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5 Best Canon Lenses For Astrophotography in 2024!

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Best Canon Lenses For Astrophotography

The temptation for beginning photographers when looking towards the night sky is to think in terms of a telescope and translate that to a lens on your camera. The best Canon lenses for astrophotography aren’t miniature telescopes, but something much smaller.

Beginning photographers observe the vastness of the night sky and imagine how just the right lens can pull in the rings of Saturn or capture the stark contrast of the white polar caps against the red desert of Mars.

It doesn’t work that way unless you can connect your camera to a huge telescope on Mt. Palomar or some high alpine observatory.

The best Canon lens for astrophotography is most likely already in your camera bag. Standard lenses, when used properly can capture impressive sections of both the day and night sky, and some can cover the entire panorama of the heavens from horizon to horizon.

Astrophotography is perhaps the most challenging of all photographic venues. When shooting at night there is no in-between, just the utter blackness of space, peppered with brilliant points of light, and even these points of light have varying magnitudes of intensity, further challenging the photographer.

In daylight, shooting clouds against a bright blue sky provides great contrast, but the sky itself, when it’s clear doesn’t give you much to grab as a backdrop so your lens must be capable of capturing a tight image of that hot air balloon, experimental aircraft or osprey in mid-dive.

This venue is a challenging one, but hopefully, this guide will assist you in determining the best Canon lenses for night sky photography, and maybe someday you’ll be able to capture the Milky Way on your SD card.

Here are Our Top Canon Lenses For Astrophotography in 2024!


Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L is USM Super Telephoto Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras


Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens


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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras - Fixed


Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens


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Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens, Black - 2965C002


Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens


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Canon RF16mm F2.8 STM Black


Canon RF16mm F2.8 STM Lens


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Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM Lens, Compatible with EOS R System Mirrorless Cameras, Fixed Focal Length Lens, Compact & Lightweight, Perfect for Everyday Shooting


Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM Lens


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Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L is USM Super Telephoto Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

Best Canon telephoto lens for astrophotography

Why buy the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L is USM Super Telephoto

Why not jump in with both feet and get the initial shock out of the way? This is an expensive lens, equivalent in cost to a good used car, and it’s heavy, tipping the scales at 14 pounds.

This is as close to a camera-mounted telescope as you’ll find in a Canon lens.

Why not just buy an adapter for a spotting scope for your camera instead of spending such an extravagant amount of money for this lens? The answer is that even the best spotting scope can’t compete with the glass in this lens. The best spotting scope will still have an F-stop in the extreme upper range, sometimes beyond F-40, making its light-gathering capabilities very limited, and light is what astrophotography is all about.

Even at the extreme cost, we’re going to count this as one of the best Canon  EF lenses for astrophotography

What you’ll love about the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L is USM Super Telephoto

You’ll love the distances you can reach with this lens. The formula for converting focal length to magnification is an easy one, just take the length and divide it by 50. That means this 800mm lens can magnify an object 16 times. As a comparison, the workhorse 50mm Canon lens is equivalent to the human eye, and if you do the math you’ll see why since 50mm divided by 50 is one, or the view from your eyes on an object.

You’ll love the high-end design of this lens and the forward-facing mount that serves as both a handle (if you’re steady enough to hold a 14-pound lens on a distant object, hint… you’re not, no one is) and a balanced tripod mount.

The handle slides forward mid-body on the lens, making it much more balanced and creating less strain on your tripod.

What you won’t love about the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L is USM Super Telephoto

You’re not going to like the price. It’s well north of $10,000. You’re also not going to enjoy the weight. Photographers often gauge the quality of a lens by how much it weighs, in this case, it must be platinum quality at the least.

If you’re not used to shooting from a tripod, you’re not going to like this lens either. You can’t use it without the bracing, stationary effect of a tripod.

This is a long-distance lens and in the world of optics, even the slightest vibration is going to create severe aberration, distortion, and plain old blurriness.

Even when shooting with a tripod you’ll want to use a cable shutter release, or spring for the extra cost and get a remote-controlled shutter. Even the lightest touch on anything but a heavy-weight tripod locked in firmly will ruin a shot. You’ll need to concentrate on image stabilization.

