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Subject: "Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?" Previous topic | Next topic
lawfarm Registered since 25th Jan 2007Wed 28-Feb-07 02:30 PM
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"Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"


US
          

I was out last night screwing around with my D50 on a crisp winter night...I had my Nikon 70-300 on, and the tripod set up. I was trying to take pics of the Moon, which was directly overhead. To give you an idea of the size of the moon, zoomed in to 300mm, it was about the size of the center recticle in the viewfinder.

For some reason, my pics all turned out without much definition in the moon. Looking at it, I could see craters, shadows, etc. In the pics, it was just kind of a white blob. Not sure what I did wrong. I tried different exposures, different aperture settings, all sorts of stuff. Couldn't get it right. I had the lens hooded, and there wasn't much ambient light (middle of night).

Any thoughts?

More glass than skill, but that is changing.

  

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Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?
briantilley Moderator
28th Feb 2007
1
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jdbower Gold Member
28th Feb 2007
2
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BJNicholls Gold Member
28th Feb 2007
3
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gphoto50
28th Feb 2007
4
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James23p Moderator
16th Jan 2008
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jjmitchell
14th Mar 2007
7
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kste1974 Silver Member
19th Mar 2007
8
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Ed Burkhead
31st Mar 2007
11
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bens0472
04th Mar 2007
5
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jjmitchell
14th Mar 2007
6
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kste1974 Silver Member
19th Mar 2007
9
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James23p Moderator
20th Mar 2007
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csgaraglino Silver Member
16th Jan 2008
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James23p Moderator
01st Apr 2007
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csgaraglino Silver Member
02nd Apr 2007
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James23p Moderator
02nd Apr 2007
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csgaraglino Silver Member
02nd Apr 2007
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James23p Moderator
02nd Apr 2007
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James23p Moderator
16th Jan 2008
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01st Apr 2007
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09th Feb 2009
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10th Feb 2009
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Floridian Silver Member
10th Feb 2009
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11th Feb 2009
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reway
11th Feb 2009
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treadwm
12th Feb 2009
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Len Shepherd Gold Member
12th Feb 2009
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briantilley Moderator Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Wed 28-Feb-07 03:10 PM
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#1. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


Paignton, GB
          

It sounds like the moon itself was overexposed, and you may have had blur due to camera shake.

The moon is a long way away in photographic terms; any lack of steadiness in the camera is greatly magnified. You'll need a very sturdy tripod and good technique, to get good results.

As for exposure, although it is dark, the moon itself is bright - it's in full sunlight, when you think about it. Most metering systems get moon exposures wrong, unless it fills a large part of the frame. Try something like 1/200th at f/11, ISO 200 as a starting point

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

  

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jdbower Gold Member Awarded for his contributions to the Resources Nikonian since 12th Jan 2006Wed 28-Feb-07 03:10 PM
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#2. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


New York, US
          

Lunar photography can be tricky. For reference, I've found that my 80-400mm with a 3xTC (making it the same FoV as a 1200mm lens, or 1800mm if you count the DX-sensor crop factor) seems to fill the frame with the moon (or the sun, for that matter). Some of my better shots (and I still wouldn't call them "good") are at ISO 100, stopped down a bit from wide open (say F8 or so) and underexposed. Depending on atmospheric conditions you may have more or less luck than me - I'm in NJ where there's a lot of ambient light that creates an atmospheric haze. The key for me was playing with the EV compensation, -2 was pretty good but at different focal lengths you may need to experiment a bit. Of course, a good tripod (preferably with a remote release) is crucial for this.

Jeff Bower
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BJNicholls Gold Member Awarded for his contributions to the community and the Resources Charter MemberWed 28-Feb-07 03:23 PM
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#3. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


Salt Lake City, US
          

I get really close and use a wide angle lens.

BJ

Zenfolio gallery

  

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gphoto50 Registered since 06th Feb 2006Wed 28-Feb-07 06:28 PM
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#4. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 3


Bangor, US
          

Fast shutter speed, small apature and use the self timer on a steady tripod.
Greg

... nature has ceased to be what it always had been - what people needed protection from. Now nature - tamed, endangered, mortal - needs to be protected from people. When we are afraid, we shoot. But when we are nostalgic, we take pictures.
Susan Sontag - On Photography

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James23p Moderator Awarded for his wide variety of skills, a true generalist both in film and digital photography Nikonian since 25th Apr 2004Wed 16-Jan-08 01:16 PM
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"RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"


Memphis, US
          

JD is very correct I never use the meter. For a 1/2 moon I use 1/200 at f8, 3/4 moon 250 etc. Sometimes I've had to use 1/500 on a full moon.

