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. We outline all the most important traits of a great astrophotography lens in this complete guide.

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. Here are the lenses I highly recommend for astrophotography:

First Recommendation for Full Frame Cameras:
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC


First Recommendation for APS-C DSLRs:
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX-II


First Recommendation for APS-C Mirrorless Cameras:
Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS CS

And here’s a list of more recommended lenses:

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.


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*This article was featured on PetaPixel!

295 Responses

  1. Ed October 31, 2017 / 11:48 am

    I currently shoot a Nikon crop sensor camera with the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. I’m considering purchasing a SharpStar2 and I was wondering how well it works with this lens. Has anyone tried this combination? According to the lens compatibility chart, it looks like at the widest focal lengths performance would just be OK. I’d appreciate any feedback.


  2. Claire September 10, 2017 / 1:46 am

    It’s a shame not much is ever said about micro four thirds cameras and lenses. They can be pretty surprising in astrophotography

  3. William Shaw July 29, 2017 / 4:18 am

    It would be interesting to get your views on the new Sigma 14mm 1.8. Initial reviews elsewhere seem very polarised from great to “sent straight back” for Astro work and I have no idea where the truth is. Given the cost of that lens I am not taking any chances!

  4. Paul Tweten July 28, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Great info!

    I need a Rokinon 14!

    Now that Irix has an 11 f4 and a 15 f2.8, which of these 3 would you get?

  5. dslrpundit July 21, 2017 / 4:16 pm

    There is a new fantastic lens from TOkina for cropped sensor cameras. TOkina 14-20 mm F2. My friend has it, and I borrowed it from him for 2 days. Was blown away.

  6. Gayla Morris June 23, 2017 / 5:09 pm

    I’m curious to know if you have also written an article on the best lenses for photographing Aurora Borealis? I searched your site and found your shots in your article on your 2015 travels and your specs for each, but if you have an article like this specifically on photographing the Northern Lights, I would love the link. I’m trying to figure out if one lens will take both the Milky Way and Aurora or if two lenses will be required. Thanks! P.s., it may interest you to know that I found your site via word of mouth. It came highly recommended.

  7. Aaron Stratton June 17, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    Hi Ian,
    I’ve done an insane amount of research, and I have narrowed things down to either the Rokinon/Samyang/et al. 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye or the 12mm f/2 for my Fuji X-T1.
    I shoot mainly in heavily forested MN and WI, so I don’t have some of the wide open vistas of the west as often as I would like. I already own the Fuji 18-55 OIS F/2.8 and a Canon 50 f/1.8 Nifty Fifty with adapter.

    Would you have any advice between these two?

    Your site and your work are truly inspiring. Thank you for all you do!

  8. Vincenzo April 27, 2017 / 9:26 am

    Hi, what about sigma 30mm f1.4 DN C?
    I use also samyang 12mm f2, but I love sigma 30mm, best lens for sony alpha 6000 on DXO.

  9. Tom April 17, 2017 / 5:05 am

    Has anyone tried the recent Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens on the Sony A6000? I’d be interested to hear how it fares.

  10. Jesse Wilson March 18, 2017 / 10:52 pm


  11. Tony March 8, 2017 / 7:45 am

    Been having a small debate with a friend of mine about medium format versus 35mm for astral photography. He contends that because the fstops are wider for 35mm it is better suited for astral photography, I contend that because the format is different, if we are working with equivalent lenses, the amount of light allowed through the aperture should be a wash. For example, an 18mm f2 lens on a full frame camera would let the same amount of light in as a 35mm f4 on a medium format camera.

    Who is right?

  12. Tyler Brozovich February 15, 2017 / 8:14 am

    Hi Ian,

    I have a D750 with the nikkor 24-70g ed. I am looking at getting a wider lens for landscape and astrophotography. I have done some research and was looking at the rokinon 14mm or getting the nikkor 14-24. After reading this article and seeing your spreadsheet, it seems that my current lens scores higher than either the rokinon 14 or the nikkor 14-24. You also suggest getting the rokinon so I am a little bit confused which direction I should take. According to the scoring, the rokinon 24mm 1.4 would be the best for astro but I wouldn’t get a wider view which might not be necessary.


  13. Stephen Bangs February 3, 2017 / 1:51 pm

    I have got a Canon EOS 650D, and I have a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM Len. Does Sigma 17-50mm Len better for Astrophotography? Will it be good Quality Image if I use 17mm and Wide Aperture f/2.8?

  14. Wayne January 13, 2017 / 4:29 pm

    Would you recommend on using a equatorial mount? I got a nikon d500 and i want to do some astrophotography. Thinking about the celestron avx or the optron ieq25.

  15. Barry Ray December 7, 2016 / 6:40 am

    First, I’m a big fan of your site, thank you for what you do!!! I have a question about the Sigma 24mm Art lens. Is there a reason you rate the Sigma 35 1.4 A and not the 24 1.4 A? I’m assuming your ratings came out before the 24 1.4 A. I’ve been using the Rokinon 14mm 2.8 and tried the Rokinon 24 1.4 but I kept getting bad copies of the lens. This led me to look at the Sigma 24 1.4 A lens. I’ve ordered the Sigma 24 and 35mm 1.4 A lenses and will post on my test results after the 1st of the year. I’m using a Canon 5 D SR and 6 D and shoot mainly in remote areas of central Texas where there are some pretty dark skies.

    P.S. Don’t judge my astro pics on my website too much, I’m just getting started and am now fully hooked. I just purchased the Sharpstar2 and will probably pick up your LR downloads next.

    • Barry Ray February 5, 2017 / 9:44 am

      After trying the Sigma 24A and 35A 1.4 lenses I was disappointed with both and returned them. The 24mm lens was not very sharp and suffered from both coma and CA. The 35 was much sharper but had severe CA (I would consider the 35A 1.4 as an affordable portrait lens though). I finally broke down and bought the Canon 35mm 1.4L II and all I can say is WOW!!! This lens is amazingly sharp from corner to corner and handles both coma and CA very well, it is just amazing for anything I use it for, Astro, portrait, or just walking around. If you are in the Canon family, trust me you can’t go wrong with this lens.

  16. Nick November 26, 2016 / 7:50 am

    Hi have you come across the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 lens? haver ther been any other changes or additions over the past couple of years?


    • Joshua Kuhn February 2, 2017 / 8:04 pm

      I am curious about this lens as well. Thete is so much contradicting info out there, but I can’t find many starscape photos. It would be nice to get a review from a reliable source. 😉

  17. lpy September 4, 2016 / 11:41 pm

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    I am wondering if Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | A is good enough to do the astrophotography?


  18. henrik August 30, 2016 / 2:24 pm

    Hi Ian,
    thx for the great post (even as it’s already 3years old, but it shows that there’s great content in it). I was just crunching on the numbers in your Astro Photography Lens Rating spread sheet, maybe you could help me out:
    You’re calculating Angular area as (2*ATAN(24/2/f))*(2*ATAN(16/2/f)) (with f focal length), which simply reads as multiplication of Horizontal * Vertical Angle of View for a given focal length. The ATAN should then host the sensor dimensions of the image sensor (horizontal / vertical): For a full frame sensor I’d expect 24mm (I find it in your formula) and 36mm > but I see a 16 there! Is this an error from my side or is it a typo?
    Thx for clarifying!
    PS: The angle of view calculation will be a welcome addition to my spreadsheet optics calculator ( )

  19. Tero Moilanen August 24, 2016 / 5:30 am

    This was great article, thank you for this!
    We are just now getting dark nights again in Finland, so it’s time for me too get out at night with my camera and try to capture milky way and hopefully some aurora borealis as well.
    I have Canon APS-C dslr and lenses suitable for astrophotography 50mm f1.4, 17mm f2.8 and 10mm f3.5, so for me it’s decicion between field of view and aperature 😀

    I think that I just find a dark place without light pollution and try all of them.

  20. Alessandro August 19, 2016 / 2:32 pm

    Could you compare Rokinon 14mm vs 16mm on APSc sensor? At Lenstip the 14 mm appears to perform better, with less coma aberration. Do you think that the 16mm is good as the 14mm wide open?

  21. Jeff Presley July 23, 2016 / 6:20 pm

    Hello Ian, I recently purchased a Sony A6000 and I was wondering if I need some kind of adapter for a Rokinon 24mm F1.4 (ED AS IF UMC) Full Frame Lens that I also purchased? I want to get into astrophotography and am really out of my league. Also how do you set the exposure time (example 25 seconds)? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.

    • Jake August 2, 2016 / 10:57 pm

      Assuming the Rokinon Lens you bought is for Sony E-Mount, no adapter is needed to use a full frame lens on an APS-C body and it will work just fine. Just remember to change the camera settings to allow the shutter to fire without a proper electronically connected lens, found in the settings.

      Use the 500 rule to set the proper shutter speed (500/(24(lens focal length) x 1.5(sensor size crop factor))) = 13.8 sec, so the ideal shutter speed should be 13 seconds. Open the aperture all the way to 1.4 and be sure to know where infinity focus is on your lens (best to figure that out during the day time). Get to a dark location, find the galactic center of the Milky Way through a phone app (something like SkyView Free), and set the ISO so that the histogram is peaked in the middle, if not a little to the right (which will probably be around 6400). That’s most of it, if you have all that down then you’re gold!

  22. James July 18, 2016 / 8:50 pm

    Hey Ian,

    What is your opinion of the Rokinon 10mm for Nikon APS-C?

    I was considering the 14mm for the ability to upgrade to full frame, but decided it’ll probably be a long time before I consider a full frame camera, and when I do I’ll just pick up a 24mm 1.4.
    Also, my primary focus is landscape astrophotography, as well as other landscapes. I think the 10mm makes more sense due to the crop.

    Thanks for your input! I’ll be sure to buy through your link to support the site!


  23. Jacob Richards July 6, 2016 / 3:37 am

    Hey Ian, quick question for you: how do you feel about the Rokinon cine lenses? I’ve read that they’re the same as the normal lenses, but they have a different coating and they’re declicked. I was just curious if you had any first hand experience with them. I picked up a 24mm 1.5t (pretty much the same as the 24mm f1.4) for my Nikon D750. We’ll see how it does!

    • Nightscapes August 23, 2016 / 9:59 am

      Jacob, I had the same question and came across your comment on Google. How did it end up going with he cine lens?

  24. Christian Hwa June 30, 2016 / 7:30 am

    Hi Ian,

    I’m currently getting into astrophotography/timelapses. I currently using a D4s with a variety of the FX lenses offered by Nikon- I quite reluctant to use it for the timelapse b/c it seems to be a waste of the shutter lifespan. I was thinking of puchasing the sony A7r/A7s- which do you recommend? Along with the sony, I was looking for quality glass to go with it. Do you have any experience with the Zeiss Batis/Loxia, or is the Samyang/Rokinon glass still the best for this application?


    • NancyP June 30, 2016 / 4:35 pm

      Shutter lifespan is highly variable, and CaNikon shutters on the flagship cameras (D# and 1D#/X are readily replaceable by authorized repair. Repair times vary in different countries. I wouldn’t worry too much about shutter failure unless you have only one camera and you need to use it for reportage, scheduled shoots, or other photography-for-pay where you need to be ready to shoot 24-7-365. If you are a pro, “loaners” may be available from the authorized repair. I am a Canon person, and I know that pros who pay a $100.00/year membership to Canon and have purchased sufficient Canon gear to qualify (a prosumer or pro-grade camera and several good lenses) can get put to the front of the line for repair, and get loaners. Canon pro-grade cameras routinely get well above the 300,000 actuations shutter lifespan. I imagine that Nikon cameras are the same. If you want a different camera, and are mostly doing deep sky imaging, I would suggest also considering purpose-built astronomy camera units. Scientific CCDs have exceptional sensitivity, and have efficient Peltier cooling of the sensor.

