Best Camera For Capturing The Moon

By | 06/11/2022

One of the first words I learned how to say was, “Moon.” All of my life, I have been fascinated by our natural satellite and I have been photographing it for equally long as I have had a photographic camera. My photos have gotten better over the years, but I still search for the perfect photo of the moon. Hither are some tips and thoughts for your own lunar photography.

Above photo:
A waxing gibbous moon the twenty-four hours before the full moon. FUJIFILM X-T1; Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting scope @ 1000mm (1500mm, 35mm equivalent); f/13, 1/500-2nd, ISO 200


Photographs © Todd Vorenkamp

Moonrise over Ensenada, Mexico, at the end of the Newport-Ensenada sailboat race. The full moon rose the next night. Nikon D1x; Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 150mm (225mm 35mm-equiv.); f/5; 1/100th sec; ISO 400.
Moonrise over Ensenada, Mexico, at the end of the Newport-Ensenada sailboat race. The full moon rose the next night. Nikon D1x; Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 150mm (225mm 35mm equiv.); f/5; 1/100-sec; ISO 400.

1. Plan Your Shot

There are ii basic types of lunar photography:
1. the moon is the chief (or just) object in the prototype,
2. the moon is an element of a landscape paradigm.

A waxing gibbous moon captured. Nikon D300; Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting scope with a Nikon Tc-201 2x teleconverter @ 2000mm (3000mm 35mm-equiv.); f/27; 1/25th sec; ISO 100.
A waxing gibbous moon captured. Nikon D300; Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting scope with a Nikon Tc-201 2x teleconverter @ 2000mm (3000mm 35mm equiv.); f/27; one/25-sec; ISO 100.

For the offset, the main planning you will take to do is know the weather and the stage of the moon and have the correct gear. (More on gear later.)

For the 2d, you need to appoint in more than extensive planning. Where practice you envision the moon in your shot? When is it rising or setting? Again, what phase is it in? There is software, websites, and mobile applications that can help y’all runway the moon’s position at a given location. Sometimes you may stumble on a lucky shot, simply at that place are rewards for existence prepared and planning an ballsy landscape featuring the moon overhead.

Waning gibbous moonset over the Pacific Ocean, as viewed from McKinleyville, California, at dawn the day following a full moon. Nikon D300; Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 200mm (300mm 35mm-equiv.); f/8; 1/90th sec; ISO 200.
Waning gibbous moonset over the Pacific Ocean, equally viewed from McKinleyville, California, at dawn the twenty-four hours following a full moon. Nikon D300; Nikon 70-200mm f/ii.8 lens @ 200mm (300mm 35mm equiv.); f/eight; i/90-sec; ISO 200.

2. Moon Phases

The majestic full moon is what grabs most people’s attention. Unfortunately, the full moon makes for the most boring lunar photos. Why? Because the unabridged disc of the moon is illuminated, you become a relatively low-contrast white disc overhead. When waxing toward a total moon, or waning following ane, the partially illuminated moon reveals its wonderful texture of craters and their shadows. If y’all want to capture a “full moon,” photographically speaking, yous are amend off the dark before or the nighttime afterward the true full moon.

You can photograph the full moon, but the lack of texture on its face makes it seem flat. Nikon D1x; Nikon Reflex-NIKKOR 500mm f/8 with Tc-201 2x teleconverter (3000mm 35mm-equiv.); f/16; 1/500th sec; ISO 125.
You tin photo the full moon, merely the lack of texture on its confront makes information technology seem flat. Nikon D1x; Nikon Reflex-NIKKOR 500mm f/8 with Tc-201 2x teleconverter (3000mm 35mm equiv.); f/16; 1/500-sec; ISO 125.

Gibbous, quarter, and crescent moons all have their places in the world of photography and they can all exist visually interesting and engaging. Don’t limit yourself only to when the moon is full (or almost full). One matter to note: A pocket-size crescent moon can exist difficult to photo due to the smaller reflecting visible surface area of the satellite. Ii things are working in the photographer’southward favor: one) the sky is brighter when the crescent moon is overhead and, ii) today’due south digital cameras are getting amend and ameliorate, with high ISO images allowing faster shutter speeds that will assistance reduce move mistiness and go along the crescent moon sharp.

Want to acquire more most the diverse moon phases? Be sure to check out our detailed article on moon phases and total moon names.

