Canon's Next Amazing Lens Might Be an Astrophotographer's Dream

Canon's Next Amazing Lens Might Be an Astrophotographer's Dream

A good astrophotography lens is one that has a wide focal length and a wide maximum aperture. Normally, this would be a prime lens, but one of Canon's next major lenses might buck that trend.

Canon Rumors is reporting that an RF 14-21mm f/1.4L USM lens is currently being tested by photographers, after a patent emerged for such a lens early last year. A super-wide aperture ultra-wide angle lens is a ton of fun to shoot with; in fact, when I reviewed the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art, I called it one of the most fun lenses I have shot with, an evaluation that holds true to this day. Beyond the fun aspect, no doubt, such a lens would be tremendously useful for astrophotographers. At this time, the widest full frame f/1.4 lens is the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art, a prime lens. Not only would the rumored RF lens offer a significantly wider field of view at the same maximum aperture, it would also offer a very useful zoom range for astrophotography and nighttime landscape and cityscape work.

There is no word on price or availability yet, but such a lens would definitely be popular among both astrophotographers and event shooters. Would you be interested in one?

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Alex Reiff's picture

Tokina has released several ultrawide f/2.8 zooms for APS-C that are popular for entry level astrophotographers. I own an 11-16, personally, but I don't know that I've ever used it on anything but the widest available focal length. Probably useful for other genres, but making it a zoom for astrophotography feels like a waste.

Steve White's picture

I have this Tokina lens for my Canon 80D. It's useful for astrophotography at both 11 and 16mm. It's useful for landscapes at 16mm as it vignettes some at 11mm. I carry it frequently and use it, so I should think that a 14-21mm FF would be useful the same ways.

Jørn Tv's picture

If this is true, I’ll be so jealous of Canon users. Would love to see Nikon do the same. The only comfort is that it will probably be out of my price range anyway.

Alexander Meier's picture

Damn! I switched from Canon to Fuji. I hope this was not a failure :D

Bill Metallinos's picture

If that is true....this is amazing news!
Hope the price would be at Canon level, not as Sony...

Carlos Dacosta's picture

Check both their prices again. When you compare the same mirrorless lenson both brands, I believe Canon is higher priced. Ie. RF vs FE lenses

Leander Berg's picture

I think star tracking devices need to be more popular. Instead of buying a crazy expensive lens, get one of those for $250 or so. Literally any lens can then be used. With the advantage that you can use telephoto lenses as well and do deep sky and planet photography.
And if that's too expensive, stacking works great. Take sharp but underexposed raws, export as 16bit Tiff, import and auto align in photoshop, create smart object, choose mean as stack mode, done.
I literally don't understand why anyone would need an "astrophotography lens". Get the F4 version and spend the extra money on the tracker.

Alex Reiff's picture

There are reasons why you might not want to use a tracker. For one, it's an additional piece of gear that takes up space and adds weight in your bag and can potentially fail, which is a big deal if you have to fly or hike with it. Setting it up adds time and complication. If you're shooting wide field/landscape, it would necessitate taking a separate foreground exposure and compositing it in. Stacking, again, adds time to the workflow, and I personally have had both Photoshop and Sequator fail to align images correctly in my attempts at stacking when I shoot ultrawide.

Jean-francois LE GUEN's picture

Because you want a foreground as well ?

Jørn Tv's picture

The difference between a f/1.4 and f/4 lens is 8 times the exposure time. If you want to have a foreground in the photo, that can be done in a single exposure with the f/1.4 lens, while the f/4 needs to shoot both the foreground and sky for 8 times the length, 16 times in total. The time saving is huge here with a faster lens (not to mention all the time setting up the tracker).

Also, if you were to use a tracker for both lenses, you could get some amazingly clean photos with the f/1.4 after an hour of tracking. With the f/4 you would run out of night time before you were able to gather the same amount of light. Not to mention the risk of more clouds, fog on lens and all other factors that would increase with the longer exposure time. A tracker is good, but it also introduces a lot of new challenges.

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

Such a lens would be very interesting for both astro photography and low-light landscape photography, both of which I've been doing quite a fair bit recently.