The following moon was taken with My D80, 500 f4 Ai-P lens at 1/250 at f5.6 I usually use f8 but this worked better the other nite. Hope this helps. This was on a tripod due to lens size however even the 70-300 in this case will produce a better shot on a tripod. I also use the remote shutter release. Jim

PS if you meter spot meter the moon since the background is so dark matrix meter will blow out your Moon.

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I will use film until the last roll and last lab are gone. Go Navy

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jjmitchell Registered since 05th Feb 2007Wed 14-Mar-07 08:54 PM
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#7. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


Bournemouth, GB
          

Splendid picture James. Thanks for posting.

Jonathan
--------------------
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kste1974 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Mar 2007Mon 19-Mar-07 03:08 AM
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#8. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

>JD is very correct I never use the meter. For a 1/2 moon I
>use 1/200 at f8, 3/4 moon 250 etc. Sometimes I've had to use
>1/500 on a full moon.
>
>The following moon was taken with My D80, 500 f4 Ai-P lens
>at 1/250 at f5.6 I usually use f8 but this worked better the
>other nite. Hope this helps. This was on a tripod due to
>lens size however even the 70-300 in this case will produce
>a better shot on a tripod. I also use the remote shutter
>release. Jim
>
>PS if you meter spot meter the moon since the background is
>so dark matrix meter will blow out your Moon.

Will a 70-300VR acheive a decent subject size? I assume you used a 500mm lens.

http://flickr.com/photos/kstephotos
http://stephanphotos.com
Nikon D700 | Nikon D300 | Gitzo 1325 | Markins M20 | 24-70 2.8 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 85 1.4D | 50mm 1.4D | AB1600, SB-900, SB-800 | RadioPopper JrX Studio

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Ed Burkhead Registered since 27th Mar 2007Sat 31-Mar-07 01:25 AM
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#11. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


East Peoria, US
          

The moon is always in bright sun. The only adjustment is for sun angle and maybe haze in our own atmosphere.

Full is like noon. Half moon is like about 3:30-4pm and a crescent is like the last hour or so before sunset when you typically open the exposure about a stop from noon.

I'd start on manual at ISO 200 at
1/250 and f16 for full
1/250 between f11 and f16 for half
1/250 and f11 for crescent

These are starter values and you can bracket around them.

Or, maybe you could use a higher shutter speed and crank down an equal number of f-stops to balance so you get less camera motion risk.

Ed Burkhead

  

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bens0472 Basic MemberSun 04-Mar-07 04:43 AM
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#5. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 3


Roswell, US
          

BJ - do you find that this distorts the man's nose?

Ben

  

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jjmitchell Registered since 05th Feb 2007Wed 14-Mar-07 08:52 PM
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#6. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 3


Bournemouth, GB
          

Nice one. Shame we don't all work for NASA. lol.

Jonathan
--------------------
www.jjmitchell.co.uk

  

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kste1974 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Mar 2007Mon 19-Mar-07 11:53 PM
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#9. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 6


US
          

>Nice one. Shame we don't all work for NASA. lol.

Now you have me thinking that the moon pic posted was through a NASA Telescope and not through a mesely $7,500 500mm lens?

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http://stephanphotos.com
Nikon D700 | Nikon D300 | Gitzo 1325 | Markins M20 | 24-70 2.8 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 85 1.4D | 50mm 1.4D | AB1600, SB-900, SB-800 | RadioPopper JrX Studio

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James23p Moderator Awarded for his wide variety of skills, a true generalist both in film and digital photography Nikonian since 25th Apr 2004Tue 20-Mar-07 12:46 AM
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#10. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 9


Memphis, US
          

Sorry I'm a Navy guy so no nasa, I know people who have CCD telescope cameras but this was with a f4 Nikkor 500 lens on the D80.

But I see you are well stocked in high performance sedans

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csgaraglino Silver Member Charter MemberWed 16-Jan-08 01:16 PM
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#18. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 10


Colorado Springs, US
          

How did you get the sharpness and detail with 500mm?

This is the best I could get with 400mm on my D80...

---
Regards,
Chris Sgaraglino
Outdoor Studios Photography || on Flickr || on Google+

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James23p Moderator Awarded for his wide variety of skills, a true generalist both in film and digital photography Nikonian since 25th Apr 2004Sun 01-Apr-07 03:30 AM
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#12. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 18


Memphis, US
          

The 500 I used is an f4 Nikkor prime and primes tend to be sharper than zooms. Another thing is the tripod and tripod mount on the Nikkor is rock solid and I did not extend the center column on my tripod to keep vibration down. Last I used the remote release so I did not have to touch the camera increasing camera shake.

