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Shoot The Moon

Shooting a properly exposed image of the moon can be tricky. Keep in mind that while it is night on Earth, the moon is awash with bright sunlight; therefore, you need to expose as if you were exposing for a day scene.

f16, 1/250 taken with E-510 with 300mm lens and 1.4 Telconverter

f/16, 1/40 taken with E-510 with 300mm lens and 1.4 Telconverter

Since it is daytime on the moon, you can start out by manually setting the exposure using the Sunny 16 Rule. The Sunny 16 Rule can be used to estimate a proper daylight exposure when you don't have a light meter. In the Sunny 16 Rule, set f16 at a shutter speed equivalent to one over the ISO. If the ISO is 200, the shutter speed you will set is 1/200 second. This exposure is a starting point; you'll probably want to experiment with tweaking the ISO and shutter speed for best results.

Remember, as the phases of the moon change, so goes the light of the moon and you will need to adjust your settings accordingly. A full moon is not as interesting as a half-moon or three quarter-moon because the Full Moon is front lit and flat, whereas the Moon in its phases is somewhat cross-lit so the craters and mountains tend to have more texture when photographed.


To focus on the moon, use manual focus or set your camera to C-AF and keep the moon in the center of the frame. If your moon shots seem blurry, try using your camera's anti-shock feature. Using a tripod and your camera's timer function will also help reduce blur. Remember - the moon is far away, so it will be very small in your shot without the proper equipment. If you find you are not getting the fine detail you would like, you may want to try a lens with a greater zoom like our new ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 70-300mm lens, a teleconverter or a higher megapixel camera body.

F-stop is determined using the following rule:

Bright sunny day: f16
Bright sunny day with the subject backlit: f8
Cloudy day and you can see your shadow: f11
Cloudy day and you can't see your shadow: f8

Using the "Sunny 16 Rule" the exposure for a bright Moon at ISO 200 would be 1/200 second at f16.

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