to get 500/24=20.8 or about 20 seconds.

Note that differences in sensor resolution, pixel size and even the direction you point your camera in the night sky will change how the rule works. APS-C cameras and cameras with higher resolutions sensors need shorter focal lengths to achieve similar shutter speeds without star trailing and the rule becomes something closer to a “300 Rule” for APS-C sensors the guide below. Basically, it differs by camera.

Also, pointing your camera toward the celestial equator line will cause more star trailing than near the poles due to the larger arc length swept by the stars in that portion of the sky. The important thing for you to do is to generally determine what maximum shutter speed will work best for your particular camera and lens combination. Start with the recommendations here for your lens and then adjust accordingly.

Once you have determined the maximum shutter duration with no star trailing for your lens or focal length of choice, remember it. That shutter duration will always tend to work for that particular lens on that particular camera. For instance, at 18mm on my APS-C cameras, I have found that 20 seconds works for most photos of the milky way.


The take home point is that narrower, longer focal length lenses will require shorter shutter durations to prevent star trailing. This makes longer lenses more difficult to use for Milky Way photography and nightscapes because it limits your maximum shutter time. For the sake of maximizing the signal to noise ratio in your images (for better image quality), you should try to use as long a shutter speed as you can without trailing the stars. Once you venture past 30 seconds at all but the shortest focal lengths, you will tend to see some star trailing. Just to demonstrate, the animation below simulates different shutter speeds (corrected for exposure brightness changes) to show how longer shutter speeds can create star trails.

star-trailingYou can see that with the longer exposures, the stars appear to get brighter but start to streak across the frame, especially with exposures longer than 30 seconds.

The image below is an example of what we get with a less than ideal setup for landscape astrophotography. It’s an untracked astrophoto made on a fixed tripod with a relatively narrow lens/camera combination: A 40mm/2.8 on an APS-C camera.  With the 14 second exposure that was required to collect enough light, the narrow lens shows star trailing at 100% magnification. Another thing that is very apparent in this image is high levels of noise. The relatively small aperture on the 40mm/f2.8 required the used of a high ISO. This example leads me to the next consideration for a nightscape lens: clear aperture size.


40mm (65mm equivalent) on Canon T2i
14 seconds @ f/2.8, ISO 12800

Clear Aperture Size

The above image is an example of a photo with relatively low signal to noise ratio. It’s noisy. In photography, the signal is photons that the camera is collecting and the noise is from any number of things such as stray energy like heat energy from the camera electronics or the environment. Higher signal to noise ratio images will have higher image quality with clearer details, better color saturation, smoother tones and less relative noise. One important thing that will affect signal to noise ratio in your astrophotos is the clear aperture of the lens for any given focal length. The clear aperture is a measurement of the diameter of the lens opening as calculated by dividing the lens focal length by its relative aperture or f/number. Let’s see how we consider this for nightscape photography. Warning: the next section may be rather verbose.

A 100mm f/2.0 lens has a 50mm clear aperture (100/2=50) while a 24mm f/2.0 lens has only a 12mm clear aperture (24/2=12). Even though the f/number is the same, the longer lens captures more light from one portion of the sky due to its physically larger aperture. For nightscapes and astrophotography, we usually want to be able to resolve as much detail in the night sky as possible, especially really dim features such as nebulae and faint stars. A physically larger aperture for any given focal length will help us achieve more detail in any given portion of the night sky. This is why the world’s best telescopes have huge diameters: to collect more light.

The light gathering capability of a lens is directly proportional to the area of the clear aperture. Since the area of a circle is proportional to the square of the diameter, the clear aperture area increases quickly with lens size. For example, when you look at equal portions of the night sky between the two lenses, the 100mm f/2 lens collects over 16 times more light from that portion of the sky than the 24mm f/2 lens due to its much larger clear aperture.  (excluding the rest of the 24mm/2’s field of view, sort of like cropping the 24mm/2’s image to the same field of view as the 100mm and then making the comparison.) But wait, didn’t I just finish saying in the last section that we wanted a short focal length so we can use longer shutter speeds? Which one do we actually want?

