Best Lenses For Low Light – 2020 Complete Buyer’s Guide

Taking a good picture in horrible lighting conditions is probably the most difficult and annoying thing. You have to increase the ISO, which ends up adding noise to the picture.

The other thing that happens is the use of flash to add some artificial lighting to the scene. Flash makes the picture look unnatural, especially if it’s a portrait.

You need a lens that will let you get a good picture without all those setting changes.    

Comparison Chart of the Best Lenses For Low Light

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM

  • Zoom lens with a focal length range of 18-35 mm
  • Has a constant aperture of F1.8
  • Equipped with fast autofocus and wide apertures
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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E

  • Zoom lens with a focal range of 24-70mm
  • Has a constant aperture of F2.8
  • Exceptional focal length and aperture for the best pictures
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Rokinon Cine DS DS35M-C 35mm

  • Has a focal length of 35mm
  • Maximum aperture is T1.5, and the minimum aperture is T22
  • Best for the money
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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G

  • A prime lens with a 50mm focal length
  • Has a maximum aperture of F1.4
  • Best low light lens for Nikon
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

  • A prime lens with a focal length of 50mm
  • Has a maximum aperture of F1.4
  • Best low light lens for Canon
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Nikon 16-35mm f/4G

  • Zoom lens with a focal length range of 16-35mm
  • Has a maximum aperture of F4
  • Best low light wide-angle lens
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Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8

  • Prime lens with a focal length of 35mm
  • Maximum aperture of F1.8
  • Best low light lens for Sony A600
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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L

  • Zoom lens with a focal length range of 24-10mm
  • Has a maximum aperture of F2.8
  • Best Canon zoom lens for low light
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When Would a Low Light Lens Come in Handy?

Here are some ways a low light lens could be useful:

Night Photography

It is pretty obvious, by the name, what night photography is. If you have ever tried to take a picture of the beautiful night sky to capture the stars with your phone, then you know that all you end up with is a black and empty space. Even if you take it with a DSLR, you will not capture the right essence, and the lights from nearby buildings might give of flares. A good low light lens lets you take a picture of the night sky or city skyline at night without having to do a lot of setting adjustments.    

Indoor Photography

Indoor photography is another place you will find yourself looking for good lighting to get that perfect frame. Indoor lighting is sometimes either too little, too much, or not a flattering color. Low light lenses are made to capture the maximum light available in the scene. These come in handy for real-estate photography as well.  

Shadows

Capturing light can be tricky even in the day-time. If you are taking a landscape photograph, you need all the layers of shadows created by different things to stand out. If you are standing in a forest trying to take a picture of the forest ground, you will need a wide-angle lens or a lens with a long aperture so that the image does not look bland or blurry. Low-light lenses usually have either or both of those things.

What to Look For When Buying a Lens For Low Light Situations

Here are some features that every low-light lens should have:

Wide Aperture

The aperture determines the opening in your lens through which the light gets in. The wider the aperture, the better the light-capturing capability. A good aperture that can capture great low light images is F1.8 or F1.4. Wide apertures also make it possible for you to take pictures at a slower shutter speed that is used to capture more light.   

Large Sensor

The sensor is not the quality of the lens but the camera. But it is an important factor in getting good low-light images. The sensor is what determines the final frame or what will be captured in the image. Larger sensors reduce noise from the image that comes with using high ISO.

Image Stabilization

It can be difficult to adjust focus at the time, and that makes the images blurry. Some lenses have a built-in image stabilization feature that can help with that. You also might want to invest in a tripod. When you take pictures with slow shutter speed, your camera needs to be extremely steady, or your picture will be blurry. A tripod can help with that.

Quick Take - Best Lenses For Low Light

Before we dive into our review, here are the best lenses for low light:

  1. Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM
  2. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E
  3. Rokinon Cine DS DS35M-C 35mm

Review of the Best Lenses For Low Light

These are our top picks for low light lenses. Go through their specifications and choose the one that suits your needs the most. 