A final caveat to this lens is that it is fixed at 800mm. You’ll have to adjust your shooting to allow for this extreme focal length. But since you’ll be trying to capture photographs at astronomical distances (pun intended) that may not be a problem.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras – Fixed

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras - Fixed

Best Canon prime lens for astrophotography

Why buy the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens

If you’re looking for something in the best optical performances category, that works well in low-light situations, and has a wide aperture this lens is the one for you.

It doesn’t magnify and has limited wide-angle applications, but for night sky photography, you can’t beat an F-stop of 1.2.

The high price of this lens is reflected in that blazing-fast F-stop. The EF50mm f/1.2 gathers light better than any of the other lenses in this review.

For prolonged exposure using a tracking motorized tripod synchronized to the motion of the earth a lens with a maximum aperture is what is one of the best Canon lenses for star photography.

Some may question whether and ask if a 50mm lens is good for astrophotography with its simple, common appearance, but it is.

You can count this as a candidate for the best Canon dslr lens for astrophotography.

Overall it is one of the best Canon ef lenses for astrophotography

What you’ll love about the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens

You’re going to enjoy the lightness of this lens, at just 1.2 pounds while being amazed at the 78mm width. It looks a little unbalanced with the width greater than the length, but that’s how Canon engineers designed it to gather so much light.

You’ll love locking this lens in place on a tripod, pointing it at the north star, and then opening the shutter for a few minutes to a few hours. The whirl of the heavens circling Polaris is one of the first things most Astro photographers try when they encounter a dark, moonless night far away from the light pollution of modern cities.

Set your image size at the maximum your camera can handle, set the 50mm on a motorized tripod, and point to a nebula, star cluster, or even the Milky Way, and let the camera work for a while.

The images won’t be clear at first since you’re shooting with just normal eye-level magnification but when you zoom in on the photo with your computer, you’ll find amazing detail with this lens. All those millions of extra pixels on maximum image size spring to life when you start to zoom in. You can zoom a long way before pixelation begins.

What you won’t love about the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens

Two things you won’t like, okay, maybe three are the short focal length. It will seem like you’re missing out on the night sky without that huge telephoto. The second thing is the price. You’ll pay five times as much for this EF 50mm f/1.2 as you would for a lesser 50mm lens with just a maximum of F-1.8. Those extra metrics come at a price, and that price is paid in glass, design, and production costs.

The final thing you may not love is the fixed focal length. Old-school photographers used fixed lenses, light meters, manual settings, and manual focus to produce those classic images from a generation or two ago.

If you consider yourself a photographer but rely on auto-focus, pre-set auto features like portrait, sport, and other dialed settings, you won’t enjoy this lens. It will be a steep learning curve for you.

But if you do put in the time, you may find that this lens is the answer to the question “what size lens for astrophotography?”

Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens

Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens, Black - 2965C002

Best Canon RF lens for astrophotography

Why buy the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM Lens

This lens offers a couple of great reasons to have it in your inventory. The first is that it is the best Canon RF zoom lens for astrophotography, and the second is that it is the best Canon RF lens for astrophotography as well.

That’s strong praise for a single lens, but this is a wide aperture zoom lens with a great focal length range from 28mm to 70mm. This range gives it another attribute as the best Canon zoom lens for astrophotography.

While these attributes are something to look for when purchasing a lens to use in the night sky, the one attribute you won’t find with this one is the best cheap Canon lens for astrophotography.

It’s not cheap by a long shot. You’ll pay three times as much for this lens as you will for a good-quality Canon camera body.

The worth of the lens is in its design, you can maintain the wide aperture F-2 setting throughout the entire zoom range. That takes a lot of glass, and glass adds weight, that’s why this short zoom lens packs the scales at over three pounds.

What you’ll love about the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM Lens

You’re going to love the results this lens produces. While every lens reviewed here will produce great images when used correctly, this lens is a step above.

The ability to lock in at a great aperture throughout a zoom means your light-gathering settings will hold.

As an example, if you were to focus on just a sliver crescent of the moon, you’d be able to zoom in gradually, maintaining the exact light exposure through the increased size of the image. That might not seem like a great feature for a traditional photographer, but if you also create animated GIFs, the potential is limited only by your imagination.

For the physical aspects of holding this lens, it’s a hefty three pounds, but that’s a benefit for most photographers since a little heft aids in controlling, and limiting shake and aberration with the slower shutter speeds night photography requires.

It’s still best to shoot from a tripod when the shutter is slower than 1/125th of a second, but if you brace your hands, you can get a clean, crisp shot without one.

