Best Z Mount Lens For Astrophotography

Daniel Brown
• Tuesday, 29 December, 2020
• 12 min read

Meanwhile, certain aspects of lens design and construction that are of only minor importance in other areas of photography become fundamental when photographing the night sky. In this section we break down the main technical points you will want to consider when choosing a Nikon Lens for macrophotography.

astrophotography lens frame canon lenses sony ef nikon sigma 24mm lonely ultimate speck
(Source: www.lonelyspeck.com)


When it comes to lenses for landscape photography, achieving a deep depth of field will be most photographer’s main priority. As a result, for landscape photographers fast maximum aperture is rarely a selling point.

In any case, the long exposure times necessary to correctly expose a nighttime scene at a small aperture such as f/16 just aren’t practical for astrophotographers, who are effectively photographing stationary objects (stars) while they themselves are standing on a giant rotating ball (planet Earth). The earth’s rotation isn’t detectable to the naked eye, but if the exposure time is too long, it will clearly show up in a photograph of the night sky as blurred stars.

Using a faster ISO will of course permit shorter shutter speeds, but this also comes with increased digital noise. The best tactic for macrophotography, then, is to use a fast lens, to keep exposure times to a minimum and SOS low.

How long an exposure you can get away with before you start to see star trails (motion blur) depends on a number of different factors, such as sensor size, lens focal length (see below), and even the direction in which you point your camera. However, there are other important considerations to keep in mind when choosing a Nikon Lens for macrophotography, and they in turn cannot be considered in total isolation from maximum aperture.

Most lenses tend to be fairly sharp at the center of the image, at least when used at medium apertures; indeed, if a lens can’t manage this basic feat, it’s unlikely that anyone will buy it. Lenses contain numerous pieces of precision glass that must be perfectly aligned in such a way as to capture and focus light with as few reflections, optical errors, and areas of uneven illumination as possible.

astrophotography sony lenses canon mirrorless lens angle rokinon wide lonely ultimate speck samyang
(Source: www.lonelyspeck.com)

Some optical faults are almost inevitable and, while perhaps noticeable, will make little practical difference to the performance of a lens (a degree of flare, for example, is to be expected when shooting into the light). Other optical defects will be totally undetectable under most common shooting circumstances (e.g. in the middle of the day, under bright sunshine), but will only become apparent when the lens is used in a particular way.

Somatic aberration is a kind of optical imperfection, a misalignment caused when rays of light entering a lens don’t refocus to a perfect point. Coma affects off-axis light, meaning that it tends to be more noticeable the further you move away from the center of the image.

If you’ve followed the 500 Rule (see above) to determine the best shutter speed for your camera/ lens /subject, and yet still notice what look like star trails in your photos of the night sky, this may in fact be coma. In theory, Nikon Z lenses are ideal for macrophotography, in that they are not only extremely sharp, but also tend to be very much free of somatic aberration.

Unfortunately, as autofocus doesn’t easily permit precise focusing on tiny objects positioned at infinity (i.e. stars), it is of little use to astrophotographers. Instead, turning the focus ring sends an electronic signal to the lens motor, which moves the elements for you.

Only here you’ll be using a tripod, so it’s not shaky hands you need to worry about, but instead star trails caused by the movement of the earth. While it is possible to use longer focal length lenses than this to photograph the night sky, doing so will require the use of a “tracker”; an electronic rig that moves the camera to compensate for the movement of the Earth.

lens astrophotography stargaze places area 100k thank views explored illumination nocturnal bay staticflickr
(Source: www.lightstalking.com)

This being the case, unless you are willing to put up with the fiddly focusing and frequent missed shots caused by focus-by-wire operation, you will likely want to make use of third-party lenses such as those listed above. This invariably requires the use of an adapter; do not expect a Nikon F- mount lens, such as the ones from Sam yang, Tampon, and Sigma that we’ve recommended here, to work on your Z6 or Z7 right out of the box.

The good news is that Nikon’s FT adapter works very well and doesn’t result in any compromise in the performance of these lenses. Nonetheless, this is an extra expense that you will need to budget for when putting together your Nikon Z series macrophotography kit.

Highly comprehensive lens for Nikon Z series kit. Optically stunning and the 1.8 aperture is perfect for background blur.

Nikon Z 50 f/1.8 S 50 mm lenses are excellent all-rounders, this lens is no exception to that rule. The lens is optically sound, giving you amazing shots no matter what.

The lens is composed of a number of aspherical and ED elements. Plus, the engineers at Nikon have applied ARNO and monocrystal coating as well.

samyang lens astrophotography 24mm rokinon f1
(Source: www.clickandlearnphotography.com)

ARNO coating is helpful in combating the effects of ghosting and flares. The only thing that probably does not go in favor of this lens is the maximum aperture range.

That said if you are looking for better optical quality in with a comparable zoom range, check out the next lens on this list. I.e., better portraits, action, sports and a little of wildlife and birding.

But the new ARNO and monocrystal coatings are a very important selling point. Not to mention the fixed f/2.8 aperture and the superior image quality.

However, you can set this to control aperture or adjust exposure compensation. Nikon has used stepper motor technology in the design of the auto-focusing mechanism of the lens.

