Best Nikon Lenses For Astrophotography – 2019 Top Picks Reviewed

Shooting the night sky can be a challenging task, given that the sky is dimly lit.

Photographers wanting to capture the Milky Way or the breathtaking view of a star-studded sky need to invest in a lens particularly suited for that.

Our list of the best Nikon lenses for astrophotography is just aimed for such people. 

Comparison of the Best Nikon Lenses For Astrophotography

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

  • Super integrated coating for better performance
  • M/A mode to choose between manual and auto mode
  • Best overall with a focal length of 50 mm at a minimum focus distance of 1.48 feet
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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G

  • Comes with nano-crystal Coating
  • Runner up lens with Rear Focusing System
  • Wide-angle prime lens compatible with FX Format
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Nikon AF FX Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D

  • Full-frame fisheye images
  • Picture angle of 180 degrees (diagonal)
  • Best for the money with a Close-Range Correction (CRC) System
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Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

  • Full frame compatibility
  • Best Nikon D3300 astrophotography lens
  • Maximum diagonal angle of view is 114 degrees in full-frame
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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G

  • Editor’s pick with a great price point
  • Features a Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Comes with Rear Focusing System (RF)
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Perks of Getting a New Lens for Astrophotography

If you own a Nikon camera and wish to get the best out of it, it would be a wise idea to invest in a Nikon lens with wide and ultra-wide options. The following are the perks of investing in a new Nikon lens for astrophotography:

Better Than Regular Lenses

To unleash the full potential of your Nikon camera for astrophotography, you need to get a lens that equals the resolving power within. Regular lenses fail to capture the night sky, as there is minimal lighting and they may lack the shutter speed required to get the perfect shot since the planet is in constant motion. Therefore, it's a wise idea to use a lens specially designed for the purpose. 

There’s Something for Everyone

There is a wide range of Nikon lenses available for astrophotography enthusiasts that gives everyone, whether a beginner or expert, a better chance of capturing the night sky. You will be able to take high-quality, sharp images that can clearly display every star in the dark sky

Versatility

Nikon lenses are versatile and can be used for many other purposes, such as portrait and landscape photography, as well. Therefore, your investment will be well worth your money!

Characteristics of Our Favorite Astrophotography Lenses

Before you dive into the broad world of lenses, there are a few characteristics that need to be considered.

Prime or Zoom Lens

This depends on the type of images you want to capture. If you wish to get both the landscape and night sky in the shot, a prime lens is the way to go. Getting the same shot with a zoom lens would be tedious, as it would require different shots of varying exposures.

Aperture

A wide aperture makes it possible to obtain a clear shot without any noise. For astrophotography, a lens with f/2.8 or lower is preferable. 

Lens Sharpness

A good lens aims to produce sharpness throughout the image rather than just in the center.

Focal Length

A wide-angle lens model is often preferred for landscape and nightscape shots. They can capture a larger field of view and therefore, collect light from a wider area of the sky. The best focal length would be 24mm or shorter. 

Coma and Chromatic Aberration

To avoid excessive distortion of light points, a good lens would have a low level of coma and chromatic aberration, contributed by features such as chemical coatings or high-quality glass used for the lens.

Quick Take - Best Nikon Lenses For Astrophotography

Before we dive into our review, here are the best Nikon lenses for astrophotography:

  1. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
  2. ​Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G
  3. ​Nikon AF FX Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D

Review of the Best Nikon Lenses For Astrophotography

Now that you’re familiar with the characteristics that need to be watched for, let’s move on to the Nikon lens models we believe are the best in the market for astrophotography.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Fast auto-focus and aperture
  • Blurs background beautifully
  • Captures good-quality images in low-light conditions
  • Super-integrated coating allows for enhanced light transmission
  • Switch from automatic to manual with virtually no lag time with M/A mode

CONS

  • Doesn’t reduce vibration
  • Can face inconsistent auto-focus
  • Chromatic aberrations in the corners

What Recent Buyers Report

Astrophotographers vouch for the versatility of the lens. The NIKKOR 50 mm f/1.8G captures good-quality images and is also capable of producing a great bokeh effect. For an astrophotographer, this lens is suitable due to its fast auto-focus and aperture, as well as the Super Integrated Coating. One user also reported that this was their go-to lens for any kind of shot and that their photography has greatly improved with it!

Why it Stands Out to Us

The earth is constantly in motion, making it difficult to capture the night sky without a blur. A fast aperture curtails this problem to produce a beautiful image. The NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G offers a maximum aperture of f/1.8G, which shoots images with a shallow depth-of-field and captures every detail with improved light transmission efficiency, fast and quiet auto-focus, and eliminates any coma.

