Best Lenses for Milky Way Photography: Nikon Astrophotographers

Best Lenses for Night Photography: Nikon Astrophotography

If you shoot with a Nikon camera and you want to improve your astrophotography, these are the best lenses for the job.

What is the best lens for astrophotography? The one that collects the most light.

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 their camera. If using the given camera mount, these are the lenses that I would use. Most of these lenses are manual focus lenses by Rokinon which also tend to be much more affordable than their autofocus Nikon counterparts. Additionally, most of the Rokinon lenses are sharper and tend to exhibit less coma aberration than their Nikon counterparts. The Rokinon lenses also available with Nikon’s focus confirmation and auto aperture. If you’re willing to learn how to use manual focus, Rokinon lenses are spectacular performers.

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.

FX (Full Frame and APS-C)

Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC

The Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC is the best full-frame lens for astrophotography.

24mm/1.4: Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC

  • The best night photography and astrophotography lens you can buy. Excellently sharp, even wide open at f/1.4. Manual focus.
  • Score: 2869

35mm/1.4: Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 US UMC or Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

  • Standard wide angle for tighter landscapes or stitching multiple exposures into larger panoramas. Rokinon is manual focus, Sigma is autofocus.
  • Score: 2084

14mm/2.8: Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC or Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF

DX (APS-C Only)

Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 ED AS UMC

The Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 offers the best combination of wide angle and large aperture for astrophotography with APS-C sensor cameras.

16mm/2.0: Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 ED AS UMC

  • The best combination of wide angle and large aperture. Manual focus.
  • Score: 1875

10mm/2.8: Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS

  • APS-C alternative to the Rokinon 14mm/2.8. Excellent for ultra-wide angle landscapes. Manual focus.
  • Score: 1184

11mm/2.8: Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 PRO DX II

  • Covers the same range as the two previous lenses combined. Excellent super wide angle zoom with autofocus.
  • Score: 1149 (at 11mm)

Other Systems

Best Lenses for Milky Way Photography on Canon Cameras

Best Lenses for Milky Way Photography on Fujifilm Cameras


115 Responses

  1. Alessandro October 23, 2017 / 8:57 am

    Hi Ian, I want to thank you for taking the time to provide such useful information to your readers. I have come to rely on your articles plenty of times over the years. I’d like to ask for your suggestion:

    I recently bought the new NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5. I took shots with it last week and was able to get a couple faint glimpses of the Milky Way. I wasn’t too far out of the city so I know light pollution could have been better elsewhere. I shoot with a D3300.

    How do you think the NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5 compares to the Rokinon 16 f/2.0? I would give up the focal range for a larger aperature prime, if it makes better sense for astrophotography.

    I’d appreciate any insight you could offer.
    Thank you.

  2. Firas June 1, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    2 days ago I posted a question to a fb group and luckily some guy put a link to your site! Wow first of all Thank you for the huge effort this is a true learning site!
    I’m new to astrophotography, I have a Nikon D810 and sigma 35mm f1.4 Art..I was thinking of getting a new lens for astro so I have 2 questions:
    -Do you think It’s better to get one of the rokinons that you highly rated or just stick with my sigma and do multirow panos? Can I get the same results?
    -What are your expectations for the awaited sigma 14mm f1.8 Art?!
    Thanks again and Bravo!

  3. Siddhesh May 11, 2017 / 9:23 am

    Hi Ian

    To start with I love your blog, super helpful especially the Astrophotography rating spreadsheet and the calculator. Even after combining all of what I have read and seen I need the advice to make a decision.

    I have D7100 a& D5500, interested in night cityscapes and astro. Which one of the below would you recommend
    Tokina 11-18 2.8 – Advantage is autofocus
    Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 – Fixed, manual and has great review about astro
    Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 – Wide enough and f/2.0 best among the 2 above

    Each one of the lenses has its own advantage but, given a choice in my situation which one would you buy, considering I love Astro, cityscapes, and landscapes

    • Nick July 6, 2017 / 8:22 am

      Hi Siddhesh,

      I have the D5500 combined with Rokinon 16mm f/2.0. The results i get are good but they are far behind of a full frame DSLR. I am curiousto know how much better is the D7100 than D5500 in night photography ? I am thinking to upgrade but i don’t know which direction to follow. A semi pro DX format like D7200, D7500 or full frame D610.

      I would also like to ask Ian if he is planning to test the Tokina 14-20 F/2.0 and the Nikon 16-80 F/2.8 ED VR. It would be interesting to see the results of a comparison between those two and the rokinon 16mm F/2.

  4. luk November 30, 2016 / 6:15 am

    Hi Ian,

    What do You think about new samyang 20 1.8 compared to samyang 24 1.4 ? 🙂
    Thank You in advance for response 🙂

  5. Bill Lazar September 12, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    Hello Ian.

    I really enjoy your site, with all the great advice and generous amount of information you provide.

    I just listened to your B&H podcast and really enjoyed it. I notice that you said you try to recommend astro lenses that work well, but don’t cost a lot, like the Rokinon. I understand that, but am willing to spend more to get a better lens.

    Given that, I’m trying to decide on the best lens for astrophotography/Milky Way photos. I have a Canon 6D. So far, I’ve compared the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG to a Canon TS-24mm f/3.5 lens I have. The Sigma is a beautiful lens, but has significant coma in the corners (unless I’m just too much of a pixel peeper). The TS-24mm is quite sharp, but is slow at f/3.5.

    I ordered a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4, but the focus ring would not turn. I sent it back and got another. Its focus ring has some play in it. I’ve tested it for decentering and it seems fine. I haven’t had a chance to take star pictures yet, but am interested to see how it compares to the other two lenses. I realize I may have to try several to get a good one.

