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The 10 Best Canon Lenses to Step Up Your Astrophotography Game

Bret Leon Avatar
Bret Leon
4 August, 2022 • Updated 3 days ago
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Best Canon Lens For Astrophotography
Until recently, astrophotography was seen as a frivolity, with such photography being reserved solely for the benefit of students studying the sciences. However, it’s hard to deny that some of these images have found their way into popular culture, with more and more photographers finding their niche among the stars.

Astrophotography, also known as astronomical photography, is a genre of photography that captures various celestial images in the night sky. Choosing the appropriate lens is the first step to shooting stunning night sky images. When attempting to capture deep sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae, you’ll need a different lens than you’d use for more ordinary, earthy types of photography.

IN A HURRY? CHECK OUT OUR EDITOR’S CHOICE
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle Lens

If you’re in the market for an astrophotography lens, take a look at the following considerations.

Things to Consider when Looking for Astrophotography Lens

Before you buy a new lens, make sure to look at the following features:

Focal Length

It’s up to you to choose between a wide-angle and a telephoto lens depending on your artistic intent and astronomical understanding. A shorter focal length, measured in millimeters, will allow you to catch more of the sky in a single shot.

Optical Design

The optical design of your lens should include high-quality glass and coatings that reduce vignetting, flares, reflections, and distortions such as coma, chromatic, and spherical aberrations. The lens should be capable of delivering sharpness and clarity over the whole image frame.

Maximum Aperture

The wider the aperture is, the better. A wider aperture lets more light reach your camera’s sensor, helping you maintain a fast shutter speed to avoid motion blur in your photos.

Focus

The lens you choose should be able to focus with great precision, whether it has manual focus or autofocus. These images are so clear that even the tiniest of blurs can be clearly seen.

Here are some of the best camera lenses for astrophotography. Note that our picks are for lenses that are compatible with DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

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List of Best Canon Lenses For Astrophotography

Products Features
EDITOR’S PICK
4.7
100+
100+
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle Lens
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle LensCanon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle Lens
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Filter Size — 77 mm (Front)
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $900
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Filter Size — 77 mm (Front)
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $900
Check price
at Amazon
MOST REVIEWED
4.8
14000+
14000+
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM LensCanon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Diaphragm Blades — 7, Rounded
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $300
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Diaphragm Blades — 7, Rounded
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $300
Check price
at Amazon
BUDGET PICK
4.7
2000+
2000+
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM LensCanon EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
  • Lens Format Coverage — APS-C
  • Filter Size — 67 mm (Front)
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
  • Lens Format Coverage — APS-C
  • Filter Size — 67 mm (Front)
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
Check price
at Amazon
BUDGET PICK
4.7
1000+
1000+
Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Compact System Lens
Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Compact System LensCanon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Compact System Lens
  • Angle of View — 63° 30′
  • Filter Size — 43 mm (Front)
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
  • Angle of View — 63° 30′
  • Filter Size — 43 mm (Front)
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
Check price
at Amazon

1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM Lens

Description

The Canon EF 50mm is termed a “standard” lens at 50mm since it is neither wide nor narrow, and it provides a relatively natural 46-degree field of view when used on a full-frame camera. It has a fast f/1.8 aperture that makes it ideal for low-light photography.

Its modest size and lightweight features make it an ideal companion for a casual walkabout kit with a standard field of view. It has a focal length that requires a bit more care to utilize properly, which I believe is why a 50mm lens is frequently touted as a must-have lens for any serious photographer’s gear.

The f/1.8 aperture lets in a lot of light in a short amount of time, although the stars are a little scratchy around the edges of the frame. Things improve substantially when you stop down to f/2.8 or f/3.2.

The lens uses Canon’s quieter and faster STM stepper motor focusing mechanism. The lens has a simple AF/MF switch that allows you to switch between autofocus and manual focus modes. The lens is focus-by-wire, yet it feels incredibly fast and linear, making manual focusing simple and autofocus fast.

The 50mm focal length is too short for catching the Milky Way, therefore, it’s best for capturing narrower cuts of intricate portions of the sky. It uses numerous frames to produce a stacked image or panorama stitch for a wide-angle field of view.

