Taking photos of the Moon and the planets - Beginner

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
W5JCK Veteran Member • Posts: 3,672
Re: Taking photos of the Moon and the planets - Beginner

I agree with David. Your current equipment combined with a decent 400mm or longer telephoto will work well for the Moon. You could probably even get by with a good 300mm if your 1.4x teleconverter is really good, but they sometimes create images with less quality, so it is best to not use a teleconverter. At any rate, learning to photograph the Moon is a great way to get started. Since the Moon is so bright, you won’t have light issues, as in getting enough light into the camera. Dimmer objects require much faster lenses, but you can get by with an f/5.6 telephoto for Moon shots.

Taking photos or shooting videos of Mars or Venus requires a telescope and a whole different set of skills and probably a lot more than $1000 in equipment.

I would take it one step at a time. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Learn one aspect of AP (astrophotography) and get good at it then move to the next aspect. Here are some things you will need to get good at.

  • Focusing the lens. You must use full manual focus. See my link to focusing tips below. The Moon is easier to focus on than stars, so that will help.
  • Learn to use full manual mode where you set aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. 
  • Learn to operate your camera in the dark by feel. If you need a flashlight, use a red tinted one otherwise you will mess up you eyesight. Never use a regular flashlight with a white tint. Best practice, no light at all, learn to make adjustments by feel.
  • Learn to activate the shutter without causing vibrations are any movement. You need a VERY steady tripod and a wired or wireless remote shutter system. A telephoto lens will show even the slightest movement, so learn to not cause any. If you use a DSLR, lock up the mirror. 
  • A big part of producing good AP begins after the shoot. Learn how to post process your photos. Resist the temptation to push the processing to far. There are lots of techniques to use and Youtube videos to see how they are done.

These are just a few starting points to learn. The atmosphere is full of stuff floating around which can mess up Moon shots, so take lots of photos and filter out the bad ones. Some nights the atmosphere will have poor “seeing” other nights it will be better. So learn to know when you have a good night to shoot and when you should stay home.

Above all, have fun!

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