Best lenses for Sunstars

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss Loxia 21mm 2.8 | f/11 | 10 straight blades

The shape and appearance of sunstars is very important for landscape and architecture photographers. For some of them, they are even a defining element in their photos. Sunstars can appear around strong point light sources under certain circumstances, in this article I will talk about how to get them and how certain lenses (being more specific: number and shape of aperture blades) can influence their rendering.
Last update: December 2021

Sample Images

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss Loxia 21mm 2.8 | f/5.6 | 10 straight blades
sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2.0 | f/11 | 10 straight blades
sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 Distagon | f/11 | 10 straight blades

The basics

There are a two principles you should know when it comes to sunstars:

  1. An even number of aperture blades will give you the same even number of rays. For example a lens with 6 aperture blades will draw a 6-pointed star. An odd number of aperture blades will result in twice as many rays. For example 7 aperture blades will result in a 14-pointed star.
  2. Straight blades will give you better defined rays compared to rounded ones.

Technical Background

Each aperture blade flicks light in two directions (radially from the center of the diaphragm outside and inside). With an even number of aperture blades  two rays (of blades that are opposed to each other) overlap, this is the reason for an even number of aperture blades “x” yielding an even number of also “x” rays and an uneven number of “y” rays will yield an even number of 2 times “y” rays.

Furthermore:  Straight blades will give you better defined rays compared to rounded ones.

If this was to abstract for you let me show you a few examples:

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Voigtlander VM 50mm 1.5 Nokton | f/11 | 10 straight blades (crop)

The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm 1.5 has what I consider very good sunstars. The 10 straight aperture blades will give you sunstars with 10 well defined  rays which blend in nicely with the scene.

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Leica Summicron 90mm 2.0 pre Asph | f/11 | 11 inwardly curved blades (crop)

The Leica Summicron 90mm 2.0 pre Asph with its 11 inwardly curved blades renders the point light sources quite different, as you get very small sunstars with 22 rays. In the crops things don’t look that bad, but check out this comparison of the two photos as a whole:

Before: Voigtlander 50mm 1.5 Nokton / After: Leica Summicron 90mm 2.0 pre Asph (panorama)

I think the sunstars the Voigtlander produces really add to the scene while the Leica’s look rather mushy by comparison.

Lenses with many aperture blades (and especially the ones with not so tight tolerances) might not be able to produce sunstars at all, as can be seen here with the Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 (the Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 shows quite similar behaviour):

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/11 | 15 rounded blades (crop)

Also keep in mind this is a highly subjective topic, so you may not like what I like and vice versa.

How to get sunstars in my photos?

First of all you need a strong point light source against a dark background. Street lamps at night for example will easily produce sunstars:

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 Distagon | f/11 | 10 straight blades

During day hours even the sun against the sky alone will produce sunstars:

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Nikon AF-S 24mm 1.4G | f/8.0 | 9 rounded blades

Placing the point light source near an edge of something darker will most of the time yield very nice sunstars as well:

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss Loxia 21mm 2.8 | f/11 | 10 straight blades

Furthermore you should stop down your lens. Most lenses only show sunstars stopped down a lot (Loxia 21mm 2.8 and Voigtlander 15mm 4.5E III being some of the exceptions here) and sunstars become bigger the more you stop your lens down. You often have to trade a nicer sunstar for a less sharp images because many lenses need to be stopped down to at least f/11 for nice sunstars.
But you shouldn’t overdo it. Sunstars can also be distracting if used without care, as can be seen in this example:

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss Loxia 21mm 2.8 | f/8.0 | 10 straight blades

Examples of different aperture constructions


Some manufacturers settled on a certain number and shape of blades for their lenses, while it seems others just use whatever comes to mind. I will give you a short overview and try to show you some examples after that.

