Can I take picture of Moon with Sony alpha Nex-F3?

Started Dec 16, 2013 | Questions thread
TiagoReil Senior Member • Posts: 1,584
Re: Can I take picture of Moon with Sony alpha Nex-F3?

DipanjanC wrote:


I'm a newbie. I have a Sony alpha nex-F3 with 18-55 and 55-210mm lens. I tried to take picture of moon with the below configuration:

Shutter speed :: 10"

Aperture :: 3.5

I don't know much about this things. Can anyone please guide me if I can take picture of the moon or not? Everytime it is coming as a round white circle.



Taking pictures of the moon needs 2 considerations. One already said, a long lens (long focal length) and the exposure you will use.

The first part is easy. The longer the better. Of course you can take a picture with a 200 mm and crop it, for instance, with the sony lens, but the more the better. Also remember that to get a good photo with a long lens, you need to have a fast shutter speed (1/(equivalent focal length) seems to be the norm, others choose faster), so for a 200mm, you would need more or less to have a 1/300 or 1/500 if you are very conservative.

Now, the other part of the equation, the exposure. Do yourself a favor and set the camera in manual mode. Period. No other mode is useful. Also, if for some reason you changed it, set effects on for the viewfinder to simulate the exposure.

Now, how to define a starting point. The moon is actually reflecting the sun. It may be night, but the moon is reflecting the daylight sun, the same as the sun you see at mid day. IF there are no clouds obviously. So basically, it is the same sun that happens at mid day, there is a very helpful metering rule (or guide, or suggestion, or empirical solution) that is the sunny 16 rule. So to take photos of the moon, you can use it as a starting point:

f: 16, ISO:100, shutter speed: 100 (I will use 125 for my calculations, actually, to make it simpler).

Set it to it, and the exposure of the moon will be very close to perfect. Now, compensate for your focal length. You have lets say, the sony 55-210, and are taking the photo at 200mm, that's an equivalent focal length of 300, and to be conservative, you want to set the shutter speed at 1/500. Thats 2 stops of light from the 1/125 that we set it at the beginning (minus 1/3 of a step, I know, did it only to make calculations easy). So, set the shutter speed at 1/500, and now you need to add 2 stops of light from somewhere. Lets say, from the aperture, reduce it 2 stops, from 16 to 8. Or move the ISO to 400. Or a bit of both, it is your choice.

At that point, you will be seen the moon, with a good speed to take the photo. At that point, play with the aperture to get a better exposure. IF the moon is still too bright, close the aperture back. IF it is too dim, open it a bit. You should be close with the sunny 16 rule, but you may need to tune it.

All this is for handheld. If you are using a tripod, you could use just f: 16, ISO:100, shutter speed: 100 and play there. In that case, I would use shutter speed to fine tune the exposure, not the aperture, cause at f16, closing more will add diffraction. In fact, I would use f11 or f8 already to avoid diffraction. For very long lenses, that are really heavy, a tripod could be actually a necessity.

Well, that is how I do it, it is not the only way of doing it, and I didn't invent it, someone already told me to use sunny 16 as a starting step for photos of the moon. And a long focal length is always better. 200mm is still short in my opinion, but helped to make the calculations.

Good luck.

 TiagoReil's gear list:TiagoReil's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony 85mm F2.8 SAM Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro +3 more
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