The 24mm f/2 lens collects light from a comparably wider field of view than the 100mm f/2. Since they’re both f/2, they both capture light at the same “speed”. So for equal shutter speeds, they should provide the same illuminance at the sensor. So in terms of exposure value, the 24mm lens will produce equivalent brightness images for any given ISO and shutter speed because it’s pulling light from more of the scene than the narrower 100mm lens, hence the identical f/number rating. The long lens collects more light at a time from a smaller area of the scene while the short lens collects less light at a time from a larger area of the scene. Without being able to track the stars with an equatorial mount, the limiting factor of the 100mm is then its field of view which will only allow us a 5 second exposure before the stars start to trail. That’s a two stop (four times) disadvantage to the 24mm. Looks like we want the shortest focal length lens with the largest clear aperture.

Unfortunately, short focal length wide angle lenses also tend to have small clear apertures because shape of the lens at these short focal lengths makes it prohibitively difficult to manufacture the lens with a large diameter opening. Everyone wants an ultra-wide 12mm f/0.7 lens for their full-frame camera but it’s a little bit difficult to actually manufacture such a device. Choosing a lens for untracked nightscape photography then becomes a balance between choosing a short lens for less star trailing and a slightly longer lens that may offer a larger clear aperture at the expense of slightly shorter shutter speeds. So which lenses have the best combination of a wide angle field of view and a large aperture?

To make comparison between lenses easier, we can calculate a value to quantify how well a lens will perform for nightscapes based on the amount of light it will collect using the lens’s clear aperture area, the angular area field of view of the lens, and the maximum shutter time we can use for the lens without producing star trails in our image (for the chart below, I use the 500 rule as describe above).

Here is a quick comparison chart of common lenses for the purposes of nightscape photography based on the traits we just talked about:


Don’t see your lens listed? Wonder what happens with different sensor sizes? What about a lens turbo or speedbooster?
Feel free to see the expanded chart with additional lenses and explanation by downloading it here. (Google Drive Doc)

The rating system does not take into account other factors that affect the image quality such as distortion or chromatic and coma aberrations. It’s only good for comparing lenses within one sensor size, but it’s helpful when comparing one lens to another in terms of its overall light gather capability for untracked Milky Way photography. For example, when comparing within one focal length like the 35mm/2.8 versus the 35mm/2.0, the f/2.0 lens scores twice as much as the f/2.8 because it’s exactly one stop brighter. Just as we would expect. (Read more about f-stops here.)

The results compare nicely across constant f/numbers and differing focal lengths as well. For example: a 50mm/2.0 lens scores half as good as a 24mm/2.0 lens because it’s limited to approximately half the shutter speed due to its narrower angle of view.

This means that we can interpret the results across variations in both focal length and f/number ratings: A 35mm/2.0 lens (Score: 1020) scores almost exactly the same as a 14mm/2.8 (Score:1032). Even though the 35mm is limited to a shorter shutter speed due to its longer focal length, it makes up for the reduced shutter speed with one more stop in its f/number rating. The two different lenses should be expected to achieve very similar nightscape results with very different fields of view.

The highest scoring lens I know of to date is the 24mm/1.4 which offers the best mix of field of view and aperture size. However, I have successfully taken nightscapes with some of the lower rated lenses in the chart, such as the 18mm/3.5 so don’t be discouraged if that’s all you have to start with. Just keep in mind that an equipment upgrade will actually make a tangible difference. Here’s an example image made with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 set to 18mm/3.5. It’s a little noisy but still has adequate detail in it. In order to collect a little more signal to make up for the slower lens, I used a higher than recommended shutter speed of 30 seconds. There’s a little bit of star trailing at 1:1 magnification but it works fine at this viewing size:

18mm/3.5 on a Canon EOS T2i. 30s, f/3.5, ISO 6400.

18mm/3.5 on a Canon EOS T2i. 30s, f/3.5, ISO 6400.

