Reading
blue-triangle-element

Articles

PFRE is the original online resource for real estate and interior photographers. Since 2006, it has been a community hub where like-minded professionals from around the world gather to share information with a common goal of improving their work and advancing their business. With thousands of articles, covering hundreds of topics, PFRE offers the most robust collection of educational material in our field. The history of real estate photography has been documented within these pages.
All Articles
blue-triangle-element

Latest

A girl using a Nikon camera with external flash

Check out our step-by-step guide on learning how to use external flash on Nikon to improve the exposure of real estate photos.

COMMUNITY
blue-triangle-element

Forum

The PFRE Community Forum is an online resource for discussing the art and business of Real Estate and Interior Photography.
Join The Discussion
blue-triangle-element

Latest

View Now
Contest
blue-triangle-element

OVERVIEW

For over a decade, photographers from around the world have participated in PFRE’s monthly photography contests, culminating in the year-end crowning of PFRE’s Photographer of the Year. With a new theme each month and commentary offered by some of the finest real estate & interior photographers anywhere, these contests offer a fun, competitive environment with rich learning opportunities. 

Contest Rules
blue-triangle-element

CURRENT CONTESTS

View / Submit
blue-triangle-element

PAST CONTESTS

View Archive
Resources
blue-triangle-element

Resources

PFRE prides itself on the depth and breadth of the information and professional development resources it makes available to our community. Our goal is to help real estate and interior photographers be successful while bringing the community together and elevating the industry as a whole.
blue-triangle-element

Conference News

No items found

Best Low Light Lens for Nikon [2021 Review]

In: 
Published: 27/07/2021

As a real estate photographer, you need the perfect shot that will tell a property’s all by itself, even in the worst of lighting conditions. That is why you need a low-light Nikon lens. In this review, we will help you identify the best low-light lens for Nikon.

Our Top Low Light Nikon Lens Reviews

To shoot sharp and clear photos in poorly lit environments, you will need a lens that allows more light through the aperture. Below, we discuss the best low-light lens for Nikon that meets these requirements.

Brand
Best Overall
Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4
Best for the Money
Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2
Best Cheap Pick
Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8
Product
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED Lens with...
Zeiss Milvus 100mm F/2M ZF.2 Lens (Nikon F-Mount)
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto...
Lens Type
Telephoto
Macro
Standard
Item Weight
2.17 pounds
1.86 pounds
0.44 pounds
Rating
-
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4
Product
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED Lens with...
Lens Type
Telephoto
Item Weight
2.17 pounds
Rating
-
Price
Best for the Money
Brand
Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2
Product
Zeiss Milvus 100mm F/2M ZF.2 Lens (Nikon F-Mount)
Lens Type
Macro
Item Weight
1.86 pounds
Rating
-
Price
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8
Product
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto...
Lens Type
Standard
Item Weight
0.44 pounds
Rating
-
Price

Best Overall Nikon Low-light Lens: Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4

The Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4 Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4 is a short telephoto with an excellent, bright aperture of f/1.4, making it ideal for capturing in poorly lit circumstances. Also, this bright aperture gives better control over the application of shallow depth in field shooting. 

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED Lens with...

It comes with a nine-blade aperture diaphragm, promoting the best bokeh quality on our list. It features an electromagnetic function that helps to control the aperture for better exposure regulation. 

It's an internal focusing lens, ensuring the overall camera length doesn't change when focusing, allowing you to shoot even the camera-sensitive subjects. However, it's the heaviest on our list and most unsuitable for extended periods of use.

Pros

  • It has a wide aperture making it suitable for shooting in backlit situations.
  • The aperture facilitates the best bokeh quality in our list

Cons

  • It's the heaviest on our list, limiting its portability
  • Unlike the Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2, it's not ideal for close up shooting
Sale
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED Lens with...
  • Internal Focus; Manual Focus Override
  • F-Mount Lens/FX Format,
  • Aperture Range: f/1.4 to f/16. Maximum Reproduction Ratio : 0.13x

Best Low-light Nikon Lens for the Money: Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2

The Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2 is an excellent portrait-length lens with a maximum magnification of 1:2, making it suitable for shooting nearby subjects. 

Zeiss Milvus 100mm F/2M ZF.2 Lens (Nikon F-Mount)

Unlike the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8, it features partial dispersion glass in its optical construction, which significantly eliminates chromatic distortions and aberrations. This allows it to produce sharp and clear images throughout the focus. 

Unlike the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8, it comes with a manual focus only, which may inconvenience you if you want fast and effortless focusing performance. 

However, the manual focus allows you to fine-tune your focus, thanks to the rubberized focus ring. Also, the barrel is all-metal, which improves tactile control and durability.

