How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse


When the moon passes directly between Earth and the sun, those on Earth are treated to one of nature’s greatest spectacles—a total solar eclipse. It is a phenomenon that almost every observer would like to capture in a photograph.

Due to the rarity of the event, the short duration in which to capture it, and the dynamic nature of the subject, it is one of those photographic opportunities that requires the proper gear, setup, planning, and practice.

Above photograph © Todd Vorenkamp

I cannot emphasize the previous sentence enough. Plan your eclipse photography, have the right gear, and practice, practice, practice on the non-eclipsed sun before the big event.

Safety First

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 before, during, and after an eclipse. We have all glanced at the sun, but prolonged exposure causes permanent damage. During an eclipse, when the moon covers a portion of the sun, the intensity of the light remains constant. The ONLY time it is safe to look toward the sun with the naked eye is during the brief period of totality at the height of a total eclipse of the sun.

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.

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.

DO NOT look through the viewfinder of a rangefinder camera when it is pointed at or near the sun, as 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 focusing concentrated, unfiltered sunlight at your camera’s sensor.

A partial solar eclipse breaks through the clouds over San Diego. ©Todd Vorenkamp
A partial solar eclipse breaks through the clouds over San Diego.Todd Vorenkamp

Enjoyment Second

A solar eclipse is not an everyday event. Some people will go their entire lives without witnessing one. Some will travel far and wide to try to see one or more in a lifetime—especially for rare total solar eclipses.

So, what you DO NOT want to do is spend an entire eclipse event messing around with your camera gear or viewing it entirely through a camera’s viewfinder or on an LCD screen.

LOOK at the eclipse. Enjoy it with your own (protected) eyes. As amazing as it would be to get a great photograph, I promise you that you will have a lifetime of regrets if you miss the whole show because you are hyper-focused on photographing the event.

I have friends who have viewed eclipses only through a camera viewfinder and I feel sorry for them. The one time I was present for a total solar eclipse, my best views and experience, by far, were in viewing totality through a pair of unfiltered premium 8x42 birding binoculars. There was a jewel-like surrealness to the view that was definitely not present in my images, or on my digital viewfinder. I am so glad that I took myself away from the camera to see the eclipse with my own magnified eyes. The next time I am at a total solar eclipse, I plan to spend more time with the binoculars.

Be present!

Now that we have that stuff out of the way, let’s look at how to get the shot!

Diamond-ring effect
Diamond-ring effectTodd Vorenkamp

Basic Gear

1. Eclipse glasses. You’ll need these for a couple of reasons. a) You’ll want to view the eclipse with your own eyes and, b) you’ll need them to better aim your camera at the sun.

Solar viewing glasses
Solar viewing glasses

2. Camera. You do not need a professional DSLR camera to photograph the eclipse. In fact, any camera will do, depending on how you want to capture the event. You just need to take the proper precautions to protect the camera (and your eyes).

Digital camera
Digital camera

3. Tripod. The sun is beyond bright, so, when photographing the partial phases of an eclipse, you don’t technically need a camera support to avoid camera shake, because your shutter speeds will be very short. However, during totality, the sun is blocked out, which basically means that you are photographing in darkness. Here is some further reading on gear needed for night photography, to fully prepare you for these conditions. Also, since the eclipse happens over a stretch of time, you may not want to be holding a heavy camera rig for minutes or hours at a time.


4. Remote shutter release. When it gets dark, your shutter speeds will fall and you’ll want to trigger your camera remotely with a cable release, electronic release, or mobile device to prevent camera shake and blurring of your images.

Shutter Remote control
Shutter remote control

Gear: Solar Filters

When photographing the sun, you will need a solar filter for your camera and lens. The ONLY time the filter is not needed is when the sun is completely obscured by the moon during the totality portion of a total solar eclipse.

Solar filter
Solar filter

Several online tutorials mention using a neutral density filter or stacking neutral density (ND) 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,, Sky & Telescope magazine, and others all recommend solar filters instead of neutral density filters. Why? Because these are the only filters designed specifically for viewing the sun, and they are constructed to not only sufficiently dim the sunlight, 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, like stacking polarizers and ND filters, in an effort to save a few bucks.

A solar filter on the front of a Nikon 300mm f/4 lens
A solar filter on the front of a Nikon 300mm f/4 lensTodd Vorenkamp

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. This concerns me a bit. 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.