Waxing crescent moon. FUJIFILM X-T3; Meade LX85 70mm f/5 Quadruplet ED APO Astrograph 350mm (525mm 35mm-equiv); 1/100th sec; ISO 200.
Waxing crescent moon. FUJIFILM X-T3; Meade LX85 70mm f/5 Quadruplet ED APO Astrograph 350mm (525mm 35mm equiv.); 1/100-sec; ISO 200.

iii. Moon Position

The position of the moon overhead is something to consider. If you are only photographing the moon, you’ll accept a meliorate take a chance at a abrupt photo when information technology’southward well to a higher place the horizon. This is because when the moon is lower on the horizon, the light information technology reflects must travel through greater distances of Earth’s temper. Of form, if the moon is an element in your mural photo, its position is disquisitional to your paradigm, regardless of its distance higher up the horizon.

The full moon rises over the Ocean House, in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. FUJIIFILM X-T1; Leica PC-Super-Angulon-R 28mm f/2.8 lens (42mm 35mm-equiv); ½ sec; f/4; ISO 200.
The full moon rises over the Sea House, in Watch Hill, Rhode Isle. FUJIIFILM 10-T1; Leica PC-Super-Angulon-R 28mm f/2.eight lens (42mm 35mm equiv.); ½ sec; f/4; ISO 200.

iv. Clouds

Clear nights are preferred by many photographers. But, on nights with scattered clouds, or thin overcast layers, practise non be deterred from attempting to photograph the moon. In that location are times when cloudy skies can office or be penetrated by the moon and lead to bully photographic opportunities.

A thin, overcast layer causes a halo to appear around the full moon prior to the December 21, 2010, lunar eclipse. Nikon D300; Nikon 20mm f/3.5 AI lens (30mm 35mm-equiv.); f/8; 15 sec; ISO 200.
A thin, overcast layer causes a halo to appear around the full moon prior to the Dec 21, 2010, lunar eclipse. Nikon D300; Nikon 20mm f/3.five AI lens (30mm 35mm equiv.); f/8; 15 sec; ISO 200.

5. Atmospheric Turbulence

There are nights that, at first glance expect crystal clear, but on closer inspection, are not. Air is non uniform in density. Considering of this, we get twinkling stars overhead. That twinkling is caused by atmospheric turbulence and it can plough whatever ground-based lunar epitome into a non-then-precipitous rendition of the moon(run into shaded section at the end of the article).

The full moon rises over the San Diego skyline. Nikon D300; Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens @ 112mm (168mm 35mm-equiv.); f/5.6; 1/90th sec; ISO 200.
The full moon rises over the San Diego skyline. Nikon D300; Nikon fourscore-200mm f/two.8 lens @ 112mm (168mm 35mm equiv.); f/five.six; 1/90-sec; ISO 200.

When photographing the moon lonely in the sky, the natural tendency is to center the moon in the image. If you lot dare, attempt to mix things up. Center the moon’s shadow if photographing a crescent moon. Utilize the Rule of Thirds. Rotate a quarter moon 90 degrees. As passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are used to the moon having a certain look and perspective. As a photographic artist, yous are not restricted to that perspective.

Be flexible with your lunar compositions. This one reminds me of the Apollo 8 Earthrise photo from lunar orbit. Nikon D300; Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting scope @ 1000mm (1500mm 35mm-equiv.); f/13; 1/100th sec; ISO 100.
Be flexible with your lunar compositions. This one reminds me of the Apollo 8 Earthrise photograph from lunar orbit. Nikon D300; Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting telescopic @ 1000mm (1500mm 35mm equiv.); f/thirteen; 1/100-sec; ISO 100.

seven. Lens Choice

If you are shooting the moon as function of a landscape, your lens focal length will be determined by what portions of the mural yous want in the frame. With a 50mm lens on a full-frame photographic camera, the moon’s size in the photograph will resemble, more or less, what your eye sees in real life—it will be adequately small. When you go with a wide-angle lens, the moon will appear smaller in the frame.

A US Navy Boeing CH-46D Seaknight lands on the USS Rainier (AOE-7), in the Indian Ocean, with a waxing gibbous moon rising. Nikon D100; Nikon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens @ 28mm (42mm 35mm-equiv.); f/7.1; 1/200th sec; ISO 800.
A US Navy Boeing CH-46D Seaknight lands on the USS Rainier (AOE-7), in the Indian Ocean, with a waxing gibbous moon ascension. Nikon D100; Nikon 28-200mm f/3.v-5.6 lens @ 28mm (42mm 35mm equiv.); f/7.1; 1/200-sec; ISO 800.

If yous are shooting the moon lonely, yous can get pretty good results with a 200mm or 300mm lens, only to actually fill the frame, you will likely want an even longer telephoto lens or you can utilise a teleconverter to extend a lens you already ain.

