Capturing the Eclipse: Essential Gear and Settings for Solar Photography

Photographing an eclipse can be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences a photographer can undertake. Solar photography requires special considerations such as optimal gear, settings, and precautions to safely capture this incredible celestial event. Whether you are an amateur or professional photographer, capturing an eclipse or a crescent sun requires the right equipment, preparation, and knowledge of the appropriate exposure and composition techniques.

This article will discuss the essential gear required for solar photography, appropriate settings, as well as some useful tips for taking advantage of the best available conditions to capture a stunning image of the sun or an eclipse.

Essential Gear for Solar Photography

When shooting the sun or an eclipse, a safe, quality solar filter should be at the top of your list of essential gear. A solar filter is a must-have item, as it blocks harmful ultraviolet light and infrared radiation from the sun. Many solar filters are available, but you need to be sure it is specifically designed for solar photography and can filter out almost all the sun’s light before it reaches your camera’s sensor. Solar filters come in a variety of materials, such as mylar films, glass, and metal alloys; all with different transmission factors and price points. Whichever filter you select, be sure it is of high quality and specifically designed for solar photography.

Shooting the sun or a crescent sun also requires a long lens, as the sun is an incredibly powerful light source and will quickly blow out the highlights in most wide-angle lenses. A longer lens (at least 500mm) will help reduce the intensity of the sun’s light and aid in capturing its features.

In addition, a sturdy tripod is an essential piece of gear for any solar photography enthusiast. When shooting the sun or an eclipse, you need to ensure that your camera is rock steady to avoid movement or any chance of image blurring. Many photographers also select a remote shutter release to reduce camera shake and ensure the sharpest image possible.

Recommended Settings for Solar Photography

When shooting the sun or an eclipse, there are some critical settings to consider that will produce the highest quality images. For the best results, the recommended aperture is around f/8 to f/22, as this will allow for the greatest depth of field and sharpness. A faster shutter speed is also recommended to further reduce the intensity of the sun’s light, while an ISO of 100 or lower is optimal for reducing digital noise in the final image.

It is also important to meter the scene carefully when shooting the sun or an eclipse, as the extremely bright light can easily fool your camera’s light meter. A spot metering mode is recommended to ensure that all the details in the sun are properly captured. The proper exposure also depends on the desired effect, for an eclipse a higher exposure can add drama to the scene, while for a perfectly circular sun a lower exposure can ensure all the details of the features are captured.

Useful Tips for Solar Photography

Aside from having the appropriate gear and settings, capturing a stunning image of the sun or an eclipse requires patience, preparation, and the correct conditions. When shooting the sun or an eclipse, be sure to have a full charge on your camera, as long exposures and high shutter speeds can put a strain on your camera’s battery. In addition, don’t be afraid to experiment with different filters and lenses to create unique and artistic images.

When aiming to photograph an eclipse, the most important aspect to consider is the weather. Be sure to have a solid weather report at your disposal to select the best location for the best possible lighting conditions. It is also important to have a clear line of sight of the sun or an eclipse, as obstacles such as trees or other structures can interfere with both the exposure and the overall composition of the image.

In conclusion, capturing the sun or an eclipse can be an incredibly rewarding experience for any photographer. With the right gear, settings, and precautions, anyone can capture a stunning image of a solar event. Utilizing the proper exposure techniques, as well as a solid understanding of the settings and gear required, solar photography can become an incredibly fun and rewarding pastime for any photography enthusiast.

So, make sure you capture the eclipse with the proper precautions and gear for a stunning image to remember.

Comprehensive Eclipse Guide

Here’s your comprehensive guide to the best equipment and settings to safely capture an eclipse through both photography and videography.

1. Cameras

For Photography:

  • DSLR or Mirrorless Camera: These offer manual settings for ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, crucial for adapting to the rapidly changing light conditions of an eclipse. High-resolution sensors are preferred for capturing detailed images.

For Videography:

  • 4K Video Camera: A camera capable of shooting in 4K will capture high-quality video footage with enough detail to appreciate the subtleties of the eclipse. A camera with manual exposure settings is essential.

2. Camera Settings

  • ISO: Keep the ISO as low as possible to reduce noise. ISO 100 is ideal for sharp, clear images.
  • Shutter Speed: For photography, start with a speed of 1/4000th of a second when the eclipse is at totality and adjust according to the brightness. For video, adhere to the 180-degree rule by setting your shutter speed to double your framerate.
  • Aperture: A smaller aperture (higher f-stop number) ensures sharper images. Consider starting at f/8 and adjust as needed.

3. Lenses and Settings

  • Telephoto Lens: Essential for bringing distant celestial events closer to your viewfinder. A focal length of at least 300mm for full-frame cameras or 200mm for crop sensors is recommended.
  • Lens Settings: Use manual focus to pre-set your focus to infinity. Autofocus can struggle in low light conditions.

4. Filters

  • Solar Filters: Mandatory to protect your camera’s sensor and your eyes when shooting the sun directly. Look for filters made of aluminized Mylar or black polymer that fit directly over your lens.
  • Types: For DSLRs, screw-on or drop-in solar filters are convenient and secure. Videographers may prefer square or rectangular slot-in filters that can easily be adjusted in a matte box.

5. Tripod

  • Sturdy Tripod: A must-have for stability, especially when using telephoto lenses. Look for tripods that offer smooth pan and tilt capabilities for videography to follow the progression of the eclipse smoothly.

6. Additional Tips and Accessories

  • Intervalometers: For capturing time-lapses of the eclipse, an intervalometer can automate the shooting process, especially helpful for photographers.
  • Extra Batteries and Memory Cards: Eclipse photography and videography can be battery and memory-intensive. Pack extras to ensure you don’t miss a moment.
  • Viewing Safety: Never look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, even when using your camera’s viewfinder. Use the LCD screen instead when aligning your shot.


Capturing an eclipse, be it solar or lunar, requires preparation and the right equipment. By adhering to the above recommendations, photographers and videographers can safely document these celestial events, creating stunning visuals that immortalize the transient beauty of eclipses. Remember, no photograph or video is worth risking your safety or damaging your equipment, so always prioritize protection and proper settings. Happy shooting, and here’s to capturing the cosmos in all its glory!