Features

  • Focal Length — 50mm
  • Maximum Aperture — f/1.8
  • Minimum Aperture — f/22
  • Lens Mount — Canon EF
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Angle of View — 46°
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 13.78″ / 35 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.21x
  • Optical Design — 6 Elements in 5 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 7, Rounded
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — No
  • Filter Size — 49 mm (Front)
Pros
  • Sharp at f/1.8
  • Lightweight
  • Silent, smooth video focus
  • Very affordable
Cons
  • Modest barrel distortion
  • Some fall-off at wide aperture

2. Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle Lens

Canon EF 24mm f1.4L II USM Wide Angle Lens

Description

The Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens is well-balanced for large and small DSLRs. This lens offers excellent build quality and a robust feel. The ring USM (Ultrasonic Motor)-driven autofocus is quick, silent, and (for the most part) accurate, even in low light.

Internal focusing is available, as is FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing. There is no movement in the focus ring. Stopping down doesn’t cause a significant change in focus and during focusing the front element remains stationary. This makes the Canon EF 24mm suitable for astrophotography and allows you more control over your settings while shooting long exposures.

At f/1.4, the 24 L II is a little less than perfectly crisp, but still provides unmatched quality and is fantastic for low-light shooting.

The only drawback is the high price. This is, however, the ultimate option for professional astrophotography. This lens offers the brightness that is essential for capturing starry skies.

Features

  • Focal Length — 24mm
  • Maximum Aperture — f/1.4
  • Minimum Aperture — f/22
  • Lens Mount — Canon EF
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Angle of View — 84°
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 9.84″ / 25 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.17x
  • Optical Design — 13 Elements in 10 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 8
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — No
  • Filter Size — 77 mm (Front)
Pros
  • Excellent optical performance
  • Build quality
  • Fast focusing
  • Bright maximum aperture
  • Resistance to flare and loss of contrast
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Quality towards the edges at maximum aperture could be better

3. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L ll USM Zoom Lens

Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L ll USM Zoom Lens

Description

Astrophotography requires a lens with a large maximum aperture in order to produce the best results in low-light conditions. With a fixed f/2.8 maximum aperture, the Canon EF 16-35mm is the perfect fit because it allows more light to pass through to the sensor.

That’s especially beneficial in low-light situations, as it means you don’t have to extend the exposure time or increase the ISO. If you want to get the best results, try to align the manual focus line with the infinity line immediately to the left of it. If you do this, your photos will have an incredibly sharp clarity to them.

The 16-35mm focal length allows me to capture fine details of objects that are out of reach. With a wide range of focal lengths, you can zoom in or out without losing focus, giving you the best views with all the possible details.

It has a fluorine coating to help keep the lens clean so you won’t have any difficulties when shooting in severe weather conditions. The Canon EF 16-35mm lens is extremely resistant to grease, water, and other contaminants that have the potential to destroy the lens.

Even when the subject is moving, the camera’s AF motor is precise and silent, allowing you to capture sharp photographs without sacrificing image quality.

For astrophotography, I believe the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM is an outstanding lens. Any astrophotographer worth their salt must have this lens in their arsenal. The results speak for themselves.

Features

  • Focal Length — 16 to 35mm
  • Maximum Aperture — f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture — f/22
  • Lens Mount — Canon EF
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Angle of View — 108° 10′ to 63°
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 11.02″ / 28 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.22x
  • Optical Design — 16 Elements in 11 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 9, Rounded
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — No
  • Filter Size — 82 mm (Front)
  • Length at Maximum Extension — 5.04″ / 128 mm
Pros
  • Ultra-wide field of view
  • Fixed f/2.8 aperture
  • Sharp throughout the zoom range
Cons
  • Some distortion
  • Limited zoom range

4. Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens

Canon EF 17-40mm f4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens

Description

The Canon EF 17-40mm is definitely a special purpose lens, but there are other uses even if you already have an ultra-wide, and night photography is one of them. Compared to previous lenses, this one has a unique drawing style and color rendering that I really enjoy using when shooting.

The lens is fairly bright, which makes shooting in low-light situations much easier. Even when using a different focal length, the brightness and maximum aperture values remain consistent throughout the range. The aperture value can be f/4 whether the focus ring and focal length are at 17 mm or 40 mm.

The lens does not have image stabilization, which would help to reduce blur when shooting at slower shutter speeds.

