Just wanted to share this photo of the Waning Gibbous Moon with our readers, captured with the Nikon D810 and John “Verm” Sherman’s amazing Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E VR monster coupled with the TC-17E II teleconverter. I have not been able to get this much detail from such long focal lengths before, because the shutter vibration on previous generation Nikon DSLRs would shake the camera too much at the beginning of the exposure. We set everything up on a sturdy tripod, then rest the front of the lens on car’s hood, with a soft pillow in between to dampen the crazy vibrations occuring at 1350mm focal length. Set the camera to Manual mode, ISO 800, 1/250s @ f/11, then used camera’s Live View to acquire perfect focus on the moon. With the “Electronic front-curtain shutter” turned ON, we set the camera to Mirror Lock-Up mode, set “Exposure delay mode” to 3 seconds for additional protection, then fired away. Here is the result:
Thanks to the Electronic front-curtain shutter, you can now capture images like this without worrying about vibration (I wish Nikon went back and added this feature to all existing Nikon DSLRs!). There is no shutter going off at the beginning of the exposure, so as long as you have vibration taken care of before the exposure starts, it will be perfectly sharp. Keep in mind that the moon moves fast at such focal lengths, so you have to have fast enough of shutter speed to reduce motion blur.
I brought the image into Lightroom 5.6, set the Clarity slider to +35, dialed -0.30 Exposure (it was a bit bright), reduced the Whites slider to -30, increased Sharpening to 50, 1.0, 50 with a Mask of 50 to reduce the amount of noise that is added while sharpening (as explained in this article), checked “Remove Chromatic Aberration” in the Lens Corrections module (there was visible CA on the edge of the moon), then set the camera profile to “Camera Standard”. Cleaned up the extra noise a little bit with Nik’s Dfine, then exported at 2048 pixels wide resolution from Lightroom.
If you have never captured a photo of the moon before and need some tips, check out my detailed article on photographing the moon. You don’t need an $18,000 lens for that – you can capture the moon with any budget telephoto lens such as a 70-300mm or a 300mm f/4. For example, I captured this shot of the moon with the Nikkor 300mm f/4D lens (see my detailed review) and a 1.7x teleconverter a few years ago.