Try using a remote to release the shutter and make sure the tripod is steady and crop a tad less I bet you can get a nice pic of the moon with the 400 Sigma. Jim


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I will use film until the last roll and last lab are gone. Go Navy

  

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csgaraglino Silver Member Charter MemberMon 02-Apr-07 01:18 AM
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#14. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 12


Colorado Springs, US
          

Ok, for some reason, when I switch to use the remote, the flash icon keeps flashing?

I know the the remote works, because I can get it to work inside or with enough light. What an I doing wrong?

---
Regards,
Chris Sgaraglino
Outdoor Studios Photography || on Flickr || on Google+

  

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James23p Moderator Awarded for his wide variety of skills, a true generalist both in film and digital photography Nikonian since 25th Apr 2004Mon 02-Apr-07 07:13 AM
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#15. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 14


Memphis, US
          

Chris what mode are you using ie PSAM or auto etc? I have never had this with my D80. Jim

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I will use film until the last roll and last lab are gone. Go Navy

  

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csgaraglino Silver Member Charter MemberMon 02-Apr-07 07:59 PM
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#16. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 15


Colorado Springs, US
          

I tried using Shutter Priority, but then moved to manual... Could not get it to work in either mode?

I would up using the Self-Timer?

---
Regards,
Chris Sgaraglino
Outdoor Studios Photography || on Flickr || on Google+

  

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James23p Moderator Awarded for his wide variety of skills, a true generalist both in film and digital photography Nikonian since 25th Apr 2004Mon 02-Apr-07 08:57 PM
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#17. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 16


Memphis, US
          

Chris all I can think of is that the remote times out if the camera doesn't recieve a signal in a certain amount of time see page 99.

I would ask this in the D80 forum maybe someone has run across this. Jim

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James23p Moderator Awarded for his wide variety of skills, a true generalist both in film and digital photography Nikonian since 25th Apr 2004Wed 16-Jan-08 01:16 PM
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#19. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 12


Memphis, US
          

Tonite I did some different shutter speed setting etc. One I used the Nikon Skylight 81a the other the Nikon L37c filter you can see the warming in the skylight filter. All were shot in RAW since that is my new standard operating proceedure!

D80, Nikkor f4 500 Ai-P, RAW, ISO 100 , tripod, remote shutter release and I used the 4 second shutter delay or quasi mirror lock up the D80 has.

Okay number one was at ISO 100, shutter speed 500 and aperture was f9 plus this one had the skylight filter.

Number two was at ISO 100, shutter speed 640, aperture 7.1 and the L37c filter. Plus ther was a wisp of a cloud rolling over.

Post processing was minor exposure adjustment, sharpening and croping, no color or special effects just the moon but I did like the change the filters made. I may have to buy a set of 39mm drop ins for different stuff.


Share, Learn and Inspire
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I will use film until the last roll and last lab are gone. Go Navy

Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)

  

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Shred Registered since 28th Oct 2005Sun 01-Apr-07 08:06 AM
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#13. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 19


FI
          

Post processing can do miracles, especially if you shoot RAW format.
Grayscale conversion may be cheating on moon pics but it makes image apper sharper.
To increase sharpness even more you can apply selective shapening to the moon,
just watch out borders because ovedoing sharpening causes halos and jaggies.
I generally dislike heavy post processig but i guess it is accepted in astrophotography.

And <link:www.halosonic.org/Digikuvat/Kuukroppi2.jpg|here> is my moon shot, it's not great but best i could do with D50 and 300mm + 1.4xTC.
It might be little overdone in PP, but image wasn't great to start with.
Exif data is there but in short: 420mm, F8, 1/400, spot metering.