When using the Canon EF 17-40mm, there is very little flare. Chromatic aberration is quite well controlled, however you can still expect to see some in the corners below 24mm.

The bokeh is also pretty impressive and silky smooth, opening up some creative possibilities. I’ve used it to make star trails and it worked perfectly. I wasn’t expecting it to be this fantastic, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Features

  • Focal Length — 17 to 40mm
  • Maximum Aperture — f/4
  • Minimum Aperture — f/22
  • Lens Mount — Canon EF
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Angle of View — 104° to 57° 30′
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 11.02″ / 28 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.24x
  • Optical Design — 12 Elements in 9 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 7, Rounded
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — No
  • Filter Size — 77 mm (Front)
  • Length at Maximum Extension — 3.82″ / 97 mm
Pros
  • Very light and compact
  • Broad zoom range
  • Faster & sharp images
  • Great image quality
  • Nice bokeh
Cons
  • Not sharp in the corners
  • A bit of distortion
  • Soft in the extreme corners at F/4

5. Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

Description

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm is my go-to lens when I want to capture more detailed and vibrant shots. Its 10-20mm focal length covers wide angles, allowing you to get a comprehensive view of any location while also capturing a great deal of fine detail.

Autofocus is smooth and fast thanks to an HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), which may be overridden at any moment by twisting the focus ring. The end result? Your photos will be clear and smoky to the nth degree.

The lens’s extraordinary multi-layer coating reduces flare and ghosting, resulting in images with excellent contrast across the zoom range. Additionally, it contains one SLD glass and two ELD elements for better color aberration adjustment.

If you want to capture more vibrant night sky shots, this is the lens for you. With an inner focus system that eliminates front lens rotation, it can be used with a petal-type lens hood, which blocks external light. Coupled with the right camera you can capture wonderful astronomical events such as the solar eclipse, comet flybys, the lunar eclipse, etc.

Features

  • Focal Length — 10 to 18mm (35mm Equivalent Focal Length: 16 to 28.8mm)
  • Maximum Aperture — f/4.5 to 5.6
  • Minimum Aperture — f/22 to 29
  • Lens Mount — Canon EF-S
  • Lens Format Coverage — APS-C
  • Angle of View — 107° 30′ to 74° 20′
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 8.66″ / 22 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.15x
  • Optical Design — 14 Elements in 11 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 7, Rounded
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — Yes
  • Filter Size — 67 mm (Front)
  • Length at Maximum Extension — 2.83″ / 72 mm
Pros
  • Sharp throughout range
  • Affordably priced
  • Ultra-wide angle field of view
  • Optically stabilized
  • STM focus motor
Cons
  • Plastic lens mount
  • Some color fringing
  • Narrow aperture

6. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Ultra-Fast Standard AutoFocus Lens

Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM Lens

Description

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 USM L is the successor to the legendary EF 50mm f/1.0 USM L. The ultra-large aperture of this lens is typically used for portraits and astrophotography, but naturally, the scope isn’t restricted to those two applications.

An impressive amount of thought and care went into the construction of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 USM L, which features a weather-sealed exterior and a silky smooth focus ring. Physically, it’s the same length, although the inner lens tube does move a tiny bit during focus operations. The ring-type U.S.M. drive is incredibly fast.

This lens is built in the usual fashion, with engineered plastics around a metal frame. Its powerful optical system, which includes one aspherical lens and Super Spectra coating, ensures that you get rich and accurate colors, increased contrast, and the sharpest details with every shutter click.

Best of all, you can achieve the creamiest background blur while keeping your main subject pin-sharp with this lens’s f/1.2 maximum aperture. It has a ring-type Ultrasonic AF motor for quick and silent autofocus, but it also has a ring on the lens for full-time manual focus override and a weather-sealed casing to last many years.

Features

  • Focal Length — 50mm
  • Maximum Aperture — f/1.2
  • Minimum Aperture — f/16
  • Lens Mount — Canon EF
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Angle of View — 46°
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 1.48′ / 45 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.15x
  • Optical Design — 8 Elements in 6 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 8, Rounded
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — No
  • Filter Size — 72 mm (Front)
Pros
  • Amazingly bright f/1.2 aperture
  • Robust, weather-sealed build quality
  • True ring USM focus motor
  • Beautiful drawing and bokeh
  • Useful image quality at f/1.2
  • Good AF Servo performance
  • Excellent color rendition
Cons
  • Canon’s most expensive 50mm lens by a wide margin
  • Some softness and “haze” at wide apertures
  • Manual focus ring is somewhat tight
  • Some green fringing in bokeh highlights

7. Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM

Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM

Description

By now, you may have noticed that I favor lenses that have multiple degrees of focal lengths. My reasoning is simple. These lenses enable me to go closer to subjects without changing my position and the Canon RF 15-35mm is another great example of such a type of lens. 