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is ranked the best overall and is the optimum pick for beginners. It’s easy to use with the new M/A feature and offers many other characteristics that make up a good-quality photograph. Of course, professionals and hobbyists can also make good use of it.

Bottom Line

For still photography, where every bit of light is needed, the Nikkor f/1.8G is the best choice. It is perfect for shooting tack-sharp photographs of the night sky and is great for beginner use. With its low price, this lens offers features that knock other models out of the park!

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED Wide-Angle Prime Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Efficient auto-focus for better pictures
  • Great image clarity without internal flare
  • Sharpness maintained throughout the image
  • Offers color correction by minimizing chromatic irregularity
  • Can also be used with DX-format with 36mm equivalent focal length

CONS

  • More expensive than similar units
  • Comparatively weighs more
  • Focus can be tricky to perfect

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers report that this lens is one of the sturdiest on the market and produces sharp photos that are detail-oriented. They also found it worth their money, despite the high price tag it comes with. They further state that its shutter speed is remarkable and works great for close-ups and landscape night shots.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With a wider focal length and fast aperture, the lens makes it easier to capture the star-studded night sky, even in dim lighting. The rear focusing system makes only the rear lens move during focusing to avoid any alteration in the physical length of the lens. With multiple other characteristics, like the Silent Wave Motor (SWM), aspherical lens elements (AS), and M/A mode, the NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G is one of the top lenses in the market.

Who Will Use This Most

Even though this lens is curated for professionals, it can be used by amateurs and occasional hobbyists alike. It is not only efficient in taking nightscape photographs, but also works splendidly with other forms of landscape and portrait photography, adding to its versatility.

Bottom Line

Pairing the classic wide-angle field of view with its sturdy and fast design, Nikon has created one of the best lenses out there. For the typical astrophotography enthusiast, this lens has it all – sharpness, depth, noise reduction, and everything needed to produce the perfect image.

Nikon AF FX Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D Fixed Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Distinct and creative imagery
  • Bright maximum aperture of f/2.8
  • Consistent image quality and color
  • Can be used both in FX and DX formats
  • CRC system allows for high performances at all distances

CONS

  • Focusing can take time
  • Can produce aberrations

What Recent Buyers Report

Users love the creativity of this lens. It has unleashed a new potential for night sky imagery. The fisheye lens produces wide-angled images that squeeze in as much of the galaxy as possible, along with sharp details. Not only that, but buyers have been using it for landscape shots as well, and have had no problems in that domain either.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D brings a spectacular new perspective. The all-new CRC system is one of Nikon’s best innovations, providing brilliant picture quality at distant and close focusing ranges. Combined with the Super Integrated Coating, the lens delivers consistent and stellar images of the beautiful night sky.

Who Will Use This Most

This unique lens is a bit of an investment with the high price tag it comes with and is, therefore, recommended for astrophotography professionals. However, it is easy to use and can also be used by beginners or amateurs if they have the budget for it. Plus, the fisheye lens gives a creative edge for everyone to explore.

Bottom Line

This lens is unique yet versatile. With the 16mm perspective, AF Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D brings a new angle to landscapes and nightscape photography - even close-ups. It is compact and lightweight and every bit worth your money to inspire new views of the world.

Best Nikon D3300 Astrophotography Lens:
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

PROS

  • Fast aperture and wide-angle view
  • Excellent sharpness from edge to edge
  • Robust enough to be used in the field under any conditions
  • Works great on both full-frame (FX) and cropped (DX) sensors
  • Features Super Integrated Coating and Nano Crystal Coating which reduce ghosting and flare

CONS

  • Expensive when compared to similar units
  • Heavy, making it difficult to carry around
  • Chromatic aberrations at the corners of the image sometimes

What Recent Buyers Report

Astrophotographers love the ultra-wide-angle and sharpness and depth of the images contributing to their brilliant quality. They find it not only fit for astrophotography but versatile enough for portraiture too. Users do advise that special care should be taken of this lens as it is heavy, and it bulges out slightly, making it more prone to damage. However, overall, they’re satisfied with it and recommend it to others, too.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This beast of a lens exhibits excellent sharpness from edge to edge across the frame, even in backlit conditions. The Nano Crystal Coat decreases ghosting and flaring of the image while the Aspherical Lens Elements (AS) prevent coma and aberrations. Its exclusive Internal Focusing (IF) technology and Silent Wave Motor (SWM) allows for high-speed auto-focusing and powerful but quiet operation.