Filter Sheet  Mylar white-light solar filters come in different shapes and sizes. Some 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.

A Mylar filter on the front of a Leica APO Televid 77 spotting scope
A Mylar filter on the front of a Leica APO Televid 77 spotting scopeTodd Vorenkamp

Screw-On Filter These white-light filters thread on your camera lens just like a standard threaded filter. However, they are designed for solar observing. Some are made of Mylar film inside of a filter ring, and others are made from optical glass. Pay attention to the fine print; some optical filter brands state that you should not look through an optical viewfinder or eyepiece while using them—they are for electronic viewfinders or LCD screens only.

If a screw-on filter does not have the correct diameter for your chosen lens, you can simply employ a step-up ring and adapt the larger filter to your smaller lens.

Step-up ring
Step-up ring

The color of the sun in your images is dependent on the type of white-light solar filter used. Metal-coated glass and black polymer filters result in a yellow or orange tint. Aluminized Mylar filters show a bluish sun. #14 Welder’s Glass creates a greenish image.

Intermediate Filter Intermediate filters are designed for solar imaging. They mount between your lens and your camera. The design of the optics filters out different wavelengths of light, allowing you to see detail on the surface of the sun that is not visible with standard white-light solar filters.

WARNING: Regardless of the filter system you employ, take care to ensure the filter does not accidently come off your rig while photographing the sun.

Restated to emphasize: Filters are needed at all times for solar viewing, except during the height of a total solar eclipse. So, when photographing the sun during totality, you should remove your filters. More on this later.

The corona of the sun and a nearby star. © Todd Vorenkamp
The corona of the sun and a nearby starTodd Vorenkamp

Gear: Lenses and Focal Length

When we think of the midday sun overhead, we envision it filling the sky with brilliant light. The truth is that even though the sun is 864,000 miles wide (109 times the size of Earth), the fact that it is approximately 93 million miles away means that it appears to be almost the same size as the Moon in our skies. Don’t believe me? Just look at a solar eclipse to see how the moon, when it is at or near its closest approach to Earth (perigee), blocks out the entire sun. (When the moon is farther from Earth (apogee), the result is a partial blockage of the sun during what is called an annular solar eclipse.)

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.

During the total eclipse of the sun, when the umbral shadow passes over the observer, the sun’s corona, usually invisible to the naked eye, is suddenly visible and it extends well away from the surface of the sun. So, an extreme telephoto lens may cause you to crop out significant portions of the corona. Keep this in mind when selecting a lens for an eclipse image. A focal length between 500mm and 1000mm will allow you to capture most of the corona while keeping the sun a good size in the frame.

Do some research online by looking at the thousands of images of solar eclipses available on photo sites. Many have information on the gear used to capture a particular image, including camera type, lens focal length, and exposure settings.

Eclipse composite
Eclipse compositeTodd Vorenkamp

A popular approach is to capture the many phases of the eclipse and some scenic foreground detail with a standard focal length lens or a standard telephoto. You do not have to go out and buy an extreme telephoto to capture a beautiful image of a solar eclipse, but if you are looking for a telephoto lens on a budget that reaches farther than your trusty kit lenses, consider the relatively inexpensive catadioptric mirror lens for solar viewing. These lenses are small, light, and easily portable.

Gear: Digiscoping

Digiscoping is a popular way to photograph the sun and solar eclipses. Many telescopes and spotting scopes allow cameras to be affixed to the scopes via adapters. Additionally, you can just hold a mobile device camera or point-and-shoot to the eyepiece of a scope or binoculars for casual digiscoping. The advantage of digiscoping is that, like with a mirror lens, you can achieve high levels of magnification without much of the expense of an exotic photographic telephoto lens.

Spotting Scope
Spotting scope

Unless you are digiscoping through a dedicated solar viewing telescope, you must use a solar filter for imaging the sun. Some spotting scopes or telescopes have threaded front openings that allow the attachment of screw-in filters, and others have solar-viewing eyepieces. If your scope isn’t threaded, you can cover the objective lens with a filter sheet (described above).

Digiscoping the sun with a Leica APO Televid 77 spotting scope, eyepiece adapter, and Fujifilm X-T2 camera
Digiscoping the sun with a Leica APO Televid 77 spotting scope, eyepiece adapter, and FUJIFILM X-T2 cameraTodd Vorenkamp

Camera Settings: Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO…and Bracket!

