All-time lenses for low low-cal, from but £129
September 9, 2022
all-time low light lenses
accept all sorts of applications, not simply night-time photography. A good depression-light lens tin be handy in enough of shooting situations, from gloomy music venues to cramped city streets. Standard zoom lenses or kit lenses, the kind of that more often than not come up arranged with a photographic camera, tend to reach the edges of their usefulness very quickly when it comes to depression light. It’ll often feel like no time at all before you lot’re hankering for something that gives y’all a picayune more flexibility.
How does a good lens extend your low-low-cal shooting range? At that place are a few primal factors – every bit nosotros’ll get into – but the key one is maximum aperture. Say you’re using a kit zoom, and it has a maximum aperture of f/v.vi when used at its maximum focal length of 55mm. Bandy that out for a 50mm prime with an aperture of f/one.8, and suddenly you’ve got 3.3EV (3.3 stops) more light hitting your camera sensor.
What’s more, you lot got this without slowing your shutter speed, and potentially compromising sharpness, or raising your ISO, which would increase paradigm noise. An equivalent gain of light in those terms would mean shooting at 1/5sec rather than ane/50sec (a tall order to keep precipitous, even with image stabilisation), or shooting at ISO 25,600 rather than ISO ii,500. A large aperture is always the preferred option when it comes to letting more low-cal in, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
For more depression-light options, you can check out our guide to the all-time low-low-cal cameras. Here though, we’re talking lenses, then to start off, we’re going to look at some cheap prime lenses with big apertures.
Inexpensive prime number lenses
Prime lenses are lenses with a
fixed focal length
and most have a larger aperture than a zoom lens covering the same focal length. They’re too often small and lightweight, which makes them discreet to use and attractive to carry just in case you find yourself out taking pictures when low-cal levels are falling. Prime number lenses are available in all sorts of focal lengths but 35mm and 50mm lenses tend to exist more bonny for low-light photography.
On a full-frame camera, a 50mm lens produces an angle of view that’south shut to what we see with our eyes. However, on an APS-C format camera information technology produces an equivalent focal length of around 75mm, which is great for portraiture, and if the maximum aperture is f/1.8 you can really throw out the background to get some lovely bokeh and background blur. Farther proficient news is that there’s an affordable 50mm f/i.eight lens available for most cameras. Here are some of our favourites.
Catechism EF 50mm f/i.8 STM
At effectually £129 / $125, Canon’south
EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is a very enticing choice for Canon DSLR users. While lenses at this cost don’t produce the height of sharpness, they’re not bad and they enable y’all to get better shots than the boilerplate kit lens in gloomy conditions.
Nosotros took the lens for a spin in our full Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM review. Tin can a £129 DSLR lens really be all that? Nosotros plant that the lens actually strikes a pretty much perfect residual for the price, punching above its weight in terms of optical performance, and with real build quality and autofocus gains compared to the previous iteration of this lens. Information technology’s a really solid choice for low-light DSLR photography.
Nikon AF-South DX 35mm f/i.8 1000
For Nikon DSLR users, the APS-C
Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/ane.eight M, is a practiced selection, and it retails for around £159. A focal length of 35mm on APS-C format cameras is effectively a 50mm lens, which makes it ‘normal’ rather than wide-angle, so it’s ideal for capturing a natural view of the world. Conduct in mind that Nikon DX lenses are designed for APS-C cameras, so it’due south not one to pair with a full-frame DSLR, merely if yous’re shopping on a budget this is probable the sensor size yous’re working with anyway.
Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM
Canon and Nikon’s relatively new full-frame mirrorless lens mounts are both wider than those of their DSLR counterparts, and this enables them to field faster lenses than was previously possible. The RF 50mm F1.8 STM is the cheapest Canon-branded lens you tin can buy for RF mountain, and takes a lot of design cues from the EF 50mm lens. It’s constructed of six elements in five groups, merely adds an aspherical element for additional sharpness.
In our review of the RF 50mm F1.8 STM, we said that ‘it’s hard to contend with what it offers for the money.’ It’s more expensive than its EF counterpart, but still a very credible cheap pick for RF-mountain users.
If you lot want the very all-time prototype quality, then prime lenses are the way to become, just top-notch fast lenses do not come cheap. Also, if you want to comprehend the most useful focal lengths of a zoom lens, you need to buy several primes. With a 24-70mm, for case, that could mean getting 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 70mm lenses. Individually, they may cost less than the zoom, but add them together and you have a hefty bill.
