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04-01-2010, 06:47 AM   #1
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How to get sharp moon shots?

I've seen a number of really clear moon shots on this forum, so I thought I'd give it a shot last night. Here are the best five, which are still nowhere perfect. Taken with DA L 55-300mm, all at 300mm. The settings are as follows:

#3691 f/8, 1/400, ISO-400
#3693 f/8, 1/250, ISO-400
#3697, f/8, 1/500, ISO-400
#3710, f/9, 1/320, ISO-400
#3721, f/8, 1/500, ISO-800

What am I doing wrong? I tried AF and MF, but in both cases, I still got these not-quite-clear pictures. The night was very clear, so I can't blame the weather.

- Sung

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04-01-2010, 06:50 AM   #2
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Tripod, tripod, tripod, tripod!

Also, while using a tripod use a remote shutter release.
04-01-2010, 07:24 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by noahpurdy Quote
Tripod, tripod, tripod, tripod!

Also, while using a tripod use a remote shutter release.
I should've mentioned that I was:

1) using a tripod
2) using a remote shutter release

I think the only thing left in this equation is the photographer...

- Sung
04-01-2010, 07:46 AM   #4
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google: "how to photograph the moon" for astrophotography links with plenty of tips.

Actually, your images are pretty good! Looks like you used good technique, with tripod, mirror lockup, and remote release, however, since the moon is very bright, lowest iso should be used.

First, use iso100 for least sensor noise. Second, "seeing" was not optimal; even with very clear-looking night sky, there are miles of atmosphere in between moon and camera lens, that muddy the image. The trick here is to take MANY shots; one or more will be very clear because the atmosphere was still at that moment. Third, "stack" the clear images -- often parts of the moon unclear on one image will be clear on another -- to get one clear-overall image.

04-01-2010, 07:47 AM   #5
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Was shake reduction turned off? It should be on a tripod.
04-01-2010, 08:00 AM   #6
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I don't want to be funny, but I think I heard that the moon is at infinity focusing distance from earth, so focusing should have NOTHING to do with it.

Tripod, 2-second self-timer (which locks the mirror up for less vibration and also disables shake reduction), and possibly up your contrast a little.

I never shoot the moon, because there are too many outstanding shots out there already anyway.

I'm waiting for the alien spaceships.
04-01-2010, 08:06 AM   #7
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Ira (Canon User!), I was reading that the moon will actually be just slightly before infinity focus (just slightly obviously). If I put my camera onto my telescope it is nowhere near infinity focus as well. You could be right (we both know how right the internet is...all of the time!), but it probably depends on your camera's calibration as well.

That said, OP, these are decent for a first attempt so keep at it!
04-01-2010, 08:13 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
I don't want to be funny, but I think I heard that the moon is at infinity focusing distance from earth, so focusing should have NOTHING to do with it.

Tripod, 2-second self-timer (which locks the mirror up for less vibration and also disables shake reduction), and possibly up your contrast a little.

I never shoot the moon, because there are too many outstanding shots out there already anyway.

I'm waiting for the alien spaceships.
Not quite. Just in front of infinity on very long lenses. Don't know about the 300mm but with This lens, the moon is not at infinity..







In addition, especially with a very long lens, the moon moves quite fast through the viewfinder. You really want the fastest shutter speed you can muster. You also want to avoid shooting a full moon most times. Three quarter or less is best in my experience.



04-01-2010, 08:14 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
Ira (Canon User!), I was reading that the moon will actually be just slightly before infinity focus (just slightly obviously). If I put my camera onto my telescope it is nowhere near infinity focus as well. You could be right (we both know how right the internet is...all of the time!), but it probably depends on your camera's calibration as well.

That said, OP, these are decent for a first attempt so keep at it!
You cannot compare a telescopic focus with a photographic lens, because the telescope's focal plain is NOT fixed. Otherwise it would be impossible to achieve focus with the different eyepieces and cameras you may want to use.

A photographic lens is made for a fixed focal plane. But not all lenses and especially not AF lenses will be focused at infinity if you simply turn the focus ring to the final stop. They may focus well beyond infinity, which allows for compensation, when materials change there dimensions with varying temperaturs or humidity. Espcially plastics in modern lenses are somwwhat prone to that. On top the AF requires a certain losseness of the whole focusing mechanism. And then, finally, I think, that in modern AF lenses the distance marks are only a rough indicator and may not be that correct, because they are not intended to be used manually.

