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  Advice and tips for photographing the moon

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Author Topic:   Advice and tips for photographing the moon
Max Q
Member

Posts: 392
From: Whyalla South Australia
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 01-08-2014 03:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone have any advice on a good lens to take photos of the moon? I have a Canon EOS 60D and tripod but am very new and would like to take some moon shots.

cspg
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Posts: 4391
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 01-08-2014 04:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And on a related note, do you need a filter to photograph the (full) Moon? I remember having to use one when I had a small telescope, as the Moon was too bright and can damage your vision. Does that apply to astrophotography? Maybe not on the lens but on the camera's visor?

butch wilks
Member

Posts: 214
From: Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 01-08-2014 05:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for butch wilks   Click Here to Email butch wilks     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I take photos of the moon from my backyard in Lowestoft in the UK and I have a bit of a light problem too with street lighting. But the advice I'd pass on to you is:
  • Put your tripod on solid surface or on a soft surface, put spikes onto the legs of your tripod, then attach your kit bag or a good weight to the centre post of the tripod to help stop vibration getting to your camera and if you have one, keep the dog (I have one and have come up with some odd photos with him hitting the tripod) inside the house.

  • Fit a remote control or cable release to your camera, at the end of the day it all comes down to vibration, the more you can do to stop it the better the photos you'll get.

    take your lens off Auto focus and put it on manual, as it will not work on the moon as its to far away.

  • If you have an equatorial mount fitted to your tripod, great use it for this. Put the moon in the center of the viewfinder and start it up and off you go. If not (I do not have one) looking through the viewfinder set the shot up with the moon on the lefthand side and a bit below the centre the viewfinder, you can now take a good number of shots without moving the camera as the moon will go up and to the right as you shoot. You will have to do some picture cropping to get it in the center, but you'll be using Photoshop a far bit on you photos.

  • As to setting you need to put in to the camera: put it on programme, P. As to aperture and shutter speeds you'll have to experiment with them as the phases of the moon put out more or less light and this will throw your setting off.

  • Have a pc or laptop nearby so you can take a few photos, take the card out and put it in the laptop to see what you have taken. Please do not use the back of the camera as you can put your back out looking at it at that angle and you have a bigger screen to see your photo to see if the camera is in focus or not, this can take some time to do.

  • As the moon is so far away and you are looking through a hole 3/4" wide the focus will give you some trouble. You can now adjust the camera to fit, you'll have to do this a number of times but stick to it and you`ll get some good shots.

  • Times to get good shots of the moon are; when it in a crescents and quarters as you get more surface detail at the edge of the moon at this time. With a full moon the sun has a tendency to wash out the surface detail as you now have to much light come in the the photo.

  • And one last thing, use the biggest lens you can get hold off.
I use an old MC MTO-11CA 10/1000MM and then fit a x2-x3 tel-converter to it. As it so old and I fit it to a digital SLR (i have a now old Canon 300D). You have to do a conversion to get the focal length, I think it come out at 10/7 to 8000mm?

That's it from me, so good luck and keep at it you'll get it in time as I have. I'll email you some photos I have taken from my backyard for you to see.

butch wilks
Member

Posts: 214
From: Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 01-08-2014 05:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for butch wilks   Click Here to Email butch wilks     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Max Q, can I have your e-mail address? Thanks.

As to filter, I've not used one as of this time so cannot help you out on that one.

Joel Katzowitz
Member

Posts: 372
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 01-08-2014 06:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll add two more comments to Butch's comprehensive list:
  1. If your camera has a mirror lockup option use it. It will eliminate the vibration caused by the mirror "slap".

  2. You can accurately gauge your exposure by using the histogram function on you LCD screen.
Good luck.

butch wilks
Member

Posts: 214
From: Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 01-08-2014 07:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for butch wilks   Click Here to Email butch wilks     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What is a histogram and how do I find it on a Canon 300D and use it please?

Glint
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Posts: 790
From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 01-08-2014 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As to the original question involving lenses, I've been impressed with the quality of Sigma brand lenses. I've used one of their appochromatic 200 mm lense and it's wonderful. The moon though may be too small for your taste, so you may be better off with a 300 or 400 mm lens.

