Mariotama – Taking photos in poorly lit conditions can be tricky. It is because light is the base of any photography niches. Fortunately, having the best lens for low light can help. Generally, having a lens with a wider maximum aperture is a good way to start a low-light shooting.
There is a wide variety of low light lenses available today. Depending on your budget and requirements, you can easily find the right pair for your camera.
If you do not know where to start, I have put together my top 10 picks for the best low-light lenses below. These recommendations will include lenses of various brands and budget, so you can choose the one that suits you best. Let us check them out!
9 Best Lens for Low Light
1. Best without Flash: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
- 50 millimeter focal length and maximum aperture of f/1.8
- Great for portraits, action, and nighttime photography; Angle of view (horizontal, vertical, diagonal): 40º, 27º,46º
- Minimum focusing distance of 1.15 feet (0.35 meter) and a maximum magnification of 0.21x
- Stepping motor (STM) delivers near silent, continous Move Servo AF for movies and smooth AF for stills
- 80 millimeter effective focal length on APS C cameras, 50 millimeter on full frame cameras.Lens Construction: 6 elements in 5 groups
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is a popular lens, which makes is onto many lists. This lens offers a great balance between functionality and cost. On an APS-C sensor, this lens has an equal focal length of 80mm, allowing you to get a diverse and compact telephoto lens.
Besides, its large f/1.8 aperture is very impressive for low light photography. It is also a versatile lens, which is suitable for street, portraits, sports, and low light shooting. This lens is more than capable to capture excellent video as well.
This Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM obtains an outstanding rating on Amazon.
- Its wide, fixed aperture of f/1.8 allows lots of light to come in.
- It is a versatile lens, which offers consistently sharp images.
- It comes with Stepper Motor (STM) autofocus for fast and quiet performance.
- There is no real disadvantage to this lens. However, photographers that are more serious may consider lenses with a wider aperture.
2. Best for Creative Portraiture: Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM
- f1.2 maximum aperture
- Ring-type UltraSonic motor (USM), Focal length : 85mm, Closest focusing distance : 3.2 feet
- EF mount, medium telephoto lens, High-speed AF and circular aperture create shallow depth-of-field
- 111mm focal length for APS-H sensors, 136mm for APS-C sensors, Lens not zoomable
When it comes to the best lens for low light, you should not miss this Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM. This lens gives you the power of f/1.2 aperture for a perfect low-light shooting.
Its huge aperture allows much light to enter the lens. Thus, this lens is capable to capture beautiful images in limited light. Many photographers love this lens since it can perform well no matter the situation is.
As a part of the Canon L series, this lens should provide exceptional manufacturing quality. You can expect a weather-sealed lens, which can perform well in any condition. This Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is available on Amazon.
- This lens offers fantastic image sharpness thanks to its wide aperture.
- It also comes with excellent construction that ensures its durability.
- It performs well in low-light situations, even without a tripod.
- Although the autofocus is good, its performance is relatively slow.
3. Best for IS System: Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM
- Focal length and maximum aperture: 35mm 1:2
- Lens construction: 10 elements in 8 groups
- Diagonal angle of view: 63 Degree
- Rear focusing system with USM focus adjustment
- Closest focusing distance: 0.24m/0.79 ft,Focal Length : 35mm Comparable APS-C 1.6x Focal Length: 56 mm.Lens Construction:10 elements in 8 groups
This lens might not be a part of the Canon L series, but it is also well made. This Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM is a wide-angle lens, so it makes a great choice for travel and landscape photography. Its low-light capability would make a perfect partner anywhere you go.
This Canon lens is still responsive even there is not much light available. Moreover, the f/2 aperture is large enough to create impressive photos in low light.
With USM autofocus and image stabilization, this lens is just unstoppable. The manual override of its autofocus is also easy to use. Then, thanks to Canon’s Super Spectra coating, this lens can control chromatic aberration and lens flare perfectly.
You can find this Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM on Amazon.
- This is a light and responsive wide-angle lens.
- This lens is light enough to carry.
- It supports image stabilization and excellent autofocus for comfortable handheld shooting.
- The price is quite pricey since it does not belong to the L-series lens.
- You may find some fall off sharpness at the wider apertures.