So, for any sensible purpose the Moon is at infinity, but focusing is still tricky - and may be the single most challenging problem in astrophotography.
04-01-2010, 08:16 AM   #10
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try backing off the zoom a little bit, the dal 50-300 is a bit soft at full zoom. also, shooting an almost full moon is really bright which will wash out some contrast and detail. lastly, there might be too much moisture in the air, which also softens things up.
04-01-2010, 08:23 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
You cannot compare a telescopic focus with a photographic lens, because the telescope's focal plain is NOT fixed. Otherwise it would be impossible to achieve focus with the different eyepieces and cameras you may want to use.

A photographic lens is made for a fixed focal plane. But not all lenses and especially not AF lenses will be focused at infinity if you simply turn the focus ring to the final stop. They may focus well beyond infinity, which allows for compensation, when materials change there dimensions with varying temperaturs or humidity. Espcially plastics in modern lenses are somwwhat prone to that. On top the AF requires a certain losseness of the whole focusing mechanism. And then, finally, I think, that in modern AF lenses the distance marks are only a rough indicator and may not be that correct, because they are not intended to be used manually.

So, for any sensible purpose the Moon is at infinity, but focusing is still tricky - and may be the single most challenging problem in astrophotography.
Really???????

It's a good thing I never tried to shoot the moon, but I'll be ready for the spaceships.
04-01-2010, 08:24 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
Not quite. Just in front of infinity on very long lenses. Don't know about the 300mm but with This lens, the moon is not at infinity..







In addition, especially with a very long lens, the moon moves quite fast through the viewfinder. You really want the fastest shutter speed you can muster. You also want to avoid shooting a full moon most times. Three quarter or less is best in my experience.

Can you explain the markings on that Vivitar?
04-01-2010, 08:24 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by sjwoo Quote
I've seen a number of really clear moon shots on this forum, so I thought I'd give it a shot last night. Here are the best five, which are still nowhere perfect. Taken with DA L 55-300mm, all at 300mm. The settings are as follows:

#3691 f/8, 1/400, ISO-400
#3693 f/8, 1/250, ISO-400
#3697, f/8, 1/500, ISO-400
#3710, f/9, 1/320, ISO-400
#3721, f/8, 1/500, ISO-800

What am I doing wrong? I tried AF and MF, but in both cases, I still got these not-quite-clear pictures. The night was very clear, so I can't blame the weather.

- Sung
To me, these shots look simply misfocused. Forget about AF completely. You can only reliably focus manually.

Then there is the question about the tripod and its vibration resistance. As far as I know (but I do not have this lens), it hasn't got a tripod collar. Thus the long extension of the lens will induce more virbations, which you can only suppress with a comparetively solid and heavy tripod and tripod head. After all, the 300mm are on the smaller APS-C sensor, which will make any camera shake more visible.

Finally, a clear night does not mean a good night for Moon shots. The question is about atmospheric turbulences ("seeing" in astronomical terminology), which will simply wipe out finer detail. The only remedy would be very short expsoure times, which on top would be helpful to counter any vibrations and finally also counter the Moon's quite noticeable apparent movement.

Some helpful threads with more info and examples:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/90564-what-my-b...-pic-moon.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/general-photography/62652-moon-shots-elevation.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/59437-tou-five...0mm-f-8-a.html

Ben
04-01-2010, 08:31 AM   #14
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Yeah with those shutter speeds and iso settings, it is possible to get images like yours holding the camera in your hands.
I'm looking at these images on my tiny iPod but if these are your first attempts they are not too bad.
I will pass along some things that were suggested to me on this great forum of ours. In the city and for a few hours after sunset, you will get some minor disturbance in the air from warmer air and pollution. It is best to photograph the moon when nothing is nearby your path of focus. In other words you will get better results if you are in a field rather than in your backyard, pointing your lens over a house, highway or big parking lot as the reflected heat and pollution can lower the image quality as well.
Lower your iso, shutter speed and make sure you have your tripod secured.
And you will get much better suggestions from others very soon. Just keep at it.
04-01-2010, 09:01 AM   #15
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Focusing is the tough part of astro work. The moon seems easy, it isn't.
Your third shot is not bad on exposure. You just need to get the focusing down. And don't try to evaluate the shots on the lcd screen. I usually have a laptop handy to check focus. You may benefit from a split screen or O-ME53.
I don't shoot with lenses as a rule. I usually use one of my scopes.
This was shot at 2400mm with the K200D. It is two shots stitched together. It took about 20 to get these two to combine.
Concrete and asphalpt are bad news once the sun goes down. They are heatsinks that cause shimmer at night. Sometimes lasting till 2-3 am. Try to shoot across water or grass.
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