The latest lens I've used, last week, was a 5-inch Borg appochromatic ED doublet refracting telescope (their 125EDmodel). It produces superb, sharp, and detailed images of the moon and its many features. No matter which lens you use, no filter is necessary -- just adjust the exposure speed until you find one that gives the best image. It's an f/6.4 lens, so its effective focal length at prime focus (i.e. without using a camera lens or eyepiece) is 800 mm.

butch wilks
Member

Posts: 214
From: Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 01-08-2014 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for butch wilks   Click Here to Email butch wilks     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, Sigma lenses are very good and at a good low price for the quality you get. The Sigma lenses I have are 10-20mm 1;4-5.6 DC HAM EX lens for wide shots and the good all around lens in the 50-500mm 1;4-6.3 APO DG HSM EX lens and a APO teleconverter 2x EX DG.

From Canon I have a 18-50mm EFS lens that came with my 300D.

To go with the MC MTO-11CA 10/1000mm lens I have an APS VARIABLE AUTO TELEPLUS 2X-3X converter plus a Soligor 2x teleconverter.

I find that with only four lens I have is all I need to do the semi-pro photography I do for magazines in the UK on the subject of fast-jet, airshow, motorbikes and trikes. I do promo work for the companies I work for, to go on there web pages. And I only have to use three lens most of the time.

I find that the 50-500mm one is the one I use the most as I do not have to swop it over with a small or larger lens to get a shot five feet away me or one three miles away as you get it all in the one lens.

Back to photos of the moon.

The lens you use is up to you be I would only go as small as an 125mm and go up from there. And with a good photoshop program even the small photo you get with a 125mm lens you can zoom in a good way now to get the shot you like.

But in the end it's up to you what you use, get outside on your own or with friends and have a go. You'll get more out of your camera and your PC, but best of all it fun to do. But cold this time of year in the UK and USA, so wrap up warm and have some fun.

Joel Katzowitz
Member

Posts: 372
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 01-08-2014 07:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by butch wilks:
What is a histogram and how do I find it on a Canon 300D and use it please?
A histogram will show you the distribution of pixels along the usable dynamic range of your camera's sensor. It will show you on a graph if parts of your image will be blown out (overexposed with no detail) or blocked (underexposed with no detail). This allows you to "see" how well the image is exposed without being tricked by looking at the LCD which is subject to ambient light.

I know how to find the histogram on a Nikon but not a Canon. I'm sure if you Google it you'll find it. It's a very useful tool.

robsouth
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Posts: 638
From: West Midlands, UK
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 01-08-2014 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Funny that this should come up because I was taking some photos of the crescent moon only the other night with my new Canon EOS 600D and 75-300mm lens.

I have read quite a bit online about taking photos of the moon but there's nothing quite like getting out there yourself and experimenting.

My tips would be to get a sturdy tripod and to use a remote or the timer to eliminate shake.

Get a good size lens, I managed to get some good shots with a 300mm but a 400mm or 500mm would obvisously be better. The best images I took were at 1/125 F5.6 to F10 ISO 250 using spot metering but your settings will depend upon what kind of moon phase you are trying to capture.

Let us know how you get on and what settings worked for you.

Max Q
Member

Posts: 392
From: Whyalla South Australia
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 01-09-2014 03:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you all for some truly helpful and awesome responses. My wife and I will just have to buy a lens and get started. Really can't wait.

butch wilks
Member

Posts: 214
From: Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 01-10-2014 02:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for butch wilks   Click Here to Email butch wilks     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think I better mention the golden rule on getting big lenses as you are going out to get one and that is get a lens with a really big front end lens. Why you may ask?

If you have a long lens with a small front end, you get very small amount of light go in to it and end up with dark photos. With a big front end you get more light going in so lighter photos.

Have a look at a football match on tv and look at the photography cameras and you`ll see some really big lenses.

But you do not have to go that far, as the ones they have cost thousands of pounds. But you can get one with a bit smaller front ends for about £200. Look for a lens with a front end of 3" to 6" or better.

A mirror lens is good as it not so long and has a big front end or a zoom lens with a good sized front end, but they can be a bit long, so look for one with a tripod mount fitted to the lens for better balance on your tripod.