    I notice that you said” The Nikon 14-24mm/2.8 is arguably one of the best super-wide angle lenses that you can get for astrophotography period. Use that for sure, it’s a great lens, arguably better than the Samyang/Rokinon 14/2.8.”

    When you say “arguably better,” what exactly do you mean? “one of the best”? What are the other lenses that would be considered in this class? Should I try the Nikon? I know it is 3-4 times more expensive, but what I’m looking for is high quality. Is there another lens I should try in the Nikon price range?

    Thanks for putting all this work into your site. I hope to attend one of your workshops, perhaps next summer. The Trona pinnacles are a great spot for Milky Way pictures.

    • Tony October 14, 2016 / 10:39 pm

      Hi Mark,
      I concur with much of your comments and questions to Ian … I’d love to know what you have come up with and/or gone with (re: astrophotography lenses) since? I have the Sony a7rii and am also willing to buy quality above economy… cheers

  6. Mawson September 2, 2016 / 2:02 am

    What is your openion about sigma 24 f/1.4 for astrophotography? Between sigma 24 f/1.4 and Rokinon 24 f/1.4 which is the best for both Astro and landscape? Thanks

  7. Aggie August 31, 2016 / 7:07 am

    Hi – I’m glad I found your website, so much knowledge! I have Nikon D750 and I recently photographed Milky Way with my Sigma 14mm/2.8 lense. The results were OK, but I suppose with lense that wide I didn’t really take care of corners abd some unwanted trees got in. I see you didn’t mention the Sigma 14mm lense here. Did you not test it, or you didn’t like it? It has similar spec as Rokinon and Nikkor 14 mm, but unlike Rokinon it has autofocus (quite good). With me being short signted, I didn’t want to risk Rokinon, and Nikkor was too expensive 🙁
    What do you think about Sigma 14 mm 2.8?

  8. Bryan August 29, 2016 / 8:59 am

    Thanks for this most informative article and a great page overall!
    I have a variant on the very first question asked of you on this post back in June 2014..Your answer to that post is very helpful but does not fully address my question. I am also trying to choose between the Rokinon 14/2.8 and the Rokinon 24/1.4.
    I want this lens primarily for star photography and have moved to full frame for the first time. What is complicating my choice is that have a D750 with the 24-120/f4 kit lens.
    Since my main goal for the new lens is the best quality star photos I can get, would you recommend the Rokinon 24/1.4 despite the focal length overlap with the kit lens or would you recommend the 14/2.8 to add a wider focal length and thus versatility say for daytime landscaps and still get decent star pictures? I am in all this, still new to star photography having achieved acceptable results previously w a d7100 and the Rokinon 14/2.8 both of which were sadly ruined in a recent river mishap.

    • Kevin October 29, 2016 / 9:09 am

      I’m in the exact same situation. Did you ever make your decision?

      The 24mm overlap with the kit lens makes it difficult to want to pay more for that lens vs the 14mm; but if it’s truly (and noticably) the *BEST*, I’d have to go with the 24mm.

  9. Ann August 18, 2016 / 10:58 am

    Just starting out doing night time pictures. I have a Nikon D3300, and bought a Sigma DC 30mm f/1.4 D HSM EX Lens For Nikon to use. Doing some sample shots in a dark room, and all the pictures come out red and black. What am I missing? Does this lens need a special setting? I need help!

  10. Gabriela Taras July 15, 2016 / 12:39 am

    I am new in this field. I took some pictures of the Milky Way with my Sony Nex 6 and the kit lenss 16-55mm and i have noticed that it captured only a small part of the arch. After reading your article, a question poped up in my head. It is possible to capture the entire Milky Way arch in a single shoot using a certain lenss? I plan to buy a full frame Canon soon. Or should i take multiple images each time and stitch them to create a panorama afterwards?

    • Carter July 15, 2016 / 9:41 pm

      Fisheye lens is the only one I can think of. You can create some beautiful images with stitching but it’s preference I’d say; I personally enjoy stitching.

  11. Mark June 29, 2016 / 3:47 am

    Hello Ian,
    what do you think is better? the 11-16 2nd edition from tokina or the newer 11-20? For a day-shooting lense the 11-20 seems to have the edge due to lower flares (so they say: but what about from a night-sky prospective?
    And what are your thoughts on the new tokina 14-20 f2 – more light, but less range..
    Really hard to find reviews out there..!!
    Thanks a lot!!

    • NIKOS November 26, 2016 / 2:41 am

      I have the same questions!

    • Richard Tatti January 19, 2017 / 3:02 am

      Hey Mark, I’ve used the Tokina 14-20 f2 on a Canon crop sensor camera. I would certainly recommend it for night photography. A little coma but very acceptable.

  12. Richard May 6, 2016 / 7:31 am

    Hello Ian, some days ago my father gave me his old D3100, I was always interested in night views, I was practising it with my phone (Xiaomi Mi4, same sensor as 1+1, you made a wonderful review!). But now I would like to improve my shots a lot using this old and cheap DSLR (still better than my phone for night captures, at the same level for full daylight).
    Problem is that I actually only own the stock pack 18-105 mm. This lens gives me average results, and is not really sharp at his maximum aperture. I can try to push ISO but I rarely manage to get something nice, the nicest one was this shot : after some lightroom post-process.
    So now I’m wondering if getting a wide angle with a bigger aperture would help me? For sure yes, but does the old D3100 can grab really nice shots? Or is that camera too limited?
    I saw your recommandation about the Rokinon 14 mm f/2.8 and I feel interested by this lens as I can afford it (Yes I’m a student that explains why I was shoting only with my phone until my father gave me his old camera), but would you recommand it for this camera?

