Moon Photography


TPF Noob!
Feb 2, 2012
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Antioch, Ca
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I am a beginner photographer and had a coulple of questions regarding photographing the moon. I have a Canon 1DMarkIV coupled with a 70-200mm f2.8L lens and two extenders - a 1.4x and a 2.0x.
My first question is on the settings of the camera. What settings do I use and why? (just so I can understand it). Secondly how best can I use the extenders to photograph the moon. Can I stack them up like so -
70-200mm f2,8L lens attached to both the 1.4x and the 2.0x get more range? Thirdly, are the settings on the camera different if I were to stack the extenders and what are the settings and why?

I tried to take a picture last night of the moon and all I got was a bright spot ..thats it just a bright spot. I see other people getting so much clarity with their equipment using the same equipment or similar - like a T3i or a canon 40d with a 70-200mm zoom lens.

I would truly appreciate any reponse so that I can learn how to shoot the moon.

Somewhere we have an article on photographing the moon - though I forget where its hiding up at present.

Anyway a few pointers:

1) When you meter for the moon its a tiny dot of bright light (lit direct by the sun) in a sea of black (at least when shooting at night of course). This means that most metering modes (outside of spot metering) get fooled by all the black and so give an exposure reading that will, nearly always, result in the moon being very over exposed - thus you get the white blob.
To compensate shift into manual mode and adjust your settings accordingly for a bright subject - low ISO, small aperture (bigger f number) and slower shutter speed. You should be able to get a clear shot without too much adjustment.

2) You can indeed stack the teleconverters, 1.4 first then the 2*TC and then the lens itself. However doing so means that you've lost 3 stops worth of light (one from the 1.4*TC and 2 from the 2*TC). This means the f2.8 lens becomes and f8 lens, furthermore stacking teleconverters, whilst possible, does not always result in the teleconverters both reporting to the camera body. This means whilst the effective aperture (when set wide open) IS f8, the camera might mistakenly report it as f5.6 since it can't "see" one of the teleconverters (it might also report it as f4 if it can't see the 2*TC but can see the 1.4TC).
Furthermore stacking reduces the optical quality further still, whilst the 70-200mm f2.8 IS L MII can take a 2*TC very well, when adding in the 1.4TC as well the quality becomes that little bit more iffy and for many it might be too soft. You can improve the chances of a sharp shot by stopping the lens down around one stop to f16 since most lenses are not their sharpest wide open and will improve around one stop down.
Of course this means you're shooting at f16 and so even with a bright subject it might well result in too slow a shutter speed (unless you raise ISO).

Personally I would say start with just the 2*TC and focus on getting a good, clear, sharp shot with that - then consider the 1.4TC addition once you've got the basics.
Try these settings:
ISO 100
focal length - 200
shutter speed - 1/400

for reference:


you'll find other moon shots here:

_MG_2972 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

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