Diaphragm BladesCan be found inNumber of Rays
3Rollei QBM lenses6
5Some wide Laowa lenses
Some old SLR lenses
wider Jupiter lenses
6Many old SLR lenses, e.g.:
Minolta MD
some new UWA lenses (Samyang 14mm 2.8)
7Many (D)SLR lenses (old an new)
cheaper FE lenses
cheaper Sigma lenses
8Many Canon EF lenses
some Leica lenses
9Pro Nikon lenses (especially tele lenses)
Sigma Art lenses
Pro Sony lenses
Zeiss Batis and Milvus lenses
10Zeiss Loxia and ZM lenses
Most modern Voigtlander VM and E-mount lenses
Some Pentax/Tokina lenses
11Some Sony GM lenses
Some Leica lenses
12Some Voigtlander lenses12
15Some Laowa Argus lenses
Older normal to long Jupiter lenses
Some old Leica lenses

5 blades

5 blades have been rather uncommon, but lately Laowa adapted a design with 5 aperture blades to archieve nice sunstars:

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7rII | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/8.0

Some reviews of lenses with 5 aperture blades:
Laowa 9mm 5.6
Laowa 10-18mm 4.5-5.6
Pentax K SMC 28mm 1:3.5
Jupiter-12 35mm 2.8

6 blades

Some modern UWA lenses (like the Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF MKI) but also many old lenses like most of the Contax/Yashica and the Minolta MD lenses feature only 6 straight blades which will give you sunstars like these:

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Samyang 14mm 2.8 | f/11 | 6 slightly curved blades
sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Samyang 14mm 2.8 | f/11 | 6 slightly curved blades (crop)

I am not a fan of these as I think they can be very distracting and just look whacky by comparison.

Some reviews of lenses with 6 aperture blades:
Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF
Canon FD 20mm 2.8
Canon new FD 24mm 1:2.8
Minolta MC Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4

7 blades

Nikon and Sony are using 7 aperture blades on their “lesser” lenses, like most of the 1.8G series from Nikon and the likes of FE 50mm 1.8 or FE 50mm 2.8 macro from Sony:

Sony FE 1.8/50
Sony FE 50mm 1.8 | f/11 | 7 slightly rounded blades
sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G | f/11 | 7 rounded blades

The Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G is considered to offer a very nice rendering of sunstars among Nikon users. Honestly I fail to comprehend this claim and think the main reason for it is that many Nikon users don’t know there a lenses that can do better.
Sidenote: Every time I look at this shot I wish I already owned the Loxia 21mm 2.8 at that time.

Some reviews of lenses with 7 aperture blades:
Laowa 12mm 2.8
Sony FE 16-35mm 4.0 ZA OSS
Nikon 75-150mm 3.5 Series E

8 blades

Canon decided to use 8 slighty rounded aperture blades in most of their lenses. This is a bit of a goldilocks approach, as sunstars are quite decent as is bokeh stopped down a little. This shot was taken with the Canon EF 70-200mm 4.0L USM:

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Canon EF 70-200mm 4.0L | 70mm f/11 | 8 slightly rounded blades

Some reviews of lenses with 8 aperture blades:
Canon new FD 50 mm 1:1.4
Zeiss Sonnar 2.8/90 T*
Canon EF 135mm 2.0L

9 blades

Nikon settled for 9 rounded blades with their pro lenses, (Sony takes a similar approach with their FE lenses, but threw in 11 rounded blades for most lenses of their GM line except for the 2.8/24-70 GM that uses 9), Zeiss Batis lenses also feature 9 rounded ones. This is good for bokeh stopped down as light circles stay pretty much round, but frankly not the best choice for sunstars in my opinion.

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss Batis 18mm 2.8 | f/11 | 9 rounded blades

The sunstars produced by the Zeiss Batis 18mm 2.8 therefore show 18-pointed sunstars. Sidenote: if you are deciding between the Batis 18mm 2.8 and the Loxia 21mm 2.8 give this a little more thought than the meaningless differences in sharpness we get asked about a lot.

Some reviews of lenses with 9 aperture blades:
Sony FE 24-70mm 2.8 GM
Nikon Ai-s 180mm 2.8 ED
Zhong Yi Mitakon 50mm 0.95 Dark Knight

10 blades

10 straight blades are my preferred choice when it comes to the rendering of sunstars. Zeiss uses them in their ZM and Loxia lines, Voigtlander for their newer VM and E-mount range and Pentax for some of their limited lenses.

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2.0 | f/8.0 | 10 straight blades

Some reviews of lenses with 10 aperture blades:
Voigtländer 15mm 4.5 E Super Wide Heliar
Voigtländer Ultron 28mm 2.0
Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2.0

11 blades

Many Leica-M lenses feature 11 aperture blades as do most of Sony’s GM lenses. Not the best choice for nice sunstars.