What you won’t love about the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM Lens

Once again, the big determining factor in many lenses for the night sky is price. You have to pay extra for limited-light photography, and limited light is all the night sky has to offer.

Other than the price, you won’t find many things to complain about with this lens. It’s portable, easy to focus, produces clear images from every cardinal point, and gathers great amounts of light with a very smooth zoom.

Is this the best Canon astrophotography lens? Well, if not, it’s at least in the conversation.

Canon RF16mm F2.8 STM

Canon RF16mm F2.8 STM Black

Best Canon RF prime lens for astrophotography

Why buy the Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM Lens

If you’re into wide-angle astrophotography you’ll need a very short lens. While some lenses are as tight at 10mm, that can become a problem when trying to use a timed exposure to bring in the full canopy of the nighttime sky.

The best Canon wide-angle lens for astrophotography is a bit longer, in the 16 to 24mm range, and this lens is one of the best.

When speaking of astrophotography most people jump immediately to the darkness of a moonless night sky, but in reality, the images you can produce with a wide-angle lens during the day are equally as impressive.

Capturing masses of birds in flight against the backdrop of an approaching storm produces spectacular wide-angle images of the sky. This lens with a fast F-2.8 maximum aperture allows those types of photographs, but with an upper limit of F-22, it can also offer incredible contrast to similar images in brighter light.

That contrast is the reason some photographers can always produce sharp, crisp wide-angle images no matter how difficult the background light can be.

Set this lens in the middle of a rock outcropping when the long light of the setting sun is creating maximum natural contrast and the images will be breathtaking.  

What you’ll love about the Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM Lens

With this lens, the work is in the setup of the scene, not in the setting up of the lens. This is a simple, basic, high-quality lens that will deliver extremely wide-angled shots with its short 16mm focal length.

It’s a prime lens, so there are no worries about setting the correct zoom.

If you’re into starscapes, this is the lens for you.

It’s light, so carrying it, a camera bag, and a tripod to a remote location free of urban light pollution won’t be a problem.

When set on a tripod, and opened for long-duration exposures the F-2.8 aperture, combined with the wide 16mm focal length will capture the full 360 degrees of the sky from horizon to horizon.

Though you wouldn’t use it for astrophotography in close-up mode, it can capture subjects at a range of five inches. So that firefly that lands next to you as your setting up is fair game as well. Just time it so the tail is brightest when you click the shutter.

You’re going to love the price; this is a contender for the best budget Canon lens for astrophotography award.

What you won’t love about the Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM Lens

This is a limited-use lens. No, it doesn’t cost much, but it might hang out in your camera bag for a very long time before you have the chance to use it.

The 16mm focal length is not the shortest for even wider, wide-angle photographs, but it’s a good length. The F-2.8 aperture is fast but can’t compare with other lenses in this review that are open to F-1.8 or even F-1.2.

Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF Mount Cameras

Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM Lens, Compatible with EOS R System Mirrorless Cameras, Fixed Focal Length Lens, Compact & Lightweight, Perfect for Everyday Shooting

Best full-frame Canon lens for astrophotography 

Why buy the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF Mount Cameras

It might seem like a broken record, but the 50mm, the old standby, the “Nifty Fifty” as its nickname is a versatile lens, no matter the camera style. For Canon full-frame, mirrorless camera bodies, you can’t beat it. If you’re wondering if a 50mm lens is good for astrophotography, the answer is yes.

The “what you see is what you get” aspect of this venerable lens extends to astrophotography as well.

If you’re a mirrorless camera enthusiast and like to take pictures of the night sky, this is a lens you should invest in.

The simple action, easy focus, and fast F-1.8 aperture make this a great choice for limited-light applications.

The cost is great as well, coming in as the least expensive lens of all those reviewed here.

What you’ll love about the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF Mount Cameras

You’ll love the ease of use. This is a simple lens that delivers great quality in a full-frame camera. Full-frame, mirrorless-style camera bodies are making a comeback and compete well with the more common DSLR styles.

This is a great lens for shots of the night sky with anyone using an EOS R series camera. The fixed focal length isn’t a problem since most applications with sky or astrophotography rely more on light-gathering abilities than on focal length.

With aperture settings from F-1.8 to F-22 you have a tremendous range of settings to capture images clearly, even in very dim light.

You’ll love the price too. It’s affordable for every amateur and has the quality a professional expects in a lens.

