Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Shooting the Moon

I have had a few people ask me for some tips on what camera setting to use when photographing the moon.  Clearly there are many variations on composition and whether or not you want some identifiable foreground to provide some context, so these thoughts are only a very general guide to get you started.

Three things on your camera affect exposure (often referred to as the exposure triangle).  These are aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  Changing any one will affect the others.  With this in mind you may need to compromise a little on two of these to keep the shutter speed at an acceptable level to prevent camera shake.  In short a little less depth of field, but a fast shutter speed, or a slightly noisy image and a fast shutter speed are much better than a blurry image due to a slow shutter speed.

Shutter Speed
As I have said when it comes to shutter speed the higher the better and even if using a tripod you still need to avoid the actual movement of the earth/moon rotation.  As a general rule with a tripod I try to use 1/100 sec and above.  If hand held I aim for a shutter speed of at least equal to the lens focal length. For example with a 400 mm lens aim for 1/400th sec or above.

Aperture (f number)
Lots of folk say you need to use a high f-number of f16 - f22 to get a good depth of field.  I don't recommend this for two reasons. 

1. It reduces your shutter speed and means you must increase your ISO to maintain it.

2. Another problem with a high f-number, is that while giving an apparent increase in depth of field, it can actually soften the image due to diffraction. 

So with this in mind an f-number of say f5.6 to f11 is more than adequate (I use f8 as a start point on my 400mm lens)

When it comes to ISO we ideally want and image that is fairly noise free.  With this in mind 100 ISO is ideal.  That said most cameras are capable of producing decent noise free images at much higher ISO's and if you are struggling to get a fast enough shutter speed then increasing your ISO will help. 

So there you go, head out and give it a try, have fun.

Camera settings for this moon pic were:  Camera: Canon EOS M. 1/200th sec at f8, ISO 100, Tripod.  Camera set to AV.

Text/images copyright David Forster/

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