How to Use the Canon Rebel DSLR for a Moon Eclipse

By Andrew Aarons

Canon’s line of Digital Rebel cameras are designed to be “bridging” cameras, a first step toward a professional DSLR after using point-and-shoot digital cameras. That said, these cameras are fully functioning professional-quality cameras, with full manual control and remote shutter operation. You can use your Digital Rebel to take shots you wouldn’t have dreamed possible with your point-and-shoot, such as photographs of the moon during an eclipse.

Things You'll Need

  • Tripod
  • Remote control (optional, but helpful to reduce vibration)

Step 1

Put your wide-angle lens on your Canon Rebel. Most Rebels came with an 18-55mm kit lens with image stabilization, which will help get a clear shot of the moon from some distance. To take a close-up shot of the moon, you’ll need a telephoto zoom lens (See “Tips” Below).

Step 2

Remove the lens cap and place the camera on a tripod, then frame your shot. Spin the lens to zoom in. Make sure the moon lines up with one of the autofocus points on the camera.

Step 3

Spin the mode dial around to “M” for full manual control of the camera’s settings. Hold down the “A/V” button and spin the dial until the aperture value is the smallest available number; this setting will let in the most light and create a strong expose of the moon. Now release the A/V button and spin the dial until the shutter speed reads “5 sec.” Tap and hold the shutter button to take a photo to text exposure; if the photo is too dark, decrease the shutter speed to make it longer.

Step 4

Tap the timer button on top of the camera to engage the Rebel’s built-in self timer. If you have a remote control, tap the button a second time to tell the camera that you’ll release the shutter with the remote. Tap the shutter button lightly to focus the shot and then press all the way down to start the self-timer; after six seconds the shutter will open and then after a few more seconds it will close.

Step 5

Review the photo to see if the moon is clear and crisp and well-lit. To make the shot brighter, extend the shutter speed further, but don’t go beyond 40 seconds, as you’ll start to notice blur caused by the rotation of the earth. Play with the settings to get the correct exposure and keep taking shots so you have lots to choose from later.

Tips & Warnings

  • To get tight shots of the moon during the phases of the eclipse, you’ll need a telephoto lens capable of zooming in. Canon’s Rebel cameras don’t come with such a lens, so it’s an optional upgrade (though you can often rent long lenses for a short time from camera shops). A 300mm lens will produce a photo in which the moon takes up a small portion of the frame, but that will look sharp upon zooming with a computer. A 1000mm or 1500mm lens will create nearly full-frame photos of the moon.