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Taking pictues of the moon

edited January 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
Any tips for taking a picture of the moon? What aperture, shutter speed and camera settings will I need in manual?
Will I need a telephoto zoom lens and a tripod?


  • edited January 2016
    The longer the lens the better if you want the moon itself. A bright moon is very bright compared to the rest of the night sky and moonlit scenery, so it will be very hard to get. Exposure will vary depending on how bright the moon is, but it is likely to be quite bright when it's full. Your best bet is probably to spot meter on it. Although the moon stands still, it moves across the sky, so if your shutter speed goes too low it will blur from movement. Rarely a problem except in eclipses, but you should keep the exposure faster than a second. You won't need any depth of field at that distance, so aperture is not an issue unless you need to get near scenery, tree boughs, etc. in focus, and even then very little DOF is needed.

    You will almost certainly need a tripod, and you will need to focus very carefully, probably manually, to get the moon quite sharp. Live View helps a lot here. A long lens, even on a tripod, can be a bit jiggly to focus well. Most modern AF lenses will go past infinity, so you can't just turn it to the max position.

    When I took the eclipse earlier this year, I did most of my shots with a 500mm f/4 telephoto lens wide open. The shutter speed varied from about 1/200 at ISO 200 when the moon was clear to 2 seconds at ISO 800 when it was near full eclipse. For a full bright moon, you probably want to start at about f/11 and the reciprocal of the ISO, so figure f/11, 1/100 at ISO 100. If you want to get anything but silhouettes of any terrestrial objects, you'll have to overexpose that, and let the moon blow out some.

    Sorry to say, the file sharing program I've been using removes EXIF information, but here are some shots of the eclipse, made with a D3200 and mostly with a 500/4 AIP manual focus lens, on a tripod.

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