The above image is a great example of what you can do with a relatively cheap camera and lens combination. Post processing noise reduction can also make a huge difference in your results when you are limited by your lens. Another method for reducing noise is image stacking and can be very effective when you are lens limited. A better scoring lens will only improve upon these results by collecting more light for a final image with less noise.

Fast wide angle lenses available from nearly every major lens manufacturer but they tend to be a little more expensive. If you are on a budget, I have a few affordable recommendations below:

Affordable Lenses for Landscape Astrophotography

I tend to recommend lenses from Samyang or its other equivalent name brands, Bower and Rokinon for astrophotography. Most of these lenses are available for a whole range of cameras including Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, Olympus and Samsung. Many of the nightscapes you see on were made with a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 (full review) and Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 (full review). They’re wide, cheap, and fast and sharp enough to deliver very good results.

These lenses are all Manual Focus (MF) only lenses so they will require more patience than your autofocus lenses for everyday shooting but their optics often match or exceed the quality of top-of-the-line Canon or Nikon lenses and at a quarter of the price. About the product links below: I use affiliate links to the respective products that I mention on this page. If you decide to buy one of the products below, consider using the links in this article to support It won’t cost you anything extra but I’ll get small commission to support this website. I don’t blindly suggest products that I would never buy, everything here is something that I would use (or already use) myself. Here are the lenses I highly recommend for astrophotography:

Some other options that feature autofocus from other third party manufacturers that I have seen great results with are:

For a complete list of the best lenses for your camera system, see my guides below:

All of these lenses are relatively affordable and score above 1,000 with the calculations on the chart above. I use the score of 1000 or higher as a criteria for an excellent lens because it’s the score of a 14mm f/2.8, which is my most used lens for astrophotography. The equivalent focal length and f/number lenses from the major manufacturers like Sigma, Tokina, Nikon, Sony, and Canon will also work great, just use the lens charts above as a guide in your decisions.

Canon 6D

My favorite astrophotography lenses: Rokinon 14mm/2.8 and 24mm/1.4

Lens Aberrations

Aberration is another word for defect, deviation or imperfection in the lens. While not necessarily the sharpest lenses available on the market, one of the primary benefits of the Samyang/Rokinon/Bower lenses is that they are generally well corrected for coma and astigmatism aberrations which results in photos where the stars appear properly as pinpoints, especially at low f/numbers. Many fast lenses can tend to blur or stretch the stars at the edges of the frame, creating “coma” comet-like shapes of the stars. While most of the photography generally call stretched looking stars “coma” no matter the cause, there are a number of different aberrations that can cause stretched looking stars, the most common being comatic aberration, astigmatism, and chromatic aberration or a combination of all of them. See the Canon 28mm f/1.8 image below for an example of sagittal astigmatism. Astrophotography is particularly sensitive to this effect because of the pinpoint light sources of the stars and that we tend to shoot at lower f/numbers where stronger aberrations will be present.


Example of sagittal astigmatism aberration.
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

For some reason, most of the major lens manufacturers do not correct their fast prime lenses very well for coma or astigmatism. Canon and Nikon both usually have terrible levels of coma or astigmatism present on their most expensive prime lenses. Nearly every lens produced by Samyang/Rokinon is well corrected for coma and astigmatism and that makes them some of the most popular lenses for night photography.


Samyang/Rokinon lenses tend to have very low amounts of comatic or astigmatism aberrations.
Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

Coma and astigmatism is very common in digital camera lenses especially fast prime lenses. I’m constantly on the look out for the best new lenses for astrophotography and Rokinon/Samyang has had the best track record so far. If your lens seems to show coma aberration and you’re using a really low f/number like f/1.4 or f/1.8, try stopping down a little bit to f/2.0 or f/2.8. By stopping down and closing the aperture a little bit, you can reduce the effect of aberration.

You can read a whole lot more about lens aberrations and how I test for them in my Practical Guide to Lens Aberrations.


