Lonely Speck’s Ultimate List of Best Astrophotography Lenses

lonely-speck-list-of-best-lenses-for-astrophotography

This is it. Our guide to the best lenses for astrophotography, updated for the 2017 Holiday Season. These are our favorite lenses for almost every interchangeable lens camera system available today. We’ve compiled a “trifecta” of the best lenses for every camera system with options for any budget. If you’re looking for a great upgrade for your camera, a gift for your photographer friends or if you want to start building the best kit available for astrophotography on your current camera system, look no further than this list.

Introduction

I receive more questions about camera lenses than anything else. This guide (last updated November, 2017) is for Photographers looking for a distinct and tangible upgrade over the typical kit lens for their camera have a tremendous number of options from which to choose. For astrophotography, investment in a faster (lower f/number) lens will tend to show the most tangible benefits in image quality versus a camera body upgrade. Lens manufacturers have started listening to the demands of the rapidly growing number of astrophotography enthusiasts for sharp, low aberration lenses and many of the best lens choices for landscape astrophotography have been released in the last few years.

There are some lenses that I think will be on this list for a long time, namely the affordable Rokinon/Samyang branded 24mm f/1.4 and 14mm f/2.8 (full reviews). For full-frame systems, both of these manual focus lenses still offer very good performance for landscape astrophotography at a low price. The manual focus Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 still tops DxO’s list of best ultra-wide angle lenses on the 5DSR and the manual focus Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 shares the top of the DxO’s list of best 24mm lenses for the 5D Mark III. Both of these lenses have stellar coma aberration performance, a common concern for astrophotographers when considering dropping their hard earned cash on new gear.

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I still whole-heartedly recommend the manual focus Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 and 24mm f/1.4 as two of the best choices for landscape astrophotography, particularly on full-frame cameras, regardless of price. That said, the options have evolved and there are now many more options available for any given system.

Now in 2017, Rokinon/Samyang have even outdone themselves with the new Rokinon 14mm f/2.4 SP (Special Performance) lens that’s faster, sharper and build to higher quality standards than their original 14mm f/2.8.

There are often considerations beyond straight image quality that may make one or more lenses particularly attractive: autofocus, build quality, weather resistance, size and weight, etc. I have compiled a list of lenses that I strongly recommend as our top choices for building out a landscape astrophotography kit for your DSLR or mirrorless camera. For each system, I have made recommendations in three distinct categories: super wide angle, fast wide angle, and standard prime, the primary three types of focal lengths we recommend most for basic astrophotography:

  • The super wide angle is the workhorse lens for landscape composition. With fields-of-view exceeding 90 degrees from corner to corner, a super wide angle lens is the first recommendation that I suggest for most photographers looking to upgrade from their kit lens. The extra wide angle view helps tremendously with composition, especially when the plane of the Milky Way is high in the sky. Super wide angles range from about 8mm to 10mm on m4/3 cameras, 10mm to 14mm for APS-C cameras and 14mm to 20mm on full-frame cameras. Most super wide angle lenses that we recommend generally have an f/number of f/2.8 or lower. Sigma holds the absolute record for fastest super wide angle lens with the ridiculously bright Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art (Amazon / B&H).
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Sony a7S, Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8

  • A fast wide angle is the lens for pure low-light performance. With apertures of f/1.4 to f/2, a fast wide angle will gather two to eight times more light than the typical kit lens, making for the most tangible increase in image quality straight out of the camera. Use a fast wide angle to capture ultra low-noise landscapes. Fast wide angles range from about 12mm to 16mm on m4/3 cameras, 16mm to 24mm for APS-C cameras and 24mm to 35mm on full-frame cameras.
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Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 24mm f/1.4

  • The standard prime with a f/number of f/1.8 or lower is a recent addition to my recommended lenses for astrophotography. They have larger apertures when compared to most wide angle lenses. As a result, they gather more light, allowing them to capture even more fine detail in the night sky, even when stopped down to f/2.8. Their narrower field of view means that they can be used for making high resolution panorama stitches of the night sky. Panoramas require a more methodical workflow and more time post processing but they have become my personal favorite method for maximizing image quality in my astrophotography. Standard primes are roughly 25mm on m4/3 cameras, 35mm on APS-C cameras and 50mm on full-frame cameras.
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Sony a7S, Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8

 

Below, I’ve made my top recommendations in each of these lens categories for each current camera system. The first lens listed in each category is the lens that we would buy, regardless of price. Additionally, we have listed a budget option for many of these categories. In some cases, the budget option is also our top choice.

Most of the lenses on this list are designs that were made specifically for that particular format of camera. For example, we did not recommend the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 as a super wide angle on mirrorless APS-C cameras because that lens, while generally an excellent choice, was originally designed for a DSLR and is extremely large compared to its mirrorless APS-C counter parts. A better choice for the smaller mirrorless APS-C camera bodies would be the Rokinon 12mm f/2 for its compact size, wider field of view and faster aperture.

Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS on Canon EOS M

Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS on Canon EOS M

Something that struck me while developing this list is that, for most systems, our favorite lenses are usually from third party manufacturers as opposed to the system camera manufacturer. For example, there are very few native Canon or Nikon Lenses on this list. Most of the lenses that we prefer tend to be made by Samyang/Rokinon, Tamron, Sigma, and Tokina. All of these companies have been rapidly expanding their lens offerings with new and innovative designs that have no direct rivals in terms of performance (and often price) from the likes of Canon and Nikon. Many of these new lenses are fast (low f/number) and have very few aberrations issues. That’s not to say that Canon and Nikon don’t make good lenses, it’s just that many of the other manufacturers tend to make lenses that perform better, especially in regards to coma and aberration performance. For example, even the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 is a better pick in terms of image quality than the more expensive and already excellently performing Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED. The Tamron is sharper with less coma and costs a a few hundred less than the Nikon.

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Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 vs. Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 G ED

In addition to the more budget friendly brands, most of the modern lens designs from Zeiss are also generally excellent in my experience. Many Zeiss lenses offer excellent performance for astrophotography. We recently reviewed the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 and it proved to be one of my favorite lenses ever.

Ok! On to the list.

Sony FE Full-Frame Mirrorless

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Super Wide Angle: Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)
Mid-Range: Tokina Firin 20mm f/2 (Amazon /B&H) or Rokinon 20mm f/1.8 (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Sony FE 28mm f/2 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 (Amazon / B&H)
Bargain: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 (stopped to f/2.8)  (Amazon / B&H)

The Sony a7 line of cameras is still the only full-frame mirrorless camera system (other than a Leica) and is the newest lens mount design on this list. I personally shoot with a Sony a7S (full review) and their latest cameras are my personal preference for astrophotography. Sony has been the leader in camera sensor technology in recent years and it shows in their cameras. Choices for full frame lenses on the Sony system are limited but have been rapidly expanding and for the first time it’s now possible to say that Sony has a relatively complete lens lineup. My personal favorite wide angle, and the lens that I keep on my camera about 90% of the time for landscape astrophotography is the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 (full review). For a fast wide angle, there are two excellent choices: the premium Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and the affordable Sony FE 28mm f/2 (full review). I also personally use the Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 (full review) as my standard prime. It’s one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used and it’s a perfect fit for astrophotography panoramas. The premium Sony Planar T* 50mm is just as sharp and offers an even faster aperture of f/1.4.

Sony E APS-C Mirrorless

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Super Wide Angle: Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Rokinon/Samyang 21mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.2 (Amazon / B&H)

The Sony a6000 (full review) and Sony’s other APS-C mirrorless cameras offer a ton of performance for the money. The a6000 is still my first recommendation for a great budget choice for astrophotography. We prefer to pair these smaller mirrorless cameras with the compact mirrorless lens offerings from Rokinon/Samyang, like the super wide angle Rokinon 12mm f/2 (full review).

Canon EF Full-Frame

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Super Wide Angle: Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)
Mid-Range: Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.4 SP (Amazon / B&H) or Rokinon/Samyang 20mm f/1.8 Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H) or 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Tamron 45mm f/1.8 SP (Amazon / B&H)
Bargain: Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 STM (Stopped to f/2.8) (Amazon / B&H)

I started my photography career on Canon cameras and the EOS 6D (full review) still remains on my list of favorite DSLRs for astrophotography. Most of latest lens options from Tamron and Sigma have brought extremely high levels of performance for night photography to the system. The Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 is unmatched for sharpness and a perfect choice for landscape astrophotography. For standard primes, don’t forget the extremely affordable Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens (full review). It’s not perfect wide-open at f/1.8 but it’s quite good when stopped down to f/2.8.

Canon EF-S APS-C

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Super Wide Angle: Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon 10mm/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 16mm f/2.0 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Canon’s APS-C DSLRs are still the best selling interchangeable lens cameras in the world. We still own a Canon EOS Rebel T5i (700D) and have shot astrophotography with it on occasion, even with the kit lens. In the realm of super wide angle, an excellent upgrade for Canon’s APS-C cameras is the excellent Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 ultra-wide angle zoom. One stand out lens available for all APS-C DSLRs is the spectacular Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. It’s the fastest standard zoom ever made and its performance for night photography is nearly perfect.

Canon EF-M APS-C Mirrorless

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Super Wide Angle: Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Rokinon/Samyang 21mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.2 (B&H)

I had a generally positive experience shooting astrophotography with the original Canon EOS M (full review), even though that camera did not receive the best reviews around the community. I still think that the M line of cameras offer a lot of value for the money and are a good choice for photographers who want the familiarity of the excellent Canon interface. The EOS M line of cameras has become increasingly more competitive with other mirrorless cameras and all of our favorite APS-C mirrorless lenses, like the Rokinon 12mm f/2 (full review), are available for the new EF-M lens mount.

Nikon FX Full-Frame

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Super Wide Angle: Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)
Mid-Range: Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.4 SP (Amazon / B&H) or Rokinon/Samyang 20mm f/1.8 (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H) or 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Tamron 45mm f/1.8 SP (Amazon / B&H)
Bargain: Nikon 50mm f/1.8G (stopped to f/2.8) (Amazon / B&H)

Nikon’s full frame cameras like the D750 are a top choice for astrophotography. Nikon utilizes Sony’s excellent sensors in a classic DSLR body design that many photographers prefer over the more toy-like Sony camera bodies. Just like Canon’s full-frame mount, we love the lens offered from Tamron and Sigma. The Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 is sharper and more affordable than Nikon’s already excellent 14-24mm f/2.8 and Sigma’s 35mm and 50mm Art lenses set the standard for fast primes in terms of sharpness and value.