During the progression from direct sunlight to the height of a total solar eclipse, the light will quickly change from broad daylight to twilight-like darkness. For the photographer, this is a blessing and a curse. The light really will not change dramatically until the eclipse approaches totality, so your camera settings can be static for a huge portion of the event—a good thing. The curse is that, when the eclipse show is at its most exciting, the light will be changing quickly, and you must be ready to adapt. Bummer!

The view on the LCD screen of the Fujifilm camera and a 1500mm-equivalent Leica APO Televid 77 spotting scope
The view on the LCD screen of the FUJIFILM camera and a 1500mm-equivalent Leica APO Televid 77 spotting scopeTodd Vorenkamp

Luckily for all of us, eclipse photographers have given us some great exposure guidelines on which to base our settings, so we can efficiently prepare for the show.

When the eclipse reaches totality and you have removed your solar filter from your camera, this is the time to start bracketing your shots heavily. Use the exposure guide as just that, a guide. Bracket, bracket, and bracket some more. According to experts, there is a vast 12-stop dynamic range from the corona at the sun’s surface to the outer edges of the corona. Shoot a ton of shots at different exposures. When you post-process later, you can choose the one that looks best. But, during this rarest of events, do not just lock into one exposure and take a bunch of equally exposed images.

My favorite solar eclipse photo ever © Todd Vorenkamp
My favorite solar eclipse photo everTodd Vorenkamp

When it comes to ISO, you should set your camera to its native ISO—the lowest un-boosted ISO setting. Research the Web for your make and model and the native ISO of your particular camera.

Aperture (f/stop)
  f/2.8 f/4 f/5.6 f/8 f/11
Shutter Speed
Outer Corona 1/4 1/2 1 sec. 2 sec. 4 sec.
Mid Corona 1/30th 1/15th 1/8th 1/4 1/2
Inner Corona 1/1000th 1/500th 1/250th 1/125th 1/60th
Diamond Ring 1/1000th 1/500th 1/250th 1/125th 1/60th
Baily’s Beads ---- 1/32,000th 1/16,000th 1/8000th 1/4000th
Prominences 1/16,000th 1/8000th 1/4000th 1/2000th 1/1000th

Here are some additional settings to consider for your eclipse photographs.

1. DO NOT USE A FLASH. When the sun is out, the flash is useless. When the sun is obscured and all is dark, your flash will not illuminate the dark side of the moon, but it will annoy those around you trying to enjoy the spectacle. Also, by popping a flash, you will prove to everyone present that you don’t read this blog and, therefore, have no idea what you are doing with your camera.

2. Stock up on memory cards and shoot raw files. Have sufficient memory to handle a lot of raw images if you choose to lie down on the shutter release.

3. Use mirror lock-up on an SLR camera to minimize vibration.

4. Don’t be afraid to underexpose by a stop or two, or more. Avoid blown-out highlights. Use the highlight “blinkies” if your camera has them.

5. Take an occasional glance at your histogram to verify exposure.

6. Use live view or an electronic viewfinder for the “what you see is what you get” advantage. It is also safer for your eyes to NOT be looking through an optical finder if you ignored my advice about securely mounting a filter.

Composition Tips

If you are photographing the sun (and the eclipsing new moon) as the only subject in your image, you can certainly center the sun in the frame. But, feel free to position your subject using the rule of thirds, or place it somewhere else in the frame for potentially dramatic effects or a unique look.

You don’t have to center the sun in the frame.
You don’t have to center the sun in the frame.Todd Vorenkamp

If you are shooting a wide-angle image and want to include some foreground detail, be sure that whatever you include in the foreground will not block the path of the sun, and be careful not to let that scenery dominate the scene—the dramatic display of this rare event will focus all attention on the solar eclipse. Also, with a solar filter in place, the foreground scenery will not show up in a photograph, so you will likely need to make multiple exposures.

Corona and a diamond
Corona and a diamondTodd Vorenkamp

Shooting the Eclipse: Telephoto Lens

Of course, you can just wait for totality, point your camera at the sun and moon, and snap a photo, but you will likely want to capture all the wonderful phases of the solar eclipse. This means you will need to track the sun across the sky for a few hours, and keep shooting as the eclipse moves toward totality and then back toward a full sun on the other side.

