Settings to use when capturing the moon

edited August 2013 Posted in » Canon 60D Forum
I was talking with a fellow 60D owner over on my Facebook page and she had some questions related to the best settings for capturing shots of the moon. I thought it would be beneficial to share our conversation...

Mary-Ellen's Question: It's one night after the full moon, what settings do you suggest to capture the full beauty of it with the 60D?

Moose's Answer: Here's what I would start with...

  1. Shoot in Aperture priority (Av on the mode dial)

  2. Set the Aperture to f/8 (rotate the command dial)

  3. Change the metering mode to Spot metering

  4. Set your ISO to 100

  5. Mount your 60D to a tripod

  6. Enable the self-timer to get your hands off the 60D and eliminate any chance of camera shake affecting the sharpness of your shot

With the above settings enabled, the 60D will automatically choose the appropriate shutter speed to get an accurate exposure. Spot metering will ensure the moon surface is properly exposed and not blown out (overexposed).

Also, if you don't want to focus each time you take a shot, just focus initially on the moon and then flip the switch on your lens from AF to MF. Happy shooting! :)


  • edited February 2012
    I read several star gazer magazines, and they have talked on the subject in the last issues. The one thing that Moose didn't touch on and the question didn't ask, is "Do you want star trails or crisp shots. This is some thing the photographer must deside.

    For a trail just set a slower shutter speed. I played with 1/1600 to as slow as 15sec. The 60D has the ability to lock the mirror, but be careful to limit your exposer time to about 30sec to prevent the sensor over heating (down side to digital). I have taken up to 20 shots with a few second rest between, and put them together for some cool shots.

    For the sharp crisp shots I get in the darkest location I can and go fully Maunal. I use the mirror lock here to stop the shake caused by the shutter movement.

    I hope this helps, Good luck!
  • edited February 2012
    @Auston - Thanks for the added input. Yep, 'Bulb' mode is quite fun to experiment with, especially with astrophotography. I've experimented with exposures up to 3 minutes and the results are very good once the images have been run through Noiseware or Noise Ninja. As you mentioned, it's extremely important to not be around any ambient light when trying to capture stars. This light can infiltrate your shot and give it a hazy effect. In this case...the darker the better. :)
  • edited May 2012
    Ya know @Moose, now that you brought it up, the 60D has both Mirror lock and Bulb modes. What is the difference?
  • edited May 2012
    @Moose is spot on for the correct we didn't know that. Here is an example (see here) I took using the same settings.
  • @Auston - Normally, when you press the shutter button, the mirror swings up, light hits the sensor and then the mirror drops back down. Sometimes this movement can cause small vibrations which are noticeable when using an extremely long telephoto lens or focused on a macro subject.

    With Mirror lock enabled, when you press the shutter button for the first time, the mirror will swing up. When you press the shutter again, the picture will be taken and the mirror will go back down.

    Bulb mode, simply allows you to hold open the mirror for as long as you'd like. When coupled with mirror lock, you'll be able to take a long exposure with a reduced chance of camera shake due to mechanical movements. Hope that makes sense and happy shooting! :)
  • edited July 2012
    I am new to the Canon world (migrated from an Olympus E-volt). I have read so many great tips from you @Moose and others (thanks @Auston). Please keep them coming and keep up the good work!
  • edited July 2012
    Hi all, I just picked up the 60D as I am can't get my hands on a 60Da until October. So I was wondering if anyone has any comparisons (60D to 60Da) to offer? (@Dannyz--amazing shot of the Moon)
  • @DannyZ--beautiful picture! What brand lens were you using?
  • edited August 2012
    Hi there, here's my experience with the Moon. I shoot with timer in manual at 1/250, AV 7.1, ISO 250 using the White Balance in shade.
    I use a Canon 70-200mm F4L in a tripod.
    The reason I use manual is because I take many shots slighlty refocusing every time.
    The speed and ISO help me avoid getting the Moon too bright. Getting it a bit darker works a lot better in post-processing
    I would recommend you start with the Moon in phase. Shooting it in full gives a lot of light.
  • edited August 2012
    Mackanno, I can't wait to get home and test out your settings. I'm always looking for any reason to shoot the stars.
  • @Auston, how do you do a mirror lock?
  • edited September 2012
    @milrenz - Sorry that I can't walk you thru it step by step, but you will find the steps in the manual (section 5, page 125). I am at work and do not have my camera with me.
    I hoped this helped.
  • edited September 2012
    Thanks for the tips guys. Next full moon I will test this settings. Great forum!
  • edited June 2013
    I used a 70-300mm zoom with the settings above. Not much different then the lens Dannyz used. Did Dannyz have to crop/zoom the photo after to get the moon to be that large in the photo? What lens would it take to get that photo? A telescope converter? I am a newbie. Though mine turned out well, it was no where near that large.
  • edited July 2013
    Here is a photo of the moon I took some time back. It is one of my favorite photos.

    Taken with a Canon 60D using a EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM lens
    Exp 1/400th second at f/14
    Focal Length 300mm
    ISO 500
    Cropped using Adobe Lightroom
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