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM Lens for Canon

PROS

  • Hyper Sonic Motor for fast auto focus
  • Lightweight and durable external body
  • Wide aperture for different lighting conditions
  • Made for APS-C cameras that makes 18-35mm equivalent to 27-52mm
  • Spherical lens and low dispersion glass for reduced aberrations and curvature

CONS

  • The zoom range is restricted

What Recent Buyers Report

As per the buyers’ report, this is the perfect versatile lens for just about anything. The F1.8 aperture with the zoom lens is used to capture great night sky images. The results are very sharp and stable. It has some focusing issues, however, those are solved by using the Sigma USB dock.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Zoom lenses generally are not extra fast. This lens gives you the versatility of different focal lengths and a fast aperture. The wide aperture does not cause any distortions, curvature, or chromatic aberrations. It is quite an achievement from Sigma. The image resolution can compete with any fast prime lens.   

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is made for APS-C sensor cameras. You get an image that almost looks like a 50mm image with it. If you have that, then you will get the most out of this lens. It is perfect for landscapes and indoor photography due to its wide-angle. The fast aperture makes it perfect for low-light photography as well.

Bottom Line

This zoom lens is one of a kind. Most likely, it is one of the fastest zoom lenses. Hyper Sonic Motor enables accurate auto focus, which comes in handy at night photography. It is made of Thermally Composite Material that makes the lens lighter and stronger. It also utilizes Sigma’s Optimization Pro software to upgrade the firmware.  

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Great aperture for a zoom lens
  • Has amazing focal length versatility
  • Silent wave motor for fast and quiet auto focus
  • Uses four stops Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization
  • Aspherical extra-low dispersion elements to reduce flare, ghosting, and aberrations

CONS

  • It is a bit heavy

What Recent Buyers Report

This 24-70mm lens is used by people for all kinds of photography. ​Some have used it for landscapes, portraits, and others and found it to be great. The images are pretty sharp, and it is pretty fast. The VR stabilization is a favorite feature in this lens of many users.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens produces very sharp images. It uses a combination of different technologies like Aspherical lenses, ED glass, and High Refractive Index to make sure that there is no ghosting, flare, chromatic aberrations, spherical aberrations, or coma. It also has a built-in image stabilizer that reduces camera shake to get sharper images even at slower shutter speeds.  

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is made for just about any kind of photography. It has both extremely wide and extremely long focal length options. You can use it in rough conditions without any fear of damage. It has a fluorine coating that helps make cleaning the camera easier. For a zoom lens, the F2.8 aperture is perfect for low light conditions.

Bottom Line

This is our runner-up lens because the first one has a wider aperture. But for a zoom lens, getting sharp images even at F2.8 is difficult. This lens makes it easy. It gives sharp images throughout without any distortions. It is a durable and sturdy product that can handle dirt and dust. 

Best for the Money:
Rokinon Cine DS DS35M-C 35mm

Rokinon Cine DS DS35M-C 35mm T1.5 AS IF UMC Full Frame Cine Wide Angle Lens for Canon EF

PROS

  • Circular aperture blades for Bokeh
  • Great aperture for low-light shooting
  • Dual calibrated right and left distance 
  • Multi-coated and high refractive index glass
  • De-clicked aperture for smooth adjustments

CONS

  • Smooth edges at wider apertures

What Recent Buyers Report

This lens gets solid reviews from nearly all buyers. The images are sharp, for the most part. The price is definitely an attractive point for most people. The focus is a little difficult for some people, but the image quality makes up for it. Mostly, buyers have used it for landscape photography.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens has a de-clicked aperture ring that makes adjusting the aperture easier and smoother. It comes with a removable lens hood that keeps flares at a minimum. The aperture is very wide. The ultra-multi-coating makes images sharp and clear with good contrast. The aperture and focus rings are at the same location, which helps speed up the process.  

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is advertised as one that takes great cinematic quality videos. The wide aperture makes it suitable for low-light conditions. The aperture is adjustable, so you can change it according to the time of day and the lighting situation. 35mm lenses are usually used for landscapes. This one is a full-frame lens but also works with APS-C and MFT sensors. 

Bottom Line

This lens gives sharp and good quality images. The subtle smoothness at wider apertures is not that much of an issue, given the low-price. The focusing is smooth and easy, which makes it good for videography. The build quality of the lens is also good. It can fit with a range of cameras, including Canon and Nikon cameras.

