I've just come from a vacation trip where one of the attractions was firefly watching at night. I only brought with me my point-and-shoot camera, a Canon S100, but to much disappointment, I wasn't even able to photograph the little critters; they did not even show up on my camera's EVF! So, given that my camera was useless at that time, I tucked it away. That was some time ago.

Now, I got a Canon 70D. I also have the Canon 40mm f2.8 lens. If ever I do go back, are these two enough to take some photos of the fireflies?

Here's an interesting stipulation: the attraction takes place in a river and the tourists all sit in a boat, and only a very dim red light by the guide, stars, and the moon provide light, apart from the fireflies. Since there's no place to set up a tripod, I was wondering: can they even be photographed hand held? Is the 70d and the 40mm enough?


  • Handheld? No. Instead, Ideally with a tripod and remote control. If you have neither, setting the camera on something solid (e.g. a rock), manual mode, with a 4 to 10 second shutter time, ISO about 400, f/4 to f/5.6 ish, pre-focused to area of fireflies, using your 2 or 10 second delay to minimize vibration, shooting at twilight. That's about my settings, but I use a cheap intervalometer to shoot a bunch and then stack'em like you would for star trails. – B Shaw Sep 3 '14 at 1:45
  • @BShaw I'd agree to some of that, but unfortunately the tour starts at 9 in the evening; no more twilight then. Add to that the waves which rock the boat. :/ – chelem7 Sep 3 '14 at 5:42

Using that gear, you'll probably be able to capture something.

But in-focus and not blurred due to camera shake and subject movement? No, I don't think so.

Fireflies are just too weak as light sources. If you did manage to catch them the result would just be a bunch of pale green dots, not very impressive without context.

Just lean back and enjoy the experience. Leave trying to capture it to professionals who have $20,000 gear and can retry for weeks to get just the right conditions.

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