8. Tripod

With modern image-stabilization lenses, coupled with a fast shutter speed and noiseless higher ISO performance, it isn’t unreasonable to take a handheld photograph of a brilliant moon with a 300mm lens—or longer. Photographers using image-stabilized 2000mm super-zoom cameras have captured astonishing handheld images of the moon.

You lot don’t demand expensive gear, heavy tripods, and large lenses. This is a handheld image from a point-and-shoot super-zoom camera in automatic mode. Nikon COOLPIX P900; 357mm (2000mm 35mm equivalent); f/vi.five, 1/500-second, ISO 250.

Minus some steady easily and some electronic luck, y’all will want to photograph the moon from a steady tripod to get the all-time results.

9. Mirror Lock-Upward and Remote Release

When photographing the moon through long telephoto lenses, any amount of movement can soften the image. Therefore, use a remote shutter release (wired or wireless) and, on an SLR camera, use mirror lock-up to minimize vibrations.

Hither is a waxing crescent moon, captured a twenty-four hours earlier the first quarter. FUJIFILM Ten-T1; Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting scope @ 1000mm (1500mm, 35mm equiv.); f/13, ane/125-second, ISO 200.

10. Exposure

At that place are no hard and fast rules for exposure for the moon because at that place are many variables. Some charts provide a baseline, but exist ready to adapt as you piece of work with your heavenly model in a higher place.

ISO
Lets start here. When photographing a gibbous, quarter, or even a larger crescent moon in the sky past itself, at that place is frequently enough reflected sunlight to permit you to shoot at your camera’s native ISO. Fifty-fifty though you will likely exist photographing the moon at night, recall that it is a relatively brilliant object and volition not require higher and noisier ISO settings. More extreme crescent moons may require an ISO bump, equally will handheld lunar photography.

For moon-in-landscape photos, you may need to adjust your ISO to help maintain a certain aperture or shutter speed.

A collection of cropped images FUJIFILM 10-T3; Meade LX85 70mm f/5 Quadruplet ED APO Astrograph 350mm (525mm 35mm equiv.).

Aperture
Sharpness is the proper name of the game when photographing the moon. Because of this, shoot your lens at its sweet-spot aperture and adapt shutter speed and and so, ISO every bit needed. Shooting wide open may make the moon softer, as will diffraction from stopping the aperture down too much. Shoot in the sweet spot for whatever lens yous are using.

If the moon is a part of a mural, and you need shallow depth of field, by all ways, shoot with wide apertures, but know the moon will not be precipitous in those images.

Shutter Speed
Short shutter speeds are used to freeze activeness. The moon orbits the Earth at approximately 2,290 miles per hour. That is fast. Luckily, because information technology is a hateful distance of 238,855 miles, it doesn’t streak overhead at more than three times the speed of sound. Notwithstanding, information technology is moving, and shooting with a slow shutter speed will cause the moon to blur in your images. A good rule of thumb is to proceed your shutter speed at a 1/125-2d minimum.

The moon heads for the horizon over the Brooklyn Bridge, in New York Urban center. Nikon Df; Tokina 24-70mm f/2.eight @ 30mm; f/eight, 14 seconds; ISO 200.

11. Metering

When you point the photographic camera skyward to grab the moon, depending on the metering way selected, the camera is going to take the inky black of space into account when exposing your paradigm. Y’all desire to betrayal for just the moon because information technology doesn’t matter if the black of outer space remains blackness in your frame. Therefore, it is all-time to use center-weighted or spot metering to tell the camera to expose only for that really brilliant section of the frame.

The moon rises over a fog bank, in Kneeland, California. FUJIFILM X-T1; FUJIFILM 35mm f/ane.4 lens (52mm, 35mm equiv.); f/5.6, 8.5 sec., ISO 200.

12.
Focus

Gauge what? This is commonly a part of lunar photography that isn’t challenging at all because the moon is bright and mod autofocus systems should have no problem locking good focus on the moon. For manual focus, utilize electronic focus guides, viewfinder prisms, and/or live view and focus peaking.