    Best wishes and thanks a lot for all your nice tutorials!

    • J May 7, 2016 / 4:37 am


      Yes, I do think that the Nikon D3100 can get some very nice shots. As Ian Norman quoted in his ‘How to Photograph the Milky Way’ article, “am often asked the question: “I have such-and-such DSLR with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. Can I photograph the Milky Way with it?” The answer is absolutely yes!”
      Now, the D3100 isn’t a Sony a7s, but that doesn’t mean that you can get some breathtaking photos. There are a couple things that I will strongly suggest.
      1. Find a very dark site. The D3100 may not have spectacular light collecting abilities, so make it so you are photographing the Milky Way, not light pollution. If you can’t escape light pollution, go to this (
      2. I would go with ether the Rokinon 14mm or the Rokinon 24mm. The 14mm will give you a wider view, but the 24mm will make a brighter image. Decide which is more important.
      3. Post processing. The image straight out of the camera may be darker than the larger DSLR. You can blow people’s mind with a crazy post process!
      Thanks for you questions. I am very glad that you are interested in astrophotography! Just remember, this is a trial and error type of thing. I hope my tips will help!

  13. Matt W April 27, 2016 / 7:19 am

    Surprised that no one has mentioned the Sigma 18-35 f1.8 for DX users.
    I have had some success with it. Generally I stop it down to f2 at 18mm.

    What are your thoughts on this lens Ian and does it have an Astro score as yet?

  14. Anthony April 26, 2016 / 9:14 am

    I shoot with a Nikon D7100 and I’m considering the Rokinon 10mm 2.8 and the 14mm 2.8. This lens will be strictly used for Astrophotography. I’m trying to figure out if using a FX lens on a DX body would effect my shutter speed enough to make it not worth it. Obviously my end game is to switch to full frame so it wouldn’t hurt to have a FX lens when I do, it’s just that it’s not in the near future.

  15. Joseph April 16, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    Would the extra f-stop on the Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 ED vs the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 make a considerable difference when photographing the milky way on a crop-sensor?

    • Ian Norman April 17, 2016 / 10:07 am

      Yes and no. The extra stop on the 16mm help take in more light, but the 10mm’s wider field of view also allows you to make slightly long exposures without seeing star trails so they sort of even out.

  16. Robby March 25, 2016 / 3:42 pm

    Hello everyone,

    I’m confused now there are so many lenses out there and need some advise. I’m looking at getting the Nikon 24mm f1.8 lens and wonder if that lens is good for hobby astro, milkyway landscape and general (alrounder) photography. I’m only a hobby photographer, no professional stuff, just for fun.
    thanks for any advise.

    • Ian Norman March 28, 2016 / 3:19 pm

      Hi Robby,

      I have not personally used or tested the Nikon 24mm/1.8 but I would expect it to be fine for Astro work. Might need to be stopped down to f/2.5 for the sharpest results but that’s pretty typical of fast primes.


  17. Thom March 7, 2016 / 4:00 pm

    Hey, awesome article! I’m so glad I ran across this page today, and I’ve been soaking up all the info I can. After taking my daughter camping this weekend and taking some nice shots with the Nikon D5500 kit lens (18-55mm), I’ve been researching how to produce even better results.

    Here’s my dilemma: I’ve been juggling with the 3 DX recommendations. However, I just noticed that Tokina has a new 14-20mm f2.0 lens, which looks very enticing as well. I can’t find any reviews on it yet, but would you recommend that over the other 3? Another thing to consider is that at $899 MSRP, I could probably buy 2 of the recommended lenses for the price of that one.

    Thank you again for this awesome site!

  18. William Shaw February 22, 2016 / 1:59 am

    I’ve made a post on your Photokina toys page on the introduction of the Nikon 20mm f/1.8. I won’t re-post it all here but I am pretty disappointed with that lens’s coma on my D750 at full frame. It’s a great lens for daytime use, and DX users might be happy, but it’s not great on FX. I’m trying to decide whether to try the Samyang (=Rokinon in the UK) 14mm or the Sigma Art 35mm next as all the 20mm seem to be problematic.

  19. Dano January 23, 2016 / 7:18 am

    Hi Ian,

    First great website!!

    Will soon be purchasing the Nikon D750 and am looking for a lens for Astro stuff for a visit we have planned to Europes largest designated dark sky site so want to make sure I choose the best for the job.

    Could you recommend one for this camera, not sure we get Rokinin in the UK unless it’s sold under another name… Would love to hear your thoughts on a lens.


    • Gavin February 4, 2016 / 11:13 am

      I am also in the UK and I have seen on ebay (UK based sellers) selling what looks to be identical Rokinin lens but with a Samyang badge

    • Ian Norman February 4, 2016 / 2:48 pm

      Samyang is the manufacturer of Rokinon, Bower, and several other name brands. The Rokinon brand is just the USA name for the Samyang lenses. They are all identical in everything but name.

  20. Alastair Wilson January 22, 2016 / 2:56 pm

    Hi Ian, great site, really enjoyed looking through your articles and bringing new life to some of my older night sky photographs and getting new ideas. Good high ISO performance for night photography was what led me to replace my Nikon D300 sigma 10-20mm/4-5.6 with a D600 and nikon 17-35mm/2.8. What a difference!

    Unfortunately I’m now in the most cloudy place on the planet, no stars in months, Bird Island, South Georgia, fortunately Albatrosses and Penguins make up for that. I am thinking of getting the 24mm/1.4 Rokinon/Samyang and wondered whether you had tried the 20mm/1.8 Sigma art lens or the 20mm/1.8 Nikon or have an idea of their relative performance? Keep up the excellent work.