Nikon DX APS-C

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Super Wide Angle: Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon 10mm/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 16mm f/2.0 (Amazon / B&H) or or Rokinon/Samyang 20mm f/1.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Nikon 35mm f/1.8G (Amazon / B&H)

Like Canon’s APS-C DSLRs, we recommend Tokina’s ultra wide angle 11-20mm f/2.8 zoom for Nikon DX camera bodies as a great upgrade for landscape astrophotography. Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8 is still unmatched for low-light performance and versatility. Don’t forget the affordable Nikon 35mm f/1.8G as a standard prime. It’s fast, sharp and a great choice as a standard prime, regardless of price.

Fujifilm X APS-C Mirrorless

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Super Wide Angle: Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2  (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Rokinon/Samyang 21mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.2 (Amazon / B&H)

My first mirrorless camera was the Fujifilm X-E1 (full review) and I was blown away by the low-light performance of the X-Series cameras. I eventually upgraded to the Fujifilm X-T1 (full review) and I found it one of my favorite cameras that I’ve ever used. Like the other APS-C mirrorless camera systems on this list, our favorite choices for astrophotography, regardless of price, are the fast manual focus prime lenses available from Rokinon/Samyang. Most of Fujifilm’s prime lenses like the XF 14mm f/2.8 and XF 23mm f/1.4 are well regarded, high performance lenses, but we still prefer the Rokinon lenses for their superior aberration control. Most of Fujifilm’s fastest primes (like the 23mm f/1.4) still have issues with sagittal astigmatism when shot wide-open. The manual focus Rokinon lenses are much better in this regard and can produce stunning night photos in a tiny package.

Pentax K DA APS-C

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Super Wide Angle: Rokinon 10mm/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 16mm f/2.0 (Amazon / B&H) or Rokinon/Samyang 20mm f/1.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Pentax offers some of the best value for any DSLR camera system. The Pentax K-3 II comes standard with Astrotracer, an innovative sensor shifting function that allows the camera to automatically track the motion of the stars across the sky as the Earth rotates. This allows the K-3 II to capture the sky as if it were mounted to a tracking equatorial mount making extremely long exposures possible. Rather than being limited to just 15-20 second exposures before the stars start streaking across the frame, the K-3 II can shoot for minutes on end, perfectly tracking the stars. No other manufacturer offers anything remotely similar in their cameras and thus Pentax DSLRs stands alone as some of the most astrophotography capable cameras available. Like Canon and Nikon’s APS-C DSLR offerings, the staple recommendations for fast lenses include the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art. For a super wide angles, our favorite autofocus Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 is not available for the K mount so our favorite choice is the affordable manual focus Rokinon 10mm f/2.8.

Pentax K FA Full-Frame

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Super Wide Angle: Pentax HD FA 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H) or Rokinon/Samyang 20mm f/1.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H) or 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Rokinon/Samyang 50mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

The Pentax K1 is Pentax’s first full-frame digital camera. Like Pentax’s APS-C DSLRs, the K1 is also equipped with Astrotracer for enabling ultra long, tracked photos of the night sky.  The K1 is a very new camera at the time we originally made this list so modern lens choices are limited. Pentax does have the excellent Pentax FA 15-30mm f/2.8 which, as we understand, is a weather sealed and improved version of the excellent Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8. While the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art is available for the K1 as our favorite fast wide angle, there are nearly no autofocus standard 50mm primes lenses available for the K mount that we can recommend. Most of Pentax’s native autofocus standard primes leave a lot to be desired in aberration control. That makes the Rokinon 50mm f/1.4 our top choice for a standard prime on the K1.

Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Mirrorless

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Super Wide Angle: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 7–14 mm f/2.8 ED PRO (Amazon / B&H) or 8mm f/1.8 ED Pro Fisheye (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 Summilux (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Panasonic Lumix G 25 mm f/1.7 ASPH (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 21mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Olympus and Panasonic both have been making excellent cameras of late and with the combined forces of both manufacturers making lenses for the micro 4/3 mount, there are a ton of lens options. Both of Olympus’s ultra wide angle 7-14mm f/2.8 and 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye are excellent night photography lenses. On the fast prime front, Panasonic offers a Leica designed ultra fast 12mm f/1.4 Summilux, the fastest 12mm lens ever made.  The Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 standard prime is also a great choice that has nearly no aberration issues, even when used wide open at f/1.7.

Sony Alpha A Full Frame

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Super Wide Angle: Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8  (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 14mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)

Fast Wide Angle: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H) or 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Tamron 45mm f/1.8 SP (Amazon / B&H)

Sony recently released the 42 MP a99 Mark II, a monster of a camera that should prove to be one of the best full-frame DSLR like cameras on the market. Like the full-frame Canons and Nikons, our preferred lenses on the full frame Alpha A mount cameras are the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 and Sigma Art primes, all of which offer superior performance versus the native Sony A mount offerings.

