Photographing the moon is always tempting for photographers, but getting sharp images with your telephoto lens and mid-range DSLR isn’t always easy. In this quick guide our technique editor explains how to photograph the moon and get the best results with what you have.
If you’re photographing the moon you probably have a telephoto lens in your kit bag, and this is essential for composing a nice picture. Your 70-300mm zoom lens, for instance, on a DSLR with an APS-C format sensor should give you good results. But there are a few other factors to consider.
Timing and location are important. Wait until the moon is high in the sky, so that atmospheric pollution is less of an issue, and it helps if you can get out of the city.
It’s best to use Manual mode on your camera. At ISO100, a good starting point is f/8 at 1/125 sec. This aperture should ensure optimum lens quality in most cases.
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Review the results in magnified playback mode and alter the shutter speed so the moon is bright but the highlight detail is not lost.
For optimum sharpness, you also want to use a sturdy tripod. Autofocus should work well, but switch to manual focusing if necessary.
Mirror-bounce can degrade sharpness when using a telephoto lens, so it’s worth using the Exposure Delay mode. The Auto white balance setting often works better for lunar shots than using a preset value, like Daylight.
When editing, crop the image as necessary. You may need to increase contrast and sharpening to reveal the finer features of the lunar surface.
Colour fringing can also be a problem around the circumference of a full moon. You can remove this by tracing around the edge with a desaturation tool.
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