This is where planning comes in. How many photos do you want to take? Should you divide the eclipse up into equal parts by time and capture, for instance, one image every six minutes before and after totality? Many photographers put together beautiful montages showing the progression of the eclipse through its entire cycle. If you are planning on a montage or image series, you will want a solid game plan going into the event. For those planning multiple exposures, know that the Earth’s rotation causes the sun to move the distance of one solar diameter through the sky approximately every two minutes.

Also, you have to track the sun across the sky—either manually by hand or on a tripod, or with an electronic tracking telescope mount. One advantage of the mount is that, if used correctly, the sun will remain at a constant position through your frames and you will not have to work to manually track the event.

Here is the standard progression:

1. The eclipse approaches, you attach the solar filter to your lens and start by shooting the full sun, and then continue to shoot as the moon intercepts the sun’s light.

2. Once the sun is totally obscured, you must then remove your filtration and photograph totality without a filter—capturing the awe-inspiring sight. The start of totality is indicated by the famous “diamond ring” effect. During totality, you can remove your solar filtration (and solar glasses). The diamond rings should be photographed and can be viewed without filtration.

3. At the end of totality, when the second diamond ring appears, replace your filters and continue to shoot as the moon slides clear of the sun.

This wide-angle shot was captured with a 12mm lens on my FUJFILM X-T1. © Todd Vorenkamp
This wide-angle shot was captured with a 12mm lens on my FUJIFILM X-T1.Todd Vorenkamp

Shooting the Eclipse: Wide(r) Angle View

The benefit of using a normal focal length lens or a non-super telephoto is the ability to include some surrounding scenery in the foreground of your eclipse image(s). This is especially cool if you are shooting the sun before a spectacular mountain range, rock formation, man-made landmark, something else visually complimentary, or something that provides a sense of location.

The progression will be the same as above, but you will also have to capture images that are exposed for your foreground as, during totality, all will be dark.

Again, research is the key here. No two scenes will be exactly alike as far as lighting, composition, and the position of the eclipse are concerned. Many photographers shoot with two cameras (or more) during an eclipse, to capture the celestial show from different perspectives and to improve their chances of getting a memorable image, or series of images.

Shooting the Eclipse: Projection Viewing/Imaging

There are many ways you can create a pinhole camera obscura to project an image of the eclipse on a secondary surface. This can be done using optics like a telescope or binoculars, or it can be done simply by putting a small hole in the center of a piece of construction paper.

Light passes through the “lens” and a monochrome image of the eclipse will appear on your surface. This camera obscura image can be photographed by any camera, even a mobile phone camera, without any filtration.

First contact
“First contact”Todd Vorenkamp

A Baker’s Dozen General Tips

1. See “SAFETY FIRST,” above.

2. See “ENJOYMENT SECOND,” above.


4. Bring extra batteries. Charge them the night before and bring at least one more than you think you need. How awful would it be to run out of power just before the show?

5. Bring extra memory for the same reason. Pack a secret memory card in your bag that you can reach for if you took way more photos than you planned.

6. If you do not have an accurate infinity hard stop on your lens, pre-focus your camera and lens at infinity and lock the focus or use gaffer tape to keep it from changing, if you can.

7. For goodness sake, again, DO NOT use a flash!

8. Practice your solar photography days, weeks, months before the actual eclipse. Practice, practice, practice.

9. Scout your location a day or two in advance to see the path the sun will take across the sky on the day of the eclipse.

10. Make a checklist of the gear you need. Check it twice.

11. Pray to anyone (or anything) you think can help for clear skies during the eclipse.

12. See #1 on this list.

13. See #2 on this list. Read it twice. ENJOY THE SHOW! Seriously, put the camera aside and look at the eclipse with your own eyes—or better yet, through binoculars. You’ll thank me later. I promise.

What are your tips and techniques for capturing a solar eclipse? Share them with us and our readers in the Comments section, below!

“Last contact” © Todd Vorenkamp
“Last contact”Todd Vorenkamp

Here is my $0.02 on sharpness of solar, astronomical, and lunar images:

The sun is a mean distance of approximately 93 million miles away and the moon is a mean distance of 238,855 miles away. Neither the moon’s cratered surface nor the sun’s explosive surface make them perfectly smooth spheres.