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Leica Summicron 90mm 2.0 pre Asph | f/11 | 11 inwardly curved blades

Some reviews of lenses with 11 aperture blades:
Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M
Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM

12 blades

Some of the later Voigtlander lenses feature 12 instead of 10 blades. The sunstars may be slightly less pronounced, but they are still nice to look at.

review voigtlander 50mm 1.2 nokton vm leica m mount rangefinder messsucher sony adapted a7rII a7riii a7r3 a7rm3 helicoid 42mp
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 50mm 1.2 Nokton | f/8.0

Some reviews of lenses with 12 aperture blades:
Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 Nokton III
Voigtlander 50mm 1.2 Nokton E

15 blades

Some recent fast Laowa lenses and some of the old Jupiter lenses feature 15 rounded aperture blades and I think also some older Leica lenses do. As written above: it is quite difficult getting sunstars with these lenses and if you do they don’t look exactly great:

sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/11 | 15 rounded blades

Some reviews of lenses with 15 aperture blades:
Laowa 35mm 0.95
Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5
Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0

Special case: Voigtländer 35/50mm 2.0 APO

Voigtlander has always used straight aperture blades in the E-mount lenses. First 10, later 12-bladed resulting in very defined sunstars even if the lens is stopped down only a little, as you could see above. The upside of that were sunstars for those who enjoed them and the downside where that you couldn’t avoid the sunstars and negative effects on bokeh. Cosina has further improved on the aperture design, resulting in an aperture diaphragm that yields perfectly round highlights not only at f/2 but also at f/2.8 yet offers well defined sunstars stopped down further. As of December ’21 the only two lenses featuring such an aperture construction are the Voigtlander 50mm 2.0 Apo-Lanthar and the Voigtländer 35mm 2.0 Apo-Lanthar.

Star Effect Filters

B+W F-Pro Star 8x filter

When researching this topic you might have come across “Star Effect” filters. These filters are grinded with a special grid which is ought to give you sunstars (most common are 4, 6 and 8 rays) on whatever lens, regardless of aperture construction. This sounds like a great idea, but these filters come with several disadvantages:

  • the rays will show rainbow like effects that can be very distracting

    Rainbow effect
  • the length of the rays is not really affected when you stop the lens down, so the effect cannot be controlled
  • if you stop your lens down a lot the the stars (“fake” one from the filter and “original” one from the diaphragm) will overlap

    Overlapping of “fake” and “original” star

Many of these are made by cheap brands, but I was intentionally trying an expensive B&W F-pro one, hoping for at least “best possible” quality. Unfortunately this was not the case: the grid is not centered on the filter, so the rays have uneven length and you can’t do anything about it:

Uneven rays because grid is not centered on the filter

Don’t waste your money on these filters.


As I have already said this is a highly subjective topic, so choose what suits your shooting the best!
You should also consider straight aperture blades may yield nicer sunstars, but bokeh highlights won’t appear round anymore and will look less natural and might even distract from the subject.
For my portrait lenses I therefore vastly prefer rounded blades, but you can’t have both in one.
Canon with it’s 8 slightly rounded blades on most lenses went for the middle way, decent sunstars, decent bokeh highlights but not outstanding in either category.

I hope we could shed some light on this topic, in case there are any questions left, just leave us a comment!

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My name is Bastian and I am your expert here when it comes to ultra wide angle lenses, super fast portrait lenses (ranging from a 50mm f/0.95 to a 200mm f/1.8) and I also have reviewed way too many 35mm lenses. Don't ask me anything about macro or wildlife shooting though.

74 thoughts on “Best lenses for Sunstars”

  1. Hi Bastian, I believe that this article will be something you want to put under your pillow. I am currently not a big fan of taking photographs for sun stars, but having always thought of how you can get good pictures with nice sun stars on the other hand, wondering why there are not so many good pointer articles like this. Concise but well-described and informative, and I enjoy reading your trio blogs regularly.

