April 2021 // The Travel Edition

The Best Settings for Night Photography | Jennifer Wu



Any wide-angle lens with an aperture of f/2.8 or faster will work well for photographing stars as points of light. On a dark night with no moon visible or just a sliver visible in the sky, I recommend using a lens 14mm to 35mm for a full-frame camera or 10mm to 24mm for crop factor sensor cameras such as APS-C, Four Thirds or Micro Four Thirds cameras. By first choosing a lens for a scene, the camera settings can be adjusted based on the specific lens. The wider angle of view will lessen the movement of the stars and keep them closer to being points of light instead of lines or trails. The longer the focal length of the lens, the faster the shutter speed of your camera needs to be to stop this movement and have the stars appear as points of light. Some considerations are that ultra-wide focal lengths like 14mm to 16mm on a full-frame camera or 10mm on a crop factor sensor camera would include more of the Milky Way in the image, but the core containing its most visible gasses will be less prominent. Alternatively, for more core gasses and more prominent foreground elements but less of the night sky, a narrower focal length like a 24mm or 35mm lens on a full-frame camera or 16mm to 22mm on a crop factor sensor camera will work well.

settings: f4.0 @ 1/20 iso 1600

El Capitan lit by themoonwith some fog adding to the scene in Yosemite National Park. Photographed with a EF8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM at 13mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

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