Shooting the moon on a budget for photo and video? Let me show you how far we can get with 60$. Seeing is believing, so check out the video.
We are using a modern Walimex 8/500 low cost lens for 50$ used in combination with an older Vivitar 2x teleconverter for 10$. Both are using a M42 screw mount and are being adapted to an Olympus E-PL5 m4/3 camera.
Pixel density is quite high on these m4/3 16MP cameras and equivalent to more than 60MP on full frame sensors. If you don’t have a camera body, you can get these older models for close to 100$ now. Check out this Flickr album to see more images with the Walimex 8/500.
Lens and converter give us 1000mm focal length in full frame terms. Add the 2x crop of m4/3 and we are at 2000mm equivalent. Video on the E-PL5 has another 1.3x crop so we end up with 2600mm equivalent for FHD video.
The moon appears slightly larger than our sensor in video but will fit for photography because there is no additional crop. You can choose a crop sensor camera like a Fuji X-M1 (APS-C) or a m4/3 camera without video crop if you want to fit the whole moon in your frame.
You can go for low iso settings between 100-800 to maximize image quality because the moon is quite bright. Obviously you’ll need a tripod for video, but I was able to take free hand still photos thanks to the sensor stabilization.
Results are decent, but not great, as expected for a low cost solution. There is a reason for the high price of professional telephoto lenses.
However, best bang for buck remains with superzoom bridge cameras like a Nikon Coolpix P900 with an optical 83x zoom at 600$. Smaller sensor are not a detriment here because the moon is bright enough.
Thanks for reading! You can check out more of this blog or my YouTube channel.