  25. Omar Mendoza May 31, 2016 / 1:25 am

    Hey Ian, great and complete info in your website.

    It’s time for me to purchase a better lens (I’m using Nikon D5200 with kit lenses 18-55mm f3.5…) so I’m between the most used Rokinon 14mm f2.8 and the Rokinon 16mm f2.0… Since the difference in money is only about 15 usd, should I go for the f2.0 or keep it with the famous f2.8? I will be glad for your personal opinion

  26. Ben Ruef May 11, 2016 / 6:17 pm

    I have the rokinon 14mm t3.1 cine lens (not cine ds). Every time I shoot the milky way with this lens, the edges are super blurry and oval-shaped. The 24mm T1.5 DS version does not have the same problem. Do you think it just needs to be stopped down or do you think the ds or digital photo versions just have better optics/performance.

  27. Ethan J Sample May 8, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    So… I know it is very safe to say that the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 would be an amazing lens on the Sony a6000. What would you say about the kit lens for the a6000, which is a 16-50mm f/3.5?

  28. Stan Hingston May 4, 2016 / 8:59 am

    Partly on the advice from this website I purchased a Rokinon 24mm 1.4 lens for my Pentax K20D. I find it very frustrating to manually focus – I can never seem to get a sharp image at wide open, even of a flat subject like a picture on the wall. Is this normal for this lens? It also produces a lot of coma aberration. Here is a dropbox link to a full res image and three close up crops of stars I shot last night. Mars is the bright (overexposed) light in the center of the full image and on the left of the crops. Shot at f1.4, 15s, 400 ISO. The crops come from the right edge, center, and left edge of their respective photos. I focused using live view zoomed in.
    I would like advice from people who have used this lens on whether this is the best I can expect or if I should return the lens on warranty and hope the next one is better. Thanks!

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2016 / 9:29 am

      Your lens seems to be decentered or similar. I would return it or make a warranty claim.

    • Stan Hingston May 4, 2016 / 10:47 am

      Thanks Ian. that’s how I felt but wanted another opinion.

  29. Joseph April 16, 2016 / 3:54 pm

    You say that the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 should be a better start than a Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 for those on an APS-C sensor. Does the extra f-stop of the Rokinon make a noticeable difference when photographing the milky way – I have a canon 600d so am limited in my iso capabilities. Also what do you mean by an APS-C mirrorless lens vs an APS-C dslr lens?

  30. Mark Riley March 31, 2016 / 12:51 am

    Very interesting and informative. Thank you for the very useful advice. However, nobody mentions the actual COST of Full frame photography-quite literally astronomical!! I am using a Pentax K3 ii with a Samyang 14mm lens (beautiful-best lens I have ever owned!) as recommended by many. With a built in astrotracer which I plan to use when I have time, I am looking forward to getting some interesting results! This APSC camera can produce results not a million light years away from Full Frame cameras, and image quality as good as most cameras mentioned here. No hesitation in recommending it as a viable and cost effective alternative to the Nikon/Canon systems, and even high ISOs are great at least up to 6400! Shame there are not many fast short zooms for Pentax (though again these lenses are EXPENSIVE!!) The ability to switch the anti aliaising filter on or off is a boon and I wonder how effective this is when used for astrophotography. With the money saved on a FF camera you could buy a decent Telescope!!

    The Full Frame Pentax K1 is soon to be released so if you can afford that, it might just be a “star” for astrophotography!

    • Stan Hingston May 4, 2016 / 10:40 am

      Mark – would you consider writing a review of the Pentax K3ii for this forum? Does the astro tracking feature work as well as advertised? I’m thinking of upgrading to this from my K20D. I noticed that Pentax was not on the list of cameras to be reviewed.

  31. Nicolas March 24, 2016 / 4:47 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the article – great introduction for beginners like me.
    However, I feel like there is something strange in your lens rating calculation.
    Basically, for 2 lenses at the same f/number, you very correctly state “for equal shutter speeds, they should provide the same illuminance at the sensor”.
    Later on, you rightfully state as well “The results compare nicely across constant f/numbers and differing focal lengths as well. 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…” But actually this does not generaly hold in your table… Let’s take the first 2 lines of your table : 8mmf/2.8 and 14mmf2.8. As the shutter speed which determines the final score is driven only by the focal length (the “500” rule), the scores should show a ratio of 14/8=1.75. But the scores you propose are 1237 and 1032, showing a ratio of 1,20 – a considerable difference.
    Actually your introduction of the “angular area” in the calculation does not match your statement by which the total “illuminance at the sensor” is a function of the “area of the scene” which is covered by the image. Indeed, this area is not a product of two “angles of view” (arctan (D/f)) but a product of two lengths, which are tangents of those values. Continuing the calculation then by multiplying that “area of the scene” by the “aperture area”, you can easily demonstrate that the “illuminance at the sensor” does not depend on the focal length any more, but only on the f/number. And this then backs your initial statement that for 2 lenses and at a given **f/number**, “for equal shutter speeds, they should provide the same illuminance at the sensor”.
    Or am I missing some subtilty linked to the “angular area” concept ?


  32. Flo March 20, 2016 / 1:55 pm

    Hy Ian,

    bought myself a sony a7s, is there a FE (Full Frame) e-mount objective you can recommend
    for astrophotography ?


    • Dee May 23, 2016 / 4:36 pm

      I have the Sony A7rII and have also been looking for some suggestions for the A7 series FF mirrorless cameras. I also have the Metabones adaptor, making the A7rII compatible with Canon lenses as well. I did read the Canon-specific Milky Way article you posted, but would love to hear any suggestions for Sony lenses.

    • Tim July 7, 2016 / 5:39 am

      FE 16-35 f/4 although only f/4 does a nice job, as these sensors can handle the ISO then it’s worth looking at, it’s just a really nice lens.
      There is a review of the FE 28mm f/2. Best thing is the size! Bit of barrel distortion considering focal length. I haven’t tried it with astro as I prefer a UWA.
      And of course there is the Rokinon/samyang 14mm f/2.8 that now comes in a e-mount. I have the canon mount and use via adapter – works well.
      Of all of these, if I could only have one I’d go the 16-35.

  33. william Mc March 14, 2016 / 11:36 pm

    i have a nkon D7100 what lens would you recomend thanks

  34. Harris March 2, 2016 / 7:53 am

    I got a quick question. Do you think canon 10-18mm f 4.5-5.6 is good for milkyway photography?


    • NancyP March 2, 2016 / 9:51 am

      That lens will give a dim view of the Milky Way. An f/2.8 or wider lens would be preferable (at least 4 times the light captured per unit time, WRT the 10-18 f/5.6 lens!). But, if that’s what you have on hand, use it wide open, expose for 30-60 sec., you may have oval stars but the overall effect may be fine, if not as bright as most of the photos you see on the web. Give it a try locally. Then if you like doing night photography, or are going someplace special, think about a wide-aperture lens. Post-processing is needed (with any lens) to bring out the stars to greatest effect.

  35. Victor February 19, 2016 / 11:05 am

    Hi Ian,

    very good page, my question is: when you will post your review about the Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art?


  36. Steven February 11, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    Hey Ian,

    Have you ever looked into the Mitakon 50mm f0.95? And do you think it would suffer the same as the Noctilux?

    All the best! Please, keep doing what you are doing!

  37. Jacob Forsythe December 26, 2015 / 4:55 pm

    Hey Ian! Awesome article.

    I was shooting on the Nikon d3300 with the Rokinon 24mm f1/4 and I loved it, but I just upgraded to the a6000 and Im thinking I want to go for a wider field of view. Im looking at the Rokinon 16mm f2 or the 14mm 2.8 would you recommend one over the other? I like the idea of a lower f stop with the 16, but will it make a big difference with noise and such? Also would you have a recommendation outside of the lenses I’m looking at for the a6000?

  38. Ben December 24, 2015 / 4:22 am

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for this great article!
    I just bought a Samyang 12mm f2 NCS CS for my a6000 as my own xmas present 😉

    I’d like to know if you would correct any lens depending image issues (ca, barrel distortion etc.) on astrophotographs and if yes, before or after stacking them?

    Cheers and Merry Christmas,

    • Ian Norman December 26, 2015 / 9:54 am

      Thanks! The 12mm is a great lens. If applying any lens corrections, do it before stacking!

  39. patrick December 22, 2015 / 7:44 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Great article, thank you again.

    I would like to ask you, considering that the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC is not the lense offering the best score in your Astrophotography Nightscape Lens Rating Table, why don’t you use another lense?

    I own a Canon 15mm 2.8 fish eye lense with canon 6D. I believe that the results should be pretty similar or does it worth investing in this Rokinon lense?


  40. Rick December 16, 2015 / 5:54 pm

    Hi, I wanted to warn those considering buying the Rokinon 24 f1.4, you may not get the “perfect” round stores on all parts of the image as shown on this website, I get it on 2/3 of the full frame image but on the far right side, the aberration is awful. I would have sent it back but it was cloudy when I bought it and by the time I tested it, it was too late to return, sad to spend 550 dollars and have to cut a chunk off of every picture. Now I am wary at buying the Rokinon 14 f2.8 for this reason. Also it does not get better until around F4.

    • Ian Norman December 17, 2015 / 3:30 am

      This lens is definitely prone to decentering, something I talk about more in detail on my review. There are also some good copies of the lens out there in addition to the duds. I’ve had good luck sending a lens in to Rokinon Support for warranty replacement. You might want to try that.

    • NancyP December 17, 2015 / 9:54 am

      The quality control of the Samyang is so-so, I gather, although my experience has been good with the one lens, 14mm f/2.8. I would suggest possible cloudy night solutions for lens testing – not as good as a star field, but not awful. Distant city lights or street lights or in this season Christmas light displays can be had on cloudy nights, and will show gross coma and uneven coma. The “lenstip” Polish lens review website has a coma testing method involving photographing a point light source (laser pointer? check their site for instructions). Uneven aberrations also result in daytime softness. Here’s where a parallel WRT your sensor, evenly lighted (daylight front-lit) brick wall comes in handy, along with a tripod and timed or remote release and use of manual focus at 10x live view. If one corner of the image is softer than the other corners, then some lens element is decentered. This sounds like the problem with your lens. This is a dead simple test that can be applied to any lens, including used lenses, before purchase – I come to the brick-and-mortar camera store with camera, tripod, release, card, and shoot images of neighboring brick building from the store parking lot, hand back the lens and ask them to hold that particular serial number lens for a short time (1 hour to next day) so I can download and analyze images. Note, I don’t buy hot-off-the-press-in-short-supply lenses a week before Christmas (or anytime) this way.

  41. Daniel Jacobsen December 9, 2015 / 3:10 pm

    Thank you so much for your efferorts in making such a great and infomative article.

  42. Federico December 3, 2015 / 8:19 am

    Great article! I wanted to also add into consideration that Pentax offers a GPS module for astrotracing. So you can connect that equipment to an existing pentax camera and it will provide you the ability to do much longer exposures since it tracks the earth movement using sensor shift technology in Pentax cameras. Also the Pentax K3II camera comes equipped with it interally and performs admirably well, for instance I have done +40s shots at with 300mm lenses with very little or none start trails.

  43. wes November 27, 2015 / 2:11 pm

    any downside to Cine lenses for astrophotography ?

