I was trying to capture Northern lights during my recent trip to Iceland, although i couldn't capture them well but i was left wondering if i should zoom towards night sky while clicking photos or not and if yes how much to zoom?

I have a camera with good zoom "Canon SX520HS".

  • 1
    Depends what photo you want. If you want the widest angle you can, don't zoom. If you want less of the scene, zoom. – Philip Kendall Jan 26 '18 at 15:47
  • Wouldn't exposure drive all this? or we can get right exposure irrespective of zoom? – Lokesh Jan 26 '18 at 16:00
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    exposure has nothing to do with focal length. – flolilo Jan 26 '18 at 16:13
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    @Lokesh not necessarily - in a fixed-aperture lens, it does not. you could specify your question to something like "is it better to work at min. focal length and maximum aperture, delivering faster shutter times, or using max. focal length with a higher max. aperture, making shutter speeds longer?" as it is formulated, one cannot really make more than educated guesses about what you want. – flolilo Jan 26 '18 at 16:42
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    I read this as, "should I zoom while taking photos". Assuming a slower shutter speed, you'd get zoom blur. Obviously not what you meant - but I think the question can be clarified a bit. – OnBreak. Jan 26 '18 at 18:57

No, you don't want to zoom.

Your camera has a variable aperture of f/3.4-6. This means that all the way zoomed out you have a minimum aperture of f/3.4, and as you zoom in the minimum approaches f/6 until you are fully zoomed in, and then you are at a solid f/6. An f/6 aperture lets in 1-2/3 stops less light. This more than doubles the required exposure time to get the same image, increase risk of bumping the camera and interference on the sensor.

In your situation I would shoot as far zoomed out as I can while still getting the framing I want.


While it depends on the type of photograph you are trying to create, in general most people would want to use their widest lenses for night shots that include the sky.

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