How to get a proper photo of the moon.

One of the things I always wanted to do, is to photograph the moon and be able to zoom in to look all the details, like the craters and patterns that you need a proper zoom lens to be able to capture.

Our new zoom lens arrived just a couple of days before we went on our Easter vacation to Norway.

Using our brand new AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR lens, the moon appeared to be 16 times closer to Earth.

Full moon, lunar, space, planet, photo from Norway
ISO 100 – 300 mm – f/6,3 – 1/125 sec

Now I am very excited to share one of my experiences with the AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR lens; How to get a proper photo of the moon. The moon is beautiful to look at, but it sure can be challenging to photograph. The moon orbits the Earth once every 27 days. It also takes approximately the same time for it to rotate once on its axis. As a result, the moon does not seem to be spinning but appears to observers from Earth to be keeping almost perfectly still.

However the moon is 384,400 km away from earth and moves 3,683 kilometers per hour, so you  want to  photograph it with a faster shutter speed than above 1/100 of a second. Obviously you want to magnify it as much possible so use a telephoto lens that allows you to zoom in to a minimum of 200mm. If you have a telephoto lens that can take teleconverters, it is possible to add a teleconverter to increase the overall focal length.

Full moon, lunar, space, planet, photo from Norway
ISO 100 – 300 mm – f/8,0 – 1/125 sec

My recommendations:

  1. Camera Mode: Set your camera mode to full Manual Mode.
  2. ISO: Set your ISO to 100 – 200 if you have a DSLR. If you have another kind of camera, see if you can find a menu setting to set your ISO to 100. Make sure “Auto ISO” is turned Off.
  3. Aperture: Set your aperture between f/6,3 – f/11.
  4. Shutter Speed: Set your shutter speed to 1/125 to 1/250.
  5. Focus: Set your lens to manual focus and set your focus to infinity. Some lenses (like ours) allow focusing beyond infinity, then zoom a bit back. On many cameras you can use the “live-view” to zoom in on the moon and accurately acquire focus. Then take a test photo and adjust the settings if needed.
Full moon, lunar, space, planet, photo from Norway
ISO 100 – 200mm – f/9,0 – 1/125 sec

I recommend starting with the above settings and adjusting the shutter speed based on the brightness of the moon. If it is too bright, set your shutter speed to a higher value. If it is too dim, set your shutter speed to a lower value. You can also adjust the aperture, but be careful, as changing the aperture to a small number can actually soften the image, while increasing the aperture to a very high number would mean that you need to choose a slower shutter speed.

Another thing I can recommend doing is using the bracketing or HDR function in your camera. When for example taking a picture of the full moon, some parts of the moon can be overexposed, while other parts become underexposed. Try taking multiple shots of the moon with different exposure, then merging them into a HDR in post processing.

Stay tuned for more photos with our new AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR lens. It is a whole new world that occurs through this telephoto lense, and we are very excited to be able to create and share even more creative photos.

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12 thoughts on “How to get a proper photo of the moon.

  1. Reblogged this on sed30’s Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really helpful! I will try these settings next time. Thanks for keeping it simple. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank, I am glad you liked it👍

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very original photos! You will definitely like this article http://fixthephoto.com/photo-tips/nightlife-photography-tips.html
    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so useful!! I will get out there tips with my camera!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, I am glad you found my tips useful!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is helpful, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The full moon is alway a great subject on a clear cold night. It can look quite mysterious when clouds crawl across its face. My equipment is not a DSLR, but with a 50x zoom and a tripod, I have managed to get some reasonable shots over time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, 50x zoom is a lot, I still have to crop to get this close but happy with the result as it is my first go with this lense.

      Liked by 1 person

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