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I see the moon, and the moon sees me. But?


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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I see the moon, and the moon sees me. But…

28 Nov 2020 7:43AM   Views : 569 Unique : 397


I was sitting in my office in the loft when my wife invited me to join her in the candlelit summerhouse, which was warm and good for relaxing in. I went out with a book: and then came in again for a camera and tripod.

A beautiful, bright, nearly-full moon, was shining on the summerhouse, so I could put my biggest, heaviest tripod on it with little risk of wobble (I thought). I collected the most extreme telephoto gear I own – a 500mm Minolta mirror lens, with a Jessops 2x converter, strapped to the front of an Alpha 7R III with a Minolta/Sony adaptor in there. So a metre of photographic reach – and rather outdated AF – the converter seems to use more or less the AF module and drive from my old Alpha 900 – nine focus spot, all towards the centre of the field. It couldn’t lock onto the moon, anyway…


Now, the Minolta mirror lens is a first-generation AF optic, and while you can focus it manually, the focus ring is not terribly nice: there’s play and backlash, and it’s EVER so sensitive. Also, even a hefty Manfrotto tripod that is both awkward and unpleasant to carry for more than around fifty feet fails to prevent what I can only describe as tremor on the screen at 14x magnification for focussing. A certain lack of success followed, and much frustration. I reckon a cheap 2x converter wasn’t helping.

OK, time for Plan B, which was my Olympus OM-D EM-1 with a 75-300 zoom, again falling a bit short of ‘strong and stable’, but with the aid of a 2-second delay and the rather better MF feel of a much more modern lens I got there. At least this time the magnified view had a vestige of focus peaking visible, though the image is much noisier.


Clearly, the images aren’t up to snuff for any use other than inviting ridicule, and proving to me that there are branches of photography I am unlikely to master. Of course, practice helps refine the technique. Of course, someone who doesn’t usually carry a lens longer than 85mm and has not invested heavily in telephotos is at a disadvantage. And (of course) I am not going to invest in a long and sharp lens, because I would use it so rarely…

Feel free to mock, and also to offer practical advice to others who may want to try to shoot the moon: I’ll settle for the first frame I took this evening, with an 85mm lens at full aperture, blurring the moon behind the branches of our neighbour’s apple tree.


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
28 Nov 2020 7:50AM
Top: Sony AF; middle: Sony MF; lowest sky shot: Olympus MF. The bottom image is a non-portrait of the moon...
kaybee Avatar
kaybee 19 8.7k 28 Scotland
28 Nov 2020 9:35AM
Commiserate is much more likely.
I have never got a decent shot of the moon.
My longest lens is a Tamron 500mm with no form of autofocus and which does not have the word 'sharp' in its vocabulary.
It doesn't stop me hoping for miracles though.

THIS is my most recent attempt. I really should have feathered the edges more when processing it though.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
28 Nov 2020 11:09AM
Thanks, Roy...

The exercise has given me more sympathy for those who attempt such shots, and greater inclination to suggest that they practice a lot and get the right kit, which I suspect means 400mm+ primes and high quality teleconverters. If I stay loyal to Sony, that's £10k (400mm) to £12k (600mm). Which is what I'd think of spending on a new car.
PaulCox Avatar
28 Nov 2020 12:10PM
I gave up on my 500mm Mirror Lens, I just use a Lumix TZ80, it does the job for taking the moon, I support it against the conservatory door.
Chrism8 Avatar
Chrism8 16 1.1k 34 England
28 Nov 2020 12:16PM
Pentax K1 with a Pentax 150 - 450 @ 450mm 100 ISO Handheld + a crop

mistere Avatar
mistere Plus
10 37 8 England
28 Nov 2020 1:42PM
I never thought I'd have much use for an 85mm prime lens, until I started using one. A decent telephoto
can be very useful sometimes, You never know, you could find yourself using one more than you'd think.
Very useful for air shows, wildlife at the bottom of the garden, catching details on tall buildings, all sorts of things SmileSmileSmile
JuBarney Avatar
JuBarney Plus
12 36 7 United Kingdom
28 Nov 2020 3:08PM
Well done for trying to capture that moon!
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
28 Nov 2020 4:01PM
I'll need convincing about spending the sort of money I'd need to on a lens that's too big and heavy to carry with me - indeed, that's too big to fit in any of my camera bags...

I think I might, perhaps, consider hiring a lens when I go to an airshow, though.
mistere Avatar
mistere Plus
10 37 8 England
28 Nov 2020 4:57PM
Canon EF 75-300mm F/4.0-5.6 III Telephoto Lens - VGC. 480g. £69. Smile
Tamron 70-300mm Lens F4.0-5.6 AF Di LD Tele-Macro for Sony, 435g. Very Good Condition. £79 Smile
Tamron 572D 70-300mm F/4-5.6 LD AF Lens for Sony Alpha. £46.
Sigma 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Telephoto Zoom Lens Minolta Sony Alpha Fit. £59.95
Almost as cheap as hiring one for a day. Smile
dark_lord Avatar
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
28 Nov 2020 8:04PM
Hard to resist moon photos.
Decent enough if you want an enlarged moon for a composite.
Once in a...

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
28 Nov 2020 10:01PM
Thanks, Dave, and Keith...
altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
30 Nov 2020 10:27AM

This is with my Lumix TZ 80 handheld at 1/125 f6.4 ISO 80. I find it best when the moon is fairly high in the sky and before the sky gets too dark. The Fujifilm HS 10 is also fairly good for Moon photos but has not the reach.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
30 Nov 2020 1:54PM
That works - but I have no desire to spend money on a compact. All my experiences of compact cameras, over the last four decades, have been less than entirely happy!

I happily leave lunar pictures to others - or will, in future!.

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