When it comes to camera equipment, your lens is the most important part. It is the lens that makes the image, the camera only records it. Different lenses are suitable for different functions. In the realm of landscape astrophotography, the fast wide angle is king. There are a plethora of fast-wide choices available for any given camera. Luckily there a few which are very high quality and relatively inexpensive. Of course, you can make an image of the Milky Way with a cheapo 40mm f/2.8 (as I showed above) but great results will be much easier and much cleaner from a fast wide angle lens instead.

Astrophotography pushes your equipment to its limits. Knowing these limits are the first step to creating great images.  For the best results in your own images, familiarize yourself with the limits of your lens and camera. Test how long of a shutter duration you can use before the stars being to trail with your lens, practice visualizing your lens’s field of view before you even look through the viewfinder and find the suitable f/number that gives you the best balance of exposure and image quality. Once you’ve fully mastered the limits of your equipment, you are only limited by your imagination.

Help us help you!

Believe it or not, Lonely Speck is a full-time job. It’s been an amazing experience for us to see a community develop around learning astrophotography and we’re so happy to be a small part of it. I have learned that amazing things happen when you ask for help so remember that we are always here for you. If you have any questions about photography or just want to share a story, contact us! If you find the articles here helpful, consider helping us out with a donation.



The biggest contribution comes from the use of our affiliate links. When you buy through the Amazon or B&H Photo links on Lonely Speck, it costs you nothing extra, but we will receive a small commission (usually 2-4%) to help run the site.

Thanks so much for being a part of our astrophotography adventure.


Back to Astrophotography 101

*This article was featured on PetaPixel!


Ian Norman

Creator at Lonely Speck
Ian Norman, co-founder and creator of The Photon Collective and Lonely Speck. Ian is a full time traveler, photographer and entrepreneur. In February 2013, he called it quits on his 9-to-5 to pursue a lifestyle of photography. Follow Ian's photography adventures on Instagram.

198 Responses

  1. Bipul das August 24, 2015 / 12:47 am

    Is it possible to photograph it with a Helios 44m-4 58mm f2 on a Nikon (D5200) ? if yeas can you tell me the settings??

  2. Sacha August 16, 2015 / 11:01 am

    Hi Ian, I’ve recently bought an a7S and I’m struggling to find the right lens for it as I’m on a budget. My main reasons why I bought the a7S because I want to do filming and astrophotography, and as I’m on a budget, I’m trying to find a lens that is good for both filming and astrophotography. I’ve mainly been looking into lenses for filming, and I’ve chosen the Samyang 35mm T1.5 Cine lens. If I was looking to spend more on a lens, I’d pick the Sony Zeiss Loxia 50mm. The Zeiss would be more ideal I suppose as it’s not a cine lens like the Samyang, but I’m a bit lost. Do you know any lenses for the a7S that is great for both filming and astrophotography?

  3. Anita August 15, 2015 / 9:20 pm

    Hi Ian,

    I am so glad that I have come across your site. My son (age 13) has a passion for astro photography and has recently photographed his first Aurora with a Canon EOS 700D using the standard 18-55mm lens. I was hoping you could recommend a suitable wide angle lens to improve his night time photography until he is able to save for more than an entry-level camera.

    Many thanks :)

    • Ian Norman August 15, 2015 / 10:05 pm


      My first recommendation is the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 DX-II. It will complement the lens that he already has by giving him an even wider field of view while also providing better light gathering capability for capturing the night sky.

      There is also a newer version of the lens: the Tokina 11-20mm/2.8 which gives a little bit more reach on the long end, albeit at a higher price.

      Either of these lenses are my first recommendation, he’ll really love them.

    • Anita August 16, 2015 / 11:33 pm

      Wonderful thank you, will look into both 😊

  4. Ani August 12, 2015 / 7:39 pm

    First off, amazing work and website. I have learned so much from your posts.

    I just wanted to let you know that some of the affiliate links you have for the lenses have newer versions on Amazon and I am not sure if navigating to the newer model from your link will forward the affiliate tag. The couple links I have noticed newer versions being offered are the Rokinon 8mm and the Tokina 11-16mm.

    • Ian Norman August 13, 2015 / 1:16 pm


      Looks like the article is due for some revisions, thanks for the heads up. That said, if ther newer models are purchased within the affiliate time period (which I think is 24 hours), then we’ll still get a kickback for Lonely Speck.