Sony Alpha A APS-C

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Super Wide Angle: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 DX-II (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon 10mm/2.8 (Amazon)

Fast Wide Angle: Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 16mm f/2.0 (Amazon / B&H)

Standard Prime: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon / B&H)
Budget: Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon / B&H)

Sony is still keeping the A mount alive with high performance DSLR like cameras like the a77 Mark II. Just like the Nikon and Canon APS-C bodies, we recommend the same excellent lenses offered by Tokina and Sigma. The newest Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 is not available in A mount at the moment but the older generation Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 DX-II offers the same excellent performance with just a little less reach on the long end of the zoom. Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8, of course, is our first choice for a fast wide angle while the ultra fast Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art is the best standard prime available for the APS-C A mount cameras.

Coming Soon

Keep an eye on these promising lens designs. Many of these wide angle lenses have been recently announced or released and the verdict on their actual performance for astrophotography is unknown at the moment. We’re not specifically recommending them but we have high hopes that they will be good options for the future. We’ll do our best to try and test them as the become more readily available.

Rokinon/Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H)
Sigma DC 16mm f/1.4 (B&H)

Closing Remarks

There are many other lens options that may also be great choices but these are our favorites. One of the most important traits, with few exceptions, is that the lenses on this page are generally spectacular in regards to minimizing aberration like astigmatism and coma that would affect stars on the corner of the frame. There may be some lenses that I have not listed here but that does not mean that the may be a great choice, too. Is there a lens that you use and love for astrophotography? Share it in the comments below!

I’ll be keeping this gear guide up to date as we review and test more lenses across the various camera systems.

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

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

-Ian

71 Responses

  1. Firooz Amjadi December 11, 2017 / 11:42 am

    Thank you Ian,
    You should consider the Pentax 35mm DA F2.4 AL lens for astrophotography. This lens is available new on B&H for less that $150 !!! You can check the tests on lenstips.com particularly regarding both coma and resolution numbers which are quite impressive. This test was performed for an APS-C sensor. This lens has been used by others and myself on a full frame, although it is not advertised by Pentax for full frame and not tested on lenstips.com for full frame. You should consider adding this lens to your list of budget lenses for Pentax APS-C lenses. It would also be great if you could test this lens yourself to provide a very inexpensive alternative to your audience . Thank you 🙂

  2. Chris November 13, 2017 / 11:50 am

    For a Canon crop sensor, would you take the Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 over the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8?

  3. Steven November 13, 2017 / 12:58 am

    Hi Ian, I am struggling with choosing a ultra wide angle lens for aurora and astrophotography as I am going to Finland next Feb. I am using sony A7M2 and I prefer to have a lens with light weight and you can insert a normal filter (like CPL) on it. Now I am thinking of two lenses: Batis 18 F2.8 and Laowa 15 F2. Laowa is wider and the aperture is faster, but I am not sure which one has a better quality or do I need the lens to be so wide? The most important thing is the brand: Zeiss vs Laowa. It seems that to have a Zeiss lens is much more happy, haha. Which one you will suggest according to my situation? Many thanks!

  4. No_Thanks November 10, 2017 / 1:18 pm

    Don’t forget the Voigtlander brand for MFT cameras. All 3 primes are super fast – f/0.95. not a typo

  5. Gilbert Felicio October 25, 2017 / 6:27 am

    Hi Ian!

    Sigma just announced a 16mm F1.4 lens for Sony E-Mount. You think its a good idea for beginners on astrophotography to forgo Rokinon 12mm for a fast 16mm Sigma lens?

    regards,

    Gilbert

  6. Justin L. September 17, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    Might want to consider the Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D Lens for Sony E. I just pre-ordered it. Hopefully its good for astrophotography

  7. Mark September 6, 2017 / 7:59 pm

    Any word on the quality of the Rokinon/Samyang 20mm f1.8 or the Rokinon/Samyang 16mm f2 for Astro stuff?

  8. Christopher Braun September 3, 2017 / 1:08 pm

    Hello there and thank you for the great resources here. I was recommended the tokina 11 20 however after reading many reviews I saw it produced coma near the edges during ap. I became set on the Rokinon 14mm 2.8 instead for my Nikon 7500. I see you recommend the tokina and the sigma over the Rokinon. Could you give me any further insight on the performance of these three lenses? I’m looking for best quality over versatility, however the tokina is very attractive to me, it’s the coma on it that has led me to consider the rokinon instead. Now I’ve seen the sigma thrown into the mix here and a few other places.

  9. Aki September 1, 2017 / 6:32 am

    Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is a phenomenal lens BUT for astro make sure you test out and understand how much it vignettes wide open especially if you’re shooting multiple shots to stitch them later. I had heck of a time trying to reduce the vignetting in Lightroom and while the results were okay I feel there are other better lenses if not use a star tracker and close the aperture down a bit.

    Unless someone knows a better way to handle such vignetting for multishots I’m all ears as I’m not a pro in astro either 🙂

  10. Tuomas Mutanen August 25, 2017 / 1:31 am

    In my humble opinion Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 is almost a perfect lens for Milky Way photography. I do admit it’s pricey, but I don’t think you can, by any means, question its quality when it comes to astrophotography. Even if the Tamron 15-30 would have slightly less coma (which mean that it must be a truly coma-free lens) it also has some cons compared to Nikon. Instead of 14 mm, you only get 15 mm, which based even some reviews, is not even as wide as the 15 mm in the Nikkor. Also according to dxomark, the transmission is worse in the Tamron, meaning that the glass elements pass less light than in the Nikon.