Its flexible zoom range of 15-35mm offers a straightforward approach to subjects without getting closer to them. This makes it super easy to capture faraway objects, making it a top pick for astrophotographers.

This powerful zoom lens has an air sphere coating that reduces lens flare and ghosting, allowing you to shoot accurate, clear, and transparent images with exceptional optical performance. This ultimately means your pictures will have reduced distractions and aberrations. Furthermore, it has vibration shock assistance that will help you maintain focus and settings in turbulent conditions.

Features

  • Focal Length — 15 to 35mm
  • Maximum Aperture — f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture — f/22
  • Lens Mount — Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Angle of View — 110° 30′ to 63°
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 11.02″ / 28 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.21x
  • Optical Design — 16 Elements in 12 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 9, Rounded
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — Yes
  • Filter Size — 82 mm (Front)
  • Length at Maximum Extension — 5″ / 127 mm
Pros
  • Wide zoom with fixed f/2.8 aperture
  • Excellent optics
  • Pro-grade build
  • Threaded filter support
  • Weather protection and fluorine coating
Cons
  • Reliant on correction profile for the best results
  • Stabilization system adds some bulk
  • Expensive

8. Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS Macro STM Lens

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS Macro STM Lens

Description

When it comes to build quality and performance, the Canon RF 35mm f1.8 IS is a superb lens. I frequently shoot at f/2.8, which produces beautiful bokeh without vignetting. I choose f/5.6, f/8, and f/1.8 as my go-to apertures for quick shutter speeds in poor lighting or shallow depths of field.

This lens is an absolute blast to use. The size and weight of this lens is perfect. In addition, the lens offers image stabilization, macro capabilities, and silent video focusing. The 35mm focal length is one of the most versatile focal lengths for astrophotography. 

With its compact size, lightweight, and high optical performance, the RF 35mm f1.8 is one of the handiest and most versatile prime lenses on the market. This is a clear indication that Canon has improved their game.

Although the focus system is relatively quick, it can be quite noisy when taking photos. The flares only occur if you’re aiming directly at the sun. It is virtually completely silent while switching to video.

Features

  • Focal Length — 35mm
  • Maximum Aperture — f/1.8
  • Minimum Aperture — f/22
  • Lens Mount — Canon RF
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Angle of View — 63°
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 6.69″ / 17 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.5x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio — 1:2
  • Optical Design — 11 Elements in 9 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 9, Rounded
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — Yes
  • Filter Size — 52 mm (Front)
  • Length at Maximum Extension — 2.44″ / 62 mm
Pros
  • Small and light
  • Very sharp
  • Good overall autofocus performance
  • Nice color rendering
  • Decent macro capability (1:2)
Cons
  • Chromatic aberration, vignetting, and ghosting
  • Some barrel distortion
  • Vignette at wide apertures
  • Doesn’t include lens hood or pouch

9. Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Compact System Lens

Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Compact System Lens

Description

The Canon EF-M 22mm is one of my favorite travel lenses. The speed of this pancake lens belies its diminutive size. In contrast to the Canon EF 40mmf/2.8 STM, this lens maintains a 35mm-style field of view, making it ideal for astrophotography.

Its 22mm focal length covers the whole scene (large area) in a single frame allowing you to get a more detailed shot. This camera’s wide f/2 aperture range allows you to work in any lighting situation – even in low-light environments. And there’s more. Its aperture range allows users to eliminate light distortion problems while producing gorgeous bokeh.

Another eye-catching characteristic of this pancake lens is its newly designed 7-blade circular aperture. With this feature, you can produce a vibrant color display in any lighting. You can control the AF motor by turning the focus ring because manual focusing works “by wire.” It’s easy to use and quite accurate.