  

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tmc09 Registered since 09th Feb 2009Mon 09-Feb-09 09:28 PM
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#20. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 13
Thu 12-Feb-09 02:20 AM by jrp

US
          

This topic intrigued me so I began a quest of getting the best possible picture of the moon with the equipment I have. Here's my best results using a D-60 with a Tamron 70-300mm 4-5.6. The sghot was in Man. mode at a shutter speed of 1/400 at F11. ISO set on 200 off a tripod using a 10 sec. delay. For my lens, comparing to other shots posted, I'm well pleased.

http://i275.photobucket.com/albums/jj290/cr0whunt/Misc/DSC_0366-12.jpg

  

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gunfighter48 Registered since 01st Aug 2008Tue 10-Feb-09 06:59 AM
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#21. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 20


Seattle, US
          

That's a pretty good shot, looks slightly underexposed to me. One thing that affects sharpness is atmospheric unstableness. Air currents can play havoc with the sharpness of moon photos. I have a Meade 8" SCT telescope and there are nights when I can't get a decent view of the moon. The upper atmosphere is just too unstable. There have been some nights when views of Jupiter and Saturn were so clear that you could almost reach out and touch them. But those nights are the rare exceptions but fantastic when they do happen. Keep at it and you'll get some great pictures.

gunfighter48
A steady hand works good for cameras and guns.

  

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Floridian Silver Member Nikonian since 11th Feb 2007Tue 10-Feb-09 07:11 PM
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#22. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


Tallahassee, Florida, US
          

I photograph the moon with my 80-400VR at 400mm, ISO 200, f8, 1/400. The exposure seems correct and I get a lot of detail, even hand-held. I'm not thinking I'm going to use my moon photos for anything. There are already so many great photos of the moon, and it does look the same year after year. But it's fun to see what YOUR camera will do, and setting it up that way (ISO 200, f8, 1/400) should get the exposure right.

Randy

  

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 11-Feb-09 01:04 PM
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#24. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 22


US
          

"...and it does look the same year after year..."

Oh contrare!

You would be hard pressed to take the same image of the moon in different months. It is almost impossible.

For one example, take a look at Jim's picture above in reply #19, taken in 2007. At about 1:30 on the clock, near the limb, is a dark circular patch, Mare Crisium. His Mare Crisium is much further away from the rim than yours, exposing rarely seen features behind it near the limb. Although we obviously only see 50% of the moon at any one time, we can see about 60% of the total area of the moon- over time. This is due to an effect called libration, where the moon wobbles, something like a spinning but poorly balanced ball. Jim's image was taken when the libration was at or near an extreme.

If you look at non-full moons shot the same night and posted by individuals across the globe, you will see that they look different. The terminator, the longitudinal line separating day from night on the moon, will have shifted significantly enough that, for example, a crater not visible in one image is visible in another. Because the exact time of the new moon occurs any time in a 24 hour period, more or less randomly over time because the period of the revolution varies by over half a day each month, and because most nights we only see the moon reasonably high in the sky for a couple of hours, it can be difficult to recreate an image with the same exact terminator line, or even reasonably close.

Because of these two effects, plus a few others, it is extraordinarily difficult to ever reproduce the same image again- with the same terminator line and the same libration. And strangely enough, this is a major preoccupation of mine

You just have to know what to look for
_________________________________
Neil

Nikonians Team
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reway Registered since 28th Apr 2006Wed 11-Feb-09 11:37 AM
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#23. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


AZUSA, US
          

don't trust your meter on Moon shots Lawfarm on these on my meter is
all the way bottomed out the Moon is very bright & can be shot handheld
but have taken both ways with tripod & handheld also you get more craters if Moon isn't full



D 5o 1/1000sec f 5.6 340mm ISO 200 Handheld



D 5o 1/1000sec. f 5.6 400mm ISO 400 Tripod

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)

  

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treadwm Registered since 12th Feb 2009Thu 12-Feb-09 12:53 AM
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#25. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

One problem I ran into shooting the moon w/ my D40 is Auto ISO. You must turn it off. Otherwise the camera is constantly raising the iso on you. This results in a moon that is always somewhat overexposed.

The next time around I hope Nikon makes it so Auto ISO is turned off any time I select manual mode.

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Len Shepherd Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003Thu 12-Feb-09 10:24 AM
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#26. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 0


Yorkshire, GB
          

Fast shutter speed - because the moon moves relative to the ground - specialists use a geared motor on a huge tripod to "track" moon or star movement.
Focus does not have to be very accurate because depth of field is enormous at the distance of the moon. Small apertures are not essential. Manual focus is best, as is manual exposure.

Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.

Len Shepherd

  

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Thu 12-Feb-09 01:10 PM
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#27. "RE: Taking sharp pictures of the Moon...how to?"
In response to Reply # 26


US
          

The moon does not move as fast as most people think, at least at moderate focal lengths.

Here's the math:

The sky is subtended into a great circle of 360 degrees. Each degree is subtended into 60 minutes of arc, and each minute in 60 seconds of arc (3600 seconds of arc per degree). A great circle around the sky subtends 24*3600 or 86,400 degrees.