You may as well find yourself swapping often between optics, which means a slight delay betwixt shots and increased opportunity for dust to get on your photographic camera’s sensor. That’south why wedding photographers who use prime lenses often have 2 cameras, each with a different lens mounted. There’due south no shortage of high-quality fast prime lenses available from both camera and third-party lens manufacturers, and then whatever camera y’all have at that place’s a groovy prime lens for information technology.
Nikkor Z 50mm F1.8 South
This is on the more expensive stop, only is yet relatively affordable for a Nikon Z lens. The Nikkor Z 50mm F1.viii S is a high-quality fast prime number for Nikon Z users. With excellent sharpness even when used wide-open, it’s pretty much a textbook lens for low light. Some may bemoan the lack of f/1.four, especially at the slightly higher toll, but the optical quality of the lens speaks for itself.
Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM Art
Sigma has its excellent Art range lenses that are ideal for low light. The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art is a fantastic choice for L-mountain and E-mountain. Information technology’due south a full-frame lens that delivers superb prototype quality even when used broad open up. In our review nosotros establish that lab testing revealed its sharpness to be top-notch across the board – best at f/2, but still more acceptable at f/1.4.
There are other lenses with the aforementioned fast aperture in Sigma’s Art range if you desire to explore unlike focal lengths and mounts. The 24mm f/1.iv DG HSM Art for full-frame DSLRs is an first-class lens for getting a slightly wider perspective, while the 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is enduringly popular.
Fast zoom lenses
Pound for pound (£), prime lenses unremarkably produce better prototype quality than zoom lenses because they are optimised to shoot at one focal length, simply they can seem a bit limiting. Of course, y’all tin use your feet to zoom with a prime lens, only that’southward not always possible and sometimes you find the perfect shooting angle but just need to zoom in or out a piffling to get the best composition.
Zoom lenses make life a bit easier, and actually, unless you’re pixel-peeping, you may not notice the difference in image quality from a prime number lens. Fortunately for low-lite photographers, in that location are some ‘fast’ zooms around with wide maximum apertures. They might not be quite equally fast as an equivalent prime number lens, but they’re chosen ‘fast’ because they allow yous to use faster shutter speeds than a standard lens. Of course, having a wide maximum aperture too bumps the price up.
Here are our picks of the best fast zoom lenses for depression light.
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art
About pro photographers and many enthusiasts with a full-frame photographic camera take a 24-70mm f/ii.8 lens in their bag, which is oftentimes their everyday workhorse, but APS-C format and Micro Four Thirds photographers take a few fast zoom lenses to choose from, too.
The Sigma 18-35mm f/one.viii DC HSM Art, for example, is available in Catechism EF, Nikon F, Sony A and Pentax Grand every bit well as Sigma SA mountain and it’s specifically designed for APS-C format cameras, giving a focal length range equivalent to effectually 27-52.5mm. It also produces fantastic-quality images. But brand sure you check which mount yous need when buying!
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux
Micro Four Thirds photographers in search of a high-quality fast zoom should accept a look at the superb Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux ten-25mm F1.7 ASPH (£1,599), above. It’s effectively a 20-50mm lens with a luxurious feel and image quality to match, and that generous aperture of F1.7 will requite yous a boost in depression-calorie-free.
It’s a premium lens, at a college price than any we’ve featured so far. Nonetheless, given that Micro Iv Thirds cameras have smaller sensors than APS-C DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, being able to go more than light without increasing ISO becomes actress important.
Best low light lenses for each lens mountain
Here are our recommendations of high-quality low-light primes for each of the major lens mounts.
Best low low-cal lens for East-Mount – Sony FE 50mm F1.two GM
The Sony Atomic number 26 50mm F1.2 G Chief, being function of Sony’s G Master range is designed for excellent sharpness and detail, equally well every bit beautiful groundwork blur and bokeh. It’s well worth some serious consideration, and scored v-stars in our review.
Best low lite lens for 50-Mount – Sigma 35mm f1.ii DG DN Art
L-Mount users have a good option, with a Leica 50mm f1.iv available, Panasonic 50mm f1.4 available, and a number of 85mm lenses bachelor as well, from Panasonic and Sigma, but the brightest lens available is the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art (besides available in Due east-Mount). If y’all wanted to save money, so they besides offer an f1.iv version, the Sigma 35mm f1.four DG DN, which is roughly half the cost.