  21. Julien January 20, 2016 / 3:21 pm

    Hi IAN!
    Thank you for your website and for your time!
    I actually have a D5000 with few lens and one RONIKON 14mm, ( Which is not a DX Lens) SO far I was able to get some cool shot, but I start to realize that I’m limitied in the photo quality. So I woud like to upgrate to a better body.
    So I’m looking between the D7200 and the D610.
    D7200 seem to have Higher ISO and few more advantage… But it’s still a DX.
    What would you recommend?
    Thank you in advance for your answer.



  22. Jon Amos January 4, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    Hi Ian,

    I love the website! I’m a complete novice to astrophotography (and only a relative amateur to DSLR photography in general) but these articles have made me desperate to give it a go despite living in the UK and having very few clear nights in which to see the stars! I’ve got a Nikon D5100 with the normal 18 – 50mm kit lens which I use as my usual day-to-day lens; plus a couple of cheap telephoto’s too.

    I am considering an upgrade to a better “walk around” lens with the hope that I could use this for the occasional bit of milky way photography too? (and as my wife and I are going on our honeymoon/holiday-of-a-lifetime to Hawaii in August, a star gazing trip to Mauna Kea will be a must!) Unfortunately, all of the wide-angle lenses you have suggested are out of my price range so I’ve been having to look into lower budget options which I could hopefully also use more frequently. I have had my eye on the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM with the hope that it will be more versatile, have a better image quality, and the lower f/ will make it a better lens for the night-scapes that I want to capture. Do you think it would be a worthy investment and improvement over the kit lens? or would it’s benefits be negligible?

    If you have any suggestions that you think may be of use closer to my £200 ($300) budget it would be much appreciated!
    Thanks again!

    • Jon Amos January 5, 2016 / 3:22 pm

      Edit: I am also looking at the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM as I can get it for about the same price. Thanks

  23. Jasmine December 7, 2015 / 11:01 am

    Thank you for the informative post; some wonderful information on here! I am looking into buying a new lens (I just purchased a D3300) for photographing the northern lights. I am leaning towards either the Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 ED AS UMC or the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 PRO DX II; would you recommend one over the other? Or a different lens altogether? Thanks!

  24. Virginia November 13, 2015 / 4:53 am

    Which lensures would you suggest for milky way and astro photography when using a nikon d5000. Looking at Tokina but not sure.

  25. ahmed November 9, 2015 / 12:00 am

    Great article thank you alot

    i’ve nikon d810 , what lens you recommend for it ( Astrophotographers )

    looking for sharpness and clearness

    thank you

  26. andrew October 6, 2015 / 5:11 am

    what about nikon 20-35mm 2.8 for astrography?

  27. hugo September 25, 2015 / 1:54 pm

    Hello Ian, I have a nikon d7100 is tokina recommend 11-16 for landscapes?

  28. reader September 9, 2015 / 9:03 pm

    Check out the Samyang 12 f2.8 fisheye too, super wide angle with 2.8, with 180 degree angle of view

  29. rhenz August 28, 2015 / 8:55 pm

    Hi, i have a nikon d7100 and i’m wanting to buy a new lens to take a photo of northernlights…Im a newbie and my budget is very limited…is nikon 50mm f1.8g auto focus okay? Or can you suggest what will be a good lens to use. Thank you!

    • Alex September 2, 2015 / 3:33 pm

      Hi Rhenz,

      I would certainly go a lot wider than that. 50mm on a d7100 is quite zoomed in, so you will have to do very short exposures unless you want star trails (Google focal length and star trails to learn about the relationship).

      Even a 35mm will be quite zoomed in on an APSC camera for night photography.

      My advice would be to aim for more like 16 to 24mm for this sort of thing. Personally with a camera similar to the d7100 I use a 12mm and a 16mm for this sort of night shooting.

      For portraits that 50mm f1.8g will be very good, but it isn’t very suited to landscape or star photohraphy.

    • Ian Norman September 6, 2015 / 8:35 pm

      Alex has some good points about starting with a shorter focal length if you can. That said, I will say that the 50mm could be used in a pinch but you’ll be limited to panorama stitching due to its narrow field of view. My recommendation is to stick with one of the “DX” lenses listed above. The Tokina 11-16mm/2.8 is particularly popular and well regarded by the community for astro.

  30. Bogdan August 20, 2015 / 2:44 am

    Hi Ian!
    I really want to buy a good lens for astrophotography. I have a Nikkor 18-105mm lens, with a minimum aperture of 3.5 and I really want to pick something better. My budget is limited, I think 400 euros is the maximum I can spend. I use a Nikon d7000 so, the Rokinon 24mm/1.4 lens is not okay for my type of sensor (36mm is too much). I think that I have to choose between Rokinon 16mm/2.0 and Rokinon 12mm/2.0. Wich one would you choose? Having a 18-105mm make me think that a 12mm it’s better (going for a better wide and a better aperture in the same time) if I can buy it (if they have a Nikon mount, I didn’t see on Amazon). But if 16mm Rokinon is better I will go for it. Thanks in advance! And sorry for my bad english 🙂

  31. Sam August 13, 2015 / 3:58 pm

    I have a Nikon d5300 and i like taking night time star pictures. I am looking for a lens that’s more aimed toward this type of photography. Do you have any recommendations? I would like to keep it around $100 or so, and wouldn’t mind a used lens. Thank you for all the help on this site, it has really helped me out!

    • Ian Norman August 13, 2015 / 4:22 pm

      Sam, in that price range, your kit lens, the 18-55mm/3.5-5.6 is probably the best bet for now. The next closest thing would probably be a used Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8.