The moon makes one complete revolution around the sky in (24 + 24/27.3), or 24.88 hours or 24 hours 52.8 minutes.

(The moon moves retrograde to the motion of the stars, taking slightly longer than one day, equal to an additional 1/27.3 of a day. The moon orbits the earth, relative to the stars (a sidereal month) every 27.3 days)

The moon therefore moves (360*60*60 = 1,296,000) arc seconds every 24.88 hours (or 24.88*60*60=89568 seconds of time), or 1,296,000/89568=14.47 arc seconds per second of time.

A 100mm lens, on a DX sensor subtends 13.3 degrees across the wide side of the sensor, or 13.3*60*60 = 47,880 arc seconds.

You can verify the math above by pointing your camera (with 100mm lens attached) at the moon, , then orienting the viewfinder such that the moon moves straight across the wide side. The moon will require 47,880/14.47 = 3308.9 seconds to traverse the 100% D300 viewfinder. If your camera has a 95% viewfinder, for example, adjust accordingly . If you want to save time, use a 1000mm lens; it will require 330.89 seconds.

A 12mpx D300 sensor has 4352 pixels across the wide side. If the moon is moving across the 4352 pixels in 3308.9 seconds, then it moves at the rate of 4352/3308.9 = 1.32 pixels per second when using a 100mm lens

It is now a simple matter to convert to any focal length as follows:

focal length/100 * 1.32 = pixels per seconds of movement...

100mm = 1.32 pixels/second
200mm = 2.64 pixels/second
300mm = 3.96 pixels/second
400mm = 5.28 pixels/second
420mm = 5.54 pixels/second
500mm = 6.60 pixels/second
560mm = 7.39 pixels/second
600mm = 7.92 pixels/second
700mm = 9.24 pixels/second
800mm = 10.56 pixels/second
1000mm = 13.20 pixels/second

(some common focal lengths, including TC's)

The shutter speed required to create an image with 1 pixel of uncontrollable motion blur from a fixed tripod = 1/rate. For my 1000mm optics (500/4 + TC-301) I need about 1/15s for one pixel of blur.

You can argue, of course, that 1 pixel of blur is unacceptable, and I agree, which is why I use 1/30s as my floor. Use whatever fraction of a pixel of movement you are comfortable with.

As support of the above, I offer up this image, of a 24d 10h old moon, then at about 47 degrees altitude, shot about 300 yards from the New Jersey coast at a friend's house. Since this is a rising old moon, it was located to the East, over the ocean. Equipment included a D200 500/4 Ai-P TC301, on a Gitzo G1410 and Markins M20.

I had good weather but there is usually a marine layer, to some degree, which likely resulted in less than optimum results. Still not too bad. The image is downsized about 50%.

I vaguely recall pushing this envelope at some other time, where I think I decided that at 1/15s I saw some minor degradation at 100%. I basically decided not to be a hero and use 1/30s as a floor, even at 500 or 700mm.

The image above was part of a long series of lunar imaging, from the 16th to the 27th day of that lunation, missing only day 17 (11 of 12 consecutive nights). It was an interesting exercise, that being most of the back half of a full lunation, because the exposure dropped steadily each night of the last half or so of that run, reaching the point where the following evening I dropped down to 700mm and then finished the last couple days at 500mm. The final week has to be shot as close to sunrise as possible because the moon is just rising and I want to shoot it as high as possible, but with a dark sky to eliminate loss of contrast. That image was shot 2 minutes after the start of nautical Twilight, at 5:38am. Sunrise was 6:34am.

The time is also not very convenient, especially for a long run like that. I'll never get the same stretch of clear skies, and I never want to have to repeat that exercise . It did solve a number of problems I had with my collection of daily phases, it being easiest to do long runs with a consistent progression of daily images. It is almost impossible to assemble that correctly in a piecemeal fashion.

I have the ability to shoot my lens on a motorized equatorial mount, but the mount weights over 30 pounds and requires either AC power or a SLA battery and AC-DC converter. For this type of imaging, I rarely bother. It makes framing easier, not having to the chase the moon, but then I have setup and tear down time. For a 5am shoot, that's a big consideration

The important point here is that for most people, the movement of the moon is not a problem- any sharpness issues are either focus, support or technique. If I can shoot that moon at 1/30s at 1000mm, I should be able to do the same at 1/15s or less at 400mm. Most people posting images and looking for help are shooting at 1/100s or much faster, usually 400-500mm. They need to look elsewhere for their solution, which is fortunate because the real problems are more easily solved.

_________________________________
Neil

Nikonians Team
My Gallery

  

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