  5. John August 10, 2015 / 3:51 pm

    Hi kudos to your dedication to posting your experience and knowledge on this subject which i am fond of. I have a mind boggling quandary that is i shoot on a micro 4/3 camera and after reading your article i’m struggling to convert it to my world 😉 because of the 2x crop factor and 16 megapixel sensor i don’t know if your astro score chart gives me a true score and especially when i include a speed booster!
    I have the Olympus 12mm f2 and i have a Samyang 10mm f2.8 speed boosted to f2 and reduced by x0.71 which equals 14.2mm. Does your chart’s astro score translate to m43 sensors? Also what about the maximum shutter time before trails?
    I looked at reviews of the Samyang 24mm f1.4 because but Lenstip didn’t rate it’s resolution quality plus at the 2x focal length for my camera i assume i wouldn’t have enough time at low ISO and low SNR when stopped down to capture the night sky successfully. Another option that does look good tome is the Samyang 16mm f2 because the reviews say it has better resolution wide open and if i speed boosted it, it would be a 11.5mm f1.4 with a astro score the same as the Leica 21mm or possibly 3600? It all depends on what you think the difference would be for my sensor?
    I’d really love to know and you seem to be the guy with the knowhow, please shine some light on this for me.

    • Ian Norman August 13, 2015 / 1:14 pm

      Hey John,

      When using a 0.71x speed booster, you can assume similar-ish performance as an APS-C camera. That means you can’t really compare anything to a full frame lens like the Leica 21mm/1.4 unless you had a 0.5x speed booster, which would only be compatible with full-frame lenses anyways. Personally,given you already have the 10mm/2.8 and a speedbooster, I would probably just stick with that, it should be an excellent setup.

      Comparing lenses across different sensors is a tougher call and requires a little bit more complexity than just my standard scoring method, which is just for comparing lenses on the same sensor size. For the best way to compare across sensor sizes, I recommend checking out the other tabs on the bottom of the document:

      If trying to get a score for m4/3 with 0.71x speed booster, use the APS-C scores.

  6. Matthew August 3, 2015 / 1:52 am

    Hello Ian, I’ve been taking pictures of the night sky and milkyway ever since I got my DSLR and I’m considering a rokinon 16mm or something along that line, possibly a tokina 11-16mm. I wish I could afford a full frame but I’m 17 and make very little money from my job. I have a rokinon 8mm 3.5 which has been great for capturing the entire milkyway but the distortion and quality can bring the overall look down. What would you suggest for an APS-C sensor? Could you possibly do a review for the rokinon 16mm (because your reviews are so good), I know you probably don’t ever use or even own a camera with a crop sensor but I thought I’d ask. Thanks.

    • Ian Norman August 13, 2015 / 1:01 pm

      Matthew, I’ve heard of the most praise from the Tokina 11-16mm so that would be my first suggestion. Plus, at 11mm, the field of view is extra wide angle so it’s a more dramatic lens. I’m working on getting more writers for reviews and the 16mm/2 is one of the lenses we wish to review soon.

  7. S July 29, 2015 / 7:23 am

    Between a Voigtlander 35mm F1.2 M mount and a Voigtlander 15mm 4.5 M mount, what would you pick?
    I have both but never tried astrophotography. Would use them on a Sony A7.
    Yes, I saw your 15mm review already, that’s how I ended up on your website to begin with :-)

    • Ian Norman August 13, 2015 / 12:59 pm

      I haven’t tried the 35mm/1.2 yet but if it’s anything like the 50mm f/1.1, it probably needs to be stopped down a bit before the aberrations go away so all told, it’s probably a toss up. Keep in mind these are very different lenses. I tend to always prefer suggesting something super-wide angle so I’d rather take the 15mm/4.5 and then make up for the difference in light gathering with some image stacking.

