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01-27-2010, 08:22 AM   #1
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Shooting the shuttle at night

What would would be the best lens and settings to photograph the shuttle launch at 4:30 am.

01-27-2010, 09:13 AM   #2
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Curious, I did a quick Google and found this How to view and photograph a NASA Space Shuttle Launch from Kennedy Space Center . I was surprised at the ISO and F stops used for the night launch. Clearly, those beasts give off a whole lot of light.
Good Luck.
01-27-2010, 10:02 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by rormeister Quote
Curious, I did a quick Google and found this How to view and photograph a NASA Space Shuttle Launch from Kennedy Space Center . I was surprised at the ISO and F stops used for the night launch. Clearly, those beasts give off a whole lot of light.
Good Luck.
Probably just as bright as taking a moon shot - that article is pretty dated, a nikon d2x! Wonder what lens was actually used since he noted 400mm as being a cropped FL.

If you have a K-x you could easily get by at iso3200 (3 stops more than that article suggested, but definitely doable with much newer camera sensor technology) with the 55-300mm probably stopped to f6.3 or 7.1 (maybe even f8).

Edit: I saw you have a K20, probably would want to stick to ISO1600 - what lenses do you currently have?
01-28-2010, 01:35 AM   #4
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This document is directly from NASA. It is older, but the brightness of the shuttle hasn't changed over the years. It is the official "Photographic Exposure Guidelines for Night Space Shuttle Launches."

KSC Release No. 76-97

Note that after the shuttle clears the pad, the exposure value is approx EV14. That is very bright. There is no reason to crank your ISO up so high to 1600 or 3200. Using the above guidelines, you can decide what exposure combination to use. I will be at this next launch and I will be shooting 400mm, at 1/1000s, f/5.6 at ISO400 from about 4 miles away. The reason I am using ISO 400 at the faster shutter speed instead of say, ISO 100 and 1/250 is that I am going to be handholding, and I don't want to have any blur due to camera shake or shuttle motion.

Where are you going to view the Shuttle? I assume you are going to the next launch on the 7th?


Last edited by PentaxPoke; 01-28-2010 at 01:40 AM.
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