    So, I would conclude that the only real benefit of getting Tamron is the price. Otherwise, these two lenses seem more or less equally great options for astrolandscapes.

  11. Steve August 19, 2017 / 2:05 am

    Hi Ian, great article. I had two question. First compared to the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8, how does the Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III stack up for astrophotography? Second question is between the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art and the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II, which is better for astrophotography? Thanks!

  12. Juan Reppucci August 9, 2017 / 2:57 am

    Hi, this is a great article! Do you have the chance to evaluate the irix 15mm 2.4? I have the chance to replace my Sammyang 14 mm 2.8 with that. Should I do it or do you recommend to keep the Sammyang? According some reviews the Irix is probably sharper but I’m concern about comma aberration. Thanks a lot!

  13. Ivan Chirkov July 19, 2017 / 1:30 am

    Hi!
    What about Sigma 14mm 1.8?

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  15. Tom June 4, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    Which lens would you recommend for Astro photography that would suit for both APS-C and full frame as well? I have a APS- C canon 80D and I will be buying a full frame canon after a year, so I do not want to spend on 2 lenses. So please suggest me 1 lens that I can invest on.

    Thank you so much, Ian.

  16. Bob B. May 11, 2017 / 6:52 pm

    Ok….so I have researched this pretty heavily. I have a lot of experience as a photographer, but not an astro photographer…and that changes the dynamics of what are considered great lenses from my normal approach for other subject matters. I am shooting with a Canon 5D Mark IV…and I have come to a slightly different conclusion than what is listed above in this category.
    Superwide: Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4
    Mid-Wide: SamYang 24mm f/1.4
    Wide: Canon 35mm f/1.4L II
    Standard: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART
    My thinking is to just skip any zooms as they are not going to achieve the level of the primes above. …but that is just the conclusion that I have come to. What’s cool is everyone has different reasons for using the equipment that they have. It’s all good…and fun, too!
    I love reading everyones thoughts and insights.

  17. TNP May 10, 2017 / 8:35 am

    I’m trying to decide between the Tamron 15-30 and the Canon 16-35 2.8 version II or III. I shoot astro, lighhtning and landscape. Do you have any opinion on the Canon 16-35 and how it compares to the Tamron 15-30 for coma and sharpness?

  18. Victor May 6, 2017 / 11:27 am

    Thank you, Mr. Norman. Your website is one of my favourite photography spots on the web.

    WRT to your lens recommendations for the Pentax K1 (full-frame) camera, I believe the Pentax 15-30mm and the Rokinon 50mm f/1.4 look the most promising.

    That said, I have a specific question about the K1. As you know, the sensor is made by Sony (a variant of the old A7R’s 36 MP beast). It is not a BSI design, but it may be controlled by firmware like that which you and other experts have lamented for causing “star eater” problems.

    Can you confirm if Pentax / Ricoh write their own firmware for the sensor, or port over Sony’s firmware (complete with “star eater” flaw)?

    • Victor May 6, 2017 / 11:31 am

      I wrote a note to the “Sony Listens” email address you’d identified in that heartfelt appeal you wrote last week. The response was disheartening; it basically consisted of a somewhat insincere expression of regret about the problems I was having (which, in fact, I haven’t been having, since I don’t own an A7 series camera, but an A6000). It then suggested that I contact a customer relations number, and then provided a list… see below:

      Sony support hotline: (800) 222-7669
      Sony alpha technical team: 1-239-245-6360
      Business Hours:
      Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM ET (Midnight).
      Saturday – Sunday 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

      To top it all off, the letter asked for my “continued support”.

      Well, until Sony pledges to fix this problem, they won’t get it.

    • Scotty Bishop July 1, 2017 / 2:03 pm

      I use the K1 and it doesn’t experience the star eater issue at all. In fact it is awesome for AP. I use it on a tracking mount with various lenses and telescopes. Pentax does their own firmware and seems to wring more from a Sony sensor than Sony does.

    • Ian Norman July 2, 2017 / 3:34 pm

      Pentax does not us the same processing as Sony so the K1 is not a problem. I’m actually looking very seriously at getting a K1 in the near future to try.

    • riccardo November 18, 2017 / 7:03 am

      have you tried the K1 astrotracer function? I used to have a K5 and I could get only one good pic out of ten, although I was reaally stressing it with a 180 mm

  19. Moises Delgado May 3, 2017 / 5:02 pm

    Hi

    Very good article, in this moment i try to decide between Rokin 1.4 or Sigma 1.4, any advice on this 2 choices?

    Thank you

  20. Omri April 28, 2017 / 6:05 am

    Hey great review!
    I also wanted to know about the Sigma art f/1.4 24mm with Astrophotography? did you try?
    I want to buy these but only if its good for astrophotography, i also need their auto-focus.
    Will appreciate your answer very much.

  21. John Baker April 3, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    A great and timely update, lots of new and interesting glass arrving all the time. I am a big fan of the Tamron 15-30mm and have been using it for the last 15 months. Very sharp and quite fast, great on its own, but amazing when fitted on a tracking unit.