  44. PKR November 25, 2015 / 6:19 am

    First and foremost, excellent article! Very easy to follow the concepts and fun to read, and not at all verbose!

    I am curious as to how much price was a factor in recommending the Rokinon 24mm over the 35mm?

    I am looking to buy one of those two for my 6D and would greatly appreciate your opinion

    • PKR November 25, 2015 / 6:21 am

      To clarify, I am looking at either the 24mm f/1.4 or the 35mm f/1.4 from Rokinon.

    • Ian Norman November 25, 2015 / 9:16 am

      I guess that’s all up to you. They fluctuate in price a lot. I prefer the 24mm just because it has a wider field of view…

  45. Max November 24, 2015 / 3:36 am

    Hey, thank you for that really detailed article! Helped me a lot as a beginner 🙂

    I have a question concerning the table of objectives/lenses. As you are using the rule of 500 I guess the numbers are on full frame sensors. Now, when I want to have a comparison for my APS-C, is there a simple/single conversion factor or can I take the relative score of the lenses to compare it for the sensor size?

    I was thinking about getting this ( for my Alpha 58 to get more into Star photography. I was searching for a not too expensive objektive in the ranges you stated, as I am still a beginner and do not think I will be able to get the maximum out of expensive lenses concerning camera settings and choice of motive. If I compare it (relatively) with your table it should be somewhere between 35mm/2.0 and 35mm/1.4 which gives me a score around 1500 which is not to bad I guess.

    Thank you so much again!


  46. riley November 20, 2015 / 5:08 pm

    Hello! I currently have a Canon EOS rebel SL1, with a Tamaron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.5, I’ve been trying to get good pictures of the night sky (the moon especially) but I can never capture the stars , and never get the moon in great detail. What lens would you recommend? Thanks!

    • NancyP November 23, 2015 / 7:40 am

      Two different interests, two different lenses.
      I assume that you have a tripod already – that’s the bare minimum – a remote release is nice too, though you can use the timer delay function if you don’t have the remote release.
      The moon gives you LOTS of light, your problem is getting it large enough in the frame to see details. For this you need a telescope or long telephoto lens. If you have a telescope you may be able to adapt your camera to it via a “T adapter”. If you don’t have a telescope, and want a multipurpose long lens, you could consider a mirror lens, first cousin to telescopes. These are lightweight and relatively inexpensive – Samyang makes a 500mm f/8 mirror lens, or you might be able to find a mirror lens used.
      Concerning the 18-270mm, at 18mm, you need to manual focus on a very bright star using magnified Live View and very high ISO. Get the star as small as possible. Once your manual focus is set, leave it. Auto focus has no place in astro-landscape photography.

  47. Nico November 17, 2015 / 2:12 pm

    Hi Ian,

    First off thanks for the tips and explanations. I shoot various types of photography and fell on your website because I wanted to get better at shooting astrophotography. The tips are great and very helpful but, I did not agree with you on one point you made and would like to explain myself, let me know if you think otherwise.

    It’s true that the clear aperture increases detail but that is because it increases resolving power. This increase in resolving power is compensated by, you guessed it, the tighter field of view of a long focal length. The resolving power is a function of the diameter but because you are narrowing your field of view you need additional resolving power to compensate for that. So let’s pretend that you have two lenses with different focal lengths and sharpness of the optics/manufacturing was not an issue, if both lenses have an aperture of f/2, then you can magnify the image by the same amount on both while seeing the same sharpness. Furthermore, when you use a telephoto lens, you have a narrower field of view but that does not mean that you capture more light because of that. The light source is constant so you won’t see more light if you “zoom in” in layman’s terms. Let’s say you have a traffic light (with all three lights lit) very far away and you use a telephoto to take a picture of it. Each pixel will capture each of the three colors, red, orange, green. But if you use a wide angle lens (staying at the same distance and same resolution) all three lights will be captured by let’s say one pixel instead of three. You are still going to capture the same amount of light as the telephoto lens because you are at the same distance, but now the pixel will detect three times more light than the telephoto option. That is exactly why wide angle lenses are brighter, because they converge all the light rays into a smaller surface area, which is also the reason why telephotos need larger aperture diameters: to compensate for this light loss. So, why does a 50mm f/2 capture the same light as a 100mm f/2? The 100mm captures 4 times less light as a 50mm, which is why the diameter is twice as big. And a diameter twice as big means that the surface area of the aperture is.. 4 times greater!

    To be honest, even with this rule I have seen from my own experience that the longer the focal length, the more light is lost even with the compensation of the aperture, but I still haven’t figured out why. So if I take a 50mm at f/2.8, it will give me higher shutter speeds or lower iso speeds than a 200mm at f/2.8 for the same exact exposure, and even more than a 400mm at f/2.8… Weird but I see this occur every time.

    Finally, when it comes to the levels of magnification that we are trying to achieve with a dslr sensor, the resolving power of the sensor (resolution) and the resolving power of the lens (optics quality, aberration) will be a barrier you hit much much earlier than resolving power due to aperture (a.k.a. diffraction). A 20 megapixel APS-C sensor (high resolving power) will start hitting the diffraction barrier around f/8 so nothing to worry about there. Keeping a very large diameter is important for telescopes where a series of mirrors and extenders are going to push the resolving power of the device to the limits. Increasing your aperture to anything wider than f/5 will actually reduce your sharpness more due to aberrations as you mentioned, rather the benefits you get from reduced diffraction. However you do need the widest aperture for astrophotography anyway, so there isn’t really a compromise or decision to be made here…

    Feel free to correct me if you think I said something wrong and above all I don’t want to give the impression that I’m trying to outsmart anyone. Again, great pictures and great post.


    • Ian Norman November 25, 2015 / 9:28 am

      Yes? I’m not sure of there’s a question being asked here. Larger diameter generally = better. For untracked shots, shorter FL = better to reduce star trails. So the easiest lenses to use, particularly for beginners, are the short, fast ones, like a 14mm/2.8, etc.

  48. Kushal Sarkar November 16, 2015 / 3:21 am

    Hello Ian

    Firstly thanks for all the knowledge you share on this site as well as on YouTube
    I really like your philosophy of sharing knowledge. I myself is a serious newbee from India, use a relatively amature body Canon 600D. I am considering getting a budget fast lens with relatively wide angle for my night sky photography learning.
    How good is canon’s latest eos 24mm f2.8.
    Although stitching will be required, but that’s the tradeoff from price stand…

  49. Goran November 12, 2015 / 10:02 am

    Hello Ian,

    You are running a great website and you have excellent tutorials for us amateurs who want to shake off the dust of their cameras and put them to good use. I have a crop sensor Canon T3i (D600) and I wanted to get a wide angle lens that I can use for general everyday and also night photography. I had the Tokina 11-16mm in my wishlist for a long time and after I found your website, my second choice is the Rokinon 14mm 2.8. I’m torn in the middle since I like how the Rokinon is sharp all around the frame, but I also like the auto focus on the Tokina (for general all around shooting), but people say (even your review) that the Chromatic Aberration is quite noticeable on the Tokina and not as sharp on the edges on the frame.

    My question is, can I use the Rokinon 14mm 2.8 for general purpose wide angle daytime shooting since I don’t mind not having the auto focus, or Tokina is a better wide-angle performer for general use.
    Since I have a crop sensor camera at the moment but I plan to upgrade to a full frame body soon, is there some downside of using the Rokinon 14mm 2.8 except that the shots are not gonna be as wide as on a full frame sensor (115.7° on full vs APS-C Picture Angle: 89.9°)?

    Keep up the great work!

    • NancyP November 12, 2015 / 1:53 pm

      I can respond to this: SamBowRokYang 14mm f/2.8 is a nice landscape lens for the APS-C Canons. I started using it on a 60D, now am using it on a 6D full-frame. Bear in mind that there are now two models, the one with a totally manual aperture ring, in which you compose and focus, then stop down (easy-peasy for tripod work, which I do a lot), and the model with auto-stop-down aperture run by Canon electronics, that works like all other EF and EF-S lenses regarding aperture function. I have the earlier model – the automatic model hadn’t been made yet. I just don’t care, I used to have manual aperture in the film days, it’s nothing to me to move that ring. For day landscape use the aperture is generally f/8 and the depth of field is huge. It is a fun lens.

  50. martin November 9, 2015 / 2:28 pm

    Hey Ian,

    first off id like to say thanks for all of your astro photography reviews and articles. Very informative and helped me get some great shots. I want to step up from my kit lens and am now torn between the Tokina 11-16 f2.8 and the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8. What do you think will get me the best results when trying to capture landscape atsro shots on my APS-C?


  51. Jan November 3, 2015 / 1:22 am

    Hi Ian. I am travelling from Germany to NZ in December for vacation and I am excited about shooting my first nightskies & the milky way. I am using a Olympus E-M1 together with the Zuiko 12-40mm/2.8. Do you think this lense is useful at 12mm for nightsky/milky way photgraphy ? Or do you think the 17mm/1.8 or any other lense could do significantly better ? Of course, I’d love to get the 7-14mm/2.8 or 8mm/1.8 but my budget is limited.

    • Dunk November 3, 2015 / 3:05 pm

      Jan, just a heads-up to avoid disappointment…the central Milky Way sets with the Sun in the southern hemisphere in December, so don’t get too hung up on super-wide FOV. The Carina arm will rise during the night, and the Magellanic clouds will transit, but you can get all of those in a smaller FOV.

    • Jan November 4, 2015 / 4:19 am

      Thanks Dunk for this info. In the end I’ll be grateful for any starry sky that I will get to see even if it is not the Milky Way 🙂
      But I’m still undecided when it comes to the question, which (affordable) lens would be best for nightsky photography on a OMD E-M1 to achieve good results. I’d prefer to use my 12-40mm / 2.8 because of its 12mm focal length, however I am not sure if the f2.8 aperture will be good enough on a µFT system or if the 17mm / 1.8 will do significantly better.

    • Ian Norman November 8, 2015 / 1:40 am

      I think I’d tend towards the shorter lens, even though it’s not as fast but that’s just my preference.

  52. Eddie O'Reilly October 27, 2015 / 2:44 am

    Hi Ian, great site. I’m shooting with a Canon 60D (soon to be 7DmkII). I’ve dabbled with astro on and off over the years but want to get more serious. I am looking for a fast ultra-wide but have hit decision paralysis, torn between the Samyang 10mm and the Tokina 11-16mm. I haven’t found many reviews of the 10mm with regards to astro, maybe because it is newer. My instinct is to go prime, but I note you usually recommend the 14mm or 16mm. Have you had experience with the 10mm? Does it have issues? Is the 11-16mm a better option? I have the canon 17-55 2.8 which is close to the 16mm in FL so I suspect not much bang for buck in that purchase for me. Any assistance appreciated. Thanks.

    • Ian Norman November 8, 2015 / 1:41 am

      I prefer the 11-16mm/2.8 for the price. the AF in particular is a nice to have so the lens is more everyday versatile.

  53. Madison McKay September 24, 2015 / 7:51 am


    Ive been reading and re-reading next to all your reviews and how to posts for the past week. Im a semi experienced photographer and currently using the omd em1 with a 75-150mm lens. Was geat for when i was traveling and for a wide range of shots.

    But im looking at focusing on my l
    Landscape/Nature and Nightshots. I have a hiking trip planed in northern Scandinavia in a few months and hoping to develop my astrophotography and get some shots of the Northern Lights.