  2. Hi Bastian, again nice article. This whole site is filled with many great works. I highly apreciate your (and your colleagues) effort. Keep going! 🙂
    I have very little correction forh the overview section. Mentioned old DSLR lenses e.g. Minolta MD and Contax/Yashica are (were) in fact SLR, no DSLRs were presented yet at those times. 🙂

  3. Let me chime in from the “other side” 😉 I want my lenses to render point light sources as points, not as friggin’ huge stars. To me, this is purely an effect, like the aperture flares that are sometimes intentionally added because they remind people of Hollywood movies. If I wanted an effect, I’d prefer to use an effect filter or add it in post. I think it’s weird that one “point light source gets rendered decidedly un-pointy” effect – coma – is treated as a defect, but sunstars are considered a feature.

    Using optical imperfections (flare, spherical aberration wide open, …) intentionally to achieve a certain effect is of course a valid technique, and I’m happy to have lenses at my disposal that render nice sunstars when I want that effect. It’s just that most times I don’t want it.

    That said, your article (great read, as always) provides an interesting comparison and reminded me that I haven’t yet tested my own lenses for this aspect. I already sold my Macro Zoomatar (16 aperture blades), but older rangefinder lenses or the Zhongyi Creator might do.

    1. Light diffracted by the sharp edged aperture must go somewhere. It could be distributed as a circular airy disk decaying like 1/r^3 ( by a perfectly round aperture or concentrated (decaying like 1/r^2) along lines of symmetry of a polygonal aperture. I find that some kind of the latter effect is preferable even though it spreads further from the source image.
      There are two ways to minimize the sun star or jupiter-9-like airy disk blob:
      1) Use an apodized aperture instead of a hard edged one to cause the diffracted light to be concentrated closer to the image.
      2) Open up the aperture as much as possible to maximize the aperture area divided by aperture edge length (circumference), thereby making the diffracted light relatively less bright.

  4. Hi Bastian,

    basically, I agree with you, even if I feel you overdo an ever so slightly little bit with the 10 blades/rays. 🙂

    My so far preferred sunstars come from several shots with a Nikkor AF-D 80-200 F/2.8 with 9 blades and 18 brilliantly sharp rays/small center.

    And, btw., maybe my eyes deceive me: if I count the rays in your 9-blade-section, first image (Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore I guess?): unlike the second image, in this one I only find 14 rays (and I like them). Really 9 blades? Maybe with 10 blades/rays even better, but surely not worthless with 14 😉

    Please continue delighting us with such articles!


  5. One of the most informative articles I have ever read. Thank you!
    Didn’t have a clue about sunstars before I read your blog. Now I am going to check the number blades my large collection of lenses.

  6. Hi Bastian,

    Many thanks for this great article- I actually kind of waited for this explanation. Aesthetically I fully agree with you approach.

    One question remains for me: please have a look at this photo which was taken using the 16-35/4 (7 blades). I just can’t figure out what happened to the sunstars since there are way more than 14 or they am to ‘double’?

    Keep on the good work!!

    1. Dear Martin, thank you for your feedback!
      Honestly we are not sure yet what is wrong with the sunstars of the 16-35mm 4.0.
      We already discussed that lens before we published this article and couldn’t really wrap our heads around this :/

  7. Great stuff as always. I find that I can only get good stars when I shoot at night with long exposures. I’ve tried to do it with handheld shutter speeds during the day (stopped down of course), but can never seem to get a good star that way. Can you comment on how much the shutter speed plays a role? And those daytime shots you have posted here, would I be correct in assuming those are handheld? (unless i suppose you’re using ND filters)

    1. In general I tend to say with longer exposures the rays are also longer,
      but maybe one just thinks that because you are usually using longer exposures when it is darker anyway.

      For the shot on top of this article: it was shot under bright daylight at 1/500s without a ND filter.

  8. Having recently rented the Loxia 21mm I was disappointed that the infinity mark on the distance ring was inaccurate. Therefore trying to focus to take long exposures at night (where the EVF is too grainy for focus peaking) was extremely difficult and very much hit and miss. I liked the build of the lens and the quality of the images, and the sun stars but this problem for me was a deal-breaker particularly given the price point of this manual focus lens.

    1. Due to tolerances (temperature/production) there are rarely new lenses with an infinity hard focus stop and what you have written is true for all Loxia lenses I have used so far.

      1. That’s a shame because an infinity hard focus stop is both exactly what is expected and what is needed in such situations where extreme low light means that focus peaking can’t be relied upon.