But then you can change it and set it to control exposure compensation or manually adjust the aperture. The weight of the lens is a shade over 1 pound, so it’s not too heavy that you’re unable able to hand-hold for long periods of time.

lens filter filters 55mm nikon kit camera hood dx lenses cap af sony telephoto angle dslr essential astrophotography wide cameratia
(Source: abestpro.com)

The 85 mm fixed focal length plus the f/1.8 aperture and the new stepper motor makes a beautiful combination. It is optically stunning and the 1.8 aperture is perfect for creating background blur in your images.

The 35 mm f/1.8 is a standard prime designed to be the mainstay of street and journalistic style photographers. A prime lens has a fixed focal length, which can be limiting for some photographers.

Being a standard focal length you can use this lens for a lot of everyday photography requirements. Street photography is a specialty genre that works well with a 35 mm prime.

In addition to street photography, you can use the lens to shoot indoors, architecture, a bit of environmental portraiture, as well, along with group shots and weddings. Just like the other S lenses in this series, the Z 35 mm f/1.8 S comes with a programmable physical control ring.

The lens is optically sound, giving you amazing shots no matter what. Being a standard prime you can shoot a wide range of different genres with this lens.

astrophotography d3400 lens looking corner frame crop right
(Source: www.dpreview.com)

Additionally, there are two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements which take care of chromatic aberrations. We were pleasantly surprised when we compared this lens with some of its more illustrious competitors.

Even when shooting wide open, aberrations and distortions are well suppressed. The Standard prime for your Amount camera Fast wide lens.

For example, you can try opening the lens aperture all the way on a sunny day (albeit with the help of a 4-6 stop ND filter). Doing so allows you to completely obliterate the background and produce nice both even on a sunny day.

The Z50 is an APS-C camera (crop sensor powered) and that gives you an additional advantage. The crop factor extends the effective focal length and makes it a 75 mm lens (35 mm format equivalent).

But even with the 50 mm focal length the lens is a versatile shooter with lots of applications in various genres of photography. Needless to say, the wide aperture comes in handy when shooting in low light as well.

lens astrophotography pros 50mm leave 35mm
(Source: www.marksmith.nz)

Such as when you are shooting street photography at night or doing macrophotography or anything in a low light situation. In terms of construction the Z 50 mm f/1.2 S is composed of 17 elements arranged in 15 groups.

Wide-angle lenses such as these come into their own when we take them to shoot interiors, architecture and vast sweeping vistas. There is a bit of vignette at the corners when shooting at the wide focal length.

Additionally, a fluorine coating has been added to ensure that the lens front element is able to resist dirt and fingerprints. Best lens for landscape and architecture for the Amount Great image quality.

With the less weight you have more working time and fewer chances of injuring your arm wielding a heavy lens and camera combination. Together, these elements are responsible for suppressing lens various aberrations and distortions, thus producing high quality images which are sharp and with accurate color rendition.

Apart from these elements the lens also comes with ARNO and NATO crystal coating. These two can have a serious impact on your images especially when working in difficult lighting conditions.

telescope levenhuk beginners gta telescopes skymatic astronomical reflector buying astronomy guide optical beginner scientific quality
(Source: www.opticaluniversescientificinstrument.com)

The Mountains comes with the latest Nikon Stepping Motor technology. Usually when the number of aperture blades are higher both quality is also better.

While you know it is a great lens for shooting certain genres, you might hesitate to take it to a concert or an indoor event. Also, the Z 24 mm f/1.8 S suffers from some amount of vignette especially when shot wide open.

That’s good enough for shooting a wide variety of photography genres. In terms of construction the lens consists of 14 elements arranged in 11 groups.

As you are aware these elements are responsible for suppressing lens flares and ghosting. They also improve the overall color reproduction as well as contrast and sharpness of the images.

So you can program it to control aperture or even set it to adjust exposure compensation. The fast wide aperture of the lens is composed of nine rounded blades.

nikon 70mm field report
(Source: photographylife.com)

The standard zoom lens that serves most purposes that you can come across on an everyday basis. The internal construction of the lens consists of a total of 17 elements arranged in 15 groups.

Together these elements take care of a number of aberrations and distortions that normally plague your photos. On top of that the lens also features Nikon’s ARNO and NATO Crystal coatings.

Additionally, these lenses feature what Nikon states is their multi-focus system. The result is extremely fast autofocus lock, something that you would normally not associate with Stepping Motor technology.

Just grab the programmable control ring, and you would be able to manually focus the lens. Because that is the ideal foal length for shooting portrait photography.

The other benefit of a fast wide lens is definitely when shooting in low light conditions. As soon as you change to a prime lens you get the advantage of being able to collect extra light.

nikkor 30mm nikon
(Source: pro-camera.co.uk)

A total of 9 elements arranged in 7 groups make up for the construction of the lens. This element takes care of aberrations improving the image quality overall.

This lens won’t autofocus on any of Nikon’s Amount cameras. So you will have to rely on the Eye-Detection AF technology of your mirrorless Amount camera in order to have some degree of control over where it is focusing.

In any case if you are shooting genres like macrophotography or capturing long trails of light, image stabilization is not going to do you any good. This content is provided ‘as is’ and is subject to change or removal at any time.

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