by ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

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All my, very limited, experience photographing the moon has been through small telescopes with low resolution mono-chrome cameras. Limited in that I prefer deep space objects with large scopes at very high sensitivities...the moon is strictly off-limits with these scopes.

I have recently come into the possession of a Canon 20D with a Tamron 28-300 lens (what family members will give away can be astonishing) and would like to start taking moon shots with it. The tracking, exposing and processing I can handle but I almost no experience with DSLRs or the sensors they use. So my question(s)...

  • Some typical DSLR filters seem to be UV, IR block and polarizing. Are these pertinent ? Do they protect the sensor in some way ?

  • There are several "moon" filters on the market. Some appear to be neutral density filters...others I'm not so sure. What would be the benefit with these types ?

  • Are light pollution filters recommended ?...I will be on the edge of a large city.

  • Am I over thinking this and should just start shooting ?


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up vote 9 down vote accepted

I'd suggest trying without any filters to start.

A typical dslr sensor has a filter built in that blocks most ir and uv light. There are filters available that will do a better job, but you can probably do just fine without any additional filters.

A lens hood may be helpful to reduce stray light though.

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I have to agree with chills42, I don't see any reason to shoot with a filter on the lens. – John Cavan Sep 6 '10 at 3:58
Good point about built in filters.... would have never crossed my mind...Cheers. – Rusty Sep 6 '10 at 5:52

I took this picture of the moon with a DSLR last year. This photo was shot at 280mm with a Canon 70-200mm and a x1.4 extender (f/8, 1/8 s., ISO200, 100% crop out of 21MP). Not that sharp but that's how close I could get. No filter was used, only some minor white balance adjustment in post.

You could push your 300mm to 600mm with a 2x extender, and if you are not using a full-frame 35mm equiv then you are already multiplying by the x1.6 crop factor, that's almost 1000mm max in theory.

I wouldn't worry about filters, but I would try my best to be as stable as possible, especially at the long end of the zoom. A few tips:

  • use a solid tripod of course,
  • use a remote trigger if possible (either wireless, or a cable release), or even a timer to avoid vibrations,
  • enable mirror lockup to reduce vibration-induced motion blur during exposure.

alt text

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Ahhh...Mirror lockup....I suppose I should read the manual. Nice shot BTW. Thanks. – Rusty Sep 6 '10 at 22:21

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