    • Sam August 13, 2015 / 5:07 pm

      I also have a Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF lens. Should I look for another one or is this a better one than the kit lens?

  32. John August 8, 2015 / 12:32 pm

    Excellent information you have provided. I have a new interest in astrophotography and have a question. I have Nikon D7000 that I mainly use for my wildlife photography and Lumix M43 for most other tasks, currently the G7. What is your recommendation, Should I invest in the Rokinon 16, f2 for the Nikon or the Rokinon 12mm, f2 for the M43?

    • Ian Norman August 10, 2015 / 4:37 pm

      If you’re looking to keep things small, I prefer the 12mm/2. That said, the 16mm on the larger APS-C sensor will make for slightly cleaner images. Slightly.

  33. Eric August 7, 2015 / 2:48 am

    Hello Ian –
    I love your page! I am a novice photographer and I’m interested in Astrophotography as well as Nighttime scenic photography. I currently have a Nikon D7000 camera. Which lense would be best for me?

    Thanks for your time.

    • Ian Norman August 10, 2015 / 4:37 pm

      I would probably recommend the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 or 11-20mm/2.8

  34. Dalton July 29, 2015 / 6:58 am

    Hey Ian, I’m really torn on what lens to get. I have a Nikon D3200 and want to take landscape Milky Way Photography. Before reading this article I was very sure I was going to get the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 but now I feel like that wouldn’t be best since the image will be cropped. So which of the aps-c lenses above do you think would be best? I like the 16mm but I hope it delivers that wide angle look. also another question: If you get an APS-C only lens does it still get cropped?


    • Ian Norman July 29, 2015 / 8:52 am

      If you want a wide angle look, go for the Rokinon 10/2.8 or Tokina 11-16/2.8 II or 11-20/2.8. Yes, APS-C only lenses still get cropped.

  35. Robbie July 21, 2015 / 11:17 pm

    Love your page!
    I’m really enjoying taking Milky Way photos at the moment. I currently have Nikon d90 and use a tonika 11-16mm lens,and am looking to upgrade what would you recommend I buy. Cheers,Robbie.

    • Ian Norman July 29, 2015 / 8:53 am

      Robbie, honestly, the Tokina 11-16mm/2.8 is already an excellent lens. I wouldn’t change much. Maybe consider going to a full frame camera? That would provide a small improvement.

  36. Shane July 21, 2015 / 5:29 pm

    Hey Ian – great work and i love the site, thank you! I just started astrophotography and took my first succesful photos this lat weekend using a Nikon D7100 with a 35mm 35mm f/1.8g. The pictures came out good considering i didnt have a remote release. What would you recommend as a good step up from this lense?


    • Ian Norman July 21, 2015 / 7:01 pm


      The 35mm f/1.8G is definitely a little narrow for the D7100 unless you’re making panorama stitches. I think a shorter lens like the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 or the Rokinon 10mm/2.8 are good candidates to give you something special to work with. I generally tell people to try starting with super wide angle lenses.

  37. susanne July 14, 2015 / 8:05 am

    Hi ian I’m getting a little confused i am just staring out i have a nikon D5300 what is the best lens for taking pictures of the moon and milky way i have looked at many websites thank you. susanne

    • Ian Norman July 14, 2015 / 10:56 am

      Susanne, shooting the moon and the Milky Way are two very different things that require different lenses. For the moon, you will want something like a 300mm or longer lens while for Milky Way shots, your kit lens (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) or any of the APS-C (DX) lenses listed above are my recommendation.

  38. Sara July 8, 2015 / 5:36 pm

    Hi Ian, you again for all of your reviews. I’ve been considering purchasing a new lens for a little while now. I’m shooting with the Nikon D 5300, so I don’t have a full frame. I’m looking at the Rokinon 14 mm F2.8 vs the 16mm f2.0. In your 24 mm review, you say how much you love the 14, and I don’t see anything in there about the 16. I really like the wide-angle but I think that the wider aperture is more valuable, at a minimal cost increase. I also noticed the score is higher. Do you have any advice for this? I think I’m going to purchase to BNH and have it shipped out. If I purchase through your website for BNH, you will get a kickback?

    • Ian Norman July 9, 2015 / 11:24 am

      Hey Sara, thanks! I have a lot of readers and friends that use the 16mm/2 with great results. (I don’t personally own it because I shoot full-frame) I think it’s a great compromise between aperture and field of view. 16mm is still nice and wide (24mm equivalent) and it sounds like the lens that I would recommend you try if you’re looking to get a lens for astro. Remember too that you can combine multiple images to make a panorama stitch for an ultra wide field of view, similar to what I talk about in my stitching article.

      If you purchase from B&H via one of the links on this page, Lonely Speck should get a 2% commission. Thanks for the support!

      I hope that helps,


  39. Ian Smith July 3, 2015 / 3:05 pm

    May I agree with all the rest, thanks for the wonderful site and all the help you’ve provided (oh that I understood all of it!). I’ll go and dust my puny 10-20 Sigma off and have a go. I, too, am a Nikon man, currently using D-5100s.
    Cheers and thanks to all who have provided assistance, Ian

    • Ian Norman July 3, 2015 / 11:19 pm

      Thanks Ian! Cool name. 10-20 should be a good start, I loved that lens when I used to own it. Have a go.

