How to photograph stars at sky – tutorial

This short tutorial explains how to shoot pictures of stars.


I should choose as dark as possible place in your area. Map shows light pollution is here:


It is also better to avoid (obviously) time just before sunrise or just before sunset. Also, to get more stars it is better to chose night without moon o when the moon is small.

To check sun and moon rise and set go here:


Camera and lens.

Better camera – better shot. Full frame camera will give you of course much better quality. But do not worry: APSC DSLR will be good enough. I have no experience with shooting with compact cameras. I am guessing both manual focusing either exposure exposition is required. Lens – for shooting stars I always prefer ultra wide lenses. I usually use Nikkor 14-24 f2.8.



As high as possible ISO. On my full frame Nikon D610 I use ISO1600, somtimes ISO3200. Average APSC CMOS sensor camera should be OK with ISO at least 1600. Of course digital noise reduction process is necessary.


As big hole as possible. I use 2.8 or 3.2, to improve quality.

Focusing. Only manual. AF won’t work in dark. It is a good idea to practise during a day time where exactly is infinity point on your lens scale. If you forgot to check it, use a live view, zoom in any remote bright point and try to focus.


Depends on your lens focal length and sensor size. There is a general “500” rule. The maximum shooter speed that you can use to capture static stars without stair trails for any given focal length – the longer the focal length, the shorter exposure that you can get away with.

To apply the rule, divide 500 by your focal length in mm to get the exposure time in seconds.

For example, using 16 mm focal length you’d calculate 500/16=31.25 – therefore you would use 30 sec exposure.

35 mm lens: 500/35=14.3 sec – etc etc etc 🙂

It also depends on your sensor size.

The handy table shows this is here:


focal length full frame APSC
16 mm 31 21
20 mm 25 17
24 mm 21 14
28 mm 18 12
35 mm 14 10
50 mm 10 7
70 mm 7 5
85 mm 6 4

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