Best Low Light Lens For Nikon:
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Comes with a lens hood
  • Uses Silent Wave Motor for fast auto focus
  • A wide aperture for low light photography
  • Circular 9-blade aperture creates smooth Bokeh
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC) to reduce flare and aberrations

CONS

  • Noticeable distortions on crop sensors

What Recent Buyers Report

People love this lens for everyday use. The portraits and Bokeh are perfect, and it produces a sharp image all across the frame. Its simple use makes it a favorite with novice users as well. People love using this as an everyday lens.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens creates sharp images with perfect color balance. The auto focusing is smooth and silent. Its wide aperture and super integrated coating allow maximum light in the lens and produce images that have no flare or aberrations. The minimum focusing distance is 45mm, which lets you get close to the object and take creative photographs.    

Who Will Use This Most

This lens creates sharp and steady images with its wide aperture and smooth auto focus and is perfect for low-light photography. It is made for both FX and DX type cameras. On a DX camera, the angle of view becomes equal to that of a 75mm lens. This makes it great for portraits. On a full-frame camera, you get the actual 50m length, which is one of the most versatile focal lengths.

Bottom Line

Nikon, of course, is one of the best camera and lens manufacturers in the world. They produce high-quality products that give excellent images and are durable. This lens is no different. This nifty-fifty model is cheaper compared to other Nikon lenses and the perfect fit for night photographers that use Nikon gear. 

Best Low Light Lens for Canon:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed

PROS

  • Has a manual override option
  • Ultra Sonic Motor for smooth auto focus
  • Great aperture for low light photography
  • Circular aperture rings for good Bokeh effect
  • Super Spectra coating for reduced flare and ghosting

CONS

  • Supports only Canon EF lens mount

What Recent Buyers Report

People love this lens for events, videos, and portraits. The images are always sharp and have great color contrast, as per user reviews. People are generally satisfied with its performance. The lens can also survive harsh handling according to its users. It has a sturdy build.   

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens uses super spectra coating that produces a balanced color and good contrast in the images. The flare and ghosting effects are minimum. You can capture smooth videos and steady images with its USM focusing technology. The minimum focusing distance is also pretty good.

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is made for Canon cameras. The 50mm focal length makes it suitable for landscapes, street, and portrait photography as well. You can capture good lighting in it with its wide aperture. It is perfect for traveling, given that it is a prime lens and is smaller in size. 

Bottom Line

The specs of the Nikon and Canon lenses here are pretty much the same. These two are always in line with the best camera or lens. Canon might be the most widely known camera manufacturer in the world. This lens has all of the qualities that a good Canon model does.

Best Low Light Wide Angle Lens:
Nikon 16-35mm f/4G

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Uses VR II image stabilization
  • Silent Wave Motor for fast focusing
  • Nano crystal coating to reduce flare
  • Circular 9-blade aperture ring for smooth Bokeh
  • Uses ED glasses with aspherical lenses for sharp images

CONS

  • Some distortion at wider angles

What Recent Buyers Report

According to recent buyers, the optical quality is great. It is a good zoom lens for low light conditions. The VR is a plus point for users. Mostly, it is used for landscape photography and has not let any of the users down. The material is also reported to be strong and durable.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The best features of this lens are its VR image stabilization system that produces great focused images even in low-light conditions. Its great range of 16-35mm provides the user with great versatility. It also has protection against flare and ghosting effects. It uses M/A focus mode switch for silent transfer between manual and auto focus.

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is for indoor, real-estate, landscape, and portrait photography. It gives the best results in full-frame cameras as it is built for FX. If you have a full-frame camera, you might want to consider this lens. The combination of wide-angle and F4 aperture at the full-frame camera makes it good at capturing maximum light.

Bottom Line

This wide-angle zoom lens provides great versatility and a creative opportunity to its users. It incorporates many modern technologies, including VR, Nano-coating, and SWM, to give the sharpest results possible. The extra dollar on its price tag is definitely worth the amazing result it gives.

Best Low Light Lens for Sony A6000:
Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8

Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens

PROS

  • It is compact, lightweight, and durable
  • Optical image stabilization for sharper images
  • Internal focusing mechanism and fast auto focus
  • Uses circular aperture blades to capture smooth Bokeh
  • Extra-low dispersion glass and aspherical lens for reduced flare

CONS

  • It has a higher price

What Recent Buyers Report

Users of this lens find that it is perfect for any purpose and requires minimum editing. It produces great professional photographs. Due to its wider aperture, users can create a shallower depth of field, which is great for the Bokeh effect. Users also find it to be super-light and easy to carry.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a compact and lightweight lens with built-in image stabilization that helps in taking stable images at slower shutter speeds. It also has manual focus if you want more control of the picture. The Bokeh is creamy and smooth. There are little to no flares or distortions.

