Night sky photography settings.
Learn how to capture vibrant images of the cosmos with the perfect camera settings for night sky photography.
Camera settings for night sky photography.
Night sky photography is all about taking in as much light as possible. To get just the right exposure settings, put your camera into manual shooting mode. That way, you can adjust the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture independently.
- Shutter speed —Set your shutter speed to around 25 seconds to capture even the faintest light from distant stars. (Going longer than 30 seconds sometimes blurs the stars because of the Earth’s rotation.)
- Aperture — Use the widest aperture your lens allows. Most night sky photographers stay at or below (wider than) f/2.8.
- ISO — If you’re in a very low-light area, such as out in the country, set your ISO somewhere between 1600 and 3200 (or higher if necessary). For areas with more light pollution, like a city, keep your ISO around 800 to reduce noise in the image.
It also helps to turn off autofocus. Then you can make sure all the stars are in focus, without worrying about your camera picking up something else accidentally.
Use the right equipment for night sky photography.
Since night sky photography settings are so extreme, you’ll also need some extra equipment to help you get the perfect shot.
Most importantly, you’ll need a sturdy tripod. Your shutter has to stay open for 25 seconds at a time, so even the slightest movement will make your photo come out blurry.
Using a remote shutter release or a timer can also reduce shake from physically pushing the camera button. Again, since your shutter stays open so long, anything you can do to reduce camera shake helps.
Make adjustments with photo editing software.
After the shoot, make needed adjustments with photo editing software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. You can adjust elements like exposure, color, and contrast and even take out minor camera shake.
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