Thousands of fake videos plague the Internet depicting the setting sun appearing to be very large in the sky, then shrinking as it approaches the horizon. It has been a plague for several years now, and very few rebuttals are to be found, which means that viewers are clicking on the lies and they're ignoring the truth that exposes the lie. Especially deceptive is how the sun is made to appear to rise up from the horizon when the P900 zooms in to its maximum telephoto position.
.Here is a website
that warns quite firmly against taking pictures of the sun directly without a proper solar filter. There are not a few YouTube videos that instruct a handy person how to make your own solar filter, but if you make it wrong, you could go blind or ruin your camera.
The Sun, our source of light and warmth, is a notoriously poor photographic target, due to its extreme brightness and constant emissions of damaging ultraviolet and infrared radiation. However, with the right equipment, the sun can be a challenging and rewarding photographic subject.
The sun, like the moon, is above the horizon and in our skies half of the time. However, unlike the moon, when the sun is above the horizon, it is always visible (unless it is cloudy). The moon progresses through different phases as it orbits our planet, from new to full and back to new. The sun, unless blocked by said moon during an eclipse
, is always a brilliant round disk.
Many of us have pointed our cameras in the direction of a setting or rising sun and millions of sunrise and sunset photographs populate Instagram and other social media sites and gallery walls
. But, when the sun is overhead, it is much too bright to view directly. Photographing it requires specialized gear.
This article will outline the basics of solar photography. For information on photographing a solar eclipse, click here
. As you might notice, the two articles are similar because the subject is, more or less, identical.
DO NOT look at the sun with your naked eyes. Permanent damage to your eyesight, and even blindness, may result. ALWAYS wear certified solar viewing glasses when viewing the sun. We have all glanced at the sun, but prolonged exposure causes permanent damage.
DO NOT point a camera at the sun unless the optics are fitted with a certified solar filter. Optics can magnify the intensity and brightness of sunlight, and this can cause damage to your equipment. There are many myths about the sun and its ability to destroy a camera, so we did some testing to see what the danger was. Check out the results here
DO NOT look through the viewfinder of an unfiltered SLR camera when it is pointed at or near the sun because of the increase in intensity and brightness of the sunlight passing through magnifying optics. If using a dark ND filter, you should still not use the optical viewfinder of the camera.
DO NOT look through the viewfinder of a rangefinder camera when it is pointed at or near the sun, because the optical viewfinder will not protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging light.
DO NOT point an unfiltered digital camera at the sun and use live view or an electronic viewfinder, due to the possibility of damaging the sensor with concentrated, unfiltered sunlight. Our tests did not damage the sensor in our camera, but we cannot guarantee that other atmospheric or physical conditions will have the same result.
.Basic Solar Photography Gear
Solar viewing glasses. You will want a pair of these when aiming your camera at the bright sun.
Tripod. The sun is bright, but when filtered with a solar filter, your shutter speeds will be slower. Especially if you’re using a super-telephoto focal length lens, telescope, or spotting scope, you will want the added stability of a tripod. A tripod will also help you get the sharpest possible image.
Remote shutter release. When firing your camera on a tripod, a remote shutter release (threaded, wired, or remote) will also help reduce vibrations.
.Gear: Solar Filters
When photographing the sun, you will need a solar filter
for your camera and lens. Several online tutorials mention using a neutral density filter or stacking several neutral density filters. I ONLY recommend using a properly designated solar filter. I am not alone in this recommendation. Experts at NASA, the National Science Foundation, the American Astronomical Society, Nikon, Space.com, Sky & Telescope
magazine, and others all recommend solar filters instead of neutral density filters. Why? Because these are the only filters designed for viewing the sun, and they are constructed not only to dim the sunlight sufficiently, but they also protect your eyes and equipment from non-visible IR and UV radiation. Solar photography is NOT the time to experiment with homemade filtration concoctions to save a few bucks.
However, there are some ND filters out there marketed for solar photography. If you are looking for this type of filter, it looks like the consensus among brands is that 16 stops is the minimum
strength for a filter. In comparing different brands, there was a dramatic difference between the light transmission of one brand’s 16.5-stop filter and a competing brand. Use at your own risk!
.WARNING: Do NOT
use these ND filters with an optical viewfinder! Many come with fine-print on their packaging, so use due diligence and stick to using your Live View mode or an electronic viewfinder.
Your safest option is a solar filter, but the optical glass ND filter may have other uses besides solar photography.
When it comes to solar filters, you have several options: filter sheet, screw-on front filter, or a solar filter that mounts between the camera and lens on an interchangeable lens setup.
Mylar white-light solar filters come in different shapes and sizes. Some, like the one included in this Celestron EclipSmart kit
, are round and have tether holes to secure to your camera and/or lens. Many veteran observers also use sheets of #14 Welder’s Glass, which they mount or hold in front of the camera.
This is how big the filtered sun is if you photograph it with a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera.
What this means is that, with a wide-angle lens, the sun is very small in your frame. With a standard-length telephoto lens, the sun is slightly larger, but not frame-filling. To fill your viewfinder, you will likely need to go well past a 300mm focal-length lens.
This is the size of the sun through a filtered 300mm lens on an APS-C camera
(35mm-equivalent of 450mm).