Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own the best lens for low-light photography?
If you love taking pictures with your camera, you probably have, since lots of interesting activities occur when the light is dim.
Because not all optics are made equal, it can be difficult to find the proper lens that can tackle nighttime or indoor photographic sessions without having to notch ISO values to the sky.
Even though many photographers do nighttime photography and use various cameras, lenses, tripods, and so forth, the internet still lags providing serious and understandable buying guides.
With that in mind, I have decided to make a comprehensive guide on the best lenses for low-light photography you can currently find on the market.
Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 comes with two extreme aspherical elements along with a high surface precision. It sets the minimum focus distance at 0,28m with a maximum magnification ratio of 0,19x. The lens sports the maximum aperture of an f/2.8 and it has eleven aperture blades, with an angle of view of 107°–63°.
The package is quite rich in itself, and in the box, you will get a hood, rear, and front cap along with the solid case. The first thing I noticed with this lens is how fast it locks the autofocus and the level of sharpness it provides across the frame.
Moreover, it also comes with zero chromatic aberrations. The aperture of an f/2.8 was more than sufficient to capture the mesmerizing shots during blue and golden hours, respectively. I was especially impressed at 16mm since it was great to see such a wide-angled lens being able to capture that amount of light.
The distortion was nonexistent and the overall color quality was superb. At 35mm it gives a smooth depth of field, so it is possible to use the lens for portraits with a solid success rate.
When it comes to the design, it is another reason why it is on the best lens for low light list. Despite being relatively lightweight, the lens is weather-sealed and offers the robustness you would expect from a GM quality.
- Powerful aperture
- Great design
- Rich packaging
- Relatively big
The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 offers an angle of view of 84.1° to 34.3° and a minimum focus distance of 7.09’’ inches with a maximum magnification of 0,34x. It sports 19 elements in 15 groups and is designed with 11 diaphragm blades. The given lens is the best lens for low light if you consider yourself a person who loves to take wide and telephoto pictures.
Since the lens lacks optical image stabilization, you will have to be quite careful when shooting during the night.
It doesn’t mean that it offers bad performance. Quite the contrary, thanks to its powerful aperture of f/2.8 it is capable of taking a lot of light into the sensor and the fast autofocus that rarely misses does a great job in taking pictures at the right time. The lens offers outstanding sharpness in nearly all weather conditions.
I took it outdoors to shoot in the streets while the sun was waking and the flawless sharp images I snapped were of superb quality. It also delivers great shots indoors, even under dim night lighting.
The only flaw of the lens is the bulkiness which may deter some users, especially those who fancy smaller cameras. However, the design is great, and the lens is capable of withstanding harsh handling, which is great for travel purposes.
- Overall sharpness
- Overall sharpness
- Fast focus
The Canon 35mm f/1.4L is designed with 14 elements in 11 groups and has an angle of view of 63°, with the closest focusing distance of 0,92 feet. It sports Subwavelength Coating which does a remarkable job in reducing lens ghosting and flare problems. It supports autofocus with a full-time manual shooting and it comes with a potent and powerful f/1.4 aperture in the “L” body which ensures the maximum quality you can spot on the market.
Right off the bat, you will see why it is the best lens for low-light photography in Canon’s lineup. The aperture of an f/1.4 takes in a glorious amount of light and the sensor can’t take a bad picture.
You will also get optics that are capable of capturing high-end portraits. The USM focus system is arguably one of the finest on the market. I didn’t have one problem with missing shots.
It focuses very fast and it is quiet and reliable in every situation. At an f/2 I made awesome shots with outstanding sharpness, and I didn’t have to go to an f/1.4 to battle bad lighting.
I did portrait shots inside the house with only one halogen light above the subject and pictures were well exposed. The overall color distribution is excellent and the fringing is completely off the grid.
- Powerful aperture
- Excellent focus
- Color distribution
- Great design
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G comes with a minimum focus distance of 3,6 feet and an angle of view of 34° 20′ to 12° 20′. The maximum magnification is 0,21x and the lens has nine diaphragm blades. An awesome thing with the given lens is that it has a focus distance indicator (1.1. am to infinity), and it is compatible with Z-Nikkor lenses, over 360 F-mount Nikkor lenses, and a whole bunch of Nikon system accessories.
I tested the lens with Nikon D750 and D7200, and it produced great results with both cameras, respectively. The lens is capable of producing sharp and clear shots, even under demanding lighting conditions.
The aperture of an f/2.8 in combination with optical image stabilization is sufficient to prevent shaking and it does a solid job performing at night times. I tried it for astrophotography, which is known to be tedious due to lighting.
The low light lens Nikon performed very well even at 200mm, and even the Moon looked incredibly sharp. I shot at an f/2.5 and with a tripod, I didn’t face any problems with having to use too much ISO, and the exposure was on point, which is yet another reason why it got the spot in the low light lenses list.
The vibration reduction does a great job when you shoot from your hands, and the bokeh effect is solid (not perfect, but more than acceptable for the focal length). In the design compartment, the ergonomic features of function buttons are awesome and the back button is useful when you want to use your thumb for selecting the focus.
- Silent-Wave motor
- Vibration reduction technology
- Exceptionally versatile lens
- Very easy to use
- Flimsy and easy to break
The last Nikon on the list falls into the ultra-fast, classic wide-angle lens with a minimum focus distance of 1,0 feet and the maximum angle of view of 44° to 63°. The Nikon 35mm f/1.4G lens sports 10 elements in seven groups and a maximum magnification of 0,2x. Although it lacks optical image stabilization, its potent and wide aperture allows enough light to hit the sensor to achieve outstanding results.
I noticed that the bokeh and color effects of the lens are one of the best you can currently get if you want to buy the best lens for low-light photography. The focus system is another selling point for the lens since I am yet to see a missed shot or a jamming issue.
The aperture of an f/1.4 is great for taking portraits even for artistic forest photography (or night photography, which is also known to require potent aperture). The lens does a phenomenal job in cramped spaces where you lack maneuvering spaces.
The overall contrast is excellent, with the awesome color distribution. I didn’t notice vignetting or fringing problems, and the only objection goes to a 67 mm filter (I was expecting a 77mm since it is a professional lens). The design is solid, and the lens is great for its maneuverability and size since it is easy to carry around.
- Great aperture
- Solid design
- Excellent bokeh
- Fast focus
- 67mm filter
As you can see, getting the best low-light lenses can be a tricky task, especially when we have so much choice and not so many useful guides to navigate the market.
I hope that my list will help you in picking the best lens suited to your needs.
No matter what kind of photographic style you like, or which gear you prefer, if you with any of the recommended optics, you are all set for awesome results in no time.
Now choose the lens that is best for your style and improve your photography skills. If you’re still not sure which lens to choose, check out this option.
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