4. Best at f/1.8 for DSLR: Sigma 18-33mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art
- F1.8 maximum aperture
- F16 minimum
- Ring-type ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing, 72mm filter size
- Minimum focusing distance 28 cm/ 11.0 in. USB Dock compatible, MC-11 compatible.
- Available in Canon EF (EF-S), Sony Alpha (dot), Nikon f (DX) mounts
Sigma also owns the best lens for low light at an affordable price. This 18-35mm lens is the first to offer a constant f/1.8 aperture within the variety of zoom lengths. An impressive zoom range to deliver perfect shooting in low light supports this wide aperture.
It is safe to say that this 18-35mm f/1.8 lens is capable to substitute equivalent prime lenses for a relatively low cost. This lens’ body is made of TSC material, making it solid and robust. Then, it uses a Super Multi-Layer coating to minimize lens flare and reflections.
- It offers a wider maximum aperture of f/1.8 throughout the zoom range.
- This lens is versatile and able to capture sharp images in a variety of settings.
- It delivers excellent value for money.
- Users may find some vignette and barrel distortion at the edge of the frame, especially at wider apertures.
5. Nikon’s Best at 85mm: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G
- Fast aperture medium telephoto lens
- Internal Focus, Focal Length: 85 mm, Minimum Focus Range: 0.80 m
- Silent Wave Motor (SWM). Number of diaphragm blades:7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
- M/A focus mode switch. Filter-attachment size is 67 mm (P=0.75 mm)
- Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC)
Nikon also has an affordable lens, which is reliable for low light photography. This Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G is like a high-spec lens at a low-spec price. This lens delivers impressive sharpness and gives wide aperture for beautiful low light photos.
This lens is also a good option if you love portrait photography. It is compact and lightweight, so you can easily slot it into your bag. When being paired with an APS-C (DX) Nikon DSLR, it can provide the equivalent of a 127.5mm lens. This Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G is available on Amazon.
- It still features a silent focusing motor and internal focusing system despite its low price.
- It comes with a user-friendly manual and autofocus mode switch.
- This lens offers the best value for the money.
- Several parts of this lens’ body are made of plastic.
6. Best in Studio or Field: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G
- Ultra-fast f1.4 classic portrait lens, Nano Crystal Coat
- Focal Length : 85 mm, Minimum Focus Distance : 3.0 ft. (0.85m). Compatible Format(s)- FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode
- Optimized for edge to edge sharpness on both FX and DX cameras;Closest focusing distance:0.85 m
- M/A Focus Mode Switch enables quick changes between manual and autofocus operation
- Internal Focus (IF) provides fast and quiet autofocus
If you want an upgrade for the previous option, this Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G makes a good bet. This best lens for low light generates outstanding photos with beautiful bokeh. You can also count on this lens for creating amazing portraits.
This lens has been optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness on both DX and FX cameras. The build quality is also excellent. On an APS-C (DX) Nikon DSLR, it can deliver the equivalent of a 127.5mm lens. This is without a doubt a great lens, which you would like to recommend to a friend.
You can get this Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G on Amazon.
- It employs a silent wave focusing motor for a quiet and fast focus.
- This lens is tack sharp and a superior option for low light shooting.
- This lens is rather expensive. Nevertheless, if you can afford it, then you will be rewarded with stunning photos.
- It is a bit fatter than others are but still feels good in hand.
7. Canon’s Best Performing: Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
- Lens not zoomable
- Minimum focus Distance is 0.8ft
- Focal Length -24 mm
- Diagonal angle of view: 84°
This is another Canon lens that makes it to the list. This is probably the most powerful 24mm Canon lens on offer. It can perform exceptionally well in low light even without a flash. You can also rely on this lens to capture landscape and indoor sports perfectly.
This Canon EF 24 f/1.4L deliver sharp images throughout apertures. The bokeh is very soft, making it ideal for portraiture. Chromatic aberration and lens flare are controlled properly thanks to Canon’s anti-reflective Sub Wavelength Coating (SWC).
Its USM autofocus is also trustworthy. Overall, this is an excellent Canon lens that should appeal to any serious photographers. You can find this Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM on Amazon.
- This is one of the brightest wide-angle lenses in its class.
- It delivers constantly sharp images across apertures.