    Im jumping between the Sony a7S and Fujifilm X-T1 and then a matter of what lens. I prefer only taking 1 lens when hiking. But worried about the diversity of the Rokinon/Fujifilm 14mm lens (12mm and 24mm and contenders as well).

    Any tips im thinking of inveating in two diffent lens that will provide optimal diversity.

    Thankyou for providing this awesome site I think i have at least 100 screen shots on my phone to refer back to when i try and achieve even close to what you have as examples ☺


    • Ian Norman November 8, 2015 / 1:43 am

      I personally would opt for the single lens set up. It’s personally how I tend to shoot a place and make for more careful composition rather than changing lenses all the time.

  54. Joseph September 22, 2015 / 9:21 pm

    Hi Ian,
    Great website, I’ve learned a lot. I have canon 7d, what Lens would you recommend for astrophotography, rokinon 24mm or 14 mm? Or maybe some other?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Ian Norman November 8, 2015 / 1:44 am

      I usually recommend the 14mm first just because of its wider field of view. Makes for more dramatic images.

  55. Ed September 15, 2015 / 2:26 am

    Hi Ian.
    I appreciate the effort you put on this website and I am planning to get the Rokinon/Bower/Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lens thru your link above for my Canon 60D camera.

    However I am confused on which lens I should pick. The one with the AE or the one without? The price difference is $224, which is not small.

    Appreciate any advice you can provide.


    • Ian Norman September 15, 2015 / 7:39 am

      The AE chip should give you focus confirmation from what I understand but its totally unnecessary for astro.

    • NancyP September 15, 2015 / 8:11 am

      I would be willing to bet that there is a typo in the price. $24.00 difference, not $224.00 difference. For astrophotography, focus confirmation is meaningless, and I don’t have another lens with that field of view, so I don’t mind the exif saying 0 mm f/1.0, or whatever the exif is when the camera doesn’t recognize the lens. Astrophotography focus is done in Live View with magnification, find a bright star and focus until it is the smallest possible dot. Done! However, for daytime use, where one is likely to be stopping down the aperture some, the depth of field is pretty large, so focus confirmation isn’t really so necessary (that being said, I have an Eg-S ultrafine screen meant for manual focus lenses – I have some film-era lenses I use – much easier to focus the f/1.4 and f/2 lenses).

    • Ed September 15, 2015 / 7:39 pm

      Thanks Ian for the swift response. Much appreciated! Keep up the amazing work bro!

      Nancy: Then I’m afraid you’ll lose your stake 🙂 Unless Amazon really messed up the pricing, if you click on the link above for Rokinon/Bower/Samyang 14mm f/2.8, it will direct you to Amazon website. You will find the price for both Canon lens there. Anyway thanks for the heads up I’m new to this but you guys inspired me to go out and shoot some stars. Will be visiting this site from time to time.

    • NancyP September 16, 2015 / 7:58 am

      My bad. I thought that they just added a Dandelion chip (gives focus confirmation, allows lens ID for exif, doesn’t provide electronic aperture stop-down control). The Dandelion chips cost about $15.00 or so, and you can apply them yourself. This seems to be a new chip. Meh, for this particular lens. I grew up with all-manual lenses in the days of film, with mechanical stop-down (pin-mediated or “preset”). If you aren’t shooting fast action or stopping down to f/22 (v-e-r-y dim), full manual is fine.

  56. Michael September 12, 2015 / 2:14 pm

    Hello Ian,
    in the “focal-length-comparison-milky-way.jpg” why is 8mm APS-C 14mm on FF, but 12mm APS-C is 18mm on FF?
    Fuji Crop would be 8mm on APS-C -> 12mm on FF or is it because of the Rokinon 8mm Fish would be 14mm on FF?


    • Ian Norman September 12, 2015 / 2:38 pm

      They’re not exactly equivalent as posted, just shown with common focal lengths for each system.

  57. Taylor Tollison September 6, 2015 / 10:34 pm

    Great Article. I’ve been looking to get into this type of photography. I am a super super beginner and I am trying to find a lens that will take decent pictures for under 200. What do you think of this lens.

    These are the specs

    DSLR APS-C Format
    180 Degree Diagonal Angle of Vision
    Super Multi Coating Reduces
    Flare and Ghosting Minimum Focus
    Distance 12 Inches Removable
    Petal Lens Hood

    Compatible Mountings: Nikon F
    Focus Type: Manual-focus
    Lens Type: Fisheye
    Maximum Aperture Range: 3.5 mm
    Maximum Focal Length: 8 mm
    Minimum Focal Length: 8 mm
    Minimum Focal Range: 8 mm
    Package Height: 4.09 x 4.88 x 7.4 inches
    Shipping Weight: 1.54 pounds
    Zoom Type: Fixed

    Package Content:
    1x Kelda 8mm F/3.5 fisheye lens with retail package

    • Ian Norman September 7, 2015 / 8:56 am

      This appears to be a copy of the Rokinon/Samyang 8mm/3.5. It will work. Remember that your kit lens is the same speed at this fisheye though so you could just start with what you have first.

    • NancyP September 8, 2015 / 8:26 am

      This “Kelda” lens looks like it may be a rebranded Samyang lens. Samyang is a Korean manufacturer that sells the same lens models under its own name and wholesales the lenses to other large retailers who put their own brand name on it. So far, I know Samyang 8 mm f/3.5 fisheye = Rokinon, Bower, Opteka, Pro-optic – and likely Kelda, though I have never heard of this rebranding before. You can look up many images of this Samyang (Rokinon, Bower, etc) – it does a good job for a bargain price, IF you want the “fisheye” field of view and distortion. If you want less distortion and a smaller field of view, the Samyang (etc) 14mm f/2.8 is also a great bargain and has been around for a long while – it is a full frame lens, not needed for your camera – but there might be used copies around. A better choice for you in non-fisheye new APS-C lenses is the Samyang (etc) 16 mm f/2.0, at about the same price as a new 14mm, $360.00 at B and H (a quick site to look up prices and lens stats – and a good mail-order house, if you can’t buy from brick and mortar store). The Samyang (etc) 10mm f/2.8 for APS-C only looks like it is the equivalent of the 14mm f/2.8, but its price is considerably higher at ~$450.00 . For that price you could get the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 zoom, also a popular lens for astrophotography. So look around at astrophotography sites for photos listing camera and lens used, and you will get an idea what field of view you want.

  58. 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??

  59. 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?

  60. 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 ?

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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

  65. 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.”

  66. 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?

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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

  72. 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.

  73. 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!

  74. 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!

    • Dee May 23, 2016 / 5:05 pm

      I have the A7rII and the 28mm f2 lens and have enjoyed it very much. I’m very new to astrophotography, however, so I can comment too much on that. The lens is very fast and very sharp, though. I realize this comment is almost a year old, but I haven’t seen much discussion (or any, perhaps) on this lens’ performance in this genre of photography and would be thrilled to see that change!

  75. 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?

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

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

  77. Winston February 19, 2015 / 5:27 pm

    I found it interesting that your sample of Samyang 24/1.4 doesn’t show coma in the corners at f/1.4, because according to’s review it still produces quite noticeable coma (though less than N/C’s counterparts). I’m about to get the 35/1.4, as I thought the 24 is still useless wideopen.

  78. Daniel M February 10, 2015 / 10:21 am

    Hi Ian, looking at the just announced Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art. Should be a very highly-rated lens according to the chart you made. In your experience with other Sigma lenses, do they handle coma and astigmatism aberrations well?

    • NancyP February 10, 2015 / 11:01 am

      Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art has very little coma at f/1.4 in full frame corners, from personal experience. I don’t mind an extremely bright “square star” in the far corners at 1:1 view, it doesn’t alter the esthetics of the image at usual viewing distances. Someone at Canon Rumors or Luminous Landscape tested the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art at f/1.4 full frame, and it had very little, if any, coma. That was quite a revelation for me, having tried out a bunch of good film era double-Gauss design fast 50-60mm lenses – old lenses have enormous bat-wing coma in full frame corners. So here’s hoping that Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art lives up to its two f/1.4 sibs. It would be a good move for Sigma to produce a low coma lens to compete against OEM manufacturers’ lenses.

    • Daniel M February 10, 2015 / 11:31 am

      Thank you!

  79. Mayu January 27, 2015 / 5:54 am

    How would the Vivitar 13mm f/2.8 lens be for Milky Way photos (I have a Sony Alpha DSLT)?

    • Ian Norman February 5, 2015 / 4:59 pm

      Hmmm, wow, I never heard of that lens until now… I’ll have to check it out. Looks similar to the Samyang 14mm/2.8 but has a different number of lens elements. At the price, it might be worth the risk, try it out.

  80. Steve January 18, 2015 / 7:08 am

    Superb and fascinating write up. The Samyang 12mm looks like a great lens to opt for on an XT1.

    • Ian Norman February 5, 2015 / 4:42 pm

      Thanks! Yes, the Samyang 12mm is probably my favorite dedicated astro lens for all APS-C Mirrorless cameras.

  81. rod January 7, 2015 / 11:23 pm

    hey I have a Canon 70D. and I was wondering what lens would be better for astrophotography. the Samyang 14mm 2.8 or the new Canon 10-18mm IS STM?

    • Ian Norman January 9, 2015 / 2:47 am

      The Canon 10-18mm/4.5-5.6 has a very small aperture so it’s not particularly suited for astrophotography. A better choice is the Tokina 11-16mm/2.8 (has autofocus), the Samyang/Rokinon 10mm/2.8, 14mm/2.8 or 16mm/2.0 (manual).

  82. David December 19, 2014 / 12:25 pm

    Brilliant website. However I’ve confused myself and I need your advice, which lens would be your top recommendation for astrophotography between the Samyang 10mm f2.8, 14mm f2.8, 16mm f2 and the 24mm f1.4 on a Canon 7D

    • Ian Norman January 9, 2015 / 2:45 am

      I tend to recommend wider field of view lenses first for people starting out. They let you see more of the sky and just make it much easier to shoot at night. Therefore, I think the 10mm/2.8 would be a good lens to start with. Also consider the 11-16mm.

  83. Steve December 16, 2014 / 7:55 am


    I am looking at a camera / lens combination for travelling. Astro photography / Landscape and a general walkaround portrait style lens.

    Looking at either the Sony a7 with a Rokinon 35mm F1.4 , or an aps-c like the Fujifilm X-T1 with a Fujifilm 23mm F/1.4 for the X-T1.

    Unsure of which camera is best suited, and which lenses to add for general portrait / walkaround photogrpahy, and a landscape lens with good dof.

    Any advice is appreciated, love the site and the photos!

    • Ian Norman January 9, 2015 / 2:43 am

      Frankly both of those setups is great. The Fujifilm set is much more compact because of the lens. The 23mm/1.4, while big for a Fujifilm lens is still much smaller than the Rokinon 35mm/1.4. Sony still has limited native lenses compared to Fujifilm so I like their system as a whole much better but the extra pixels and sensor size of the a7 is attractive if you’re OK using third party lenses.

