Middle left stick

Calculator stick

This calculator provides an estimated shutter speed based on the selected ISO, aperture, weather condition, and the location and phase of the Moon. A similar calculator is available for lunar eclipse photography.


  • To display the suggested exposure for a lunar eclipse, select the type of event, the film or sensor speed (ISO), and the lens aperture (f/number). The altitude of the Moon and the elevation of the observer have a measurable influence on the exposure time, as do sky conditions. The suggested exposure will be computed and displayed every time a parameter is changed.
  • The exposures are given only as a guide. They help when choosing an appropriate film (or sensor speed) for the equipment in use and the particular event being photographed. An automatic sequence of exposures can consequently be set up in advance of the event if required. However, on the day of an eclipse, be sure to bracket exposures by one or more stops in both directions to take account of variations in the actual sky conditions and other phenomena. If the sky is not clear, or conditions are hazy, lengthen exposures.

Tips for taking successful Moon pictures

  • Use a tripod.
  • Get a good 500mm-class lens to avoid cropping pictures too much.
  • Enable mirror lockup to minimize vibrations, and use a cable release.
  • Shoot in RAW. Set the white balance to either Daylight or Tungsten.
  • Set an aperture value in the f/8~f/16 range.
  • Set the lens to Manual Focus, and focus at infinity.

A general exposure guide is as follows:

  • Full moon -> shutter = 1/ISO and aperture at f/16
  • Gibbous moon -> shutter = 2/ISO and aperture at f/16
  • Quarter moon -> shutter = 5/ISO and aperture at f/16
  • Crescent moon -> shutter = 10/ISO and aperture at f/16

Exposure compensation:

  • Moon high in the sky: none
  • Moon in mid sky: +1 EV
  • Moon at/near horizon: +2 EV
  • Mist or haze: +1 to +2 EV

Bracketing shots by 1 or 2 stops on each side is always a wise precaution.

Calculator by kind permission of Xavier M. Jubier


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