Although astrophotography has been a popular photography niche for some time now, more and more people are starting to get into photographing the moon in particular even amongst people who don’t get involved in the other aspects of astrophotography. With photographing the moon becoming more and more popular amongst the wider photography community, it should come as no surprise that we have seen more and more people reaching out with a number of different questions about how they are able to capture the best image quality possible.
One of the more frequently asked questions that we are seeing with each passing month from the community is based around how to get the best image quality possible for moon photography when using a 200mm lens. Thankfully, the 200mm focal length is much better for capturing a decent photograph of the moon than some of the other focal lengths that we see people reaching out about making our job much easier. Additionally, the 200mm focal length offers a little diversification in the types of photographs of the moon that you are able to capture during your photography sessions too.
One thing that we want to quickly touch on is that no all 200mm focal length lenses are created equally when it comes to moon photography or astrophotography in general. Our readers are at a wide range of levels when it comes to their photography but the majority of people who we see reaching out about using a 200mm lens for photographing the moon seem to be newer to photography, we will be focusing our article towards people newer to photography but we are still hoping to offer something for everyone.
As usual, we have a number of different tips and tricks that you are able to use with your 200mm lens for taking photographs of the moon. These are more general tips and tricks rather than something that you should stick to the letter for letter meaning that there is no need for you to stick to all of these tips. In fact, depending on where you live as well as your camera body of choice you may not be able to implement them all anyway.
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Use The Landscape To Your Advantage
Although this on is harder to do at the 200mm focal length, if you are able to take advantage of the natural landscape around your area as shown in the image above, it can really add some solid depth to your photograph. Although its difficult to have something at the middle range when it comes to taking photographs of the moon, taking advantage of the natural landscape can work a treat and provide you with some foreground objects too. This can draw the eye and add scale to the distance of the moon and depending on the lighting, it can create some epic looking silhouette photographs too.
Depending on where you live this can be a pain though as trees and mountains are rare in urban areas but you can substitute them out for high rised buildings or statues. They don’t have to be skyscrapers either, even just a basic urban skyline can be used to help you get this effect and provide you with something in the foreground and middle of your photograph with the moon being the main feature in the distance.
Use The Twilight Exposure
This one is going to depend on the 200mm lens that you have as some of them offer you some excellent aperture control where as others, usually the entry level, more budget friendly models can end up having a number of problems with low light photography. Anyway, taking advantage of the twilight exposure effect at dusk and dawn when the sun is not in the sky but there is still a hint of color can be a quick and easy work around to this.
The blue, green, purple, red, or orange hues in the sky from this effect can totally change the look of your photograph of the moon. In our opinion, the blue, green, and purple hues tend to be better but we have seen some very creative use of the red and orange hues too. If you are planning to use this to your advantage then planning is everything as the twilight window is limited so have a quick Google search for your local area to check timing for optimal lighting as well as the local weather for cloud cover.
Get Used To The 200mm Focal Length
If you are used to shorted focal length camera lenses then getting used to a 200mm lens can take time, it opperates slightly different than other lenses and can take a ton of practice to get used to. We would highly recommend that any of our readers who are new to using a 200mm lens get out and practice as much as possible, this will let you get used to how your lens operates and the differences in image quality that it can offer depending on what you are doing.
Thankfully, you don’t have to wait until nightfall and for the moon to show itself to practise using the lens as other niches such as bird and wildlife photography can serve the same purpose. Just rack those hours of use up and your 200mm lens will be second nature to you before you know it and you will be able to quickly gauge how you can best use it when capturing photographs of the moon.
Don’t Worry About Underexposure Warnings On Your Camera
This one is going to depend on the camera body you use as well as the 200mm lens that you are using. If your lens struggles with exposure then trying to photograph the moon can result in a number of popular camera bodies flagging up the underexposure warning. This is due to the lighting and it is nothing serious to worry about with many people just temporarily turning the error off in your camera’s settings.
Depending on the camera body that you are using, your underexposure warning may cover the full viewing panel and prevent you from doing anything else until you cancel it only for the error to pop back up a few seconds later. As you can imagine, this quickly becomes very annoying and can be a total pain so we usually recommend our readers do as many others and just temporarily disable the warning.
Different camera brands have different navigation paths in their camera settings to do this so you will have to play around for a little while. Chances are though, if you have one of the more popular camera brands you will be able to easily Google it and find out how to turn the warning messages off.
Optimise Your Camera Settings
One of the main issues that we see time and time again with people who are trying to photograph the moon is that they are using less than optimal camera settings for the task. Again, different camera bodies will need slightly different settings to each other to get this done so you will just have to play around with your camera or Google the ideal settings for your camera body for moon photography.
This is not down to your 200mm lens at all but tweaking your ISO and shutter speed on your camera can offer a surprising difference in the image quality that you are able to capture. This one simple tweak is able to offer one of the better improvements to the overall image quality you capture and thankfully, it is quick, easy, and free to do too, especially once you have worked out the ideal settings for your camera body for moon photography.
Play With Your Aperture
Another common problem for people new to moon photography with a 200mm lens is that they wont try different aperture settings. Capturing photographs of the moon will almost always be in low light conditions but tweaking your aperture can make a huge different in the photograph that you end up capturing with your lens. As the moon is essentially reflecting light from the sun directly down your 200mm lens that then magnifies it before it gets to your camera sensor, trying a lens aperture setting that you think may underperform for photographing the moon may surprise you.