  84. Sean December 14, 2014 / 3:24 pm

    Hey Ian. Look-I have a canon 7d and t3i. I Have been able to get decent star photos with the 18-135mm f 3.5-5.6, but they are not nearly as good as some of the shots I’ve seen with the higher end full frame cameras. If I were to get a samyang 16mm f2 for use on either of these cameras, how do you think my images would stack up to some of the professional images and would I be able to get really clean images with this lens? Thanks a lot

    • NancyP December 16, 2014 / 7:30 am

      I have the 60D (similar sensor to the 7Dclassic) and the 6D, and there’s no question that the noise is much lower on the 6D. For a single photo, the noise of 60D ISO 400 = 6D ISO 1600. Simple noise reduction in Lightroom does dampen out some stars. I understand that DXO has a computationally intensive noise reduction program that is better than all others – but I haven’t tried it myself. That being said, further post-processing can help, particularly if you are willing to composite shots 1. stack of images of star field, “averaged” out in an astroimaging program (foreground will be blurred) and 2. foreground. I am no whiz at post-processing stacked images, though I have gotten some nice moon shots at 560mm on 60D from stacks (these stacks can be done on Photoshop or a free planetary imaging program). If you want expert advice on astroimaging programs, also consider lurking on the Cloudy Nights astronomy forum astrophotography subforum.

    • Ian Norman January 9, 2015 / 2:41 am

      Sean, NancyP has some good insights. Also, the 16mm will be a marked improvement over the 18-135. The 16mm/2.0 gets you almost two extra stops of light which is a great improvement for making cleaner images. If you’re already getting decent shots with the 18-135mm, stepping up to the 16mm/2.0 will help a lot.

  85. Mark December 5, 2014 / 5:21 pm

    Hi have been looking at your website and have learned so much. I am looking at getting a new camera and looking at the Canon 70D or the Sony A6000. Which one would you recommend factoring in I have no lenses.

    • Ian Norman December 9, 2014 / 2:32 am

      Mark, they are very different camera systems. I recommend trying to handle each in a store. I really love the a6000 for its small size and it would be my personal preference. I think some photographers might like the larger 70D so it’s a toss up. They’re both good cameras. I think the a6000 is a better bang for the buck.

  86. Alessandro Tenconi December 3, 2014 / 2:40 am

    Hi Ian,

    Thank you so much for your articles! they are really well written and full of great tips and knowledge!

    I am looking for a wide angle lens versatile for both landscape photography and astrophotography.

    I am puzzled between a Samyang/Rokinon 8mm 3.5 or a Rokinon 14mm 2.8

    I would use this on my Canon t3i. Would you recommend the 8mm for broader fov or the 14mm for more aperture and less distortion?

    • Ian Norman December 4, 2014 / 11:20 am

      I recommend the 14mm first over the 8mm. Only get a fisheye if you know you want to deal with fisheye distortion.

  87. Omer Gul December 1, 2014 / 1:57 am

    Hi Ian! Thanks for such a great article. Iam about to buy Samyang 14mm but there are a lot complaints regarding the infinity focus and sharpness in almost every copy. How ccan that be fixed? Secondly what things should be considered before buying one and how can it be checked on spot.

    Omer Gul

  88. Josh C November 28, 2014 / 10:04 pm

    is f/4 to too small for star photography?

    • Ian Norman November 28, 2014 / 10:44 pm

      Not to start. I understand that a lot of people may be starting out with a kit lens that has a slower f/4 or f/3.5 aperture. I think this is OK to use to start learning how to shoot the night sky. That said, even a single stop brighter (f/2.8) will make a tangible difference in the photo quality. Every extra stop of light doubles the lens’s capability to capture light so the resulting photos will be comparatively cleaner with a lower f/number.

  89. Barry November 27, 2014 / 9:51 am

    Do you have any thoughts on how the Voigtlander .95s for micro-4/3 work for astrophotography?

    • Ian Norman November 27, 2014 / 5:33 pm

      The 17.5mm/0.95 is better stopped down two stops to f/2.0. Otherwise you would experience some noticeable astigmatism. If this is a concern, the Oly 17mm/1.8 might be a better choice, it’s smaller and performs better at f/1.8 than the voigtlander at f/2.0.

  90. Noah November 25, 2014 / 8:38 am

    Which camera would you go for first, with lenses and tech involved. Canon t5i or Nikon D3300?

  91. Andrew November 20, 2014 / 1:15 am

    Hello Ian, what 8mm lens you will recommend for a sony alpha a700 Dslr? Or what is the best lens choice for this?

    • Ian Norman November 20, 2014 / 1:35 am

      Also consider the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8, 14mm f/2.8 and 16mm f/2.0.

  92. Andrew November 20, 2014 / 1:01 am

    Hello Ian, what 8mm lens you will recommend for a sony alpha a700 Dslr?

    • Ian Norman November 20, 2014 / 1:35 am

      Probably the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 for Sony A mount.

  93. Chris November 16, 2014 / 7:31 am

    just saw your piece about timelapse the milky way. Youre using the an a6000 with the Rokinon 24mm1.4. I got the a6000 with the 12mm2.0. Do you think it would be worth it getting the 24mm1.4 aswell ? Would it make such a difference ?

    thanks and cheers,


    • Ian Norman November 16, 2014 / 4:59 pm

      I actually think the a6000 is better paired with the 12mm/2.0. The 24mm is good but the field of view is more constraining than the 12mm.

  94. John Fyn (@JohnFynPhoto) November 15, 2014 / 4:58 am

    Thank you so much for a very useful article and explanations. This is a field I would like to get into, alas, living in the UK doesn’t give much opportunity to find areas with little light pollution. I need to travel a long way to get dark skies.
    I have a Nikon D800 which is exceptional for low noise at high ISO, the only wide angle lens I have is Nikkor 16-35 f/4 – Do you think this is sufficient? I would have to compensate the f/4 with shooting at very high ISO. Possible or waste of time?
    Thanks for advice. John

    • Ian Norman November 15, 2014 / 5:16 am

      John, definitely possible with that combination. My suggestion: give it a shot!

    • John Fyn (@JohnFynPhoto) November 16, 2014 / 11:50 am

      Ian, Thank you for your reply and I appreciate it. I have just discovered your Milky Way Exposure Calculator and the results I entered there (Full Frame, 6400iso, 16mm, f/4) yields me an exposure time of 62 seconds, which contradicts your reply. I’m not trying to challenge you here, just trying to get an understanding. The nearest dark sky to me is about 7 hours drive (and probably raining – it’s in Scotland). I am reluctant forking out on 24mm f/1.8 Samyang, if I can get away with it with current lens. Thanks again, John

    • Ian Norman November 16, 2014 / 4:58 pm

      Yeah, the calculator tries to be a one-size fits all calculation but when it hits certain limitations it throws in compensation, usually with shutter speed. In this case, f/4 is slower than I typically recommend so the first logical recommendation is to increase shutter speed and then warn the user that it could result in star trails. Given that you’re using a D800, which is particularly great with noise, you can probably afford to shoot with a shorter shutter speed than the calculator recommends. Hope that makes sense. Definitely go out and try it with what you have before you buy anything new. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what the D800 can do.

      Hope that helps! Ian

  95. Deep Panjwani November 8, 2014 / 7:24 am


    Well as I said I was confused between 14 mm f 2.8 and 24 mm f 1.4, well to be frank f 1.4 sucked me in. I bought rokinson 24 mm f 1.4. I have canon 60 D. Now my question is appropriate to open the aperture all the way during shooting the milky way? f 1.4 will give you a lot of light in, but then image might be less sharp.

    Thanks a lot for this awesome site! It has been really useful!


    • Ian Norman November 8, 2014 / 8:35 am

      I shoot at f/1.4 all the time but the lens definitely gets noticeably sharper at f/2.0. It’s a trade between signal and sharpness and the decision is really up to how you intend to use the photographs.

  96. Melissa Baines November 7, 2014 / 9:44 am

    You are my new favorite person in the world!!!!!! Thank You so much for sharing your photog nerd knowledge 🙂

    • Ian Norman November 7, 2014 / 11:12 pm

      haha! thanks Melissa.

  97. Rizan November 2, 2014 / 5:05 am

    Thank you so much for the presets. I shoot on my Fuji X-E1 with a 35mm f/1.4. Sadly cause I live quite far from the countryside I’ve only managed to get 3 or 4 quite dim shots of the milky way, but most of these presets look amazing on them! Thank you again for sharing these, but sadly I can’t pay anything since I’m only a student and i dont make any money 🙁

    • Ian Norman November 3, 2014 / 12:41 am

      Hey no worries Rizan, I know the state you’re in an that’s exactly why I made the Film Speck One presets available for free. Hope you find some dark skies!

  98. Dmitry October 31, 2014 / 12:37 am

    Ian, thanks a lot for your site which is extremely useful for any astrophotographer!

    Your Astro Lens Score seems very useful and relevant.

    However, in the Google Disk file the Signal to Noise Ratio Score for FF sensor seems erroneous. In the FF score calculation, you should use the FF Angular Area rather than APS-C Angular Area. As a result, compared to an APS-C sensor the FF sensor is about twice as good (which is what one should expect) – not just by 20%, as you have concluded.

    • Ian Norman October 31, 2014 / 3:54 am

      That part of the spreadsheet is in “beta” if you will, I’m still messing around with it. The “Lonely SpecMark” part is a better set of sheets but also still in flux.

  99. Jared October 30, 2014 / 9:24 am

    I’m now saving up for the Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 lens. Until then I wanted to give this a try, but I’m stuck with a 35mm f/4.0 and I’m in Colorado and it’s almost November, so the heart of the Milky Way isn’t very visible at night – just the very outer parts of it. So I’m finding that my shots aren’t revealing much nebula because I can’t see the center yet until summer. Has anyone had success photographing the non-center part of the Milky Way? I’m using Stellarium and know I’m shooting the correct constellations, but my photos come up with just stars and no nebula. If I provide the raw file, does someone want to tell me if I’m shooting it right? I used a Canon 60d (crop sensor), 35mm f/4.0, manual mode, 2 second timer, 20 second shutter speed, ISO 3200.

    • Ian Norman October 31, 2014 / 3:52 am

      Looks like you’re shooting toward Cassiopeia. That’s along the galactic plane but it’s also a rather dim portion of the sky. My recommendation: It’s end of October now so you must shoot much earlier in the night to see the brightest parts of the Milky Way. Try shooting right after sunset. If shooting late, consider shooting the opposite part of the sky towards Orion.

    • Ian Norman October 31, 2014 / 3:46 am

      Jared, with that narrow a lens, it’s likely going to be difficult to frame up stuff to definitely double check your framing. You might also want to wait later in the the night to shoot orion. It’s not as bright as the galactic core but it offers some distinct nebulosity that may be a better candidate subject for your set up.


  100. Mickey October 23, 2014 / 9:14 am

    I have a Nikon 24mm/3.5 PC lens and was wonder that would be a good lens for stars or would I be better off getting a different 24 mm lens.

  101. tony October 2, 2014 / 5:51 am


    I’m hesitating between Samyang 14mm/2.8 and Samyang 16mm/2.; it’s for Pentax K-5 II. Advantages for 14mm are wider FOV, very good IQ and better dealing with coma but it has huge distortion problem. 16mm, on the other hand, has f2 and, as I can see, excellent IQ but problem with coma and slight vignetting problem @f2.

    Coma in 16mm @ flickr –

    Is distortion in Samyang 14mm a big problem for night sky/landscape astrophotography?

    Thank you,

    • tony October 2, 2014 / 5:55 am

      I forget to add something. I will not use this lens only for astrophotography but for landscape photography also.

      Thank you again.

    • Ian Norman October 4, 2014 / 1:48 am

      I don’t find the distortion a problem with the 14mm and it’s easily correctable in post processing. The 16mm coma is not extreme, specially when compared to other fast options. Stopping down to f/2.8 also improves the 16mm a bit. Overall, the FOV of each will still be relatively similar and both are super useful. I would probably opt for the 16mm for the extra stop of light.

