Posts Tagged ‘moon’

A Little Bit Out of Focus

December 29, 2009

Last night I made a second set of test shots of the Thai moon over Bangkok. This time I tried manually focusing on the moon with my Canon 75-300mm lens set at 300mm.

Although the pictures looked all right in the viewfinder and on the LCD display, when I got them into Lightroom they were unacceptably blurred.

Moon Out of Focus

Moon Out of Focus

My first attempts when I let the camera auto-focus were much better. I was surprised that it could focus, but it did and it did a better job than my 53-year-old eyeballs.

I remember my Canon A-1 film SLR camera had two optical devices in the viewfinder to help you focus. (This was the 1980s before auto-focus was available).

The first were micro-prizms. They disappeared when the picture was correctly focused. The second was a split prism. This worked better in low light. You adjusted focus until the top and bottom half of the picture was aligned. This article talks about them and this article explains the optical theory.

I don’t think there’s a technical reason cameras no longer have these aids. They are available on professional cameras like the Canon EOS-1 series. I suppose manufacturers believe that autofocus works 99% of the time so they are no longer necessary for amateurs.

Moon Shots

December 28, 2009

I asked my online mentor, Michael Willems, a question that’s been bothering me for a while:

We’re having some lovely clear nights in Bangkok now it is the cool season. The moon often looks great but I have had limited success photographing it. Do you have any tips for good lunar photography?

He responded here with some useful tips.

The moon wasn’t very interesting tonight and it wasn’t full but I thought I’d try his suggestions.

I set up the Canon EOS-30D on a tripod with a cable release. My longest lens is the Canon 75-300mm F3.5-5.6 so I used that at 300mm.

I set the camera to 100 ASA to get the best quality from the sensor. I set a manual exposure of 1/125 at F11.

The moon was high in the sky so I got a crink in my neck trying to focus manually. It was not very bright so I tried some longer exposures.

I converted them to greyscale in Lightroom – the images looked better that way.

Here’s a single sheet with four pictures, courtesy of Lightroom’s “Print to File” feature:

Moon Shots

Moon Shots

I also put some larger pictures on Flickr:

1. Moon Shots

2. Moon Shots

3. Moon Shots

4. Moon Shots

My reaction? They are okay and better than I have achieved in the past. They don’t have the sharpness I was hoping for. I think that’s a function of my inexpensive consumer-grade lens. The camera is capable of better pictures.