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10 of the Best Ultra-Wide-Angle Lenses for Astrophotography

Astrophotography is one of the few genres where gear can make a profound difference that is impossible to replicate without it. One of the most important tools — if not the most important tool — is the lens on the front of your camera.

I've talked about astrophotography on a number of occasions; it's almost like a forbidden fruit for me. Though I love the discipline dearly, both shooting and viewing its images, I am usually unable to partake. I live in a country with precious few true dark spots and I live wedged between the brightest point on the map and another very bright city. Nevertheless, whenever I travel, I can't wait to shoot it. What is most alluring to me is the blend of science and photography. That is, the better your understanding of astronomy, the better images you have the opportunity to create for the most part. That simultaneously makes it more interesting, but also more difficult.

However, it is also difficult in a less scholarly way: equipment. Unlike portraiture and landscape photography where you can make do with less than ideal gear, it's much more difficult in astrophotography. You typically need a wide-angle lens with a wide maximum aperture, ideally f/2.8 or lower. Many astrophotographers go one further though and shoot with an ultra-wide-angle lens, allowing a more complete view of the night sky.

In this video, Mike Smith goes through his top 10 picks for ultra-wide-angle lenses for astrophotography. Now, it's worth noting that he shoots on a Sony full frame body, but most of the list is comprised of lenses that come in different mounts, so fear not if you shoot with a different brand. It's also worth mentioning that Sony has just released the amazing 14mm f/1.8 GM which will be a titan in this area.

Lead image is a screenshot of the video but the original image is by Bryan Carnathan

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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I have the 12mm f/2 Samyang. Great lens.

24/1.4 GM? Well, it is not ultrawide perhaps but I used it with some success...

I have the Irix f/2.4. Milky Way results were good. Had pronounced distortion in star shapes on one side of frame but attribute it to post perspective correction of building in foreground. Would like to have a 14-24mm f/2.8 zoom (or in that range) but am a bit leery of Sigma. Previous Sigma 24-105 did not communicate focus in live view properly with my DSLR. Any comments out there?