  22. SL March 28, 2017 / 3:05 pm

    Any update or thoughts on Irix 15 mm? Relatively fast (f/2.8), affordable and seems to have many other features that would be ideal for Astro. (infinity click, sharp center and edges, minimum distortion, chromatic and coma aberrations etc based on some reports). I know the Q has been asked a few months ago, and it’s been on your “coming soon” list for upcoming lenses to review.

  23. Jens March 23, 2017 / 5:40 am

    Hi,

    the Amazon link for the Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 leads to the Canon 50 mm on B&H.

    Kind regards,
    Jens

  24. Patrick Chase March 17, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    I have one overarching concern about this article: If you’re serious enough about astrophotography to be choosing $1K+ lenses based on their suitability-to-task, then you should also be considering whether some of that money might be better spent on a tracking mount.

    An AstroTrac can be had for roughly the price difference between many of the “bargain/budget” lenses and their ideal counterparts, and will very likely effect a far more significant improvement in the final results.

  25. William Shaw February 22, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    Sigma announced a full frame 14mm f/1.8 for CP+. That is astonishingly wide. Image quality at the edges and comparisons with the Samyang XP should be interesting.

  26. Hieroz February 9, 2017 / 6:34 pm

    Hi Ian & everyone, 1st this is a great recommendation, especially for me who new to astrophotography. I’m using sony a5000 with lens kit 16-50mm. So for me who want to take this to next level, which should i buy 1st between super wide lens, fast wide lens or prime lens because for now my budget limited for buy one new lens only.

    • Jake February 27, 2017 / 7:43 am

      Pick up the Rokinon 12mm f2.0 lens. I did with my A5000 then A6000 and still use it to this day!

  27. Matthew Landon February 8, 2017 / 3:40 pm

    Ian,

    Great write up! Each of the lenses you mention have so many benefits, and seem to easily earn their merits. I’m looking at the new version of Voigtlander 15mm. I just like wide shots, and it seems so much more portable for camping/hiking/skiing outings where I want my a7, but don’t want the bulk of the 16-35mm f4.

    My question is this, would the Voigtlander, if paired to an a7s make a better astro set-up than say the Rokinon/Samyong 14mm? I’m looking to keep my kit simple, as I’m just starting out in this, but I honestly already see owning both the Voigt and the Rokinon (or new Tamron Firn) eventually. Am I deluding myself, are this two distinctly different lenses? One to stay on a camera for the “let’s go!’ sort of moments, and the other for dedicated night shots?

    Also on my list for a “let’s go!” lens is the FE 28mm f2. It seems super solid, not quite as wide as I’d like, but a good standard to carry out and about instead of the 55mm f1.8.

    Thanks in advance,

    Matt

  28. Allar January 29, 2017 / 3:02 pm

    Hi Ian,

    What are your thoughts on Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 vs Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Sony E-mount for astrophotography.

    Thanks

  29. Edwin Genaux January 17, 2017 / 9:52 am

    Ian your reviews are the greatest and most comprehensive I have seen Thank You!!! I need to ask I know you like the Sony A7s so why not review the secret SEL1018 f/4 used in full frame mode you get 12mm to 18mm (just remove the light shield on the back for 18mm) and the Voigtlander 10mm f/5.6 and 12mm f/5.6. I know everyone likes fast glass but the A7s does fine. Sony’s in camera app Lens correction can solve vertical problems before hand BUT LR has the lens correction for the SEL1018 and a manual adjustment for light problems in the corners at 12mm. The SEL1018 is way better than the Rokinons as far as coma and birds in the corners. It should have been my first lens before I got the Rokinons.

  30. Dean January 16, 2017 / 11:45 am

    Hi Ian,

    I shoot on a crop sensor Nikon d7200. I own the rokinon 16mm f/2.0 and recently purchased the tokina 11-16mm f2.8. Now that I have the tokina, I am beginning to wonder if it’s worth keeping both in my bag. In your opinion, Does the extra aperture that comes with the rokinon make enough difference to justify having both lenses when in every other circumstance other than astrophotography I plan on using the tokina?

  31. Jonathan Richards January 10, 2017 / 2:36 pm

    Hi Ian, I’m sure other people have asked but will you be reviewing the Irix 15mm f/2.4 black stone any time soon? I currently have the Nikon 20mm f/1.8 which is great but I’m looking for something wider. I like the look of the samyang 14mm & great low coma results but am put off by the low quality control mentioned in your review.

    Look forward to your reply.

    • William Shaw January 18, 2017 / 1:31 pm

      No doubt Ian will respond when he has a chance to review more lenses. I did some searching about coma on the Irix, the Samyang 20mm and the new Samyang premium 14mm f/2.4. Opinions seem divided on the Irix, but lenstip.com thought the coma was not quite as good as the older Samyang 14mm f/2.8 and was not impressed with the vignetting. Others seem to like it a lot for astro, but there’s some frustration with the infinity click which rarely arrives calibrated in the right place, though you can adjust it. If you can get it right that would be a big plus. There seems to be mixed views about the Samyang 20mm – not up to usual coma standards according to some, but easier to focus than the Nikon with its bizarrely short throw and hysteresis. The newer Samyang premium XP looks promising, but I’m not entirely sure how independent of the manufacturer the review I’ve seen is. There’s a comparison with the Tamron 15-30 (that Ian likes) that claims the new Samyang has better coma, but I thought there wasn’t much in it. You can find all this by Googling coma + the lens name. Anybody here had a try with any of these? Of the new kids on the block the premium Samyang looks like a contender so I’d love to hear about that one as well.

