I made a few shots to the full moon, I use the recommended settings, manual with 2 zoom lennses a sigma 18 to 200 with nikon 3100 and a nikkor lense 70 to 210 with a nikon d50 all pictures were not clear, is it possible that there was haze in the atmosphere since I'm in a city also it could be the city lights although it was dark and no lights arond me, or do I need better lenses?
You said you used manual settings but did not tell us what they were. It would be helpful to know exactly what aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings you used. Did manual settings include focus? Critically sharp focus can be difficult to obtain unless you can use live view at high magnification to confirm focus (I don't know if your cameras have this feature). Many autofocus systems will have trouble with the moon, while others can be successful - it differs from one camera model to another. In addition to the possibility of unsharp focus, the atmospheric conditions can definitely blur the light from astronomical subjects. However, atmospheric conditions can change from one location to another or from one day to another. Also, the position of the moon in the sky will affect how much atmosphere you are looking through - the higher it is in the sky the less the atmosphere can affect the image. How solid was your camera support? ...or did you try to handhold the camera for these images?
"...do I need better lenses?"
Well, maybe but not definitely. It depends on how good you want your images to be and how you are going to use them. Before spending a lot of money on new lenses, practice to eliminate the common causes for lack of clarity or sharpness first. Once you know that you have been able to capture the best images the lenses are capable of, you will know whether or not that level of performance is satisfactory for your needs. I suggest trying the following:
- Put your camera on a *solid* tripod, and make sure the surface on which you place the tripod is also solid. Many buildings and even sidewalks/driveways can vibrate when a vehicle passes by.
- Use a remote release for the shutter, or use a shutter delay of a few seconds so than any effect of touching the camera can damp out. If your camera has it, use the mirror lockup feature to reduce any vibrations from mirror slap.
- Use an aperture around f/8 to get into the range where your lenses are sharpest (unless you find lens tests that show the lens is better at some other aperture)
- Verify focus by live view at high magnification, or by trial and error and reviewing each shot on the camera monitor afterward.
- Shoot when the moon is high in the sky
- If possible, try shooting from an area removed from the light and particulate pollution common in cities. If you can, being at some altitude is also a benefit - shooting from some kind of mountain many miles from a city can definitely help.
If you try these, let us know if things get any better.
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. -Ansel Adams
Those two lenses are way too short for Moon shots. On a SLR/DSLR camera,
the Moon's projected image (on film or sensor) has a diameter slightly
less than one tenth of the lens's focal length. Thus, with a 210mm lens one gets a 1.9mm
circle on film/sensor, which is only 8 percent of 24mm, the FF's shorter side.
It has been said before on this forums, probably by AstroImager, the
resident Astronomer, that a 1000mm lens is about the shortest for serious
You have several problems shooting the Moon with your gear. First, do you want a Sky and Telescope quality image or will you settle for something less? Second, do you have a tripod? Third, if you don't have a tripod, is your Sigma 18-200 their stabilized version, ie does it have OS? Last, what is your level of expertise?
If you want a good, but maybe not publishable photo of a Full Moon try this:
The Full Moon is a lot brighter than most people think it is. Set the camera to A and f/8. Set the iso to 400. I would recommend a little higher, but the D50 is not very good above iso400. Take a test shot. If the Moon is over or underexposed, use the exposure compensation and take test shots until the exposure is correct. If the photo with a correct exposure is blurry, open the lens to f/5.6 (or 6.3). That will raise the the shutter speed. Shoot a test shot. If it's still blurry raise the iso to 800 and if necessary to 1600. Last, your image of the Moon will be small, so you will have to crop. As you crop you will lose sharpness so crop until you are satisfied with the size and sharpness of the Moon.
I've done this with a D90 and Nikon 70-300 VR and gotten very nice results, not what Astroimager gets, but still pretty good.
In other words we are starting with a ballpark exposure and then using trial and error to home in on a good exposure without blur. Digital allows you to do that.
Good advice, but like Mark I would ask what do you expect picture quality wise? What gear you have is adaquate, but obviously not telescope grade.
I shoot the moon on manual ISO 200 f6.3 and 1/620th shutter speed and brackett.
This with 75/300 Canon lens on an EOS 20D. Hand held.
ars longa vita brevis
I'm a little late to this, but...
You can get good shots of the moon at 300mm or so (as Suci clearly showed). But the more pixels you get on the moon, the more detail you can show.
An APS-sized sensor needs about 1200mm to fit the entire moon onto the sensor with a bit of blank space to spare. A full-frame sensor needs about 2000mm to do the same. At 300mm, you're filling about 1/4th of the frame vertically with moon, the other 3/4ths are blank sky (so Suci's fine image is clearly cropped). Here's an example taken at 1200mm (using a telescope) with a Canon XTi:
That shot is cropped horizontally, but not vertically. For comparison, here's a shot taken with a Canon 5D (full frame) through the exact same telescope, at 1200mm, no cropping:
So if you can get more focal length, use it -- your shots will be better!
No matter what focal length you use, start with the "looney 11" rule (1/ISO at f/11); bump your ISO up to 400 or 800 so you can get a fast shutter speed, not only to avoid your own shaking, but to stop the motion of the moon (yes, it's moving from your point of view across the sky pretty darn quickly). Use a tripod if possible. Focus manually, don't rely on your camera's AF.
City lights won't make much if any difference, but haze or smog will. Try to shoot the moon when it's highest in the sky, rather than near the horizon (where air currents mess up the "seeing" much more).
And keep at it -- you'll get some good shots!
I took this one with a 300mm F2.8 lens, hand held. If you have a very clear night with stable atmosphere then the city lights will not have any negative effect on the shot because the moon is a very high magnitude.
Last edited by stargate87; 02-20-2013 at 06:59 PM.