Pros

  • It is suitable for capturing nearby subjects.
  • It is ideal for shooting camera sensitive objects

Cons

  • The manual focusing is unsuitable for fast focusing
  • It's 1.06 pounds heavier than the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8
Sale
Zeiss Milvus 100mm F/2M ZF.2 Lens (Nikon F-Mount)
  • CREATIVE STILL AND VIDEO PHOTOGRAPHY THROUGH PRECISE MANUAL FOCUSING: ZEISS Milvus lenses feature a...
  • FUTURE-PROOF SOLUTION FOR HIGH-RESOLUTION CAMERA SYSTEMS: The excellent image performance of the...
  • EXCELLENT IMAGERY, EVEN IN DIFFICULT LIGHT CONDITIONS: All lenses features ZEISS T* antireflective...

Best Cheap Low-light Nikon Lens: Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8

The Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8 is a prime lens that is impressively versatile, with a sleek form, a factor that makes it compact and suitable for carrying. 

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto...

Although the performance in poor lighting situations can't match the Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4, the maximum aperture of f/1.8 works well in low-light circumstances, it features one aspherical element in its optical design, which helps to suppress the optical distortions, enhancing image clarity and sharpness. 

Also, the elements feature a super integrated coating which facilitates the suppression of ghosting and flare when shooting in bright light. It weighs 0.44 pounds, the second most lightweight on our list, enhancing portability.

Pros

  • It is versatile and compact, making it ideal for carrying
  • It enhances suppression of ghosting and flares in bright light situations

Cons

  • Its performance in low-light is less impressive
  • It has a smaller field of view, unlike the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4
Sale
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto...
  • F mount lens/DX format. Picture angle with Nikon DX format 44 degree
  • 52.5 millimeter (35-millimeter equivalent). Rear focusing; Manual focus override
  • Aperture range: F/1.8 to 22; Dimensions(approx.) 70 x 52.5 millimeter

Best Lightweight Low-light Nikon Lens: Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8

The Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8 is a normal-length prime that suits a wide range of shooting conditions, ideal for real estate, portrait, and landscape. The maximum aperture of f/1.8 enhances the shallow depth of field control even in backlit conditions. 

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens

Although the bokeh quality can't match the Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4, the seven-blade aperture diaphragm enhances a quality bokeh production. It comes with a Silent Wave Motor, which facilitates a fast and noise-free autofocus performance. 

With one spherical element in the optical construction, it's less effective in eliminating the optical distortions compared to the Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2. It weighs 0.4 pounds, making it the most lightweight on our list.

Pros

  • It is the most lightweight and convenient for carrying
  • The autofocus motor is almost silent

Cons

  • The bokeh quality is less appealing than the Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4
  • It is less effective in eliminating optical distortions.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
  • Fast, upgraded f/1.8, compact FX format prime lens. The picture angle with 35 millimeter (135)...
  • Focal length 50 millimeter, minimum focus distance 1.48 feet (0.45 meter)
  • Newly developed optical system with aspherical lens element, exclusive Nikon silent wave motor (SWM)

Best Autofocus Low-light Lens for Nikon: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8

The Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8 has an exceptional design that balances the compact form factor and weight while maintaining what it takes to excel in low-light shooting. 

Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens with Auto...

Like the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8, the elements feature a Super Integrated Coating, which helps to eliminate the ghosting and flare, enhancing the picture clarity and sharpness. It comes with a Silent Wave Motor, which enhances a silent and accurate focusing experience. 

Also, the autofocus functionality comes with a full-time manual override, which gives you added control over the focusing performance by allowing you to fine-tune the focusing. Although it's heavier than the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8, it's still lightweight enough for carrying around.

Pros

  • The manual override provides a fine-tuned focusing
  • It offers a quiet and accurate focusing experience

Cons

  • It is heavier than the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8
  • Its performance in low-light is less appealing than Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4. 
Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens with Auto...
  • Fast aperture medium telephoto lens
  • Internal focus, focal length: 85 millimeter, minimum focus range: 0.80 meter
  • Silent wave motor (SWM). Number of diaphragm blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)

Best Wide-Angle Low-light Nikon Lens: Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 is a wide-angle prime that is flexible enough for shooting a wide range of applications such as event shooting, street, and real estate photography. 

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD Lens for Nikon F

The maximum aperture of f/1.4 performs better in backlit conditions than Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8, producing sharp and clear photos. It further improves the image sharpness by suppressing the optical distortions and aberrations using a series of aspherical and low dispersion elements. 

It uses a BBAR-G2 coating on the elements to reduce the ghosting and flare, enhancing the image contrast and color fidelity. Although lighter than the Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2, the 1.77 pounds weight is still unsuitable for an extended shooting period.

Pros

  • Its landscape photography performance is appealing
  • The shooting capability in backlit situations is impressive

Cons

  • Unlike the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8, it's unsuitable for extended shooting periods.
  • The wide field of view causes distortions.
Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD Lens for Nikon F
  • Consummate image quality across the entire frame from edge-to-edge
  • Exceptionally reliable, fast and accurate AF
  • Next-generation BBAR-G2 Coating

Best Resolution Low-light Nikon Lens: Sigma 135mm f/1.8

The Sigma 135mm f/1.8 is a telephoto prime that blends intuitive design and handling with advanced optics. With a bright aperture of f/1.8 and a member of the Art-series lenses, it excels in high-resolution rendering. 