  32. Tadhg Mac January 9, 2017 / 2:24 pm

    Any news or feedback on testing the Rokinon/Samyang 20mm f1.8 in the astro field Ian?

    • Kev92 January 12, 2017 / 2:39 am

      I’am also really interested in that lense! Would be great if you can give some feedback, Ian! 🙂

    • Zach March 7, 2017 / 8:25 am

      I too am interested in this lens. Please do a review on it.

  33. Max January 2, 2017 / 7:32 am

    Hi Ian,
    How good will be shooting panorama using Canon 70-200 IS f2.8? Is it any better than Canon 50mm f1.8 STS?

  34. Ben Kuiperbak December 28, 2016 / 10:34 am

    Dear Ian, Thanks for the list. Is it correct that the purenight filter can not be used with the Rokinon 10mm? Did you have a chance to test the Irix yet? If so how does it behave on a cropsensor?

  35. Imrich Bartko December 17, 2016 / 5:33 am

    Hi, what about the 12mm F2.8 ED AS NCS FISH-EYE for Canon APS-C?

  36. Ethan Nelson December 14, 2016 / 4:03 pm

    I have a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 for my canon rebel t5 is that lens much different from the Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8

    • Tom June 4, 2017 / 3:44 pm

      Hi Ethan,

      Can you share the settings you use to take Astro pics? If it is okay, few pics as well.

      Thanks
      Tom

  37. Uriel Lizardi December 9, 2016 / 9:54 pm

    So I’m curious about your take on using the full frame recommendations on a ASP-C camera. I currently have a Canon Rebel SL1, and have thought about upgrading in the future to a full frame, either the 6D or one of the 5D’s. What do you think of the performance of the full frame lenses on an ASP-C?

  38. Steve Rawlings December 9, 2016 / 9:16 pm

    Hi Ian, I have a Nikon D800 and was looking to buy a prime lens for panorama stitching. I’m looking at the Sigma 35mm 1.4 or the Sigma 50 mm 1.4 , what lens do you think would be the better choice?

  39. William Shaw December 3, 2016 / 12:45 am

    Ian – thanks for a great summary. If I was starting over I’d probably for the Tamron 15-30 you recommend for Nikon full frame. Meantime I’ve become very fond of the Zeiss 15mm, which came my way on a deal that made it less painful to buy. It’s taken my a while to master focusing on several lenses, and your Sharpstar is fab to manage the Sigma 35mm, which is my favourite for Wide not Ultra-Wide. On the Zeiss the hard stop is pretty much dead on infinity so I either work on that or pulled back a tiny amount. Its taken me a while to avoid jiggling the camera (remote release a must). I use your recommended 15mm settings or maybe go up to 6400 ISO at half the time. Anyway, the first efforts I’d consider worth sharing are now on 500px, and I have credited your site. See link below. Keep up the fantastic work.

  40. Barry December 2, 2016 / 10:28 am

    Thanks for the review! Any thoughts on Tokina 14-20 f2?

    • Ian Norman December 3, 2016 / 2:05 pm

      An excellent lens and one that I forgot to include on this list. I think it’s a good alternative to the 11-20 if speed is more of a priority than field of view – perhaps a good choice for the “fast wide angle” category as an alternative to the Sigma 18-35 that has a little more on the wide end.

  41. Oscar van der Velde December 2, 2016 / 8:58 am

    I am curious what the performance would be when using full frame ultrawide lenses on APS-C format using (1) a focal reducer (Speedbooster or Lens Turbo) and (2) a shift adapter.

    It could be interesting to mount Laowa 12mm F2.8 or Samyang XP 14mm F2.4. You would get 8.5mm F2 or 10mm F1.8 lenses on a focal reducer and equivalents to full frame 18mm and 21mm shift lenses.

    It would be useful to know if the quality (and infinity focus) is maintained.

  42. Petri Puurunen November 30, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    Hmm… Where did you left Sigma Art 20/1.4 ? Any comments on that lens?

    Great article anyway!

    • Ian Norman December 1, 2016 / 9:55 pm

      We really wanted to like the Sigma Art 20mm but it has distinct problems with coma wide open. You need for the lens to be stopped down quite a bit (f/2.8 minimum) to eliminate it. That doesn’t make it bad, however. We just wish it were more tuned to use for astrophotography when used wide open. That said, there are not many 20mm lenses that can shoot at f/1.4…

    • warren bell September 26, 2017 / 11:40 am

      the sigma f2 24-35mm art is rated as better for astrophotography and I think overlooked in the sigma lens lineup. My photo’s look very good in the corners

  43. M November 30, 2016 / 5:20 am

    Tamron vs Nikon? I think you just saved me $500. Looks as though Lee has a filter to adapt to fixed hood Tamron 15-30. Will it work with Sharp Star?

    • Ian Norman December 1, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      We’re working on a SharpStar2 that will work with the 15-30… latest tests are promising.

