As saturated the internet is with photos of the moon, there’s no denying that taking a clear photograph of the moon is a very rewarding process. To new photographers, this may seem like a daunting task that only the ‘pros’ can take on, but it’s easier that it seems. All you need is a decent camera, a stable tripod, and some patience.
Understand the Equipment
The right kind of equipment is very important to take a good photo of the moon. As mentioned before, this includes a good camera sensor and a tripod. Another important thing needed is a good telephoto lens. Anything upwards of 200mm focal length is advised. 200mm lenses also work, but going lower than that is not ideal. The reason you will need a telephoto lens is, of course, to get as close to the moon as possible without digital cropping.
This is where the tripod comes in. When you are zoomed in to the longest end of your lens, even the slightest of movement can cause the whole image to be destroyed. Once you have your camera set up on a tripod, it’s time to tweak the settings.
Important Settings to Remember
Photographing the moon is all about minimizing the effect of the glow so that the details can be seen on its surface. For that, try to use the following tips and settings:
- Set your camera mode to Manual.
- Keep your ISO between 100 and 200 so that the brightness of the overall image is kept low.
- Set the Aperture to f/11. Lower apertures will blow out the highlights.
- Keep a fast Shutter Speed. Something around 1/125 to 1/250 will work.
- Keep your camera’s focus to infinity.
Once you have dialed in all your settings, it is time to shoot. The best way to do this is by using a remote shutter, as pushing the shutter button with your finger causes the camera to shake no matter how careful you are. If you don’t have a remote shutter release, don’t worry. You can simply put the camera’s drive mode to 2 seconds or more, so that when you press the shutter button the camera takes a while before actually taking the photo.
Always shoot in RAW so that you can later tweak your image to pull out the most detail from the moon. One important thing to note here is that, unless you use a super zoom lens, you will need to crop into your image digitally if you want the moon to fill up most of your image’s frame. This is where the amount of megapixels your camera body has comes into play. The more this number, the more you can crop without sacrificing too much of the image quality.
Now that you have all the information you need to photograph the moon, go out and take some test shots. It’s always best to actually shoot in order to learn which settings work best for your gear. Happy shooting!