  40. Rob June 30, 2015 / 3:51 pm

    great website, im just getting in to photography in general and loving astrophotography, i have a Canon SX50hs and a Nikon D5200 with the stock 18-55mm lens and a 70-300mm sigma, i dont remember the F number on either of them at the mo as at work, the canon ive found restrictive as it wont allow long shutter speeds without locking the ISO at 80 so ive been using the Nikon more and more.
    Any suggestions for a cheap reasonable lense for night landscapes ? may even part ex the Canon despite its epic zoom capabilities

    • Ian Norman July 1, 2015 / 9:22 am

      Hey Rob. To start, the D5200 and the kit 18-55/3.5-5.6 should be OK. As an upgrade, I would consider the 10mm/2.8, 14mm/2.8 or 16mm/2 depending on how wide a field of view you want. The 10mm will be ultra wide while the 16mm will be closer to your kit lens, albeit better at gathering light.

  41. Norman Doggett June 12, 2015 / 2:39 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Nice review. How about adding a page for m4/3. There are two great lens out there now for astrophotography for m4/3 Olympus and Panasonic cameras. These are the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro and the Voigtländer Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95, both exceptionally fast and very wide lenses with excellent image quality.

    • Ian Norman July 1, 2015 / 9:17 am

      Thank Norman, I’ll put one together!

    • Norman Doggett June 20, 2016 / 4:47 pm

      And the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH lens will start to ship in mid-August. So options for m4/3 astrophotography are looking bright!

  42. Scott Bristowe May 5, 2015 / 6:47 am

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for an awesome article and very in-depth buying guide.

    I am currently using a Nikon 17-55mm/2.8 on a D5500, which sadly falls just under 1,000 on the Astro Lens Score and your recommended 14mm/2.8 doesn’t seem the offer much gain for me here.

    Would you recommend widening my FOV with the 10mm/2.8, gaining a stop with the 16mm/2.0 or gaining 2 stops at the cost of length with the 24mm/1.4?


    • Frank Artmont June 24, 2015 / 7:04 am


      I wrestled with the same issue when trying to upgrade and went with the 16mm f/2.0 because I felt it was the best balance between having a wide field of view and a fast aperature. I felt that I’d be constantly stitching together images with the 24mm, and that the 10mm would be too wide for everyday shots. If you want the occasional wider shots with the 16mm, you can stitch a few images together. You can see some examples of the 16mm lens here:

      Hope this helps!

  43. Annuj April 19, 2015 / 6:14 pm

    Hi Ian,
    I am an absolute beginner at this and wanted to buy a lens for astrophotography. I use a crop sensor Nikon D3200. I am confused between the 16mm f/2.o and the 10mm f/2.8. I am more inclined towards the 10mm since I have an APS-C sensor, and wouldn’t want to further reduce the field of view with the 16mm. But then the score for the 16mm is so much higher.

    P.S. Your site is brilliant… for someone like me who is totally new to this field, this was a treasure trove of knowledge. And your photographs are stunning…

    • Frank Artmont June 24, 2015 / 6:58 am

      I wrestled with the same problems a few months ago, but ultimately decided to go with the 16mm. The 16mm is definitely wide-enough for capturing great landscapes. Additionally, you can stitch a few images together to get the same field of view as the 10mm. Here’s some results I’ve gotten with the 16mm lens.

  44. Mark April 14, 2015 / 5:19 pm

    As a Nikon D7000 user and currently living in New Zealand, I’ve been looking to improve my photography and take advantage of the amazing stars and the Milky Way. So much so after reading this article which I enjoyed, I purchased a Samyang 10mm F2.8 whilst in Sydney (much cheaper than in NZ). Reading the instructions/forums, I believe I should set the lens to F22 and then be able to use the P,A,S and M functions to adjust the aperture, and shutter speed. However the lens seems to only work whilst in Auto mode and gives the FEE error whilst in any other mode or aperture. I had a quick look on youtube and saw a video that required a plastic switch to be turned by attaching the non-Nikon lens to the camera. However this would mean that either sending it Nikon for a new metal mount, or attempting DIY and fitting it myself. Can you please advise if I’m doing something wrong, or if the body needs a new lens mount? Many thanks for your help.

    • dave bondi May 10, 2015 / 12:48 pm

      I’m using a D7000 also. What you need to do is set the lens to F22 and then go into the setup menu and create a setting for your “non-cpu” lens. Once you specify your focal length and aperture, you should be able to either go full manual (M) or use aperture priority (A) to have the camera choose your exposure. I don’t think P and S will work with your lens, but you shouldn’t need them. Good luck!!!

    • Ian Norman May 10, 2015 / 6:48 pm

      Thanks for helping out on this one Dave.

    • Mark June 7, 2015 / 5:41 pm

      Many thanks for the replies Ian and Dave. I finally got round to taking the lens out again and took some urban night shots with the method you suggested…next stop will be to take some star fields. I can’t wait! Thanks again for your help.

  45. Jeff Kelly April 11, 2015 / 8:42 am

    I have an older D-90. I use it with a Celestron 8 in SCT. Do you have any suggestions for settings for best results. I put it directly in to rear of scope with an adapter and no lens. Thanks for your time! Jeff Kelly

  46. Jerry Atienza February 22, 2015 / 4:16 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Just wondering, I noticed that you have the Sony A6000 in your gear bag, but, doesn’t have any lens recommendation. Is there a reason for that? Also, why is the Tokina 16-28 f2.8 isn’t in any of your reviews,?

    Btw, thanks for the inspiration.

  47. Narasimhan February 18, 2015 / 12:37 pm

    Hi Ian,

    First, thank you very much for your different articles/tutorials and all the great information you have on your website! I have learnt a lot from them and have taken my first steps in night sky photography.

    I currently have a Nikon D3300 and am shooting with a 18-250 f/3.5-5.6 mm lens. I am looking to get a better lens and am extremely confused between the Rokinon 16mm f/2.0, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II and the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8. I am trying to get a lens that not only helps me in night sky photography but also in general landscape photography (I love shooting landscapes). Which one do you suggest I go with? Or should I take into consideration the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 and Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 also, even though I am not looking to upgrade to full frame any time soon.