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon F

Unlike the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4, it employs SLD and FLD glass to minimize the color fringing and chromatic aberrations, improving the image clarity and sharpness. When shooting in bright lighting, there is minimal ghosting and flare, thanks to the Super Multi-Layer Coating on its elements. 

Also, it comes with a nine-blade aperture diaphragm which enables it to produce a more impressive bokeh quality than the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8.

Pros

  • It's excellent for use with selective focus technique
  • It comes with high-resolution rendering 

Cons

  • It's the second heaviest on our list and not ideal for carrying
  • Unlike the Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2, it's not ideal for macro photography
Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon F
  • A new large Hyper sonic motor (HSM) delivers ample torque to the focusing Group for outstanding...
  • A stunning compression effect makes the Sigma 135mm F1.8 art the ideal portrait lens while its large...
  • Like Each and every Global Vision lens, The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is handcrafted at our single...

Best Sturdy Low-light Nikon Lens: Sigma 35mm f/1.4

The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 is an advanced wide-angle prime that pairs a bright aperture with a comfortable focal length, making it ideal for selective focus and shallow depth of field effects. It's equipped with a Hyper Sonic Motor, which helps realize a silent and smooth autofocus performance. 

Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Nikon, Black,...

It comes with a manual focus override which allows you to have better control over the focusing performance. Like the Sigma 135mm f/1.8, it comes with a nine-blade aperture diaphragm which enhances the production of a high-quality bokeh. 

The construction is weather-resistant, making it ideal for use in trying situations. However, unlike the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8, it weighs 1.47 pounds, making it inconvenient for an extended shooting time.

Pros

  • The manual override provides better focusing control
  • Its moisture resistance, making it suitable in trying conditions

Cons

  • The weight may hurt your wrist if shooting for long 
  • The autofocus is not reliable in low-light
Sale
Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Nikon, Black,...
  • 35mm focal length, 52.5mm equivalent focal length on APS-C cameras, 56mm equivalent focal length on...
  • F1.4 maximum aperture; F16 minimum, This model is compatible with all current Nikon cameras (both DX...
  • Ring-type ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing

Features to Consider for the Best Low-light Nikon Lens

Nikon lenses come in varying unique features, and knowing the features that excel in low light conditions might be confusing. The table below provides you with a summary of these features.

ProductFocal LengthApertureWeight (Pounds)
Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.835mmf/1.80.44
Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.850mmf/1.80.4
Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4 105mmf/1.42.17
Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.885mmf/1.80.8
Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2 100mmf/21.86
Tamron SP 35mm f/1.435mmf/1.41.77
Sigma 135mm f/1.8135mmf/1.82
Sigma 35mm f/1.435mmf/1.41.47

Aperture

Aperture is a crucial feature to keep in mind when purchasing lenses for low-light shooting. The aperture determines the amount of light that the lens allows in the sensor. When taking photos in low light, a lens that has a wide aperture, such as the Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4, is your best option. 

It enables the use of faster shutter speeds, even when capturing fast-moving subjects or capturing without a photo tripod. Wide aperture lenses also enable you to improve the bokeh quality, which is the appealing blurred background, especially if applied to portraits.

Lens Special Elements and Coatings

Different lens brands and models come with varying special elements and coatings. The elements are geared towards reducing the spherical and chromatic aberrations in the lens to suppress color fringing and improve image clarity and sharpness. 

The special coatings are featured on individual elements, helping to minimize the ghosting and flare when capturing photos in bright light. Typically, the lens that features the highest number of elements and coatings, such as the Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2, produces the sharpest images with minimal optic distortions.

Person holding a Nikon lens

Size and Weight

If your plan is to shoot photos for an extended period, then you should consider a lightweight lens such as the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8 as it won't exhaust you or hurt your wrists. 

In the same way, you should consider a compact lens if your plan is to carry it around, shooting real estate or street photos. In most cases, the most lightweight lens is also the most compact, and so you don't have to mind the individual dimensions.

Weather Resistance

Typically, the ambient light may not allow you to see the dust or moisture when shooting in poor lighting conditions, and so you will unknowingly expose your lens to these harsh conditions. 

However, you can have peace of mind when shooting in such conditions if the lens is weather resistant. For instance, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 is weather-resistant, allowing you to shoot even in desert and snow conditions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Poor Lighting Affect Autofocus Performance?

Poor lighting conditions affect autofocus performance, and the autofocus may keep on hunting. It may also affect the autofocus accuracy, and the best solution is to use manual focus like the one in Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2.

Can I Shoot Macro Images in Low-light?

It is possible to shoot macro images in low light, but without a quality macro lens such as the Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2, getting sufficient light on your subject might be an issue. 

Conclusion

With the market flooded with Nikon lenses that have varying features, identifying the most suitable for low light shooting may be challenging. However, the lenses in the above list perform well in poor lighting conditions, and any pick won't disappoint you.

magnifiercrossmenucross-circle