  102. MIDNIGHT_SNAPPER September 23, 2014 / 2:44 pm

    Hello again Ian,
    This time I gained a little more insight on how to choose a lens for astrophotography with my NEX-5T body.
    Now my final selection boils down to the following:
    – Samyang 12mm 2.0
    – Samyang 8mm 2.8 Fish-eye
    – (Samyang 14mm 2.8)

    Up until today I thought my decision was final on the 12mm 2.0. But I just read your article on defishing images to achieve a massive field of view—hence the 8mm 2.8—,so now I’m undecided again.
    Also just read very good things about the 14mm 2.8, however I would like to know if you think it’s worth the extra buck, size and weight over the 12mm 2.0.
    I’ve seen the 12mm 2.0 performs very well, but can it actually top the 14mm 2.8, according to your insights?
    What about image quality of a defished photo coming from the 8mm 2.8 compared to the same image made with one of the other lenses?
    And thank you very much again for creating this wonderful website, Ian!
    You make a lot of people happy offering such a haven of knowledge we can all resort to.
    Respect! 😉

    • Ian Norman September 23, 2014 / 3:40 pm

      Get the 12mm. It’s a lot more useful than the fisheye for all around use. The fisheye is great but very much a specialty use lens. You’ll use the 12mm more. Its still very wide and there’s no defishing needed.

  103. NancyP September 22, 2014 / 4:03 pm

    I am really anxious to see the Samyang 12 mm f/2.8 diagonal fisheye for full frame. I am also interested in checking out a full frame circular fisheye. Either would be wonderful for timelapse meteor shower photography. I already use the Samyang 14 mm f/2.8, at f/2.8 if needed, f/3.2 or f/3.5 if there is a little leeway.

    Concerning more mundane matters, do you shoot your Samyang 24 f/1.4 at f/1.4 all the time, and does its sharpness and low aberration hold up wide open? I would love some extra light but it is hard for me to believe that the Samyang 24 at 1.4 or 2.0 will beat out the Zeiss 21 f/2.8 at f/2.8 (one of my regular landscape lenses, the other stalwart being the Sigma 35 f/1.4 Art) in terms of sharpness.

  104. Ioan Marinescu September 11, 2014 / 5:14 am

    Hello Ian and let me thank you for the great info yo’re sharing here!

    For some time I’ve been saving for a ultra wide lens, but recently I took a trip to the mountains and tried a few shots at the stars. I was amazed by the result, but my crappy 18-105 Nikkor is not up to the task. I own a Nikon D7000 and I wanted to buy a Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX-DC HSM (priced ~ 520 USD) for general landscape photography, but after reading your posts, I’ve also added Samyang 10mm 1:2.8 ED AS NCS (priced ~ 620 USD) and Samyang AE 14 mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Aspherical (priced ~450 USD) to the list. The 10mm Samyang although APS-C only and more expensive than the 14mm Full frame cousin, has a wider field of view and also a Nano crystal coating; Do you know if any of them is weather-sealed? What would you recommend for general landscape and astrophotography use? Thank you!

    • Firdaus September 18, 2014 / 8:18 am

      Hi Ian, very helpfull article, i have a question about proper lens for my eos m. it’s a bit hard for me to find samyang 8mm f/2.8 on the other hand, there are plenty options for 8mm f/3.5. my question is,
      is there any huge different using 8mm f/2.8 vs 8mm f/3.5 aps-c capturing milky way?
      the price is not my consideraton, the only consideration is f/2.8 lens fits only eos-m, on the other hand, f/3.5 fits all eos dslr.
      also, do you have any review for zenitar 8mm f/2.8? thank you.

    • Ian Norman September 18, 2014 / 1:47 pm

      If you’re looking to be able to use the lens on both your EOS M and your Canon EOS DSLR, you can go for the 8mm/3.5 and the EF-M to EF Adapter so that you can adapt it to your EOS-M mount.

      The extra 1/2 stop of light advantage on the 8mm/2.8 might be helpful but the 8mm/3.5 should work too.

      I have no experience with the zenitar.

    • Firdaus September 18, 2014 / 7:29 pm

      so, the f/3.5 still worth it right? thank you again 🙂

    • Ioan Marinescu September 19, 2014 / 2:20 am

      Hello again Ian! About my upper topic, what would you recommend?
      Thank you!

    • Ian Norman September 19, 2014 / 11:07 am

      None of those lenses are weather sealed as far as I know. If I were buying, I would get the 10mm/2.8. It’s the widest and fastest of the bunch.

    • Ioan Marinescu September 21, 2014 / 8:59 am

      So 10mm it will be. Thank you again! 😀

  105. Rick Whitacre August 19, 2014 / 4:22 pm

    Hi Ian. Thanks for all the info. Do you have any information on the amount (or lack) of coma flare on the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 II? I believe that coma is very slight on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art, but wondering if anyone has tested the Voigtlander. has not tested it. Thanks! Rick

    • Ian Norman August 22, 2014 / 11:11 pm

      Rick! I’m so glad to see you here!

      I have not tested the 35mm f/1.2 II but if it’s anything like the 50mm f/1.1 Nokton, it’s probably not suited to astrophotography. The few images that I’ve seen on flickr (searching: voigtlander 35 1.2 night”) seem to indicate some strong astigmatism and coma wide open. I’m not sure if it get’s better stopped down a bit but I know the Voigtlander 50mm/1.1 needed to be stopped down to f/4.0 before it was up to snuff (not really acceptable).

      I’ll see if I can get a hold of the lens and test it out on the a7S but it might be a while before I can get a hold of one. In the meanwhile, I think the Sigma 35mm/1.4 Art and Rokinon/Samyang 35mm/1.4 still hold the top spots for the 35mm focal length.

    • Rick Whitacre August 23, 2014 / 9:31 am

      Thanks, Ian!

      I am renting the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art for a trip next weekend. My plan is to use it on the Sony A7S and shoot 3-shot panos to get the same field of view as a 24mm (in opposite orientation), but with twice the resolution of a single image. In other words, the Sony A7S with a 3-shot pano at 35mm will give me the same field of view and resolution as a 5DMIII with a 24mm lens; but with much better ISO noise and Dynamic Range. Tradeoffs are less depth of field at a given aperture and more star streaking at a given shutter duration. I don’t think I would use it on every shot, but for those that I think might eventually end up on a large metal print, it might be worth the extra effort. We’ll see

      Very best,

    • Ian Norman August 23, 2014 / 7:01 pm


      Sounds like a killer combo with the a7S and the 35mm Sigma. I’ve had a ton of fun using slightly longer lenses, stopping down bit and shooting panos to get more FOV with super sharp details. I think that will get you some awesome results. I wouldn’t worry about the shorter DOF and the slightly shorter shutter shouldn’t hurt the final result. One recommendation I have though is to shoot more than you need. Shoot 6 shots with plenty of overlap rather than just 3 for example.

      Also in regards to the a7S. Something that I just appended to my review is that it’s much easier to frame on the Milky Way when you enable the S Log2 (PP7) or ITU709/(800%) Picture Profiles. It changes the gain on the viewfinder so that everything is a bit easier to see. I’m still experimenting with the Picture Profile settings on the a7S to see what’s best for astrophotography but I do at least suggest messing around with them to make framing easier.


    • Rick Whitacre August 24, 2014 / 9:04 am

      Great tips, Ian!! Thanks. I’ll try them

  106. Keith Liew July 31, 2014 / 6:41 am

    This article is so useful! I just shared with my friends this wonderful page! I’m currently using a Canon 600D with 10-24mm/ f3.5 trying to shoot milkyway but no luck due to light pollution. Is there a way to shoot Milkyway at a light polluted sky? I’ve tried 10mm f5.0 ISO3200 but no luck. Thanks.

  107. Philip July 27, 2014 / 7:15 am

    Hey ian
    I actually have a canon 6d that i just purchased with 24-105mm and ive had the t2i before. I upgradd to take advantage of lenses that are better for full frame. But after seeing your photos i want to get into fuji mirrorless for those nice lenses. I was thinking i can sell the 6d and my lens and get a fujifilm x-m1 on slickdeals and get a lens. What do you think?

    • Ian Norman July 27, 2014 / 1:24 pm


      Trading the 6D for the Fujifilm X-M1 will probably feel like a big downgrade. Slower focus, no viewfinder, cheaper build, etc. My suggestion is to start with the 24-105mm/4L and the 6D. Unless you totally require a smaller camera system, I think that the 6D is still one of the best (if not the best) cameras for astrophotography for the money. Even with the f/4 lens, just shoot at ISO 12800 and the results should be pretty clean, especially to start. Not many cameras can shoot as clean photos at such high ISOs.

      I use the X-T1 because I’m willing to accept a few compromises for the reduced size and weight. The X-T1 is also a very different camera than the X-M1. It’s got better build, weather sealing, an excellent viewfinder, faster focus, etc. If you want to switch to mirrorless from the 6D, I would recommend no less than the X-T1 or a Sony a7/S/R. The X-T1 is the first mirrorless camera that was actually good enough for me to set aside the 6D. It’s not necessarily better in every regard, but it’s good enough, especially for its size.

    • philip July 31, 2014 / 6:22 am

      Thanks for the reply. The XM1 is a really beginner’s camera, and I am looking at the XT1 because it is similar in price with the 6d and it has better lenses too. But from your review, it seems like you’re not really making any compromises when you say you are.
      Obviously, just being honest here, you switched. And you sold off your 6d. So let’s just pretend I didn’t already buy the 6d. And I wanted your advice on what to buy, you would say the Fuji XT1 right?
      I mean, is there ANY reason that I should want the 6d instead of the XT1? It just seems better in every way from your reviews. I am kind of bummed out here because I purchased the 6d after seeing your review on how it’s the astrophotography king and all, and a couple articles later, you don’t even own it anymore. And I’m just here with a brand new 6d thinking, yeah, i wish I had the XT1 instead.

    • Ian Norman August 2, 2014 / 9:48 pm

      Philip, I guess I would say that it depends on your priorities. For image quality they are actually very similar. For handling, I much prefer the X-T1. It’s smaller and has a tilting LCD, the lenses are all smaller and are very high quality. But the 6D has better video quality and control over the video settings. The lens selection is also much larger on the 6D and I actually prefer the final image quality of the large Rokinon lenses on the 6D over the more compact Fujifilm lenses. The Fujifilm lenses are all great but still need to be stopped down one stop to reduce aberrations ( the 23/1.4 and 35mm/1.4 in particular). This is not the case on the larger Rokinon lenses on the 6D. That’s honestly reason enough that I would reason to keep the 6D: the full-frame lenses available for it are in fact still slightly better.

      I also miss the superwide rectilinear look of the 14mm/2.8 on the 6D. The widest rectilinear lens on the X-T1 (that’s good for astrophotography) is the Rokinon 12mm/2.0 but it’s still 20 degrees narrower than the 14mm/2.8 on the 6D.

      To make matters a tad more confusing, I just got my hands on the new Sony a7S and discovered a lot of things I really loved about it too, particularly the ability to frame and focus much more easily in low light so I’m considering adding the a7S to my gear bag, the issue there being that the selection of native full-frame Sony FE lenses is small and using the larger Rokinon lenses can feel rather imbalanced on the small body of the a7S.

      If you think you’ll benefit significantly from having a much smaller camera system than the 6D, by all means get the X-T1 instead and stick with native Fujifilm lenses or the dedicated mirrorless designs from Rokinon. But if you’re looking for the best image quality, a switch will probably won’t pay any significant dividends.

