When Samy Koushha stared into the dark, cloudless midnight canvas bedazzled with countless stars, he wasn’t merely appreciating a night sky. As a seasoned astrophotographer, he was visualizing constellations and Milky Way through the lens of his camera. What’s his secret for capturing such breathtaking celestial impressions? The right gear — and more importantly, the perfect lens.
Delving into the World of Astrophotography Lenses
What makes a lens perfect for cosmic endeavours? It’s more than just a high aperture or solid build. An ideal astrophotography lens combines wide field of view with fast aperture, fine-tuned focus, and exceptional clarity. It recognizes and captures the invisible, turning fleeting photons into tangible magic.
Already, the market offers a variety of such lenses, curated and crafted for astrophotography. How do you choose the right one? We’ve done the grunt work for you, researching and interviewing professionals like Samy to bring you a review of the top astrophotography lenses making waves in 2022.
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
First on our list is the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art. This wide-angle lens stands out for several reasons, primarily its pace-setting f/1.8 aperture. This rare feature allows the lens to let in abundant light perfect for capturing stars in their full glory. A tight focus also contributes to producing sharp, crisp images devoid of the coma or spherical distortions usually associated with wide-aperture lenses.
Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS IF UMC
Do you seek something lighter, more budget-friendly, but without compromising quality? The lens for you is Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS IF UMC. Although bearing standard features like manual focus, the lens stands out with its exceptional sharpness and negligible chromatic aberration. Its compact size also makes it ideal for those hiking to hard-to-reach stellar vantage points.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
For photography enthusiasts aiming for more flexibility without sacrificing performance, Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED makes the cut. With its zoom capability, top-notch optics, and consistent f/2.8 aperture across the zoom range, it’s worth every penny. Yes, it comes at a slightly higher price point. However, its versatility outshines the cost, proving its value for both night sky and everyday photography.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
Tamron’s 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD lens makes its mark with not only remarkable low-light performance and sharp image quality but also a feature relatively uncommon in such wide-angle lenses – Vibration Compensation (VC). This built-in image stabilization offers a significant advantage for those photographers who handle their equipment sans a tripod, making it more versatile in terms of astrophotography applications.
Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM
Canon’s EF 20mm f/2.8 USM lens is an affordable entry-level option for budding astrophotographers. While its fair share of lens distortion can be handled in post-processing, the low price tag and good performance in celestial shooting situations make it a worthy addition to the camera bag. Especially for Canon shooters, the lens provides a cost-effective platform while they explore the cosmos through their viewfinders.
Investing in the Right Astrophotography Lens
A perfect lens would capture the cosmos just as our eyes perceive it. While it’s impossible to fulfill this wish entirely, the right lens can get somewhat close. And ‘right’ here remains utterly subjective – it boils down to your personal preferences, shooting style, and budget. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the lens is pivotal and your cue to maximize efficiency.
Another essential factor in astrophotography is having the right knowledge of photography lighting techniques. It can tremendously help to play around with the illumination that celestial bodies provide and experiment with your shots.
Astrophotography remains a captivating genre that blends art and science, enabling us to get a glimpse beyond our terrestrial habitat. The lenses covered in this review each contribute to broadening this surreal experience, each in their unique ways.
Remember, in the end, it’s the eye behind the lens that tells the story. A lens is a tool, and finding the right one simply equates to discovering a companion that complements your vision, your narrative. So, what’s your story of the cosmos going to be?
Are there any specific lenses or other pieces of photography equipment you’d like us to review next? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.