Best depression light lens for RF-Mount – RF 50mm F1.2L USM
The Canon RF 50mm f1.2L USM is an expensive lens at £2389 at current prices. But if you’re looking for the brightest lens for your Catechism RF camera, then this is certainly a groovy option. There’s also the even more expensive RF 85mm f1.two L USM. If there are beyond your upkeep, then Canon as well offering the much more affordable RF 50mm f1.8 STM, which is impressively compact as well.
Best low light lens for Ten-Mount – XF 50mm F1.0 R WR
Fujifilm, has a nifty range of fast primes that includes two 56mm f/1.2 lenses and the amazing
Fujinon XF 50mm F1.0 R WR
(£1,499), shown above, which offers an impressive f1.0 aperture, as well as automobile-focus, and weather-sealing.
Best low low-cal lens for Z-Mount – Nikon Z 50mm f/i.two S (£2,299)
The Nikon Z 50mm f1.2 S is Nikon’s premium 50mm lens for Nikon Z series cameras, giving first-class image quality, as well as cute bokeh. Other features include an OLED display, plus a customisable office button. If this lens is a flake too much, then Nikon also offer a much more affordable 50mm f1.8 lens.
Best low low-cal lens for MFT – Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 OIS
This lens, the Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2, for Micro Four Thirds cameras, has the winning combination of a bright aperture, and optical image stabilisation. You’ll also find a well-built metal lens body, and with the Micro Four Thirds system, this lens gives an 85mm equivalent.
All-time low light lens for EF Mountain – Canon EF 50mm f1.2 L USM
50mm f1.two Fifty USM
lens is a relatively meaty 50mm lens, compared to many of today’south lenses, with a brilliant 1.2 aperture. The lens is around £1500. Canon also offer an 85mm f1.2 50 USM version, which would make a bang-up lens for portraits in depression light weather condition.
Best low low-cal lens for F Mount – Nikon F 50mm f1.4 G (£389)
Nikon’due south AF-S 50mm f1.4G lens was a new lens, redeveloped and updated for DSLRs, and gives auto-focus, and focus window, and is nice and meaty. It’s also bully value for money, being available for under £400. Besides available is the 58mm f1.four M lens which gives a slightly longer achieve.
All-time low light lens for One thousand-Mount – Pentax FA* 50mm F1.4 (£1079)
Pentax has a new 50mm f1.four lens, the
HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW, which has been developed to make the nigh of Pentax’s full-frame cameras. Of course, information technology tin can also exist used on APS-C cameras. There’s also the 55mm f1.iv if yous’re looking for something different, which is more compact in comparison.
Nearly of u.s. take a spending limit when we’re buying our photograph gear, simply there are a few lenses with the very highest optical construction that might test our resolve. Of form, yous could rent a very expensive lens for the occasional shoot, but if you lot’re likely to want to use it on a frequent basis or it enables yous to do something different from the norm, y’all might exist inclined to make a buy, especially if you’re a professional photographer who tin recoup the expense through boosted piece of work.With a maximum aperture of f/0.95 and superlative image quality, the
Nikon 58mm f/0.95 Noct
is very enticing, until you see the price tag of £8,299 and remember that it’s manual-focus merely. It almost makes the Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM (beneath) and RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS seem a steal at £3,229 and £3,219 respectively – well, peradventure not quite.
Optically stabilised zooms
Even if your camera has in-body image stabilisation (IBIS),
using a stabilised lens can assist you lot get sharper images in low light
because many cameras tin at present apply both types of stabilisation together. And if your camera isn’t stabilised, then a stabilised lens is a great addition to your kit that will enable you to leave your tripod behind more than often.On an Olympus camera such equally the OM-D East-M1 Mark III or OM-D E-M5 Marking III, for case, the Olympus Grand.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO (£999), in a higher place, can even enable sharp results from multi-2nd handheld exposures, which is perfect for evening photography, maybe even shooting handheld traffic trails.
A few years ago, simply telephoto lenses were stabilised, but now in that location are quite a few stabilised wideangle optics such every bit the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/iv.5-5.6 IS STM (£135), which makes up for its relatively minor maximum discontinuity range with four stops of shutter-speed compensation.
Some proficient lens retailers to try (new and used)
Wex Photo Video
Grays of Westminster
All-time lenses for mirrorless systems
What are the best lenses of 2020