The latest generation smartphones are equipped with increasingly powerful goals, capable of taking images sometimes comparable to those of a professional camera. In some situations, traditional cameras retain an unsurpassed optical advantage. However, with the right precautions, today you can use a smartphone even for more complicated shots of difficult subjects, such as the Moon (no, not the director of Italian Tech: portrait mode is enough for him).
Which lens to use
In most cases, to photograph the full moon it is good to use a telephoto lens. Long focal length optics are now part of the standard equipment of many mobile phones, in all price ranges. Top-of-the-range smartphones have a number of advantages on their side, such as optical image stabilization, but it is not necessary to own an iPhone 13 or a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra to follow the advice in this guide and get good quality photos.
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Bring a tripod
Since you will use the long focal length to photograph a subject moving in the night sky, the most important advice is this: Mount the smartphone on a tripod. Get a clip that can be attached to a tripod and use it to hold the device in place. The folding supports that can be found for a few euros in the bazaars or on Amazon are also enough. Alternatively, place your smartphone on a hard surface and use a heavier object (such as a water bottle) to hold it in place. For minimize vibrationsyou can use the timed self-timer mode, now available in the camera app of any smartphone, so as not to touch the phone in any way while shooting.
Experiment with manual settings
The latest generation devices now all include one “Pro” or “Manual” shooting mode. In this case it can be very useful, to adjust the exposure times, the aperture and the ISO (sensitivity) of the sensor to be able to get the best possible shot of the Moon.
On iPhone, without resorting to special settings, you can try to lower the ‘brightness’ of the frame holding your finger on the focus point and scrolling down to automatically decrease the exposure level and minimize noise in the darkest parts of the photo.
Since the Moon is a luminous body in the dark sky, it is not necessary to increase the duration of the exposure, on the contrary: “If the exposure is too slow, instead of the Moon we will see a horrible streak. In one clear nightFurthermore, adjusting the shutter speed is essential – explains David Noton, landscape photographer and Canon Pro Ambassador – An exposure of 1/250 of a second at f / 8 ISO 100 is enough to avoid blur. “
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Avoid Night Mode
Most of the newer smartphones include a night shooting mode assisted by artificial intelligence. If you want to photograph the Moon, however, we advise you to avoid it. This function is in fact optimized to display even what the eye does not perceive: pleasant photos are often obtained, especially in the presence of human subjects, but which do not fully reflect the reality of the framed scene. With a very bright subject in a dark sky, like the Moon in fact, Night Mode risks going haywire and not to produce satisfactory quality results. Some smartphones have a dedicated option to capture the Moon: it works, but the result will always be a photo of a whitish disk in the sky, equal to millions of other photos.
Include the landscape in the frame
“Although an enlarged shot of the Moon may be rich in detailhis interest remains exquisitely astronomical – explains Noton – Personally, I prefer to integrate the charm of the Moon into my landscapes or use the satellite as a source of light “.
Being able to include the Moon in the landscape by shooting with the smartphone, however, may not be easy. In the city, in particular, buildings or street lamps are points of intense light that greatly complicate the necessary adjustments harmonize the Moon in a wider shot. The advice, in this case, is to look for an ideal place without too many artificial lights and with elements in dim light (“like a tree on a hill”, says Noton), sufficient to give an idea, by comparison, of the size of the satellite. .
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Whether you use an Android smartphone or have an iPhone, consider the possibility of use dedicated photo applications, alternatives to the Camera app included in the device. They usually cost a few euros, but offer the possibility to make the most of the potential of the device’s photographic sensors with detailed manual settings.
Su iPhone the best are Halide, Reflex Camera, Manual and VSCO Cam (app known for filters, but also with a great manual shooting mode).
Su Android you can try Camera Zoom FX, Camera FV-5 or VSCO Cam itself.
One of the benefits of using a smartphone for photograph the eclipse is that you can take advantage of alternative shooting modes to the standard one. The moon that appears on the horizon and then moves across the sky is an ideal subject for a timelapse video of sure effect. Also in this case the device must be secured to a tripod or placed on a flat surface where it cannot be touched or dropped. Consider the possibility of activate airplane mode during timelapse to prevent the vibration of an incoming message or call from moving the device thus ruining the entire operation.