When I pixel-split my solar images, be it the ones captured with a sharp Nikon 300mm f/4, a sharp Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting scope, or any other optic, regardless of whether I am using a glass or metal-type solar filter, the sun is only, at its best, "kind of" sharp.

The same applies to images of the moon. I get sharp images, but never as sharp as I really, really want to get.

This got me thinking.

When you photograph something outside of our atmosphere, there is a fair amount of air between you and the subject. The thickness of Earth’s atmosphere is approximately 300 miles, with most of the dense air in the lower altitudes (obviously). Light is transmitted from the sun (or stars) or reflected from the moon (and planets) and it travels through the vacuum of space until it reaches earth. Once it arrives in the atmosphere, all your sharpness bets are off.

If you took a photo of a building, mountain, or person miles and miles away, especially on a hazy day, you probably wouldn't really expect a super-sharp image, right? Now, think about an image of something captured on the far side of dozens of miles of air. Sharp? Probably not.

So, if you are wondering what lens or filter is the sharpest to photograph distant things, or if you are wondering why your lunar craters or sunspots are not tack-sharp, even though you spent a ton of money on a super-sharp lens, just be grateful that earth has a protective shield around it that gives us air to breath and protects us from the harshness of outer space. And, also remember that there is a reason they try to put telescopes in dry places at high altitudes—or in orbit above the atmosphere!


Like Susan below, I'll also be on a boat around Antarctica for the upcoming eclipse (Nat Geo Explorer) as well. One thing I have been trying to figure out is when exactly to remove the solar filter, and when to put it back on. I noticed that your article said to not remove the filter until AFTER the diamond ring. Seeing as how all pics with the filter on are basically just a big orange blob (minus the moon), I figured the diamond ring pics were all taken without a filter in place since you can also see the corona in the photo at the same time. So, now I'm really

I'll be shooting with a Z7 (with a Tamron 150-600mm), so, while I'm not afraid of viewing it through the EVF, I don't want to fry my sensor, either... Please advise, and thanks in advance.

Hi Don,

Whoa. Thanks for the note. I really need to clarify that section of the article.

To be clear: The diamond ring is photographed unfiltered.

I will have that part of the article repaired on Monday. I apologize for the confusion.

You will find that right up to the diamond ring moment the sun is still incredibly bright and it is pretty obvious that you don't want to look at the sun, or photograph, it without a filter.

Let me know if you have more questions and please check out this article (as well as my advice to Susan about using your own eyes instead of watching it on "TV!")!

Thanks for reading and, again, sorry for the confusion!




Don't make the mistake that I made during the August 2017 eclipse!

In my excitement of totality, I forgot to remove the solar filter. I kept thinking "Where's the sun? Where's the sun?" Oops! Big mistake. B&H, for the Solar Eclipse, carries various solar filters. I recommend the the Daystar solar filters that are made of solar film and thin cardboard. They are easy to put on and take off, unlike traditional screw-on filters. 

On a side note, coworkers were telling me to put our dogs up; that the solar eclipse would scare them. Instead, they were watching us watch the solar eclipse. They decided to take a nap as it got darker. They only woke up when someone shot off fireworks at totality. Hey, I live in the South; any occasion is a reason to shoot fireworks. 

Thanks for helping a fellow reader, Ralph!



I will be on a boat near Antarctica for the total solar eclipse this December. Since a tripod and tracking are out of the question on a ship, do you have any recommendations. I have a Canon 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 70-300mm 4.0-5.6 lens. I'm pretty good and steady with my zoom off tripod down to about 1/30 seconds, but nothing slower (assuming relatively calm seas of course). I still need to buy a solar filter. 

Hey Susan,


My first recommendation is to invite me to go with you. :)

Here are some other tips:

You could theoretically use a tripod on the ship to get a little bit of stability, but you won't be doing long exposures with it.

When I do solar/lunar photography I shoot for at least 1/125th second of shutter speed to freeze the action. During the eclipse, when I was shooting to try and get a good amount of corona, I was at 1/2sec at ISO200 and f/5.6 (I think) at 300mm. Before, after, and diamond ring were at 1/125th.

Experiment with your Mark IV to see what ISO you can really get up to during totality and still have good image quality...the night sky will be a good test subject. And, during totality, crank the ISO to that number and shoot as steady as you can.