    • S August 18, 2015 / 3:27 am

      Thanks Ian.
      As far as I know, the 35mm is a way superior lens compared to the 50mm F1.1 and it’s considered

    • S August 18, 2015 / 3:29 am

      ops… hit the Post button by mistake, lol.
      I was saying, it’s considered better than the Leica 35mm

  8. nicknyhk July 27, 2015 / 5:45 pm

    Hey Ian

    Thanks for the great article. I currently have a D750 and want to buy a WA lens. The dilemma is choosing between the new Nikon 20mm f1.8 or the 16-35 f4. I am planning to do some star photography with the lens and wonder if the 16-35 would give acceptable results. I know it will probably be much lower than your recommended score but the 16-35 is quite a lot wider and would give more options for landscapes.

    Do you think I would be able to get acceptable shots for star photography with the 16-35 f4? I am considering bumping up the ISO a bit as the D750 does relatively well at high ISO. Appreciate any advice you can give.

    • Ian Norman August 13, 2015 / 12:54 pm

      The D750 is a very good camera so the 16-35mm/4, even with the f/4 aperture, should be able to produce some good shots, even with the bumped ISO. However, the 20mm/1.8 is a really good lens from what I have seen and I think it would be the better option for dedicated astro. the 2+ extra stops of light will make a tangible difference and at 20mm, it’s still considered “super wide angle.”

  9. Zach Grether July 23, 2015 / 5:53 am

    Ian…. what if you were to make a list of “Unaffordable Lenses for Landscape Astrophotography?” You know, lenses to aspire to. If money were no object, what would you shoot with?

  10. Keith July 20, 2015 / 11:54 am

    Hello Ian,

    Great articles and a great site you have here. I’ve been out of the photography biz for about 8 to 9 years now and seeing images like yours and other astrophotographers has made me want to get back into photography as a hobby.

    I’m really wanting to do nightscapes as a main focus area (my prior background is in automotive photography and I’d love to include cars in nightscapes). My current camera is a Canon 1D MkII and my fastest and widest lens right now is a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM. With those things in mind, would you recommend that I look at a better camera body or better lens to start down this path to darkness?

    Clear Skies,


    • Ian Norman July 20, 2015 / 2:03 pm

      I recommend starting with what you have and see how the 1D II fares. The 16-35/2.8 is already nice and fast so I see your setup performing just fine, even with it’s older 1.3x sensor. I wouldn’t rush out to get a new camera until you’ve at least tried it to the point that you feel that the older generation camera is holding you back.

    • Ian Norman July 21, 2015 / 12:36 am

      Care to share some results? I think if you’re looking to stay in the Canon system, the EOS 6D is one of the best choices for the money.

  11. rodrigo July 19, 2015 / 2:15 pm

    Hi!! Wich is better between this two: Sony SEL55F18Z or SEL1635Z ??
    Please I do not know wich buy? Please help!
    Thank you!

    • Ian Norman July 19, 2015 / 2:41 pm

      Rodrigo, those are two very different lenses. The 55mm f/1.8 ZA is a standard prime with a narrower field of view and a large aperture which is great for portriats in particular. It’s good for astrophotography, too but has a very narrow field of view of the night sky so it’s best for making panoramas. The 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS is a larger ultra wide angle zoom lens with image stabilization. Great for landscape photography. It is a little bit of a low f/number than I typically recommend for astrophotography but from what I have seen, it should be excellent. They’re both very good lenses!

    • Keith July 20, 2015 / 3:22 pm

      Thanks Ian. I gave this setup a test run this past weekend and found the 1D MkII VERY noisy. But then that might just be based on my daytime experience. Maybe a different approach to noise reduction is in order for these types of photos.

  12. Arda July 18, 2015 / 6:02 am

    Hello Ian,

    Having visited LonelySpeck 2 years ago, I very much liked the idea of being in wilderness, capturing the night sky. From then on, I had a couple of sessions and I am loving every minute of each session. I thank you for creating such an inspiring website that fired up the passion in me, a 35 year-old from Istanbul.