If true, this might sway me to go to the Canon RF system instead of going to the Nikon Z system, as I don't see Nikon coming up with something comparable.

However, looking at the RF lenses that Canon has released so far, this is going to cost me an arm and a leg (and a kidney too) ...

Lawrence Huber's picture

True but the Nikon lenses do not compare so far.
That .95 is not exactly cheap.

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

True. $8.000. And not wide angle either.
Not suitable for astro photography.

Robert Andrews's picture

Currently, the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 FE is one of the most popular astrophotography lenses and would probably be one-third to one-fourth the price of the proposed Canon. The market for weather-resistant lenses is diminishing, in my opinion. It greatly increases the costs for a CLA, because of the extra labor involved with replacing all the seals. This comment comes from my techs. Gone are the days when pro publication staffs were supplied with gear and didn't have to worry about loss or maintenance.

Mu Tru's picture

Agree. My fully manual, all-metal 10mm Rokinon is was dirt cheap and does a terrific job.

Lawrence Huber's picture

I would be intetested.

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

A super wide-angle lens with a super bright aperture.
Guess it will be super heavy and super expensive too.

Normally when using super-wide-angle lenses, you don't care so much about your aperture in relation to DoF as most will be is in focus any way, But with a super bright aperture, you might just get that little bit of subject / background separation, that will justify this lens, at whatever price tag it will come with.

Now isn't that just super?

Leon Kolenda's picture

Well, The Requirements for a Good to great Astrophotography lens are more than f1.4 or 1.2 and being sharp. The lens needs to be pretty much chromatic aberration free, and very little coma, especially in the corners. I'm not fond of post work that consist of fixing stars that look like alien aircraft. LOL I use a Nikon Z6 and I purchased a Z-Mount 24mm f1.8 S lens. Not happy with the lens's performance, I'm going to purchase the new 20mm f1.8 and see how that works. I'd be interested to see Canon's offerings, Rented of course.

Dheera Venkatraman's picture

I do a lot of astrophotography and ... big NOPE. I don't like these plastic housings, plastic internal gears, and imprecise focus rings. The best lenses for astrophotography are built of metal, feel solid, can have their hard manual infinity stops calibrated, and have long focus ring throws. They stay put for an entire night once you focus them. This lens very much does not qualify.

I own a Canon body but zero Canon lenses except for some old FD ones. I don't like plastic gear.

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

So, you like the IRIX lenses I guess. ;)

Mu Tru's picture

Not sure I would call 14-21 a "very useful range" for astro or landscape photos. I can't recall the last time I shot anything other than 10mm on my 10-20. With any camera >20mp, you crop to what you need, rather than rely on the tiny bit of framing flexibility offered by a puny zoom range. YMMV.

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

What kind of lens is that, and what kind of camera -- FF or a crop sensor?

Jørn Tv's picture

You really want as much light as possible for astrophotography. Cropping should really be avoided at all costs. Resolution isn’t the issue, noise is.

Ray Botts's picture

maybe I'm thinking outside the "lens" a bit here, but, it seems to me a controlled liquid lens that can be dynamically shaped would allow for even better specs. front and rear surfaces remain fixed shapes but a liquid center (slice conforming to the interior lens shape) could be "controlled" by using positive and negative pressure to make this possible. .

Evan McKay's picture

Everyone saying it's the perfect astrophotography lens haven't done much astrophotography. At most it is a nice lens for time lapses but will need to be stopped down if they want to include any foreground information that won't be out of focus anyway. Aperture doesn't magically solve everything. 35mm to 50mm is best even untracked for the Milky Way when stitched into a panorama and there are some great options available already.
I'm guessing it will be heavy and hikers would probably want something lighter to take up mountains. Overrated lens idea really.

Jørn Tv's picture

You are assuming everyone want a foreground close to the lens. There are so many applications for this in astrophotography that doesn’t involve a foreground. Stitching panoramas can take time and introduce issues, not to mention that the depth of field if a 50 mm lens is much shallower than a 14 mm, going against your very own argument.