Best lens for lightning photography

Hi folks,

I have recently taken an interest in lightning photography. Have been using the standard 18-55 mm Nikon lens with good results. However I would like to get a lens that would give a wider angle of the sky. Read an article that stated prime lenses as being more appropriate for the photographer on a budget. All I need is a wider angle of the sky. That means less photographs missed during a storm. Could someone recommend a less expensive wide angle lens with the model number. That way I can look up the price etc.....

Thank you,



  • Prime lenses always have some advantages, but I'm not entirely convinced those advantages are going to be obvious for lightning photography. As you've likely noticed, the kit lens does pretty well here, where you're focused at infinity without the need for a wide open aperture, and also without the need for subtle differences in edge distortion.

    There aren't a lot of very wide lenses for DX format, and unfortunately one of the best bargains, the 10-20 AFP Nikkor, will not work on a D3200 (no focus at all). None of these are exactly cheap, but you might look at the Sigma and Tamron offerings in zooms that run from around 10 or 11 up.

    One of the disadvantages of the DX format is that very wide lenses are not as common, nor as cheap, as they are for larger formats.

    Chances are that a focal length around 14 mm. would satisfy the need for sky coverage without excessive foreground, but a little more wouldn't hurt.

    Not necessarily recommending the vendor (though Adorama and B&H are both good), but here are links to a couple.

    I have seen the Sigma go on sale at considerable saving, which is worth keeping an eye out for.

    You might also look occasionally at to see if anything in your chosen range comes up used. They have a good warranty and conservative ratings, so you can usually count on a clean working lens from them. Older versions of the Nikon lenses tend to be pretty expensive, but they do turn up. Make sure that if you want metering it must be at least AF, and if you want auto focus, it must have an internal motor. Used prime lenses in very wide tend not to show up much, but the wide angle zooms do from time to time, including the third party ones linked above.

    Since you're almost certainly using a tripod here, vibration reduction is not an issue.

  • Thank you very much for the advice. You are right. The kit lens is pretty good. If I could get something a little wider, it would be a plus.
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