Long lens for Nikon for Picture of Moon

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Peter De Smidt, Feb 2, 2007.

  1. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    My 8 year old daugter loves science and things having to do with space. I would like to take a really nice picture of a full moon for her birthday, which is quite a while off. Currently, my longest lens for my Fm2n is 135mm, and I'd like to get a longer lens to get a better shot of the moon. I probably won't use the lens very much for other things, and so I don't want it to be excessively expensive, and I'll have to sell other equipment to finance it. What would be some good options?
     
  2. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Peter,

    The moon is 0.5 degrees in diameter. You can calculate how much of the frame that will fill if you get the angle of view for the lenses you're interested in. You'll need to be around 1000mm to get close to full frame, but you could also enlarge from a somewhat smaller image. You might want to try a decent refracting or Newtonian telescope and T adapter for a moon shot. A yellow filter and B&W film would be a good choice, as that would decrease apparent chromatic abberation found in less expensive refractors. One of several good places to find a decent small telescope would be Orion Telescopes. This has the advantage of being an instrument your daughter could use to explore the night sky rather than a long lens you'll never use sitting in a closet.

    PM me if you want more specific recommendations for vendors and telescopes.

    Lee
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    See my posts in the Exposure forum recently. The topic is using a f/10 telescope. I talk about the exposure and focal length factors.

    In brief shutter speed must be less then 1/one half the focal length of the lens:
    50mm lens => 1/25 second
    100mm lens => 1/50 second
    ...​

    Exposure - the full Moon refects half the light it receives from the sun. Therefore use the Rule of 16 and open one stop.

    Tri-X f/16 @ 1/500 sec => f/11 @ 1/500 sec​

    Steve
     
  4. Wendel4

    Wendel4 Member

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    moon project

    I totally agree with the first reply about the value of a decent starter scope. I got an inexpensive 6inch aperature Newtonian reflector when I was 16 (10 yrs ago), and I took care of it so it's still perfectly usable (and used). As far as the Nikon goes, if you're going with an inexpensive lens solution....I've used a fine grained film to enlarge from a 200mm f/4 lens with teleconverter. The incredible brightness makes the small aperature doable. Remember to use cable release or self timer for steadyness.
     
  5. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Decades ago there were several 400mm f/8 and f/5.6 lenses on the market that were decent performers if well made. I tried several before finding one of the good ones. They are now quite inexpensive on the used market. A basic telescope may be better for your daughter, but a camera adaptor and a solid tripod run up the cost. Eyepiece adaptors are another way to enjoy astronomy viewing with telephoto lenses.
     
  6. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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  7. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I appreciate all of the advice. I do have some large and sturdy tripods and tripod heads, and I'll certainly use a cable release and mirror lock-up. I'm leaning towards the spotting scope idea, if a decent one can be had for a reasonable amount.
     
  8. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    It would be more accurate to say that the moon reflects about half as much light on average as does the earth. Since the moon and earth are roughly the same distance from the sun and so receive essentially the same amount of light from the sun, you'd need to give the moon about a stop more exposure than the sunny f:16 rule to get the moon up the gray scale a bit. We're used to perceiving the moon as bright, so it helps to "overexpose" it a bit.

    (The earth reflects about 12-14% on average, and the photo industry has settled on a standard 18% gray "average" target. On average, the moon reflects about 6% of the light that hits it, or about half what earth does. The term for this reflectance is "albedo".)

    Lee
     
  9. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Check out this link:
    http://jeff.medkeff.com/astro/lunar/obs_tech/albedo.htm
    As you can see from this link the 6% number is a bit mis-leading. Reading down you can find that various features have albedo's that vary from 8.6% to 30%. You could simply add 1 stop to the sunny-16 rule, but it might be more interesting to expose using the sunny-16 rule, and then use expanded development to bring up the highlights - the additional contrast might prove visually appealing.
     
  10. dslater

    dslater Member

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    I would recommend going with some kind of telescope. This has the added advantage of allowing you to use an eyepiece to look through it and check the moon's image. Once you have eliminated vibration, the next biggest limiting factor for lunar shots is going to be the atmosphere itself. At the kind of magnifications you need for lunar shots, unsteadiness in the air becomes very significant. You will want to try and pick a night when the air is very steady - astronomers refer to it as good seeing. The best nights won't necessarily be cool or cold clear nights - on those nights winds in the upper atmosphere cause unsteadiness. The best nights tend to be hot, humid nights in the summer when the air is completely and a bit hazy.
    Good luck
     
  11. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Thanks. I've read that before, but it is worthwhile reading for anyone that hasn't.

    As you've noted, there's not a lot of natural contrast, especially on a full moon, so boosting contrast makes for a more dramatic photo, although it can be overdone to the point of looking unnatural, especially when the dark features go too dark. Your suggestion for increased development is certainly worth trying. One other common technique is to use a high contrast film such as Tech Pan to enhance contrast for lunar photos. I did that myself about 20 years ago and got nice results.

    With regard to seeing, it also helps to wait until the moon is high overhead so that you're viewing through less atmosphere. For local predictions on seeing, atmospheric transparency, and clear skies that are very useful you can go to cleardarksky.com and look for a location near you. This is based on data from the Canadian weather service, so it's north America only.

    Lee
     
  12. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Hi Folks,

    I had planned to spend about approximately $250, although I can be a little flexible. It'd just take more time to set aside the money.

    Regarding telescopes, I've always wanted one. Back in the day, I asked my parents for one and got a really cheap (as in about $10) monocle that really wasn't good for anything. Doing a little research a number of years ago gave me the impression that "cheap" , with "cheap being under a grand, and "decent" don't go hand-in-hand with telescopes. Maybe that's changed a bit.

