Photographing The Moon (Easy Guide!)

I keep seeing people struggling to take photographs of the moon, and long articles going into the setup and execution of successful moon photography, but they’re always over complicated and make it sound like it’s hard work.

Photographing the moon is the easiest thing to do if you understand you’re basically shooting straight into a bright light source on a par with photographing in the daytime.

If you don’t usually use a tripod with the lens you’re going to use for the moon, you won’t need one for shooting the moon. It needs to a focal length of 200mm (300m full frame) minimum to get really great results (you will need to crop your image after), but just experiment with whatever you want.

The simple steps:
1. Set your camera to manual mode
2. Set your aperture to around F/5.6-F/11 (but experiment as all lenses are different).
3. Set your ISO to base level or just above.
4. Set your shutter speed to the minimum length of your lens to stop shake (regardless of if it has image stabilisation or what crop factor it is). I will often a make that speed a bit more. So with a 300mm lens 1/300 minimum, 200mm 1/200 minimum etc.
5. Set your shooting mode to Continuous (low should be fine, around 3-5 shots per shutter press)
6. Take photographs! (If you’re shooting with a mirrorless camera, you’ll see your exposure in camera before you take the photos and can adjust as needed)
7. Look at your screen, sometimes it’s best to just slightly under expose. If you’re over exposed change your aperture of shutter speed to compensate.
8. Get the photos off your camera and crop the image. You may need to add a little structure or sharpening.

Some people get concerned over the focusing. I’ve never had an issue with any lens focusing on the moon, but if you prefer you can use manual focus. Also some people faff around with metering modes, but it really doesn’t matter what you use, the result will be the same.

Now enough reading, and go and take photos of the moon!!!

— As someone who’s been photographing the moon since starting photography, I’ve used lenses ranging from a standard 18-55mm to 1500mm and taken too many images to count. Each time I’ve used the same method and it’s never failed. The main thing to remember is atmospheric conditions on the night can play a huge part in the clarity of the final image.