Full Moon Exposure

It was full moon again the day before yesterday. I setup my Nikon D200 with Sigma 100-300 f/4 and a Sigma 1.4x TC on a tripod in my front yard and took some moon shots. One of the test I did was trying to find out if the “sunny f/16” rule can be used for the full moon exposure.

Since I was shooting at ISO200, the exposure should be 1/200s and f/16 according to the “sunny f/16” rule. However I didn’t want to shoot at f/16, so I opened up the aperture by two stops to f/8. Correspondingly, I increased the shutter speed by 2 stops from 1/200s to 1/800s. As shown in the picture above, the moon taken using the “sunny f/16” rule looks a little bit dark but it retains the details of the moon surface. I then shoot an 1EV/step bracketing series. 1/500s and f/9 is a third stop stop overexposure than the “sunny f/16”, 1/250s and f/9 is 1 and 1/3 stops overexposure, and 1/125s and f/9 is 2 and 1/3 stops overexposure. Which one is the perfect exposure? 1/125s and f/9 is definitely not. The details in the highlight was blown out. The final conclusion may be dependent on personal taste. It is probably somewhere between the “sunny f/16” and approximately 1 and 2/3 stops more exposure.

Just like all other “rules”, this test is only relevant to my specific test conducted at the specific time and location under the specific atmospheric conditions using my camera and lens. When it comes to your own full moon shooting, you may find that the perfect exposure is off more or less depending on various factors. For more detailed moon shooting tips, please read my previous post .


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