What is the Best Lens for Night Photos?

We spend half of our lifetime relaxing under the pitch-black night sky.

Gladly, when the sun sets, the stars and its amazing milky way wake up to grace the vast skies. The city lights dance in full glory lighting up the streets and alleys.

It’s in such moments that avid night photographers can’t help but pull out their best lens for night photos.

Night photography is unique.

You cannot use just any type of lens. It has to be a low-light performer that shoots clearly visible stills.

In this article, we are going to discuss a few reliable lenses that you can carry around for successful night photography.

But before we go so far, let’s find out what exactly makes a good lens for night photos.

Criteria for choosing the best lens for night photos

best lens for low light photography

Here are a few important pointers to keep in mind when selecting a night photography lens:

Get a large aperture

At night, there isn’t a lot of light.

As such, you’ll be struggling to get every photon available and that can only happen if you have a large image sensor.  

Weatherproof design

We can all agree that the night comes with a fair share of hardships. Rain, snow, humidity, and other harsh weather elements are to be expected.

Therefore, it makes sense to go for lenses that are well-built to handle the rigors of outdoor use.

Great quality coating

best camera lens for night photography

Lenses come with special coatings that bump up the quality of images. The more advanced the coatings are, the better the visuals will be.

Weight

Some lenses are very big and bulky to the extent that wielding them can be a problem.

We can all agree that a compact and lightweight rig would be preferable as it is less burdensome. 

Nice bokeh

Bokeh aka “blurry” effect is an aesthetic scenario where the lights in the picture appear out of focus.

It’s a nice feature that gives photos a uniquely alluring perspective. However, it might not be required in some instances like star photography.

Best Camera Lens for Night Photography | Top Selections

best lens for taking night photos

Here are a few top performers worth splashing money on:

1. Sigma 85mm f/1.4

As a recent addition to Sigma’s many telephoto lenses, Sigma 85mm f/1.4 boasts an improved hypersonic motor that lets you actively control autofocus for stable performance.

The manual override lets you tune in to the objects yourself and find that perfect spot. 

The lens resolving power and bokeh are of the highest standards. And the aperture is enlarged sufficiently to let in sufficient light.

This allows the rig to shoot ultra-clear images of the starry night with minimized chromatic aberration.

Besides shooting the pitch-black night, this lens is also ideal for portraits and street-style photography. 

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 is designed to pair with full-frame DSLRs with 50 megapixels or more. In fact, it is compatible with multiple converters that let it mount on many cameras.

The only possible downside is that it tends to be a little heavy. 

Main features

  • Special low dispersion glass elements
  • Optimized power distribution
  • 85mm focal length 
  • Redesigned hypersonic engine
  • 9 aperture blades

2. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens

If you own a Nikon DSLR and want a beast that makes night photography fulfilling, you better take a look at Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens.

Unlike its predecessors, its sharpness, speed, and consistency are truly unmatched.

It comes with 4 stops of vibration reduction so you can capture stunningly clear shots.

With an f/2.8 aperture and revised optical design that incorporates top technology, the lens leaves nothing to chance.

Besides night photography, it can handle wedding, landscape, and a few other types of photography.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens sports a robust external body with a nonstick glass that lets off dirt easily.

There’s a sealing gasket at the mount to prevent water from entering the camera. The only downside is that the size is a little bulky.

Main features

  • 24-70mm focal length
  • 4-stops of vibration reduction
  • Nonstick glass
  • Extra-low dispersion glass element

3. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens

If you want to experience the full joy of wide-angle photography, you may want to have Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens as part of your setup.

This workhorse has the latest optics that feature UD lenses designed to reduce chromatic aberration.

There are 4 aspheric lens elements to ensure pictures come out with little to no distortion.

The lens comes with not just one but two types of coatings that completely take care of ghosting and flares.

You get full control of the autofocus system which is fast and accurate.

Being a professional-grade kit, Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens is rugged and ready to handle bad weather.

There’s fluorine coating on both rear and front elements to reduce smears and fingerprints.

Unlike other lenses in this review, this one is compact and won’t add much weight to your DSLR camera.

Main features

  • Ultra-wide zoom lens
  • Full-time manual focus
  • 11-24mm focal length
  • Closest focusing distance 0.28m/11 inches
  • Air Sphere Coating (ASC) and Subwavelength coating (swc)

4. Sony FE 14mm F1.8 Wide Angle Lens

If you are a Milky Way enthusiast and would love to capture its full glory, you might want to have Sony FE 14mm F1.8 Wide Angle Lens close by.

It has class-leading optics that include two extra-low dispersion glass and aspherical elements both of which result in clean shots with corner-to-corner sharpness.

The nano-coating on the glass enhances contrast while ensuring there is no fringing and unnatural discoloration.

You will absolutely fall in love with this lens autofocus system and tracking. They both are snappy and extremely accurate.

Consider any hype you may have heard about Sony FE 14mm F1.8 Wide Angle Lens as real. It is sharp, fast, and more importantly, lightweight.

There are a few issues though. First, it has no image stabilization.

Secondly, the image can come out so sharp to appear as if they were edited in software. 

Main features

  • F1.8 9-blade circular aperture
  • Extreme aspherical elements
  • Two extra-low dispersion glass
  • Two-extreme dynamic linear motors
  • Nano AR coating II

5. Tamron SP 70-200mm f 2.8

You are dead wrong if you think only Sony, Nikon, and Canon are the only brands that manufacture top-level lenses.

There’s Tamron too and one of its best lenses for night photos is Tamron SP 70-200mm f 2.8.

The lens has been designed specifically for night shooting-whether it’s the stars or wildlife. It has been highly praised by past reviewers as a low-light performance beast.

Its compact design boasts 5 stops of vibration compensation for jitter-free shooting.

Thanks to the innovative low dispersion glass, you can say goodbye to chromatic aberrations across all the zoom ranges.

The lens has magnificent zoom, improved bokeh, and a fluorine-coated glass to make it water and oil-repellent.

So if you do plenty of night shooting, do not hold back on this lens.

Final Thoughts

There are many best lenses that you can resort to for night photography.

We have listed a few top performers to save you the time of having to comb through multiple online reviews.

Before you settle on any choice, consider your budget as well as your needs.