Telephoto lenses from 200mm to 500mm are long and have a fixed focus length, i.e. you cannot zoom in on things. The front end can be as small as 1.5" to 3" but most have a tripod mount fitted.

I think the best ones to look at are the mirror lens and the zoom lens, they may cost a bit more but in the end you get a better lens for the job your looking to use it on.

In my time I've used most lenses: telephotos, zooms and mirrors.

I started off with a small Kodak 110 instamatic taking photos at an airshow (not good, all I got was a black dot in the sky). Going on to a second hand Praktica SLRs with a 125mm on to a 300mm and then on to a 500mm telephoto lens (still a bit small but a lot better then the 110, but not as good as a zoom lens and I had to swap over the lens a lot too with the telephoto lens (from the 500mm to the 50mm and then back to the 500mm and so on, but not with a zoom). I used to go through 12 36x frame films at a two day show.

Then I got my first new camera and on to digital too, the Canon 300D I now have. I had to upgrade my lenses at the time too. I add a battery pack to the camera to go all day at a show, and I've not looked back as I now do a lot of work with the set up I have.

I would like to upgrade to the Canon 7D but for now its the old 300D for me.

I am not saying this as I have them but I'd go for the mc mto-11ca 10/1000 as it has a 5" front end, just had a look on eBay on there around £200 or for an all round lens you can use day to day the Sigma 50-500 1;4-6.3 zoom lens and it has a tripod fitting, this one has a 3.5" front end on eBay from £250 to £900. But if you get the mc you'll have to get an adapter to fit you Canon as it an old screw thread fitting and your Canon is bayonet fitting.

Joel Katzowitz
Member

Posts: 372
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 01-11-2014 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The dimension/size of the front end of the lens does not directly correlate to the "speed" of the lens. "Speed" referring to how much light can pass through the lens to the sensor. All lenses have an "f" number designation (ie. 200mm f2.8). The f number indicates the "speed". The lower the better. A 200mm f2.8 lens lets in more light, and costs substantially more, than a 200mm f4 lens. Most consumer zoom lenses have two numbers associated with lens speed (ie. 18-200mm f3.5-5.6). This indicates the f-stop varies with the focal length. When the zoom is set to 18mm the f-stop would be 3.5, but as you zoom to 200mm the f-stop moves to 5.6. In other words, as you zoom to a longer focal length the lens lets in less light. Zoom lenses with a fixed a f-stop cost a lot more money.

A mirror lens can be an economical way to get a long lens on you camera but there are some drawbacks. The most impactful is it has a fixed f-stop, so you can't adjust it for the lighting conditions.

I hope this give a little more clarity to the discussion.

Max Q
Member

Posts: 392
From: Whyalla South Australia
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 01-11-2014 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually very helpful Joel, thank you.

Philip
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Posts: 4919
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 01-15-2014 06:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No filter is necessary, for the full Moon You can even use ISO 100 and shoot at 1/400 of a second. DSLR with "Live View" is superb to focus as the lens has to be in Manual Focus and the DSLR in Manual mode...

Some of my photos.

nasamad
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Posts: 1903
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 01-15-2014 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have just noticed this thread and thought I would stick my oar in!

To see the histogram on most Canon DSLRs you need to keep pressing the DISP or display button, this should bring it up on the screen. I haven't used a 300D for a long time so can't remember if it had a Live View monitor. It may be that you can only see the histogram when you review the images on the back screen. Don't worry about it too much, with lunar photography it's not much use, trust your eyes, if it looks too bright it probably is.

You really only need a lunar filter for optical viewing as the moon is so bright, for photography it's just a case of dialing in a smaller aperture or a shorter shutter time to dim the moon.

To fill the frame on your camera with the lunar disc would take a LARGE lens, and a hefty mount to steady it. For the price you would pay you could get a nice small motor driven telescope and purchase what is called a T2 mount. You wouldn't believe how quickly the moon drifts out of frame with a fixed mount and high magnification.

Finally, focusing is the hardest thing about astrophotography, prepare for lots of slightly out of focus images. But persevere, it's not like your cant format the card and try again!

Check out dpreview.com forums, there is an astrophotography forum on there that can probably give you more advice and possible options.

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