    Now that I have some experience, I would like to go one step further and replace the APS-C body/kit lens with a full frame body (~$2000/$2500) and a wide angle fast lens (~$500/$1000). I have read good reviews of Nikon D750 and of Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ( the reason I am a bit closer to Sigma instead of Rokinon is that Sigma has autofocus). I was wondering if you could suggest any other combination that would fit general photography as well?

    • Ian Norman July 20, 2015 / 2:05 pm

      I think that the D750 is one of the best choices on the market right now and the Sigma 24mm should perform well at f/2. From what I have seen, it has a fair amount of aberration in the corners at f/1.4 but other than that it will work fine.

  13. Zenel July 7, 2015 / 10:30 am

    Excellent post Ian, it has really helped clarify many things for me. I was wondering if you have taken the opportunity to test the SLR Hyperprime 10mm F2, the Kowa 8.5mm F2.8, or even the new Voigtlander 10.5mm f.95 for the m43 mount?

    • Ian Norman July 7, 2015 / 1:01 pm

      Zenel, I have honestly had not much experience with m4/3 systems save for the Panasonic LX100 for a few weeks and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for a day so I can’t say I have tried any of these lenses. The most intriguing for me is the Voigtlander 10.5mm/0.95 obviously due to its very fast aperture. It was only just released but I’ll try to see if I can get a hold of, perhaps the new E-M5 II and some of these lenses for testing.

  14. Paul Teagle July 4, 2015 / 4:40 pm

    Hi Ian — Great article! I am a novice but pretty decent when it comes to nature photography. I and buddy are going into the North Cascades later this year and I would like to try my hand at combining landscape and astrophotography from the backcountry perspective. I use a Nikon D90 and am considering the Rokinon 16mm (f 2.0) and the Rokinon 24mm (f1.4). The D90 being an APS-C (DX format sensor), I was leaning more towards the 16mm, however, from what I have read you can use an FX type lens with a DX-format camera “since the non-DX lens image circle is larger than needed on a DX-format camera”. Bottom line — what (and why) would you choose given a D90 target camera? Thanks Ian!

    • Ian Norman July 6, 2015 / 11:58 am

      Paul, go for the 16mm. Also consider the Tokina 11-16mm/2.8 while you’re at it. Basically, the extra field of view from the shorter focal length will be a boon to your backpacking shots versus the narrower field of view of the 24mm. I always tend to suggest the shorter lens to those starting out because it’s significantly easier to compose with the Milky Way in the scene when the lens has a wider field of view! Hope that helps, Ian

  15. Victor June 26, 2015 / 8:07 am

    Considering between a Samyang 24/1.4 and 14/2.8, both are good lens but I can only buy one this moment. May I seek your advice on which do you prefer more? :-)

    • Ian Norman July 2, 2015 / 11:15 pm

      Hey Victor, they are both good lenses but I usually recommend the 14mm/2.8 first. It’s cheaper and has a wider field of view which tends to be the easiest to use. If you’re on APS-C, I might recommend the 11-16mm or 10mm/2.8 first.

  16. Scott June 25, 2015 / 7:17 pm

    I’m ordering the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 from your link so you get credit – great site with great info.

    • Ian Norman July 2, 2015 / 11:13 pm

      Thanks Scott!

  17. Fritz Carlson June 15, 2015 / 11:12 am

    Has anyone used the sony 28mm f2 lens with a sony a7r for astrophotography/ The DXO scores for this lens are pretty high for chromatic aberration compared to the Rokinon 24mm f1.4. The much lighter weight of the sony lens make it an attractive option for a lens for backpacking into the high mountains but is is really good enough for astrophotography?

    • Ian Norman June 16, 2015 / 6:56 am

      I have been testing the 28/2 mand initial indications are that it is very good. I may be replacing my Rokinon 24mm/1.4 with it. Full review is coming eventually!

  18. Jose Rosado May 29, 2015 / 10:13 am

    Hello Ian

    Did you try also the Samyang / Rokinon 24mm T. 1.5 for astrophotography? What can you say about the results? Are they similar to the 24 mm f/1.4 version?

  19. Carlos Rodriguez February 25, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    Ian which lens would you recomend for a Canon 6d for astrophotography?

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