Last, and MOST IMPORTANT, when I photographed the 2017 eclipse I found that the best views, by far, were through my solar-filter covered (and then solar-filter removed) binoculars...NOT through the camera viewfinder. I love my photos, but what remains in my mind's-eye is soooo much more beautiful. Put the camera down and enjoy the sight with your own eyes (or through binoculars)!

Let me know if you want some pointers for your solar filter purchase and let me know if you have more questions.

Thanks for reading and thanks, in advance, for inviting me with you! :)



I wish that I had a tracking mount to make it easier. I draped a jacket over my camera to use in place of a focusing cloth (large format camera) to block out the brightness of the sky.

Hi Ralph,

We sell them! :)

Thanks for reading!



Todd, Aloha.  I just purchased the Sony A7RIII and the 28-70 2.8 Lens from B&H.  Wanting to get a dedicated Lunar and Solar Eclipse Lens to use with this Camera as well.  Sony offers the 70-200 2.8 Telephoto, and the 100-400 4.5-5.6 Telephoto.  If you had not yet purchased a Lens that you wanted for dedicated Lunar and Solar Eclipses (for this Camera), what would be your top choices?  I would consider a Prime focus as well as a variable Telephoto lens.  Lens speed is important, as well as Focal length.  I am giving up my old Meade telescope with a Clock drive, for the sake of Portability, so the longer exposures are out.  I was never impressed with the optics of the Meade.  The Sony 70-200 2.8 has great speed, but not enough focal length.  The 100-400 4.5-5.6 gets me closer to the focal length, and with 42 Megapixels in resolution might work great.  With all the choices out there, what would you find ideal?  Thank you.  Steven Groce, Springfield, Missouri and Big Island, HI.  

Hey Steven,


Congrats on your A7R III purchase!

With the 2 lenses you presented, I would go with the 100-400mm option for eclipse shooting. However, because you are shooting mirrorless, the world is your oyster. You could easily adapt a lens to your new Sony and shoot a big prime from another brand...or connect to a spotting scope or telescope!

If I was starting from scratch...with a full frame camera....I might look into a 300mm or 400mm prime and then maybe use a teleconverter (if I could maintain sharpness).

When I photographed the eclipse last year, I used a Nikon 300mm f/4 on my Fujifilm X-T2 (APS-C) and was pleased with the results.

Also, not sure if you saw this, but here is an article running through some lens options:

One thing I will say...eclipses are fairly rare, so you might want to get a lens that is useful to you in the days before and after the eclipse. I hope this helps...happy to discuss further!

Mahalo for shopping at B&H!

Todd ... great article, very helpful!  I didn't get to shoot this last USA eclipse, and haven't shot any before either.  But I'm planning on the one in 2019 down in Argentina.  So, two questions:

1.  Is the Diamond Ring considered part of "totality", so that you would have your filter off to shoot the Diamond Ring?  Or do you take it off after the Diamond Ring disappears?

2.  Would some kind of filter that slips over the end or your lens, rather than screws on, be easier to remove when shifting to no-filter shooting during totality?  I've had some problems with filters getting stuck on and hard to unscrew.  Oh ... that brings up another question .... 

3.  Do you put a Solar Filter on over the usual UV Haze filter that I keep on all my lenses for physical protection of the lens surface?  Or do I take the UV filter off?

Now that the 2017 eclipse is over, I hope you're still monitoring this discussion board and can answer me.  

Thank you ... Carl Main, La Verne, California.  

There will be another eclipse in 2024 and it will be 100% here in the Dallas TX area. We usuall have a pretty good shot at a clear day. So I want to get my gear set up and well practiced before the panic of the approaching date. For my Nikon D5200 18-200 lens I don't see any solar 72mm filters available at all. What ND filter would you recommend as a substitute? Or do you think time will solve the availability problem? Or should I develop an alternative strategy?

Hey Bob,

Its good to get ready now as those who tried shopping at the last minute found out!

You can get a 77mm filter for your lens and then grab a very inexpensive 72-77mm step-up ring. Problem solved!

I will always recommend a metal-type solar filter instead of the heavy ND filters—especially for your D5200—because a metal-type filter will let you use your optical viewfinder.

Let me know if you have other questions! Thanks for stopping by!

I agree that bracketing is the key. What I found was that the details of the corona will come out in one exposure setting and at another setting you will be able to see the solar prominences.

I agree! You really have to mix up the exposures to get all of the different features. I saw, on PBS's NOVA, a stacked image of coronal shots that looked amazing. I might try to see if I can get similar results.