    Any help would be much appreciated!


    • Frank Artmont June 24, 2015 / 6:53 am

      I have been using the Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 on my Nikon D3300 for a few months now, and I’ve gotten great results with it. Most of the photos on my Flickr account ( ) were taken using that lens. I decided to go with that lens over the others because it had the best lens score for a DX lens and was not super wide.

  48. Nikon D810 price February 5, 2015 / 4:36 am

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    To get all the details, go to Lightroom Journal blog.

  49. Bash January 27, 2015 / 9:18 pm

    Hello there, I have been reading your awesome articles and I have to say they got me hooked to astrophotography and taught me what I know about it. I am traveling India right now and my lens choices became limited due to lack of availability. I settled with the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 Pro DX II for my Nikon D5200. How’s the lens and Would It be able to capture the Milkyway? I am fairly new in this field so this might actually be tons of help. Thanks for the wonderful articles.

    • Ian Norman February 5, 2015 / 5:00 pm

      It’s a great lens and should work great!

  50. Marian Fiala January 21, 2015 / 10:17 am

    Hello. First, I love your work–absolutely stunning and your advice and tips are greatly appreciated. Second, I have a Nikon D90 and want to purchase a wide angle lens for trying out astrophotography (I covet my 50, but know it won’t due). I don’t want to spend much until I get a feel for this area. I found a vintage Rokinon Auto SC 28mm 2.8. I know they were usually made for Pentax mounts, but would it mount to my body? It does not state the mount type.
    Thank you so much,

    • Ian Norman February 5, 2015 / 4:48 pm

      It’s very hard to gauge as to whether the lens will work at all as Rokinon makes lenses for many different mount types.

  51. Frank Artmont January 5, 2015 / 12:06 pm

    Hi Ian,

    I just recently got into astrophotography and I was wondering what lens you would recommend more for a first purchase for an APS-C sensor camera (Nikon D3300), the 16mm f/2.0 or the 10 mm f/2.8? I’m leaning more towards the 16mm as it seems to be a better balance of aperture and angle of view. Have you ever used that lens, and if so, what do you think of it?

    Also, can the Rokinon versions of these lenses be set at stops finer than a single increment, say at 1/2 stop or 1/3 stop increments?

    By the way, I love the website. It is definitely the single best source of information for a beginner astrophotographer like myself.

    • Ian Norman January 6, 2015 / 10:54 pm

      I tend to recommend the shorter lenses when picking between two different focal lengths. This recommendation is usually because the extra field of view makes framing the Milky Way much easier. It really is super big in the sky so the wider field of view always tends to help. That said, the 16mm will produce a slightly less noisy image because of the faster aperture. I think if you want the best, cleanest results, the 16mm is the better choice. If you want a wider field of view with that lens, you could always use panorama stitching!

      Most of the Rokinon lenses can be set at 1/2 stop increments.

      Thanks for the complement!

    • Frank Artmont January 7, 2015 / 7:55 am

      Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll be going with the 16mm f/2.0 as a first purchase, and my next will be the 10mm f/2.8.

      From a fellow structural engineer, thanks!

    • Ian Norman January 9, 2015 / 2:50 am

      Sounds like a good plan! Cheers!

  52. John December 31, 2014 / 5:17 pm

    Hello from New Zealand. Just discovered your website and finding it very interesting.
    I only have a small sensor Nikon V1 along with a very good wide angle zoom, namely the Nikon 1 6.7-13mm (18-35mm eq). Just wondering if you or any of your readers would have experience with these?. I’m hoping I can still get acceptable images from this combination. Can’t justify another camera purchase at the moment. Thanks.

  53. Thomas Koczian October 27, 2014 / 9:17 am

    Great article Ian

    How about a Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye for APS-C users? I’m planning on buying one and I think it would be suitable for astrophotography, especially if I coud correct the distortions in post, but correct me if I’m wrong : )

  54. wayne seltzer October 5, 2014 / 6:13 pm

    I have 24/1.4 G, 14-24/2.8 G, ZF.2 21/2.8.
    How do each of these lenses compare to your Samyang 14 and 24 primes and are each of these good enough? Which one is the best?

    • Ian Norman October 5, 2014 / 9:13 pm

      The Nikon 14-24mm/2.8 is arguably one of the best super-wide angle lenses that you can get for astrophotography period. Use that for sure, it’s a great lens, arguably better than the Samyang/Rokinon 14/2.8.

      I’m not super familiar with the Zeiss 21/2.8, it’s the only lens you mentioned that I’ve never used. I did, however had a previous workshop attendee that used that lens (on a Canon 5D Mark II) to great effect but it’s possible that the 14-24mm at 21mm might be a better option.

      In the realm of the 24mm, the Roki/Samyang 24/1.4 performs a bit better than the Nikon 24/1.4. The Nikon shows higher levels of lens aberrations in the corners when shooting wider open at f/1.4 and doesn’t improve as much until about f/2.8 and higher. The Samyang performs very well at f/1.4 and only gets better at f/2.0

      The Rokinon/Samyang 24mm/1.4 is still my favorite overall for full-frame cameras.

    • wayne seltzer October 6, 2014 / 8:38 pm

      Thanks Ian for your helpful response!
      I will probably go with my 14-24G and 24/1.4G for right now and see how bad the 24G is in the corners and then think sbout the Rokinon 24. I have the Rokinon 85/1.4 and it has a lot of bang for the buck!

