If you have a Nikon camera, you have the luxury of a brilliant range of FX, DX, and Z lenses to choose from. All this choice can be overwhelming – especially if you need a specialist lens for something like astrophotography. To help you narrow it down, we have listed 6 of the best Nikon lenses for astrophotography!
Best Nikon Lenses for Astrophotography
If you want to start astrophotography with a suitable camera, we have chosen 6 of the best Nikon lenses for astrophotography. We have selected a mix of lenses including FX, DX, and Z mounts. This ensures that regardless of the type of Nikon camera you have, there is a lens to suit.
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1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED
This lens offers a superb build quality, a large maximum aperture, and fantastic image quality.
- Aperture Range – f/1.8 – f/16
- Weight – 355g
- Dimensions – 82.5×80.5mm
The best overall choice for astrophotography is the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED. This is an FX lens for full-frame Nikon cameras. It is dubbed as Nikon’s fastest ultra-wide-angle lens to date. In terms of technical specifications, this lens has an advanced lens construction with both ED and aspherical elements. This should ensure your night sky photos are clear and have virtually no distortion.
At 20mm, you should be able to capture amazing detail and show the true enormity of the galaxy beyond. The aperture range will also give you great control and allow you to still use low ISO settings to get sharp night sky shots without much background noise.
For use outdoors, it has a durable build with external coatings. It is relatively lightweight at just 355g and should be easy to carry to your chosen astrophotography spot. This lens really does shine for astrophotography and you can rely on sharp photos with minimal softening and distortions. The only downside is that this lens has a hefty price tag.
2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED
This 24mm lens offers a great wide-angle focal distance and a brilliant maximum aperture. It also has an advanced lens construction for minimal distortion.
- Aperture Range – f/1.4 – f/16
- Weight – 355g
- Dimensions – 77.5×83.0mm
Similar to the 20mm, we have the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED. This is another fantastic prime lens and one of the best Nikon lenses for astrophotography. With its 24mm focal range, and a maximum aperture of f/1.4, this lens excels in low-light photography. When combined with a tripod and decent Nikon camera, you can create beautiful night sky photos.
Focusing can sometimes be difficult when shooting the night sky due to low contrast. Therefore, this lens’s SWM autofocusing motor will help greatly. It is highly accurate and great in low-contrast situations. Unfortunately, this lens does not have any built-in image stabilization, however, when using a tripod this should not matter as much.
The technology of this lens is superb and the lens elements feature SIC coatings to reduce distortions. Also, it has both Extra-Low Dispersion glass and aspherical elements. These features basically mean your astrophotography shots will be sharp and have no distortion or softening.
3. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR
This versatile zoom lens allows you to capture different aspects of the night sky in superb clarity and detail.
- Aperture Range – f/2.8 – f/22
- Weight – 1070g
- Dimensions – 88.0×154.5mm
It is possible to use a zoom lens for astrophotography too. Using a zoom lens gives you more creative freedom as opposed to the fixed focal distance of a prime lens. This is why the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is one of the best Nikon lenses for astrophotography. It still offers wide-angle capabilities at 24mm, but you can zoom-in slightly on some objects in the sky at 70mm.
For ease of use, this lens has a host of features. For example, it includes vibration reduction which should help create stable and clear night sky photos. It has various lens coatings and protective layers which make it ideal for outdoor usage.
This lens is bulkier and heavier than other options on this list so it may not be as easy to carry. However, you can guarantee that it will allow you to take stunning shots of the stars, the Milky Way and planets. This is due to its various lens elements, and the fact that it is an HRI lens that provides greater optical performance.
4. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G (Best Budget Option)
This 35mm lens is a brilliant budget option for those who just want to test their astrophotography skills.
- Aperture Range – f/1.8 – f/22
- Weight – 70×52.5mm
- Dimensions – 200g
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a dedicated astrophotography lens, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX makes a good budget option. This small and compact lens does not have the same build quality as some other lenses; however, it is still durable and suitable for outdoor usage.