I spotted this moon-bow behind me while waiting for a break in the fog. The colors of the moon-bow are not as vibrant as the sun’s rainbows, yet it is still a beautiful phenomenon. FUJIFILM X-T1; FUJIFILM 14mm f/2.8 (21mm 35mm-equiv.); f/2.8, 60 sec; ISO 200.
I spotted this moon-bow behind me while waiting for a break in the fog. The colors of the moon-bow are not as vibrant equally the sun’s rainbows, all the same information technology is still a cute phenomenon. FUJIFILM X-T1; FUJIFILM 14mm f/2.8 (21mm 35mm equiv.); f/2.8, threescore sec; ISO 200.

thirteen. Dynamic Range

When shooting at dark, the moon may very well exist the brightest object in the frame. If y’all are including landscape in your image, it will be relatively much, much darker than the moon. This will brand information technology hard to properly expose the moon and still retain some detail in the landscape. This is why silhouetted landscapes are prevalent in images where the moon shows contrast and definition. The dynamic range of digital cameras is getting better all the time, merely many lunar photographers use composite images, or permit the moon to get pure white to show the foreground.

A US Navy Boeing CH-46D Seaknight helicopter maneuvers above the ocean. Nikon D100; Nikon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens @ 98mm (147mm 35mm-equiv.); f/7.1; 1/750th sec; ISO 800.
A US Navy Boeing CH-46D Seaknight helicopter maneuvers above the ocean. Nikon D100; Nikon 28-200mm f/3.five-five.6 lens @ 98mm (147mm 35mm equiv.); f/7.ane, i/750-sec; ISO 800.

14. Bracketing

Regardless of the type of moon photos (lonely or mural), you lot may want to effort bracketing your exposures. Digital photography gives you the opportunity to accept “costless” photographs, and so when you are photographing the moon, shoot a lot and shoot some more. In mail service processing, y’all will find that some photos are sharper than others taken with identical settings, due to atmospheric interference and other factors. Subclass or adjust your exposure to see if you lot get better results at dissimilar apertures or shutter speeds.

The Palomar Observatory under moonlight and a lot of digital noise. Nikon D100; Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 lens @ 18mm (27mm 35mm-equiv.); f/3.5; 3 sec; ISO 1600.
The Palomar Observatory nether moonlight and a lot of digital noise. Nikon D100; Nikon xviii-35mm f/3.v-4.5 lens @ 18mm (27mm 35mm-equiv.); f/3.5, three sec; ISO 1600.

My grandmother used to phone call it “Todd’s Moon,” but I volition gladly share it with you. What other tips and techniques practise y’all have for photographing the moon? Tell us in the Comments section, beneath!

Waning gibbous. Nikon D300; Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting scope @ 1000mm (1500mm, 35mm equiv.); f/13, 1/500-second; ISO 200

Here is my $0.02 on sharpness of solar, astronomical, and lunar images:

The dominicus is a mean altitude of approximately 93 million miles abroad and the moon is a mean distance of 238,855 miles away. Neither the moon’south cratered surface nor the sun’s explosive surface make them perfectly smooth spheres.

When I pixel-split my solar images, be it the ones captured with a precipitous Nikon 300mm f/iv, a sharp Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting scope, or whatsoever other optic, regardless of whether I am using a glass or metal-type solar filter, the sun is simply, at its best, “kind of” sharp.

The aforementioned applies to images of the moon. I go precipitous images, but never as sharp as I really, actually want to become.

This got me thinking.

When you photograph something outside of our atmosphere, there is a fair amount of air between y’all and the subject. The thickness of Globe’south atmosphere is approximately 300 miles, with most of the dense air in the lower altitudes (obviously). Light is transmitted from the sun (or stars) or reflected from the moon (and planets) and it travels through the vacuum of space until it reaches world. Once it arrives in the temper, all your sharpness bets are off.

If you took a photo of a edifice, mount, or person miles and miles away, especially on a hazy day, you probably wouldn’t really expect a super-abrupt image, correct? Now, think most an paradigm of something captured on the far side of dozens of miles of air. Precipitous? Probably non.

So, if you lot are wondering what lens or filter is the sharpest to photograph afar things, or if you lot are wondering why your lunar craters or sunspots are non tack-abrupt, fifty-fifty though you spent a ton of money on a super-sharp lens, but be grateful that globe has a protective shield effectually information technology that gives us air to jiff and protects us from the harshness of outer infinite. And, likewise recollect that in that location is a reason they endeavor to put telescopes in dry out places at loftier altitudes—or in orbit to a higher place the atmosphere!


For more tips and interesting facts about the moon, please check these articles:


Superzoom the Moon with These ten Tips


22 Tips for Photographing a Lunar Eclipse


8 Cool Moon Facts


Take a 5-Infinitesimal, 4K, Virtual Tour of the Moon, Produced by NASA


Phases and Total Moon Names

Source: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/14-tips-shooting-moon