        1. In order to have infinity hard stop, a lens would really need to be adjustable for infinity focus. Even if each lens has infinity calibrated at the factory, temperature fluctuations will mean that sometimes you won’t precisely get infinity focus. So those lovely lenses of old with infinity hard stops will -sometimes – not quite be able to focus to true infinity. Of course it won’t *seem* like that – it’s not a gross difference – its just that resolution at “infinity” will sometimes not be quite as good as it would have been a true infinity. So to get the very best quality, sadly a lens needs to focus just past infinity, at least in cold conditions. I can imagine some folk liking user adjustable hard stops though. You carefully focus to infinity in the prevailing conditions, and set the hard stop to that, and it should be accurate until those conditions change.

          1. Nothing to add from my side 🙂
            I owned a Nikon AIs 50mm 1.2 for quite some time which didn’t really focus at infinity, way more annoying than a lens you have to focus a few mm before the hard stop.
            Needless to say I would heartily welcome user adjustable lenses, I think Irix lenses offer that option (or at least a locking for the focus ring).

        2. It’s an easy fix. Spend ten minutes to test your lens, memorize where your infinity lies and you are ready to shoot.

    2. That is why I love using Canon FD primes. You can quite easily adjust them to focus to infinity in a hard stop. I will probably get my ‘act’ together and make a ‘how to’ tutorial finally. Having an infinity at hard stop is very convenient and useful not only for night time photo but for any kind of -capes too (landscape, cityscape) etc. When you calibrate the infinity focus wide open then you dont really have to worry about temperature changes and similarly because if it is off a bit due to conditions you only need to stop down a bit to have it pin-sharp again. BTW some of Minolta MD lenses are easy to adjust too.

  9. Is it just me that think too much sunstars in night photos pretty much ruins the photo? They easily, with some lenses, manages to become the focal point of the entire photo.

    This due to the fact that sunstars doesn’t appear normally for humans the way many sunstars appear so it really look like the artifact it is.

  10. A wealth of knowledge. I am basically opening tab after tab in your reviews at the moment. Thank you.

  11. Nice article. Funny how you use places as examples which some of I know very well like Forth Road Bridge in Edinburgh and the new one being built next to it, Prague and Charles bridge. The famous San Marco square…. 🙂

  12. Thank you so much for sharing. This is so informative.
    As a night scene photographer, I also prefer even numbers of blades. My favorite is old sigma 30mm F1.4 which provides me with very sharp 8 lays of sunstars.

  13. Hello,

    thank you for this article. I appreciate your work very much. At last I had to buy the Loxia 21mm and asking myself now whether there is any risk to burn the sensor of my A7RII by taking a shot on a tripod holding the cam directly into the sun. And one more question: Is quality of sunstars better (=sharper) with shorter exposure? Thank you. With best regards.

  14. Martins multi pointed stars from the 16-35 f4 is probably due to multiple bulbs in the one light. I have noticed this effect on several different lens, on investigation that is what I found??

  15. Hi Philip,

    Had I read this article sooner, I would have bought Loxia 21 rather than Batis 18 before a big vacation trip to CA. I had a Loxia 35 and fell in love with its production of sunstars. before this recent trip, I bought a Batis 18 and shot the lights and buildings of Stanford Univ during the night and like the sunstars, but they are not close to Loxia 35. Anyway, thank you for the review.

  16. The Pentax DA15 Limited (the SMC version, not the HD version) is legendary for starbursts. The DA21 Limited isn’t far behind.

    1. Seconded. The Pentax DA21mm and DA15mm with the green rings are peerless for sunstars. They share a seven-blade, straight aperture design seemingly made to create pin-sharp starburst patterns with 14 points. The DA15mm Limited has the added benefit of being nearly impervious to lens flare, even when pointed right into the sun—an important consideration for creating sunstars.

      The later, HD versions of these Pentax lenses have rounded aperture blades, which produce far softer, less pleasing rays.

  17. I was uneducated about the relevance of blade number and shape relative to sun-stars when I bought the Loxia 25 mm. Comparing this lense’ sun-stars with the Batis 135 mm, the Batis sun-stars’ are blurry.