The fact that there aren’t many moving components contributes to the outstanding build quality of this compact Canon lens. The lens has a plastic/metal body with a metal mount.

The tiny focus ring moves with no jerks or clicks. During focusing, the lens’s (inner tube’s) length varies a tad. It’s also worth noting that, despite the very big maximum aperture, the front element of the lens is quite small.

Features

  • Focal Length — 22mm (35mm Equivalent Focal Length: 35.2mm)
  • Maximum Aperture — f/2
  • Minimum Aperture — f/22
  • Lens Mount — Canon EF-M
  • LensFormat Coverage — APS-C
  • Angle of View — 63° 30′
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 5.91″ / 15 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.5x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio — 1:2
  • Optical Design — 7 Elements in 6 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 7
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — No
  • Filter Size — 43 mm (Front)
Pros
  • Very sharp
  • Compact
  • Inexpensive
  • Wide aperture
  • Nice bokeh
  • Pancake size is perfect for a camera like this
  • Fast aperture, which the EOS M5 really needs
Cons
  • Electronic manual focus
  • Hood not included
  • Not stabilized
  • Slow autofocus

10. Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Wide-Angle Lens

Canon EF 35mm f2 IS USM Wide-Angle Lens

Description

The Canon EF 35mm offers impressive build quality thanks to a lens barrel constructed of high-quality polymers based on a metal mount. Despite the fact that the lens is not weather-sealed, it maintains a constant physical length at all focus settings, thus there aren’t places where water or dust may get in. The focus ring also operates smoothly.

The AF is based on a ring-type USM that is both extremely fast and nearly silent.  According to Canon, the new IS stabilizer is good for around four stops. As always, we advise you to proceed with caution, as realistically it is around 1 stop.

With its exceptional versatility, the 35mm focal length captures scenes quickly by providing superior processing and view. Its blue Spectrum Refractive Optics element bends shorter wavelengths of the visible spectrum to remove color fringing and chromatic aberrations. This results in crisp, accurate, and sharp images with outstanding optical performance.

It has a rounded nine-blade diaphragm, which gives an appealing out-of-focus quality that benefits shallow depth of field and selective focus approaches. There’s also a fluorine coating to protect the optical system from dust and moisture, making it easier to use with fingerprint sensors.

Features

  • Focal Length — 35mm
  • Maximum Aperture — f/2
  • Minimum Aperture — f/22
  • Lens Mount — Canon EF
  • Lens Format Coverage — Full-Frame
  • Angle of View — 63°
  • Minimum Focus Distance — 9.45″ / 24 cm
  • Maximum Magnification — 0.24x
  • Optical Design — 10 Elements in 8 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades — 8, Rounded
  • Focus Type — Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization — Yes
  • Filter Size — 67 mm (Front)
Pros
  • Captures crisp images
  • Nominal distortion
  • Compact
  • Very sharp
  • Smooth bokeh
  • Effective IS system
  • Reasonably compact yet sturdy build
  • Chromatic aberrations well controlled
  • Fast, accurate AF
Cons
  • Dim corners at wide aperture
  • Hood is not included
  • Moderately high vignetting
  • No inclusion of hood or case
  • Not weather sealed

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of astrophotography?

  • Milky way/starry landscape photography – a lens with a wide focal length and fast aperture is needed.
  • Deep space photography – a telephoto lens with a long focal length and fast aperture is needed.
  • Stitching photos together to form panoramas – a ‘nifty fifty’ lens can be used for landscape astrophotography if it has a fast aperture.

Can I use any lens for astrophotography?

The ideal astrophotography lens should have an extremely wide max aperture. A wider aperture allows more light to reach the imaging sensor, permitting a shorter exposure or lower ISO setting. While an ultra-wide-angle f/4 lens can work, f/2.8 is a better minimum max aperture.

Is a 35mm lens good for astrophotography?

The 35mm on your full-frame camera is a medium wide angle and you can certainly capture interesting sites in the night sky using this type of lens. It is not normally considered wide enough for the Milky Way, although you could see parts of it. You would see more with 24mm.

Bret Leon Avatar
Written by
Bret Leon
Bret Leon is a photography enthusiast who indulges in all matters cameras, lenses, gears, themes, editing, trends, and the latest product releases. If he's not trying to freeze time by capturing moments during his grand ventures, you can bet he's looking for the next big content idea.