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is engineered for professionals with its wide range of features, as elaborated above. It is particularly renowned for use with Nikon D3300 but is fit for use in both FX and DX-format in DSLR Nikon cameras. Hence, it has a wide variety of uses for everyone.

Bottom Line

With a fast aperture of f/2.8, the NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G has received great accolades for its design and technology. It is perfect for use in any weather condition, such as dust or moisture, making it robust and handy. If you’ve used other lenses in the past and are looking to improve your image quality, this one is the way to go.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Bright f/1.8G aperture fit for dim lighting
  • SWM for accurate and quiet auto-focusing
  • Can capture beautifully blurred backgrounds to focus on the subject
  • Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings to minimize coma and aberrations

CONS

  • Difficulty in focusing
  • Primarily for use with FX sensors
  • Plastic build might not be too durable

What Recent Buyers Report

Astrophotographers are impressed by this model as it is relatively inexpensive and lightweight. It’s easy to hold and very handy. According to users, the wide-angle lens is perfect for capturing the night sky, and the large aperture allows for separation between the subject and background.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens is the editor’s pick for a couple of reasons. It is a great lens with all the features it offers. These include SWM, AS to eliminate lens aberrations, ED (Extra-Low Dispersion Glass), Nano Crystal Coat to prevent ghosting effects due to red light, and a Rear Focusing System. It also allows you to test your creativity and capture the night sky with excellent sharpness.

Who Will Use This Most

Beginners to experts, everyone can use this lens. However, some factors to remember include thinking about whether this lens will fit with your camera model and also the type of filters which can be attached to it. So do your research before you make your decision.

Bottom Line

With the NIKKOR f/1.8G, the possibilities are endless. Compact and lightweight, this lens combines low-light capabilities and depth of field of an f/18 maximum aperture, ultra-wide-angle of a 20mm focal length, and the superb optical features of an advanced NIKKOR prime lens. It’s hard to beat a lens like this that comes at such a great price point.

Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind

Now that you’re familiar with the top picks of the market and the features you need to remember when making your purchase, here are some cautious considerations you need to make.

Warranty

It is preferable to test your product in person and try it out before making the purchase. Make sure to inquire about the manufacturer’s warranty in case of damage.

Reviews

Do thorough research. Read up on reviews and decide which kind of lens is suitable for the kind of photography you’re into and the level of expertise required. Also, ensure the lens you’re buying is fit for astrophotography.

Survey the Market

To get the greatest value for your money, take a survey of the market to evaluate where you can get the best deal for your money. Lenses are an investment and you should get your money’s worth.

Conclusion

Astrophotography is a complex task – shooting the sky with minimal lighting and exposure, and capturing every sparkling star, sometimes even incorporating landscape in your photograph. Nikon has brought a wide variety of lenses for every astrophotographer enthusiast, providing many other versatile features. Hopefully, our guide will help you in your lens shopping so you can make the right purchase! 

People Also Ask

Whether you're a beginner or a professional, there might be some questions in your mind after reading this article. Let us help you with that. Below are some frequently asked questions. We hope they help clarify things for you and aid you in your purchasing process!

What is the Best ISO for Astrophotography?

A high/maximum ISO is recommended for astrophotography to support exposure settings. This can range from 1600 to 6400 or go up to 25,600 in advanced cameras. This would increase the noise in the image but can be reduced with an editing app. 

What Lens Do I Need to Shoot the Milky Way?

There are many lenses available for astrophotography in the market. The most important consideration to make is the features the lens offers. As detailed above in the characteristics, the perfect lens is one with high shutter speed and the ability to produce sharp, clear images.  

How Do You Shoot the Milky Way With a Kit Lens?

Before you begin shooting, find a spot with a clear night sky, away from the city. Also, keep in mind, the brighter the moon, the greater the light pollution. The basic equipment required is a DSLR camera, a standard 18-55mm kit lens, and a tripod. Fix your camera settings, such as exposure, ISO, aperture, and focal length, and lastly, focus the lens to infinity. Practice focusing until perfect. 

How Can I Focus to Infinity at Night?

To avoid blurry photographs, it is important to practice how to focus precisely. Hyperfocal distance is the most practical approach in doing so. Illuminate to the point of the hyperfocal distance then turn off auto-focus. Take a picture. Ensure the horizon is sharp. Repeat if the focus isn’t accurate.

When Can I Shoot the Milky Way?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the ideal time to shoot the Milky Way is between May and August, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere, the best time is between the months of April and August. It is also recommended to start shooting after midnight till dawn.