    • Ian Norman October 6, 2014 / 9:32 pm

      Wayne, that sounds like a good plan. Shoot with what you’ve got first, test the waters until you know what you need, if anything. I really want to try the 85mm/1.4 for making some panorama stitches like in my Medium Format Astrophotography post.

    • wayne seltzer October 7, 2014 / 9:03 pm

      The Rokinon 85 is designed to perform well wide open. Better than 85L mk2 at f1.4.
      I read your astro stitching post and now want to try one using my Zeiss Otus 55/1.4. It is so sharp and has great clarity wide open. Have not seen any astro photos with that lens yet.Have stitched quite a few landscape shots but never any astro ones. I like your Trona Pinnacles image, very well done!

    • Ian Norman October 9, 2014 / 3:56 pm

      Would love to see some results with the Zeiss Otus 55mm/1.4. Looks like it could make some amazing astrophotos.

  55. Kristi September 5, 2014 / 11:03 am

    Please forgive me I’m fairly new to astrophotography & a little bit confused. My question is in reference to the FX (Full Frame and APS-C) section. Are you saying those lenses fit both full frame & Dx I guess the APS-C with full frame is confusing me. I have a DX CMOS sensors (i believe? in my nikons) specifically a Nikon D5000 & Nikon D7000 & I also have a canon T2i which I believe has a slightly different one? but I usually use the nikons at night. Can the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC be used on either of the nikons or only the 16mm/2.0: Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 ED AS UMC ?? Or basically which lens is best to use with either of the nikons for night shooting? Thank You & I’m sorry if it’s obvious where I have DX formats I’m just not sure :/ Thank You Very Much.

    • Ian Norman September 8, 2014 / 4:48 pm


      The lenses in the FX(Full-Frame and APS-C) section shows lenses that fit both full-frame (FX) and APS-C (DX) cameras.

      Your D5000 and D7000 both have APS-C (DX) sensors to any of the lenses listed here will work with your cameras.

      The 24mm/1.4 will work on both your Nikons and will also work if you upgrade later to an FX body like the D610 or D810.

      The Rokinon 16mm/2.0 can only be used on APS-C (DX) bodies like your current cameras.

      I think the best overall lens for APS-C cameras like yours is probably the Rokinon 16mm f/2.0. It’s very good in low light (f/2.0) and it’s got a fairly wide angle field of view which is great for capturing a large amount of the night sky. However, if you want something that extremely wide angle, the Rokinon 10mm/2.8 or the Tokina 11-6mm are great lenses that capture a lot of the foreground along with a huge amount of the sky.

    • Kristi September 17, 2014 / 4:52 am

      Thank you so very much for taking the time to reply. That’s a big help & much appreciated 🙂

  56. Erin August 24, 2014 / 9:11 pm

    Thank you for your great information. I am a bit overwhelmed as I leave for
    the Sierra Nevada range backpacking in 48 hours and am not sure which lens to take for night shots. I have a Nikon D7000 camera. For lenses I have: a AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G, a Nikon AF-S 35mm 1:1.8G and a nikon 50mm 1:1.8D. Which of these lenses would you recommend? From what I am reading I think the 35mm but am so new I’m virtually clueless. Any suggestions will be most appreciated. Thank you in advance

    • Ian Norman August 25, 2014 / 12:33 am

      Erin, the 18-55mm would probably be the best all around choice for the backpacking trip. It has the best zoom range and it’s the widest lens. It’s not super fast but just keep it at 18mm and f/3.5 and it should be OK.

      That said, the 35mm/1.8 will do a really job but it’s a narrower lens on the D7000 so you’ll be limited to a smaller portion of the sky. This can be constraining but can also work great if you take multiple exposure to stitch together. If you have the room, take the 35mm along for sure. My next lesson on astrophotography 101 will be how to stitch panoramas.

    • Erin August 25, 2014 / 8:19 am

      Thank you. I have 5 nights and start 2 nights after the new moon. I’ll take both to experiment. :). Thank you. I’ll look forward to your next chpt.

  57. Panos July 20, 2014 / 1:23 am

    Hello, I just bought a Nikon 10-24mm Dx for my D7100. Will the f/3.5 be a problem ?? Thanks!

    • Ian Norman July 20, 2014 / 2:02 pm

      Shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I recommend making sure you use at least a 30 second shutter speed or even better: use Bulb mode and an intervalometer or remote trigger to make up to a 30-60 second exposure. The extra light from the extended exposure should give you a slightly cleaner photograph.

  58. Sarah Galvin June 3, 2014 / 6:53 pm

    Thanks so much for getting back to me so fast! I’m going to New Zealand in a month and want to make a decision fast on what new lens to buy.
    I just read your full review on the 14mm/2.8 and I think i’ll go with that one, it is affordable and seems to be great!
    I have a Nikon D7000, will I need to buy an adaptor to fit this lens on?
    Thanks again.

    • Ian Norman June 3, 2014 / 8:39 pm

      You should not need an adapter as long as you buy the Nikon mount version (the one in the link above.)

  59. Sarah Galvin June 3, 2014 / 6:14 pm

    Hi there! Great article.
    Just wondering, do you think that the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens performs best for both astrophotography AND landscape photography, or am I better off getting the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 for use for both?

    • Ian Norman June 3, 2014 / 6:40 pm

      Sarah, I think that they’re such different lenses that compliment each other. I have both a 14/2.8 and 24/1.4. The 14mm/2.8 is the first lens I recommend to most people because it’s so wide, opening up a whole new kind of photograph for the user. I prefer it to the 24mm for landscapes because of this.

      The 24mm/1.4, however is the best at gathering light at night so the cleanliness of the photos is usually higher. The field of view is a lot narrower than the 14mm but still considered a wide angle lens.

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