  44. Daniel November 29, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    How about the Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone? I’ve seen some great astrophotographs done with it. It is very new of course.

    • Ian Norman December 1, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      Have not used the Irix yet but it’s on our “coming soon” list of lenses we want to check out.

    • Bjorn August 30, 2017 / 4:53 am

      Hi Daniel, Irix 15mm f2.4 ( 419€) performs very well concerning astro on a D800 and D750 Nikonbody. little coma in the extreme corner, this is gone at f2.8 . The lens performs great at infinity and the quality control is much better than Samyang 14mm f2,8… you need to examine at least 6 copies to find a good Samyang… If you add another 1000€ you can buy a Sigma 14mm f1.8… The Irix filters are great and cheap as well, and I found out that the coating on those Irix filters prevent the lens from fogging. I took overnight time lapses in the mountains, the Irix lens stayed clear from fogging and the B+W filter over my Nikkor 20mm lens fogged. This happens 5 times, and the distance was only a meter or less.. The Blackstone and Firefly have the same optics.

  45. Anthony R. November 29, 2016 / 11:48 am

    Glad to see the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 all over this list because I just picked one up on Black Friday for a killer price. Curious to see how it stacks up to the Rokinon 16mm f2.0 the that I already own.

    • Tom June 4, 2017 / 10:34 pm

      May I ask what was the deal price?

  46. SUBRAMANIAN R November 29, 2016 / 8:56 am

    I have a Sony alpha 58. I am successful in clicking orion. Would it be possible to photograph milky way using the device’s autofocus. I am from Coimbatore, India. Thanks in advance.

    Best regards

    • Ian Norman December 1, 2016 / 9:48 pm

      Autofocus is not really recommended for dark sky photography.

  47. Eric Meier November 28, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    How about the Nikkor 20mm f1.8? While it won’t go quite as wide as the Tamron 15-30, it’s less expensive and about a stop and a half faster.

    Additionally, I’ve heard good things about the Nikon mount because it has a larger flange distance than most other mainstream lens mounts, so it can be adapted to a wide number of other mounts — including Canon’s EF mount (though you lose autofocus). This kind of flexibility appeals to me since you never know if you’ll end up switching camera body brands sometime in the future!

    • William Shaw November 30, 2016 / 7:59 am

      I run a D750 and I’ve got one of those Nikon 20/1.8s. It’s a great lens for autofocus/daytime use but I gave up on it for astro. Focusing it (at least on my copy) is a pain as the focus ring is very sensitive – a tiny movement can throw it off, but there is also some play in it. I was not too impressed with the picture quality either, and ended up stopping it down to 2.8 and cropping use the D750 1.2 mode to deal with the corner/edge coma and vignetting. So I reckon it’s OK as an effective 24mm f/2.8, but not as full frame wide open. Others will probably disagree. Having dumped the Nikon I went for the Rokinon 14mm (based on LonelySpeck advice) and loved it, and the Sigma 35mm 1.4 A (ditto but even better). I had a chance a little while back to get a good price on the Zeiss 15mm and this is now my lens of choice. It takes filters and the infinity focus is bang on the hard stop – so a dream to use. The detail is staggering and the coma minor. If starting again I’d probably follow the advice here and get the Tamron 15-30.

    • Richard Tatti December 24, 2016 / 3:11 am

      Hey Eric, I have the Nikon 20mm f1.8 and use it extensively for night photography. It’s a great lens and I usually use it at about f2 or f2.2.

      I use it with a D750. There is a little coma but much better than other similar lenses. I have no trouble at all focusing with it in live view mode at night.

  48. ned mathers November 28, 2016 / 7:39 am

    Ian – another excellent look at available glass for astro work – as always you are very thorough with your recommendations and reviews – great work!

    I do have a question – a while back you were liking the rokinon 8mm f2.8. are you liking it it less these days? or is just too wide? and are the corrections necessary just too much work to get acceptable results?

    thanks for your thoughts,
    ned mathers
    boulder

    • Ian Norman November 28, 2016 / 9:53 am

      A great lens and highly recommended. I’ve has a couple people ask about fisheye lenses… I guess I should add a little section about them!

  49. Paul Wilson November 28, 2016 / 5:41 am

    Hey mate. I really want to see how the 16-35mm f2.8 mk3 preforms, can’t wait to get my hands on one. Plus side is I can use it for day to day stuff like weddings.

    • Ian Norman November 28, 2016 / 9:54 am

      Hi Paul, yes, it’s definitely one to keep an eye on, especially versus the new Tamron 15-30/2.8

    • Dave February 3, 2017 / 4:04 pm

      The Canon 16-35 F2.8 iii is amazingly sharp and has very well controlled aberrations and coma. I did an astrophotogprahy lens test with the two Samyangs (14/24mm) and the Tamron all in hand on my 6D body. The Canon Mk3 was the sharpest to the corners and equal in coma performance to any other (much, much better than the Mk2 version of the 16-35 F2.8) but it has vignetting that is worse than even the Samyang 14mm. In my opinion this makes it NOT usable for astrophotography or any low light work. You need a lot of signal in the corners to not just have a noisy mess after correcting for vignetting. Daytime shots can probably be corrected ok for corner vignetting, but not low light event or astro work. Not to mention video use.

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