How to photograph stars and the night sky

One of the most exciting photography genres is photographing stars. The night sky, the Milky Way, and the different phases of the Moon can be captured in stunning images. As you can imagine, there are many challenges.

You’ll need to know what equipment to use and how to set your camera to get the best shot. Also, learn how to enhance your photos in post-production.

Understanding the best places to shoot and how to prepare appropriately is also helpful.

Star Photography Gear: Recommended Gear

Although technically not a setting, the equipment that you select is crucial to achieving the settings needed to photograph stars. You’ll at least need the following:


It is impossible to leave your camera in automatic mode. The automatic mode will not be able to break specific rules. The automatic settings will not work for this reason. You’ll need to use the manual method to make adjustments.

Nikon and Canon are the leaders. Two of the best cameras for astrophotography include Nikon EOS 6D and Nikon DSLR D810.

Lenses with Wide-Aperture

You will need to increase your aperture. You’ll need a lower number of f-stops. F/2.8 is a good choice.

Focal length

The widest focus length is what you want. Wide-angle lenses with focal lengths between 14mm to 20mm should be used for full-frame cameras. For crop-sensor cameras, the focal lengths you want are between 10mm and 17. This allows your camera to capture more light by using a wide aperture. It also lets you get more night sky into the picture.

Lens Stabilization

You’ll need to turn it off if you have one. You can’t turn it off, or the camera will try to stabilize any movement. This will result in blurry images if you use long exposures.

This function is unnecessary because you should use a tripod to stabilize the camera and a cable shutter release. It will also cause more problems due to the long exposure.


No matter how steady you are, your hand cannot stop the camera from shaking when taking these long-exposure shots.

Shutter Release Cable

You want to eliminate any camera shake because of the long exposure time. You can get a camera shake by touching the camera to take a picture. The slightest movement in the image will be visible. You can use your camera’s built-in timer if you don’t own a cable shutter release.

You will usually want it set to 2 seconds instead of the default 10 seconds. You can still get a good shot with the 10-second setting, but it will take a long time.


flashlight is needed for two main reasons. First, to escape the city’s light pollution. If you need to travel at least one hour out of town to reach your destination, bring a flashlight to help you find the right spot. Second, you can use a flashlight to illuminate the background. Soon we’ll talk about that.

Camera Settings for Star Photography

We’ve compiled a list of all the essential camera settings you need to know to take stellar images.

You may also need to take into consideration some additional functions. Set your exposure compensation to zero if you use manual mode and don’t wish to lock up the mirror for long exposures.

Native Optical Resolution is best if your camera has multiple resolution settings. It outputs the same number of pixels as the original image.

It’s best to sharpen the image in post-production.

Manual Focus

Autofocus will not be able to achieve the settings that you need to photograph the stars. It is a guarantee that the stars will appear blurry if you use autofocus. Autofocus can’t do the settings that you need to get the leads. You’ll have to switch on the manual mode.

Set your manual focus at infinity. Infinity is usually marked with an “L” (or “I”) on most lenses. You can then take a picture to see what results you get.

Continue doing this until you have a clear image with stars in focus. You can focus on something in the foreground by painting it with light. You can lock your focus on the foreground and then reposition the camera to take the picture.


ISO is the sensitivity of your camera to light. It should be set between 800 and 2000. A high ISO can cause more noise in your image. The result is a grainy look in your photos. You must experiment to find the sweet spot, where the ISO is at the lower end and the shutter speed is longer, to achieve a clear picture.

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