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11-03-2017, 08:19 PM   #1
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Capturing more full moon detail from the 50-200 zoom kit?
Lens: DA 50-200mm WR Camera: K-S2 Photo Location: Pittsburgh ISO: 200 Shutter Speed: 1/125s Aperture: F11 

I'd love to hear any advice anyone might have for capturing more of the 3D detail seen in other folks moon shots. This was a 12-shot stack[*] processed lightly in Affinity Photo. I feel like a one-off shot shot of a half-moon I took a while back with a Sony a6000 and no processing came out much more compelling. Perhaps that's just the nature of half-moons over full moons, due to the way the light is pointed at a half-moon?

Thanks for looking!



[*] interval 5 sec, 2-shot timer delay to prevent mirror slap. Only adjustments in Affinity Photo were just some exposure reduction and the stacking of the photo set.

11-04-2017, 02:05 PM - 1 Like   #2
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That's not bad at all considering the lens , which I think is the key limitation. It's also tough to focus with that small focusing ring. Could be something to look at.

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11-05-2017, 02:08 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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Full Moon 05/11/17

Shot this tonight with my K-3 II with Pentax DA 300mm F4 ED (IF) SDM, single exposure at 1/60 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100
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11-08-2017, 10:17 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kodiak Quote
Perhaps that's just the nature of half-moons over full moons, due to the way the light is pointed at a half-moon?
Yes. the full moon is similar to earth landscapes at midsummer noon. The sun is directly overhead so you don't get good shadows.

200mm is challenging for the moon. I feel that anything less than 300mm needs something else in the frame for an interesting moon photo.

If you are lucky to have a stable sky with no atmospheric turbulence, and really nail focus, you might be able to heavily crop a 200mm image. f/8 instead of f/11 might sacrifice some lens sharpness with the 50-200, but the shorter exposure speed might capture a fleeting cell of stable air.

QuoteOriginally posted by fizzio Quote
Shot this tonight with my K-3 II with Pentax DA 300mm F4 ED (IF) SDM, single exposure at 1/60 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100
If you want feedback, I suggest starting your own thread so we don't hijack Kodiak's original post.

11-18-2017, 10:00 PM   #5
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Either haze is reducing sharpness or you're not bang on focus. While a 200mm is a limiting factor on a clear night you can get much more detail than that in a tight crop. Be sure to take many photos and micro adjust focus.
If atmospheric haze is the culprit then you don't have much of a choice but wait for a clearer night.

This was a photo I took with a 135mm, and you can clearly see the detail on the moon is much sharper.

Single In - October 30th | Brian Mckee | Flickr

I'd also argue that stacking is not much help on moon shots from my experience, I tend to get worse shots.

Here are two examples I did with the same telescope, one stacked and one not.

https://orig00.deviantart.net/a83f/f/2017/097/e/9/the_moon_2_by_zombeharmeh-db50y87.jpg

https://orig00.deviantart.net/7bae/f/2017/097/2/e/the_moon_by_zombeharmeh-db50wvp.jpg

You can clearly see in the second photo linked the stacking process muddied up some parts of the moon while the single shot by far was more sharp overall.

Last edited by ZombieArmy; 11-18-2017 at 10:05 PM.
11-22-2017, 06:44 PM   #6
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Agreeing that the focus might be slightly off

I am leaning towards it being a focus issue and being just slightly off as I am not seeing any haze.
This is an image I took with my K2000 using my old Vivitar 200mm f/3.5 manual lens after I got my M42 to K mount adapter. It was created from a stack of 5 images that were hand held. There was some light high level clouds/haze and you can see it illuminated to the right of the moon. Shutter speed was 1/200, ISO:200, and f/11. I just spun the focus ring over to infinity so no fine focus as I just wanted to play with my adapter that I got that day.
Name:  Moon.jpg
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If you think the focus is good and a single image looks better or only slightly worse it could also be an artifact of the stacking as I have seen things go goofy sometimes when you get a big uniform color like the black background. To help things out I usually will crop each image down a bunch, in this case mostly the moon. Then I double the resolution (4x image size) and use nearest neighbor as the enlargement method as this will allow you to get finer alignment. For the first round of alignment I use the hugin program align_image_stack and have it crop the output images so only the overlapping parts are in the output images. For final alignment I load the hugin output crops as a stack into photoshop and have it do an auto align on them. For combining the layers I set the opacity to 1/(position from the bottom) as a percentage and then flatten it. Finally I decrease the image resolution to 50% and use bicubic sharper for the resampling.

The reason for the initial doubling of the resolution (4x image size increase) is that it will allow the alignment to become more accurate. Having tried the various enlargement methods nearest neighbor works best when stacking images. You can optionally sharpen the image some before downsampling at the end but this may shapen away some fine detail that was revealed when you downsample. I also find that by using 2 different alignment tools, hugin and photoshop, I get better results in the final alignment.
11-22-2017, 07:50 PM   #7
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This thread is making me want to go out and experiment to capture a few shots.....

In relation to the question of suitable focal length, this website shows the moon at different focal lengths, from 70mm to 1000mm, so it gives you a good idea.

http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/moon-test2/

Has anyone tried shooting at 1200mm? These shots by Philipp Schmidli are amazing:

Silhouettes in a Giant Moonrise, Captured Using a 1200mm Lens

Last edited by Theov39; 11-23-2017 at 11:18 PM.
12-03-2017, 03:33 PM - 1 Like   #8
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To the OP, I have never stacked anything, just not the way that I work. My thoughts: Stacking moon pictures would be problematic unless you are on a tracking device of some sort because the moon is not stationary and moves relatively fast.
A steady tripod and accurate focusing make for reasonable images.
I took this a few years ago in P.E.I. on a clear night in the fall and this is the best out of 5 images that I took. Camera was a K20D, 500mm (Bigma) iso 100, 1/125 at f:11


12-04-2017, 02:41 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Heinrich Lohmann Quote
To the OP, I have never stacked anything, just not the way that I work. My thoughts: Stacking moon pictures would be problematic unless you are on a tracking device of some sort because the moon is not stationary and moves relatively fast.
A steady tripod and accurate focusing make for reasonable images.
I took this a few years ago in P.E.I. on a clear night in the fall and this is the best out of 5 images that I took. Camera was a K20D, 500mm (Bigma) iso 100, 1/125 at f:11
Wow, that is an amazing shot!
12-08-2017, 03:46 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Heinrich Lohmann Quote
...Stacking moon pictures would be problematic unless you are on a tracking device of some sort because the moon is not stationary and moves relatively fast...
That's a good moon photo. Good exposure. I assume you applied sharpening in software because the atmosphere seldom allows such sharpness, and it's well done but not overdone. It might be too yellow, though.

To stack moon photos, it can be done in layers where you manually slide the layers to undo shifts from Earth's rotation, or there's special software (Registax and AutoStakkert are freeware) that can do it. No tracking required. The moon is generally okay with a single shot, though, because it's so large and doesn't need extreme magnification. Stacking becomes more important when shooting through a telescope at 1200mm or more.

If you aren't familiar with their work, search for Damian Peach, Christopher Go, and Thierry Legault to see some of the stacking possibilities. They have some great photos of satellites and planets. Peach had one a few years ago that showed surface texture on moons around Jupiter!
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