Who Will Use This Most

The 35mm lens is the most versatile lens in photography. It comes very close to human vision and, therefore, produces very pleasing pictures. 35mm is used mostly for landscapes and indoor scenes. Again, it has a great aperture of F1.8 for night photographers.

Bottom Line

This 35mm lens hits a sweet spot between too wide and too long. The lens is designed to be compact and durable. If the lack of weather protection is not a big issue for you, then this is a sound investment. This is a quality Sony lens and is easy to carry around for traveling and all-day use.

Best Canon Zoom Lens for Low Light:
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens

PROS

  • Good aperture for a zoom lens
  • Has a dust sealing and fluorine coating
  • Optimized lens coating for reduced flare
  • High-speed CPU with optimized auto focus algorithms
  • Super UD lens elements for reduced chromatic aberration

CONS

  • It is an expensive lens

What Recent Buyers Report

There is nothing really bad anyone has to say about this lens. It delivers what it promises. Low light photography is amazing. Its quality is also reported to be good and sturdy. People use it for about anything and always get great results.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens is from Canon’s famous L-series. It is the second version and hence is more refined. The USM motor and AF algorithms make focusing faster, smoother, and more accurate. Plus, it has a protective coating that makes it durable and easy to clean. The circular aperture ring and wide aperture create beautiful Bokeh. The image quality is sharp and well-balanced throughout the frame as well.

Who Will Use This Most

This zoom lens has a good aperture for low light photography and videos. It is extremely versatile with its 24-70mm focal lengths. You can use it for just about anything. From portraits to landscapes in any lighting condition, it can produce professional quality images. 

Bottom Line

When it comes to zoom lenses, finding the right one for low light photography is hard. This lens does the job well. The images are sharp and stable. It is high priced, but the value it provides makes it worth investing in if you are a professional photographer.

When Would You Use a Low Light Lens?

A few ways you can use such lenses are:

Portrait

For a good portrait photograph, you need a long focal length. They focus more on the subject and eliminate background distractions. They have little, and in some cases, zero distortions. This is a problem many wide-angle lenses face. This can make the feature of a person look unpleasing. Low light lenses, however, are ideal for such photography.  

Landscape

Landscape photography requires more of the scene to be captured in the frame. This is possible through wide lenses. They serve the opposite purpose of the long focal length lenses. Wide lenses are generally in the range of 20 to 40mm. They are also good for capturing images in compact indoor spaces. 

Travel Photography

Travel photography requires the lens to be small, compact, and lightweight. That makes it easier to carry. Another important thing is the resistance to dust and other damages. Mostly prime lenses are used for traveling

Conclusion

Low light photography is the most difficult of the bunch. You need all the help you can get with a high quality and sharp lens. The lenses we have reviewed here all have good apertures and image stabilization for the night and low light photography. The one you choose depends on the focal length you prefer.

People Also Ask

If you still have some questions about low light lenses and photography, you can refer to these frequently asked questions for further clarification.

Which Aperture is Best For Low Light?

The best aperture for low light is a wide aperture. Usually, an F1.4 or F1.8 is considered ideal. But if you use a zoom lens, then F2.8 might be the best you can get.

What ISO is Best For Low Light?

For better low light pictures, you need higher ISO settings. Mostly, ISO 400 is used for low light conditions.

What Settings to Use For Low Light photography?

For low light photography, these are the things you can do to get good images:

  • High shutter speed
  • Widest aperture
  • Image stabilization
  • Higher ISO
  • Shoot in RAW format
  • Use a tripod
  • Flash (for extreme dark conditions)

How Do You Shoot Action in Low Light?

For low light action shots, you need to adjust your aperture to its widest position to let maximum light in. To eliminate any blurring, the shutter speed should be faster but not too fast that you cannot capture enough light.

How Do You Increase Shutter Speed in Low Light?

To increase the shutter speed, you should use a wider aperture and maybe a higher ISO. Increasing the ISO also increases the shutter speed.