    I spent quite some time comparing the Loxia 25 mm with AF alternatives like Batis 25 mm and the Sony 24mm GM. The Loxia’s color rendering is the best of the three. The Batis could not keep up in resolution and micro-contrast. I think that difference is because of larger tolerances and different built quality between an AF- and a MF-lens.

    The Loxia 25 mm is pure joy. It is a definite keeper.

  18. One of the most overlooked 6 blade aperture lenses for sunstars is the meyer optik gorlitz oreston 50mm f.1.8. It creates beautiful sunstars from f5.6

  19. Hi All,

    I am finding in some shots I end up with too many sunstars and it ruins an image in my opinion and I am wondering if there is a way to limit parts of an image so as sunstars are not created?

    For example I shot a pic of a railroad car style diner tonight, 20 second exposure at F11, there was a street light off to one side and it generated a fabulous sunstar and that definitely added to the image but on the other hand the side of the diner had a series of smaller lights and they all generated sunstars which overlapped and definitively took away from the shot.

  20. I have the rokkor 90/4 and really like it. Comparing to the jupiter 9, it seems the rokkor would be best for landscapes and the jupiter for portraits.

    Would you agree?

    1. Oh there are plenty of reasons.
      If we are talking about very old lenses my guess is that it is a mix of production tolerances and also customer demand.
      At that time I am pretty sure that long exposure photography wasn’t all that popular as it is today.
      Then if we are talking about the SLR era the spring loaded diaphragms needed to have as little friction
      as possible, this could not be archieved with a high blade count, which is why the first diaphragms of this kind
      had only 3 aperture blades (see the dreadful bokeh of these lenses in “Taxi Driver”).
      So making a 10 or 12 blade iris spring loaded was almost impossible.
      Today with the electromechanically controlled diaphragms it is possible to combine a high blade count (like 11 on the GM lenses)
      with fast operation allowing for up to 20 fps.
      Why they went with 11 blades instead of 10 (which would yield significantly nicer sunstars) is absolutely beyond me.

        1. No, I have a Master’s degree in engineering, but not optical engineering.
          My “knowledge” comes from reading papers, talking to knowledgeable people and using plenty of lenses.

      1. Though I wonder why that wouldn’t have allowed them to make lenses with 5, 7, or 8 aperture blades, it seems like those all render good sunstars 🤔

        1. Oh there are quite a few legacy lenses with 5 blades, for example the Pentax K 3.5/28 which has indeed decent sunstars and most Nikons used 7 blades which also result in quite ok sunstars. Ken Rockwell has tested many Nikons and often includes a test for sunstars. Another issue though is that to enjoy good sunstars you want good flare resistance as well and this is where most legacy lenses fall short.

  21. I found this so informative but I found it too late. I changed to a Nikon z7 some years ago and now that I’ve learnt what gives a 6 arm star with long rays, I can’t find a 6 straight aperture blade lens that is compatible with the Nikon z7. Does anyone know if there is any please?

    If I must, I will buy a separate set of equipment cos I really really love the 6 arm stars. Anyone has a recommendation for what I should get if that’s the case pls?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Only very few modern lenses give 6 rays, but plenty of the old minolta lenses reviewed here do.
      You can buy a cheap adapter to be able to use these lenses on your Z7 camera.

  22. Very informative article Bastian! As a landscape photographer I do like lenses that create nice sun stars but I also do portraits often. So a tradeoff between bokeh and sun stars is clear after reading this. I use Nikon Z primes for sun stars (also 14-30 f4 S lens is okayish). The most frustrating thing with mirrorless cameras are the RGB artifacts around sun stars – apparently this happens because the lens is so close to the sensor?

    1. Cosina tries to find a better balance between natural bokeh and nice Sunstars with their latest Apo Lanthar lenses and also has some success with it.

      Regarding sensor reflections not only the distance between lens rear element and camera sensor is important, but also the shape of the rear element, effective usage of light baffles and especially the coating of the filter stack in front of the camera sensor.
      The early A7 cameras were pretty bad in this regard whereas this is an effect you will only rarely encounter with the latest models.

      If this is a problem to occur often with many different lenses most likely the coating of the filterstack is to blame, but I didn’t have the option to use a Nikon Z and compare it to the Sony cameras yet.

