How to take amazing pictures of the Moon – a beginners guide
Full moon in Singapore in May 2019

How to take amazing pictures of the Moon – a beginners guide

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If you have ever wondered how people get amazing looking pictures of the moon, then you have come to the right place. In this guide I will share with you the easy tips and tricks to get great looking images of the full moon.

There are a couple of items you need in order to take pictures like the one shown here.

Step 1

Make sure you have a DSLR camera. Model or brand is completely up to you. I use a Canon 6D Mark II as my trusted companion. It is a full frame camera with great specs for landscape photography and all round photo taking.

Next hing is a telephoto lens. There are a lot of different models and price ranges. Mine is a mid range Canon EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM. It has image stabilization which is great when you work with a telephoto lens. A telephoto lens has a long focal range (300mm) which means you can zoom in further. This is important when you want to take pictures of objects, that are very far away. If you are using a camera body that has a cropped sensor, the 70-300mm actutally turns into a 112-480mm due the the crop factor of 1.6x. Taking pictures of the moon would then be easier if you had a non-full frame camera as you can get even closer.

Lastly you need a Tripod. Any tripod will do as long as it is sturdy enough and can carry the weight of you camera and lens. Mine is an older version of the Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fibre tripod.

Setup your camera and point it in the right direction. That tends to help a lot. Zoom in as much as you can and center the frame by using the view finder or the live view mode on your camera. I personally find the live view the easiest to use.

Step 2

When you are using live view you can see a picture of what you are focusing on. You will also be able to see if you image is in focus. For taking pictures of the moon I highly recommend you are in Manual mode on your camera. Usually identified with an M. This means that you can change the ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed settings manually to get the picture you want. It requires some practice, so if you are brand new to DSLR, I recommend you join a Basic Course of mine, if you are located in Singapore. 

Canon 6D Mark II Live View
Canon 6D Mark II Live View

Step 3

Once in Live View mode, use the magnifying glass to get even closer to the subject. Now you will be able to tell if the object is in focus or not. You can use you in camera focus mechanism, but in low light situations, I recommend going manual and adjust to your liking. 

See the picture on the left to understand how much closer you can get with Live View mode and using the built in features of your camera. 

Final Step

Once you are happy with the result of the focus and framing, you are now ready to take your picture. I recommend you use timed shutter release or a shutter release cable or cameras built in wifi settings to control your camera with your phone. This is done to avoid any camera shake and ensuring that your pictures get as sharp and clear as they can be. 

There are many opinions about the best settings for sharpness and clarity. The moon picture I have taken was taken with 300mm focal length, ISO 100, f/22 and 1/15 sec. This was done to optimize clarity, but you can easily use higher ISO, but pay attention to the quality as higher ISO will make your pictures look “grainy”. 

Good luck hunting for moon pictures going forward and I hope this article was helpful and easy enough to follow.

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