    Last year my daughter and I went to a viewing at a local university. I think that they had 8 to 12" reflectors. It was windy, though, and vibration was a real problem. Both of use were extremely underwhelmed. So that blurry little dot is Saturn? Um, if you say so. My conclusion was that if these quite expensive scopes gave such pedestrian results, allowing for the windy conditions, that star gazing with small telescopes was simply not worth it. I hope that I was wrong.
     
  13. dslater

    dslater Member

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    It really depends on what you're expecting. If you're expecting views like the astro-photos you see in magazines, then you're going to be disappointed. These are very long duration photos. If you were looking at Saturn on a decent night, then you should been able to see Saturn's disk and it's rings easily with an 8 to 12 inch telescope. However, windy nights are not good for
    planets and that most likely was the reason for the bad view.
    You should be able to get a decent 6 to 8" Newtonian telescope for well under $1000.00. Something like a Meade or an Orion.
     
  14. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The moon is very simple: For each 100mm of focal length, the image of the moon on film is 1mm. So a 100mm lens gives a 1mm image, a 1000mm lens gives a 10mm image. A 35mm film has 24x36mm frames, so a 2400mm lens is needed to fill the frame.

    The "Sunny 16" rule works fine, but we're used to seeing the moon as bright so open up one stop.

    On a low budget, you could get one of the 500mm or 1000mm mirror teles. I've got a 500mm f:8, effective f:10 - with a 2x converter it makes 1000mm f:16 effective f:20. That lets you expose at 1/30 second with ISO 100 film, which should be quite doable without too much blur.
     
  15. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    The orbit of the moon is slightly elliptical, so the moon at closest approach is over 1.1 times larger than at apogee. It's not much of a change, but can require careful framing and timing when using 2000mm telescopes.
     
  16. Carol

    Carol Member

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    Peter the mirror lens that Ole described is really quite good for pics of the moon. They are reasonably light and well balanced so you don't have to worry as much about camera shake so long as it's on a decent tripod. They are fairly cheap second hand or you might even be able to borrow or hire one.

    You are quite right, a cheap telescope is exactly that, and can be the cause of much frustration. A good pair of binnoculars is probably of more value.

    I think it is lovely that you are encouraging your daughter's insterest in space and the night sky. It is probably something you will always share.

    Sorry this is long winded, but I just wanted to add, that there is a terrific website where you can put in your latitude and long. and it will tell you when the Space Station and satellites are passing over your area. I'm sure your daughter would love to stand outside and watch for them with you.
    http://www.heavens-above.com/
     
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I think my best moon shot so far was with a 400 f/3.5 and a 2x tele converter on a digital (sorry, sorry!) with a 1.5x crop factor. So the whole rig gave effectively a 1200mm focal length. I aim for a 1/320 sec exposure if at all possible, that kind of speed is essential if you are going for a crisp, tight crop.

    I definitely agree that a telescope would be the easiest/least expensive way to go. As for exposure, theories abound, the best ones have a correction for the phase.
     
  18. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Decent mirror teles are cheap even new - mine's an "Opteka" 500mm, less than $100...
     
  19. airgunr

    airgunr Subscriber

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    FWIW, I've got a Mead ETX 90mm scope that works pretty well for this type of shot especially if you use a 2x converter. You can probably find one used for a couple of hundred on Ebay. You would also have to get a scope adaptor but those are pretty cheap as well. You can also use them for some regular photography like birds and things.

    Not very fast as a lens but definitley serviceable without a great outlay of money. Certainly if you really get into it you could spend a WHOLE lot more (as with most stuff....) ;^D
     
  20. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I hope you were not out last night trying to snap the moon. I woke up this morning and it was -15F. A tad chilly for photography.
     
  21. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    No, but I did have to walk the dog. We go about 1.5 miles. Luckily I was dressed well enough. The only problem was that my eyelids keep sticky together when I blinked.

    Regarding all the advice, I appreciate it an will look into it a little more. Thanks folks!
     
  22. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    1. In beautiful Fond du Lac Wisconsin, you can easily take a scenic shot that contains the full moon with the 135mm telephoto lens that you have.

    2. If you want to capture a full-frame shot of the full moon with your FM2n, then a 1000mm mirror lens with a 2x teleconverter mounted on a sturdy tripod is a good way to do it.

    3. In a full-frame shot of the moon, please keep in mind that the side lighting of a quarter moon or the indirect lighting of a gibbous moon or a crescent moon shows much more crater and surface detail than the flat direct lighting of a full moon.

    4. If you and your daughter just want to view the moon, binoculars (such as the Nikon 10x50 Action Extreme) are very useful.
     
  23. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I do that quite regularly.

    That was my experience as a child. On a camping trip, my uncle once brought a nice binocular along. Looking through them was much more fun than using any of the really cheap telescopes that I tried.
     
  24. Abbazz

    Abbazz Member

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    Peter,

    I think the cheapest way is to buy a Tamron Adaptall 8/500mm mirror tele lens. You can get one from Keh in excellent condition for $109 or in ugly condition for $39. I just bought one in ugly condition. There's a little bit of separation on the edge, but that doesn't affect the pictures. For the price, it's a great project lens! Just add the Adaptall ring ($13 bargain) and a Tamron doubler ($37 exc./$8 ugly) and you're all set to portrait the moon.

    Another lead, although over your budget, is the Russian MTO-11CA 10/1000 mirror lens. It is approx. twice as fast as the Tamron with a doubler (f/10 instead of f/20) and the image quality is good. Check eBay or online shops like Rugift.com; brand new in Nikon mount, it goes for about $350.

    Cheers,

    Abbazz
     
  25. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Abbazz,

    Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look into them.