  23. Hi Bastian,

    very nice article, thanks for all the effort! The newest addition to my kit is the Sony 20mm 1.8 G, which produces awesome sunstars and is also just great in many other regards. That might be an interesting candidate for a review. Or maybe I could contribute some sunstar samples?

    Happy new year from Offenburg

  24. Thanks for the informative article!

    Is there any cheap (manual /+ prime) lens you know of that produces nice sun stars? I find the zeiss/voigtländer primes quite nice, but also too expensive considering I’m already owning a kit of different lenses for landscape photography.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Konstantin,
      generally you should be able to find information on the sunstars in almost all of our reviews.
      As a general rule of thumb: old lenses have usually shitty sunstars, so with old manual lenses it will be difficult.
      Some of the TTArtisan and Laowa lenses procuce nice sunstars though and are affordable, maybe have a look at their reviews.

  25. Oh, and as we are talking about personal taste, I really like your examples of sun stars created by 5 and 10 blades 🙂

  26. Q for experts:
    Now that subject is Lens Blades if any knows better, could you please let me know what was the lens that was used in the logo of older 007 James Bond movies when he would walk and aim at the camera? Not sure but I think it was an 8 blades lens.

  27. Hi, this is a well explained article on the Sun Star photography. But I would like to ask you about the settings needed for this kinda photos.

    First, What I know about sun star photography is we need to use a larger F number to achieve this, say f/16, f/18 so on. But I found you mentioned f/8, or f/11 in some examples. How its possible?

    Second, How about the shutter speed, I believe this type of sun star photography need a slow shutter.

    and finally, even though using the above mentioned lens lists, do we need to use additional filter while shooting on day light for sun star as its strong sun light.

    1. It depends on the lens how much you need to stop down to create sunstars.
      Most of our reviews feature an aperture series how the sunstars change at different aperture values.
      Some lenses already show nice sunstars at f/2.0.
      A slow shutter speed is not needed.
      In daylight you usually don’t need any additional filters.

  28. Great article. I am a huge fan of sun stars, and always got great results with my DSLR cameras. After switching to mirrorless in trying more lenses than I’d care to admit, I am baffled by how bad the sun stars look. Using both the Sony a9 and Canon r5, I can’t get rid of all of the little prisms that form around and in the sun star. Not sure the technical terms, but just makes the sun star look very busy and renders many photos unusable that would’ve looked great on my DSLR. Because of this, I have to carry a separate DSLR in my kit just for sun stars and shoot everything else on my mirrorless. Are there any filters that might help with this, or techniques to avoid all the additional spectrums reflected off the sensor thanks so much for your help!!!

  29. I have always liked sunstars, but have personally avoided using them because I see a lot more photos with bad or distracting ones than not. But when the sunstars are right, the effect is lovely, like the Loxia sample in your post.

    I am a Nikon shooter and agree with you about the lack truly nice sunstars lenses. But now that I have moved to mirrorless, I will certainly look into adapting one of the better lenses you covered.

  30. Bonjour je me permet de poser encore la question, mais comment fait on pour faire ces merveilles étoiles de lumières, je pourrais avoir une explication plus précise je suis débutant merci beaucoup

  31. The Loxia is a fantastic lens and as a Nikon user (sorry) it’s a real shame it is not available on Nikon-F; as I agree that 10 pronounced and symmetrical stars are very nice. However, the trademark Nikon 14 star is nice also, perhaps not quite to the quality of the Loxia, but very pleasing all the same. I too, don’t necessarily understand the attitude towards the 20mm 1.8G, but then again perhaps this is the opinion of those that shoot predominantly wide angle, which I don’t??

    The Nikon D’s offer great straight-bladed, sunstar ability handheld and my 4 favourites from that range would be the 35 f2, 50 f1.8, Micro 60 2.8 & 80-200 2.8. The first 3 produce excellent 14 point stars, with the latter 18. I also recently picked up the little known and quite rare, Tokina 28mm 2.8 AiS, this being the 5-bladed (straight) version, which isn’t the sharpest lens in the shop, but does produce a very nice, if a little assymetrical 10-bladed star. It’s also dirt cheap. I’m not sure us Nikon shooters who love Sunstars have many options in the 10 blade department. Great article btw, and one I cross reference regularly – many thanks!!

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