“What is the best lens for night photography?” This is a common question many people ask when they first venture in to the world of night time photography, and quite rightly so. Unfortunately, there is no single ‘best’ lens for night time photography and the ideal lens will depend on many different things.
The subject, the focal length you want to use, whether you want a prime or zoom lens, and your budget will have an impact on the most suitable lens for night photography, and these are all questions you have to answer before parting with your hard earned money and making a very expensive mistake. Whilst there is a market for used camera lenses a second hand lens will never get its money back, even if it was only used once.
You may have heard that the best lens for night photography is a fast prime lens (i.e. one with a wide maximum aperture), and whilst this may be true in some instances I have found this rarely the case in the real world. Think about it, if you want to shoot at apertures narrower than f4 the fact that the lens will open up to f1.4 is neither here nor there. If you mount the camera on a tripod you are not going to suffer from camera shake so the fact a lens is fast is irrelevant. If you can’t physically move closer to or further away from the subject you are going to need a zoom lens and not a prime. Do you think a fast prime lens is now the best night photography lens?
In reality the best night photography lens is the same lens you would using during the day to photograph the same subject. The only difference with night photography is that you need to make sure you have a stable support with you to deal with the slower shutter speeds that make capturing sharp hand held shots almost impossible.
The secret to choosing the best night photography lens (or the most suitable night photography lens) is to think about the lens you would using during the daylight hours to get the type of photo you want and use that. If you wouldn’t use the lens in the daylight for the shot you shouldn’t use it in the dark. So, if you have been choosing a lens for night photography based on whether it is a zoom or a prime, on its focal length, or how fast it is stop and choose the same lens as you would for the daylight.
Since I shoot a Canon slr camera I only use Canon L series lenses, and my collection includes:
For a review of each of the lenses simply follow the links above.
Whilst I choose the same lens for night photography as I would do for day photography this is not the case when it comes to low light, which is totally different to night time and darkness.
Other night time photography articles that may be of interest
If you want to have a go at night and low light photography but haven’t got a clue where to start “Night photography tips for stunning low light photos” is a good starter for ten. This article provides the basic tips and tricks you need to capture great low light photos.
Photos of the moon are cool, and whilst it is easy to get an okay photo of the moon it is way more difficult to get an awesome shot of the moon. If you want to get a unique shot of the moon there are a lot of things to think about and consider, and all of them are explored in this article “How to photograph the moon”. So please feel free to check it out.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.