      I didn’t ditch the Fujifilm because it made better photos than the 6D, it’s just smaller and more compact which became more of a priority for my travels than necessarily having the absolute best lens for the job.

      Your question is honestly a hard one to answer but I hope I have perhaps communicated it a little better this time. Sorry it’s not perfectly clear cut.

  108. Finley July 17, 2014 / 3:29 am

    Thanks that lens looks like it scores 1875. (Over 400 points better than 35mm 1.8 @ 1259)
    I might just go ahead and save the money. It does cost over double the 35mm lens, but I’m worried the Nikon lens will have horrible aberrations. Right now that is my biggest problem (other than adjusting to CC and LR.. I just upgraded from CS2…… … …)

    I am learning to blend in CC though.

  109. Finley July 16, 2014 / 3:39 am

    Thanks for this article. I just started landscape astrophotography earlier this month and have been having a really rough time with it. I started with a D3000 and 18-55/3.5 DX lens. I had horrible noise at 1200 iso. I managed to pick up a used D7000 for $500 which has less noise, but I am still on the same cruddy lens.
    I have been eyeing the Nikon DX 35mm/f1.8 lens ($180) and using a 0.43x wide angle converter. I know it will distort the edges some and possible reduce some light, but I plan to crop to the middle some. I’m thinking this will give me few more seconds without star trailing and more stars without coma (if I crop to the original 35mm focal length area)
    Any experience with wide angle cenverters?

    • Ian Norman July 17, 2014 / 2:33 am


      I cannot really recommend a wide angle converter. For the reasons you already know, you’ll lose light, the image quality will suffer (and if you’re cropping, what’s the point of the converter in the first place). I would suggest setting the $$ aside and saving for the 16mm/2.0. In the grand scheme of things it’s not that much more expensive than the 35mm/1.8 plus wide angle converter and your results will end up better. To hold you over until you can get a better lens, I would suggest trying some image stacking to reduce noise in your shots. It’s amazing what an 18-55mm kit lens can do just by stacking 4 exposures.

  110. Iris July 13, 2014 / 6:39 am

    Thanks for the guide! I’ve printed it off to go with me to Botswana in 3 weeks. Unfortunately, I’ll get increasing moon but vast plains, too.
    I’m into m43, and will be taking my Panasonic 14mm/f2,5 lens especially for night sky photography. I have the panasonic wide angle converter to go with it (making it a 11mm lens, I think) I also have a Rowi semi-fisheye lens (that decreases quality though). Should I consider the additional “attachments” or take the 14mm plain. And what about filter?
    Thanks so much – I hope, I can come back with some great shots.

    • Ian Norman July 13, 2014 / 10:38 am

      I wouldn’t put on any more attachments other than your wide angle convertor. Additional filters or glass can reduce quality and reduce light transmittance.

  111. Rafa García July 3, 2014 / 7:53 am

    Hi Ian Thanks for your article. Could you explain how to calculate the angular area?

    • Ian Norman July 3, 2014 / 1:20 pm

      You can calculate the angle of view of a lens for any given sensor size by using the angle = 2arctan(d/2f) formula where d is the dimension of the sensor in the direction you want to measure and f is the focal length. More on this here:

      Once calculating the vertical and horizontal angular dimension, they can be multiplied to get the angular area. Units are in radians.

  112. Val June 29, 2014 / 10:00 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I love astro and night photography. I was completely lost in a sea of lenses, and most of them would have had me drowning in debt..I really appreciate the recommendations, settings and photo examples you shared. Bookmarking this one! Thanks again!

  113. Giorgio Litt June 23, 2014 / 4:14 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I have a quandary! I’m very interest in astro starscapes, and I’m about to go out and try to get milky way shots in some Dark Sky country.

    I have a Zeiss 15 f2.8, which I adore, as well as Zeiss 35 f1.4 for possible stitching Panorama in the future, and a Zeiss 21 f2.8, which I don’t think is terribly relevant to my question and getting milky way shots. I just wanted to include it in case you think it actually has astro value. MY gut is though it’s sexy for lots of things, it may not be very sexy for Astro.

    So what I’ve heard is the Rokinon 24 f1.4 is the jam. And as I’ve dumped a ton on glass recently, I’d like to take a break, but it’s so so tempting to grab this $500 beauty.

    Before I ask my question, realize that I’ll be backpacking, and not taking really really expensive glass has its obvious advantages, as does packing in only 1 lens instead of 2. As does not buying anything. So my question is, if I want to do both star time lapse (I’d like this to be wide if poss) and also a great contrasty and colorful pic of the milky way , would you grab the Rokinon 24 f1.4, and use just that? Would you grab it and also bring in the Zeiss 15mm, and just do some more leg squats to deal with extra weight? I don’t think I’m interested in buying the Rokinon 14 f2.8 because my sense is that I wouldn’t get THAT much of a better shot with the Rokinon 14 f2.8 vs the Zeiss 15 f2.8, which I find to be baller!

    I’m on a 5DM3, by the way.



    • Giorgio June 23, 2014 / 4:16 pm

      Not sure it got signed “Soul of Wit,” but I meant to sign my name!


    • Ian Norman July 3, 2014 / 1:21 pm

      My initial recommendation is to just shoot with what you have. That said, the performance of the 24mm/1.4 for astrophotography in particular might be worth the purchase. I say test your gut feeling by trying it out with the Zeiss Glass. The 5D mark III can handle some slow glass so even if you have to stop down, it should give good results. Skip the 14/2.8 the Zeiss 15 should be very similar.

      My last workshop participant had both the 21/2.8 Zeiss and the Rokinon 24/1.4. We definitely decided that the Rokinon gave better results.

      Hope that helps.

  114. Mike June 19, 2014 / 4:21 pm

    Thanks for the article. I’m debating between two lens and I can’t decide one way or another. I don’t have any side and fast lens for Milky Way photography. I’m using a Nikon D800 and I’m considering between:
    1. Samyang 14mm f/2.8
    2. Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8

    The Samyang seems to be a no-brainer due to its cost, but at the same time I would want to spend money on a multipurpose lens. If I do get the Samyang, I probably would only use it for star photography, and honestly I do that only a few times a year. For the Tokina, because of the AF and the zoom, I can do other photos like family photos or group photos.

    The cost difference is not a deal breaker, but do you think the 2mm loss, the sharpness loss, and the added weight, outweigh the benefit?

    Ultimately, if the Tokina can perform the same as the Samyang in terms of milky way photography, I would pay the extra cost and get the flexibility. I’m concerned that if I do get the Tokina, the milky way image will be noticeably inferior than the Samyang.

    • Ian Norman July 3, 2014 / 1:27 pm

      I think the Tokina should be OK. It will just have some coma in the corners when shooting at f/2.8. Since astro will probably be only %10 of your shooting, go with the more useful lens.

  115. Robert June 17, 2014 / 9:06 am

    I have a sony nex f3 what lenses should I use for being a beginner?

    • Ian Norman June 17, 2014 / 2:37 pm

      Grab the Rokinon 12mm for Sony E-Mount. The Sony 16mm/2.8 Pancake would probably be decent as well.

  116. Mojo June 12, 2014 / 11:18 pm

    would the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS CS Lens on a caon 7D be efficient for this application?

    • Ian Norman June 13, 2014 / 12:16 am

      Yes! The Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 should be a good lens for astrophotography on the 7D.

  117. Josiah May 30, 2014 / 11:19 am

    I was curious of your recommendation of the 12mm f2.0 Rokinon lens. I have only seen a few reviews and was wondering if you had first hand experience with it.

    • Ian Norman May 31, 2014 / 4:26 pm


      I have been workig on a complete review of the Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 lens for the last month. First impressions are very good. It’s sharp wide open and has very low coma. Full review coming soon!

    • Ian Norman June 3, 2014 / 1:44 am

      The review of the Rokinon 12mm f/2 is here!

  118. Marco May 28, 2014 / 7:22 pm

    Thank you for this very helpful article.
    I own a Canon EOS 6D (fullframe) and I’m thinking about either buying the samyang 35 1.4 or samyang 14 2.8. Which one is better for astrophotos? I thought 35mm is a bit long even on fullframe, but then, I could do panoramas with it. On the other hand, with the 14mm it’s a very wide field of view but has only f2.8. I don’t know what to pick. Tend to go with the 35mm. What could go wrong?


    • Ian Norman May 29, 2014 / 1:21 am


      The 35mm/1.4 is a bit long but can work well with stitching if you’re familiar with the process. I have even used a 50mm/1.4 on the 6D to make some panorama stitches. It all depends on where your priorities are. If you want a super wide angle photo, get the super wide angle lens. If you’re instead looking for a more “standard” lens for more than just landscapes, or look forward to stitching perhaps 35mm will be a more suitable focal length.

      They’re both such different lenses that I I were given the choice, I would have both a 14mm and a 35mm (which I do!) 🙂 Throw in a 24mm and you have the full gamut of wide angle covered from ultra wide to standard.

      If you’re gut is telling you the 35mm, go for it by all means.

  119. Scott May 27, 2014 / 8:32 pm

    Great article, thanks for sharing your knowledge. Thinking of either the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 or 24mm f1.4. I do have a Tamron 28 -70 f2.8 so does it make more sense to go with the 14mm as I may be able to use the Tamron at 28 at a f2.8 setting, or do I have to worry about coma aberration with that lens? What are your thoughts?

    Thank you

    • Ian Norman May 29, 2014 / 1:14 am

      I think the 14mm f/2.8 is probably the better lens to start out with because of the extra wide field of view. It makes it much easier to start out when you are using a super wide angle lens.

      If you’re shooting on full-frame, the Tamron at 28mm and f/2.8 should be just fine for astrophotography. If you’re on an APS-C body, it will be a little bit too narrow.

  120. darethehair May 27, 2014 / 10:47 am

    Love the article and the accompanying Google Docs spreadsheet! For me, the question boils down to this: Samyang 16mm vs Sigma 18-mm? Both have high ‘untracked astro photo’ ratings. I already have the Samyang 8mm, but I am forced to drop down from F3.5 to F5.6 for clarity. The Sigma is (apparently) good clarity way up at F1.8, but from bits and pieces on the web it sounds like the Samyang 16mm needs to be stopped down from F2.0 to F2.8 — cutting its high rating in half! True?

    • Ian Norman May 27, 2014 / 11:42 am

      If I had to pick between the two I would go for the 18-35/1.8. Better image quality wide open, autofocus and an awesome zoom range make it a much more desirable lens than the Samyang 16/2.0. Granted, it’s also twice as expensive as the Samyang but I think the extra cost is fully justified; it’s a much nicer lens.

  121. Aaron W May 26, 2014 / 6:57 am

    Ian, thank you for writing such a detailed and easy to read guide for us aspiring photographers. I have been looking for a lens to put on my Canon Rebel t3i that will serve to take decent Milky Way photos as well as landscapes/stormscapes without breaking the bank. I like the idea of the newer Rokinon 10mm f2.8, however, I don’t know if spending an extra $200 over the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 makes sense if I plan to upgrade to a full frame Canon in the future. Which of these lenses would you recommend for my t3i? I will be using your links to buy, and again, thanks for all the hard work!

    • Ian Norman May 26, 2014 / 4:26 pm

      Aaron, even on an APS-C camera, 14mm is still my most used focal length so I think the Rokinon 14mm/2.8 is a pretty good start, especially regarding the price! If you upgrade to full-frame eventually, it’s a great lens to have on hand. I think your decision to start with the 14mm /2.8 makes a lot of sense. Thanks for supporting by using my links!