For astrophotography, it has a decent wide-angle focal distance and a fantastic maximum aperture of f/1.8. This will allow you to easily take long-exposure photos and still set a relatively low ISO rating to ensure minimal background noise.
It also features Nikon’s SWM autofocusing motor which will be perfect for nighttime shots where there is minimal contrast. If you just want to test your astrophotography skills, and also want a decent prime lens for general photography, this is a great choice. Just remember that this is a Nikon DX lens, and therefore it is only suitable for Nikon cropped-sensor cameras.
5. Nikon NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S (Best for Z-Mount)
For Nikon Z cameras, this lens represents the ultimate in quality for astrophotography.
- Aperture Range – f/1.8 – f/16
- Weight – 505g
- Dimensions – 84.5mmx108.5mm
The range of Nikon Z cameras is ever-expanding, as is the range of Z-mount lenses. If you have a Nikon Z camera, the NIKON NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S is one of the best Nikon lenses for astrophotography. The Z lenses in general offer amazing build quality and also look fantastic.
This is an S-Line lens which means it has a superior build quality. For example, it is dust and drip-resistant which makes it ideal for outdoor usage in a range of conditions. It has a superior lens construction that means it maintains edge-to-edge brightness. As a result, you should experience no vignetting at the corners of your night sky photos.
We also like the customizable control ring of this lens. For astrophotography, you could program this control ring to control the shutter speed. This would mean you can change the shutter speed without entering the camera’s menus and thus reduce time. It is also compatible with the built-in image stabilization featured in Nikon Z cameras which means your astrophotography will be sharp and easy to control.
6. Nikon NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S
If you want slightly more detail, this 24mm lens is a great choice and has a brilliant build quality for outdoor photography.
- Aperture Range – f/1.8 – f/16
- Weight – 450g
- Dimensions – 78.0×96.5mm
Lastly, we have the NIKON NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S. This is another superb Z-mount lens for Nikon Z cameras. It may be a little expensive, but if you want one of the best Nikon lenses for astrophotography, this is an excellent option. Also, it makes a fantastic prime lens for general landscape and street photography.
This lens is perfect for low-light photography due to its maximum aperture and lens construction. You will be able to comfortably take night sky photos with minimal background noise and distortion. You will be able to easily use a low ISO setting and long exposures whilst still retaining the image quality.
As this is an S-Line lens, it also has a brilliant build quality and is suitable for outdoor usage. Despite the advanced lens construction, it is still relatively lightweight and compact for those nighttime adventures where you want to travel light.
Which Nikon Astrophotography Lens Is Right for You?
We hope you have found this guide on the best Nikon lenses for Astrophotography useful. But which lens is the best choice for you and your camera?
Firstly, you should look at the type of Nikon camera you have, its lens mount, and if you have any lens adapters for it. This will greatly dictate which lenses you can use. For example, if you have a Nikon Z camera, unless you have the Nikon FTZ adapter, you will only be able to use Nikon Z lenses.
You should also consider your budget. If you only want to try astrophotography occasionally, you may prefer a budget option like the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G. Alternatively, if you want to pursue this professionally, you may want to splash out on a high-end lens like the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED.
In terms of technical specifications, any of the lenses we have listed will allow you to take superb astrophotography shots. However, aside from a suitable lens, there are some other accessories you may benefit from.
Nikon Astrophotography Lens FAQs
What type of lens is best for astrophotography?
Generally, wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle lenses with a large maximum aperture are fantastic for astrophotography.
What is a suitable exposure time for astrophotography?
This depends on the subject and what effect you intend to create. However, a suitable exposure time is between 20 to 30 seconds.
What is the difference between FX and DX Nikon lenses?
FX is for Nikon’s full-frame 36x24mm sensor cameras whereas DX is for Nikon’s smaller cropped sensor cameras at 24x16mm.
Is it possible to photograph the Milky Way Galaxy?
Yes! This is one of the main subjects of the night sky that people photograph. You need a decent wide-angle lens, a dark, clear sky, and no obstruction from light pollution or clouds and you should easily be able to identify it!
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