- Its wide maximum aperture f/1.4 is ideal for darker settings.
- It is somewhat expensive, especially for beginners. It would be viable for serious amateurs and professional photographers.
- Some degree of vignette is noticed in the corners at maximum aperture.
8. Best for Walk-Around Medium Telephoto: Tamron SP 60mm f/2 Di II LD Macro
- World's first F2.0 Macro for APS-C DSLRs; ideal for portrait and macro shooting
- Longest working distance in its class (100mm); Two LD Glass elements
- 93mm equivalent on APS-C DSLRs
- Full-time manual control mechanism; Internal Focusing
- For Nikon digital SLRs
Tamron also offers the best lens for low light at a reasonable price. With its f/2 aperture, this Tamron SP 60mm lens can capture a great deal of light, making it reliable for shooting at close range without much illumination.
The images resolution is consistently high across apertures as well. It also offers excellent autofocus. More interestingly, this lens is very versatile. It is well suited to various photography niches including portrait and architectural.
- It is a dependable macro lens with fast f/2 aperture.
- This lens is ideal for macro photography in poorly lit conditions.
- It comes with a brilliant build quality at an affordable price.
- Some barrel distortion is noticed sometimes, but it is not a big deal.
9. Best Autofocus: Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art
- Offering the bright F1.4 aperture and an angle of view extremely close to that of human vision
- Macro Focus Range : 0.30 m, Focal Length : 30 mm
- Placed under the Art category, this large-aperture standard lens with an angle of view equivalent to 45mm on a 35mm camera
- A rear focus system prevents focus-dependent variation in aberration, making high-level image quality possible throughout the entire image
- Filter Size 62mm Maximum Magnifications 1:6.8
Sigma is well known for its affordable and high-quality lenses. This 30mm f/1.4 lens from Sigma is no exception. It delivers excellent sharpness throughout apertures. Then, it also provides a shallow depth of field, making it a great lens for low light shooting.
On crop-sensor cameras, the 35mm focal length is equal to 45mm. It is probably unusual, but this function still delivers a decent field of view. Using TSC material means that this lens is robust enough to deal with any conditions. This lens also has a good build quality to support it.
This Sigma 30mm f/1.4DC HSM Art lens is available on Amazon.
- It offers a quick maximum aperture of f/1.4 for superior low-light shots.
- This lens uses Hypersonic Autofocus Motor (HSM) for rapid, accurate, and silent autofocus.
- You may find some image distortion and chromatic aberration when the aperture is wide open.
What features should I look for in choosing the best lens for low light?
You should consider features like aperture range, shutter speed, image stabilization, and sensor.
Should I get a lens with a wide aperture for low light photography?
Mostly yes, because the wider the aperture, the more light will come in. It is recommended to get an affordable yet effective prime lens with a maximum aperture of around f/1.8.
What if my lens doesn’t come with image stabilization?
Typically, you will still be able to shoot properly without image stabilization. However, this feature comes in handy when shooting handheld. In low light situations, it may allow you to drop your shutter speed down as well.
Can I stabilize my camera without a tripod?
Probably yes. If you find it difficult to stabilize your camera handheld, try using your camera strap. Make this strap taught to let you shoot at lower shutter speeds. You can also place the camera against on a wall.
Should I use flash when shooting in low light situations?
If you are shooting a group of people, it is recommended to use a flash. This is because you will end up with a shallow depth of field if you open the aperture too wide. As a result, not everyone will be in focus.
What EF mean in Canon lenses?
EF stands for Electro Focus. This is named this way since it comes with a built-in motor in the lens for automatic focusing. All Canon DSLRs will be compatible with a standardized EF lens.
What is AF-S mean in Nikon lenses?
It means that the lens has an autofocus system with Silent Wave Motor.
To wrap up, having the right gear is important for shooting in low light conditions. You will need a good lens with a wide aperture and excellent autofocus for fantastic low light photography.
Any of the lenses above are ideal options for low light shooting. However, I recommend you to try the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. This is an incredible lens with an affordable price. It is also suitable for novice photographers or those on a budget.
However, your final decision on which to purchase should depend on your needs and budget. If you have the budget, go for the more reliable one. Finally, hope you find your best lens for low light soon. Good luck!
Last update on 2020-02-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API