  122. mSet_One May 19, 2014 / 2:04 am

    Thanks for such a great read. Can I ask for some advice on the best lens for a m 4/3, above you mention 16mm or lower. I’m just starting out with a second hand Lumix G3 with a 14-42mm X Vario 3.5-5.6 but thinking this might not be fast enough? I picked up a very nice Canon FD 50mm 1.4 but with the conversion this seems a bit long and I noticed it picks up trails very easy.

    • Ian Norman May 19, 2014 / 6:53 am

      I think you should try out the 14-42mm at first to get used to the process. It is a little slow so you should probably expect to use a higher than recommended shutter speed and end up with some star trails or, if you’re trying to minimize star trails, expect some noise. Some brighter/faster alternatives that I think should work pretty well are the Rokinon 12mm/2.0, Olympus 12mm/2.0 or the SLRMagic Hyperprime 12mm/1.6. They’re fast enough and wide enough to make for some pretty good astrophotos. I’ve personally used the Rokinon 12mm/2.0 on an APS-C camera (Fuji X-T1) and first impressions are good. I’ll be posting a review of it relatively soon.

      Fisheye lenses are also a good consideration (although specialized) and in that case, I would recommend the Rokinon/Samyang 7.5mm/3.5.

    • mSet_One May 20, 2014 / 2:21 am

      Thanks Ian. Yes I really want to minimize the star trails, a little noise I can handle and treat in post production. I take it fisheye still looked curved even with the conversion of focal length on a M4/3 camera?

    • Ian Norman May 20, 2014 / 3:44 am

      Yes a fisheye is still very curved, even on a m4/3 camera. It makes for some very specialized shots but if used right can be very interesting.

  123. Jim May 16, 2014 / 8:35 am

    What a fantastic article, very well written and extremely comprehensive, thank you so much!!! Any thoughts on the tokina 11-16mm 2.8 vs the Rokinon 14mm 2.8? I know they both have aspherical elements for reduced coma and similar focal lengths. I like the idea too of having a lens that will also work for my landscape photography interest.

    • Jim May 16, 2014 / 8:36 am

      By the way I am on a crop sensor body- d5200.

    • Ian Norman May 16, 2014 / 8:47 am

      Jim, I think that the Tokina is probably the more versatile lens because it has a wider field of view and also has autofocus. If I had to choose between the two, I would choose the Tokina. For the lens with the best price, the Rokinon is hard to beat.

  124. steven hoffman May 15, 2014 / 10:11 am

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.

    I have a full frame Canon and the Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Wide Angle Lens. Is this a good lens for capturing the Milky Way?

    • Ian Norman May 15, 2014 / 1:44 pm

      The Canon EF 28mm/1.8 is a decent lens for capturing the Milky Way. However, it’s prone to comatic aberration when used wide-open at f/1.8. You can see an example of that here.
      I recommend stopping down to f/2.0 or f/2.2 to reduce the coma in the corners of the image.
      A good starting exposure is 20 seconds, f/2.0 at ISO 3200. If coma is bad, try 20 seconds, f/2.8 at ISO 6400.

  125. Regug May 14, 2014 / 5:29 am

    Wow!! A really great article! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  126. John May 13, 2014 / 6:35 pm

    I’m fairly new to dlsr photography but am really interested in photographing the milky way and nightscapes. I have a Nikon d3200 and was looking at picking up the Rokinon 14mm 2.8 for an upcoming camping trip to an area with a dark sky. It seems that the 24mm 1.4 might be better for getting more light with less trailing. Is it worth almost twice the price of the 14mm? Since the d3200 isn’t full framed will it be a little too “cropped” to capture all the grandeur? I really enjoyed this article and your photographing the milky way article. I look forward to continuing learning to eventually understand all the tech talk…

    • Ian Norman May 14, 2014 / 4:08 am

      John, I think you have the right idea. The 24mm f/1.4, while very good, is a little bit narrow for Milky Way photography on the D3200 because of the crop, particularly if you’re just starting out. I think it’s a little bit easier to try a wider angle lens when starting out.

      For an APS-C (cropped) sensor like on your d3200, the 14mm f/2.8 will probably give you results with more “grandeur” just because their field of view is so much larger than the 24mm. The 24mm will allow you to resolve more fine detail in the Milky Way than pretty much any other lens (without using a tracking equatorial mount) but the 14mm f/2.8 will give you a bigger view of the sky.

      My opinion: start with the 14mm. It’s much cheaper, it has a wider field of view so composition will be much easier. It’s a better bang for the buck than the 24mm. After some heavy use of the 14mm you’ll know if you want to try something narrower but brighter like the 24mm. Perhaps by then you’ll decide that you want something even wider and may want to try one of the newly announced 10mm/2.8 lenses.

  127. Jonathan Riddle May 12, 2014 / 7:29 pm

    Thanks for the info in this article, still trying to decide which lens to get but the article gave me some really helpful information. Random question that really has nothing to do with the article itself…what font did you use for the title photo?

    • Jonathan May 13, 2014 / 9:59 pm

      Thanks for the info on the typeface, just downloaded it myself. Question number 2 for you…I have a Pentax K30 and want to shoot some astrophotography while I’m out in Yellowstone/Grand Teton this summer. I read through your recommendations but am still having trouble figuring out what lens to buy. I’m on a pretty tight budget and thought about going with the Pentax 35mm/2.4 because it’s on sale but after reading your article I’m concerned about its aperture. I’m trying to find a lens that would be versatile enough for other uses as well. What is your opinion on the Pentax 35mm/2.4 and do you have any other specific recommendations for me on a budget for the K30? Thanks.

    • Ian Norman May 14, 2014 / 4:36 am

      Jonathan, about the lens for your K30. I think that you will find the 35mm/2.4 a little bit too narrow a field of view on the K30. That doesn’t mean it won’t work, but you’ll have a hard time fitting more than a slice of the Milky Way in the photo. When I use a 35mm lens on an APS-C camera like the K30, it’s usually necessary to stitch together several photos in a panorama in order to get an adequate view of the Milky Way. My recommendation is to get a lens with a focal length no longer than 24mm. The easiest option is probably the Rokinon 14mm/2.8 because it’s relatively affordable.

  128. miDnight_snapper May 8, 2014 / 10:57 am

    Thank you for the quick reply! 🙂
    I actually found one made by Kiwi, sold on several sites (Amazon, Ebay etc.)

    A link to one here:

    You speak of focus by wire, so the ring seen on the lens can’t be used for manual focus then?
    I see a small clip on the adapter for the Fuji Lens, what does this do then?

    Thanks for helping out!


    • Ian Norman May 8, 2014 / 11:38 am

      Yeah, that adapter will not work for modern Fuji X lenses, it will only work with the 1970s manual focus ones.

      The modern mirrorless Fuji lenses require power from the camera to drive the manual focus. So when you rotate the ring, you’re actually telling the camera to rotate the focusing motor rather than rotating the focus mechanism directly.

  129. miDnight_snapper May 8, 2014 / 5:19 am


    First of all, wow, a great article! Thanks so much for this, you did a great job here!

    What would your opinion be on using the Fuji X 18mm 2.0 along with an E-Mount adapter on a Sony NEX-5? Will I still have all the mentioned benifits of this lens, or does this go lost when using an adapter ring in between?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Ian Norman May 8, 2014 / 9:30 am

      It’s actually impossible to mount a modern Fuji X mirrorless lens to a Sony E mount. There are no adapters available and even if there were, the electronics are different. Since the Fuji X lenses rely on focus by wire, there would be no way to adjust focus. You might be confused by the availability of Fujica X adapters which are made for adapting the old manual focus Fujica X lenses made in the 1970s.

      So I guess my opinion is that it can’t be done. I would however recommend any of the Rokinon Lenses made for the E-mount like the 16mm f/2.0.

  130. Miguel Kieling May 5, 2014 / 9:26 am

    Ian, what do you think of a Sony E 24mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T for a Sony A7? Do you think it will be as good as a Ronikon 24mm f/1.4? Many thanks.

    • Ian Norman May 7, 2014 / 2:27 pm

      Miguel, something to keep in mind is that the Zeiss E 24mm f/1.8 is an APS-C lens meaning your A7 will switch to cropped mode. This means that the field of view will be closer to a 35mm on a full-frame camera. So basically it’s not very similar to the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 My opinion is that you should get a dedicated full-frame lens like the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 for your A7 if you want the best results.

      Just looking at the specifications of the lens, it looks like it should work just fine for astrophotography. It’s relatively fast so it should be pretty good although you should expect some coma ( at low f/numbers.

  131. Matthew Cimone April 17, 2014 / 5:34 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Fantastic article. Just ordered the 24mm F1.4 based on your recommendation on this page (used the links on the page to make the order).

    I am doing an 8 day trip through the Atacama with an organization called Impossible2Possible. ( Visiting ALMA and such. Wanted to get a new lens to do some milkyway photography while I was there. Really appreciate the insights.

    • Ian Norman April 18, 2014 / 3:15 am


      Thanks for using the affiliate links to support Lonely Speck! I’m glad you like the article. And WOW. The Atacama desert is certainly a bucket list item of mine. I really want to go there to shoot astrophotos. I checked out, what a great site! Be sure to share your astrophoto results!

  132. Salem Pasha January 28, 2014 / 1:14 pm

    Awesome article!

    Quick question, is there a quick and dirty guide, similar to the “Rule of 600 etc” above, in choosing which minimum ISO to use so you don’t end up with unnecessary noise?

    I have a Nikon d7000 and got some amazing shots using my 35mm f/1.8 in Kenya. I went far away from our lighted camp, manual focused on a fire extinguisher at distance for an “infinity” focus, went with ISO 6400 and used the 600 rule for exposure time. Using my 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm isn’t getting me as great shots in Dubai (where I live). Too many factors have changed and need some help. I think the ISO has got something to do with it.

    Thank you!

    • inorman January 28, 2014 / 1:23 pm

      Thanks Salem. Determining which ISO setting is cleanest is a bit camera specific but your lens f/number usually determines roughly how high it should be set. The lower f/number lenses allow you to use lower ISOs for cleaner photos. Your 35mm f/1.8 is a better choice than the 18-300mm because of its larger aperture size. My quick guide has an exposure flow chart that shows you generally what ISO I use for what aperture setting. Hope that helps!

  133. philodox January 28, 2014 / 9:21 am

    Great article, thank you for writing it up and sharing your research.

    I dropped full sized DSLRs a couple of years ago in favor of Micro 4/3 but it has a really hard time with astrophotography, which I’ve been wanting to get serious about. Your article may have just convinced me to pick up the DSLR gear again 🙂

    • inorman January 28, 2014 / 11:41 am

      philodox, thanks!
      Glad to see you wanting to try out astrophotography.

  134. Lachlan November 20, 2013 / 5:48 am

    What’s your opinion on the sigma f2.8 4.5mm circular fisheye for stars?

    • inorman January 28, 2014 / 9:24 am

      It will work well, particularly if you can extend shutter speeds to about a minute or more, taking advantage of the very wide field of view. However, I’m not personally a fan of circular fisheye distortion. If it’s your cup of tea, by all means try it out.

  135. astrowomp September 9, 2013 / 2:31 pm

    A great article – thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    After getting a DSLR last Christmas I have spent the last 9 months dipping my toe into the world of photography & have become hooked on astro & it’s incredibly steep learning curve!! After many, many hours of research I bought the Samyang 14mm last week…..wish I’d have had your article to make the decision easier!! lol

    • inorman September 10, 2013 / 2:34 pm

      I’m sure you will be happy with the Samyang 14mm!

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