What you won’t love about the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF Mount Cameras

It is a fixed lens, and it has a short focal length of just 50mm. Not a wide angle, not a telephoto, and not a zoom. This is a basic lens with basic features. You’ll spend the majority of your time setting the lens in manual mode. If you’re interested in nighttime photography, or those difficult times at pre-dawn and twilight, you’ll be playing trial and error with this lens until you get the options just right.

Astrophotography FAQ

What is the best focal length for night sky photography?

You could write a book in answering this question and still not get the response many people are looking for. There is no one best focal length for a lens in the realm of night sky photography.

Many lenses can create quality images in various settings, but not one for all of them.

If you’re zooming in on the moon, it is close enough to use a power 800mm telephoto lens and the full moon is bright enough to shoot at a narrower aperture than in trying to absorb the light of a distant star cluster on a timed setting.

A wide-angle lens is often the best way to catch a perfect shot in time of the night sky and these can have a focal length of only 10mm.

In between, you’ll find the 50mm, a standard for all types of photography, and the short focal length zoom telephoto lenses with ranges of 24-70mm or slightly higher at 28-105mm.

What size lens is best for astrophotography?

Size and focal length are not the same things. The best size lens for astrophotography varies as much in lens diameter as in length.

For maximum light-gathering potential, the widest lens that will fit your Canon camera at an affordable price is about 70mm. That’s a lot of glass, and it will be wider on the business end of the lens than it is on the mount side.

As with focal length, there is no single best size lens for every type of astrophotography.

Is a 35mm lens good for astrophotography?

As a standalone lens, just snapping pictures of the night sky it’s not a great lens. If you place it on a tripod, with a metered sky-tracking device, that’s another story. A 35mm with a very low F-stop of 1.8 or less is still a good choice for long exposures from either a fixed tripod or one with a motor moving in pace with the earth’s rotation.

What 3 lenses should every photographer have

 As every photographer soon realizes, you can quickly become a hoarder when it comes to camera lenses. The three lenses for astrophotography are among the Canon best astrophotography lens you can buy.

– 50mm F-1.2
– 800mm F-5.6
– 16mm F-1.8

There are a few other contenders like short zoom lenses from 24-70mm or 28-105mm and they do a great job for special effects with adequate aperture settings from F-2.0 to F-22.
related reading:
Canon Trinity Lenses
5 Best Nikon Lenses For Astrophotography

Can I use 50mm for astrophotography?

Not only can you, but you should use the venerable “Nifty Fifty” for astrophotography. The lens is easy to use and is available in some of the widest apertures you can use with a standard, DSLR camera.

The light-gathering ability is beyond par, and they mount well on a tripod, have great balance for handheld shots, and are usually lower priced than other competing lenses.

What focal length for deep sky astrophotography?

Deep sky astrophotography is accomplished at observatories with huge telescopes, some with lenses 200 to 300 inches in diameter. Try holding one of those without vibration.

Seriously, the best deep sky lens for a DSLR is in the 50 to 105mm range. The moderate zoom aids a bit, but it’s the light-gathering function of a low F-stop that draws in distant images.

Combine the moderate focal length of 50 to 105 with the maximum-sized images your camera can produce, and you have a digital zoom that will enhance your images while magnifying them in a photo editing program. Do it all the way to the first signs of pixelation.


The night sky is a place of marvel, a place to ponder the reason for your existence, and a challenging venue for the best of photographers.

Selecting the right lens to use with your Canon camera will quickly separate you from the rank and file of astrophotographers.

Focal length is not as big a consideration in this type of photography as it is with wildlife, sporting events, and concert venues.

A more important consideration is the light-gathering ability of the lens on prolonged exposures.

The light arriving from deep space is marginal, to begin with.

Aside from the sun, moon, Venus, Jupiter, and Canis Minor, most celestial objects are dimly lit, even on the darkest nights.

A lens that will stay firmly in a fixed tripod, move easily when attached to a synchronized motor power tracking mount, and can be shuttered remotely on your Canon camera makes things a lot easier.

Looking to the night sky is one of the first things recorded by ancient man. The constellations, planets, and even comets were all named long ago by curious people looking upwards.

They didn’t have the chance to record what they saw on those clear, cloudless nights, but you do if you have the right lens.

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Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been photographing for the past 20 years and my mission is to simplify this misunderstood art of taking and processing photographs I love. I invite you to say “hey” on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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