THANK YOU!!!! For very helpful tip about bracketing.  This was my second eclipse but the first one taking pictures (my first eclipse was in the ancient times B.D.E. - Before Digital Era - when film was expensive and I felt too crappy of a photographer to risk wasting a roll). Bracketing helped to create a few images I'm quite proud of. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!

Hey Stasia!

You are welcome! You are welcome! You are welcome! :)

So glad you had a successful shoot! Congratulations!

Hi ! Could you explain or share information on the last technique of camera obscura using a refracting telescope? The particular image displayed shows the sun projected pretty large (yet so close to the telescope) and having a bright orange hue. Is this a composite image or an actual installation. If it is the latter I'd like to know to how to replicate it. I attempted to use a pair of binoculars (10X50) and the best I could get at a 4 ft distance was about 2". Thanks!

Hey RK,

Unfortunately, the image above was from a stock photo site, so I can't really speak well on how that person accomplished it.

As far as hue, that looked to be a late-evening or morning eclipse, so the light may have been as you see there.

Sorry I didn't reply sooner, I was out chasing the eclipse! Did you have any luck?

Hi there. I don't have a solar filter, but I ONLY plan to shoot when totality occurs (well, 94% for us). Do I still risk damaging my camera? Thanks!

Hey Andy,

Sorry for the delay in replying, I was out shooting the eclipse. 

94% is NOT totality...I hope you did not point your camera skyward at any point during your partial eclipse.


Can I use a circular polarizer filter on my Nikon D90 to shoot photos of the eclipse

Hey Anthony,

Sorry for the delay. I was out shooting the eclipse.

NO, you cannot use a circular polarizer as a solar filter.

I couldn't get a filter in time for my new 600 mm lens nor my 300 and so my *plan* is this: I'd purchased 25 pairs of glasses a few months back and have plenty away to family and friends but still had two extra pair left over.  They're the first listed on NASA's safe list.  I peeled the paper frame away from the actual filter so I now had four (two pairs) 1" x 1.5" pieces.  I've taped them seamlessly (wasn't easy) so NO visible light sneaks through.  I then reinforced them on the outer edges and have affixed it to me 300 mm lens.

Is it safe to look through the viewfinder while wearing the glasses?


Thoughts on my setup?

Hi Roy,

I would not recommend you pursuing that plan, but, if you feel that you must, please DO NOT look through your optical viewfinder!

Even if you do not risk your eyesight by not looking through the viewfinder, you are risking damage to your lens and camera. 

Be safe!

Thank you so much for the info. Now I know you have told everyone read the article when it comes to only using solar filters. However; I have written below to Canon as their article and a couple others say with the 80D it is ok. Please read my question to them and see if you can shed some light. Thank again so much

I know this is cutting it really close but I have been really ill and did not even know if I would be able to do anything for the eclipse. I had a Canon 60D that was just replaced last month with an 80D so I am in the process of learning about it. I want to photograph the eclipse on the 21st. I have been reading articles and it seems that my camera is already set to handle it. However I am wondering about my lenses. I have a Canon - EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens. I also have filters ND2; 4; and 8. I have these for both the telephoto and the 18-135mm IS USM lens I have. Because I am disabled already and have not had someone to go out with me due to that and being ill I have not been able to really test shoot and play around.

Can you give me some pointers on how to shoot the eclipse? I am near Sacramento, CA so we will be getting an 85% coverage of the sun. I did not know if not having the solar filters themselves would limit me to not being able to photograph it till it is covered or with what I have can I take time lapse shots.   Any help anyway I will take it. Thank you for your time. I hope I got this to you soon enough.

BTW this is what Canon says on their site:

APS-C sensors

Just like wildlife, sports and macro photography, solar and lunar photography will benefit from the smaller APS-C sized sensor due to the 1.6x crop factor. The smaller sensor produces a cropped image compared to the uncropped full-frame sensor. Your sun disk will be significantly larger with the APS-C sensor than with the full frame sensor.

Cameras such as the new EOS Rebel T7i, EOS 80D and EOS 7D Mark II all have an APS-C sensor and will be great performers for the upcoming total solar eclipse. If you already own a Rebel or any of the pro-consumer based DSLRs such as 30D through 80D, you’re all set and ready to shoot the eclipse.

Hey Teressa,

OK, first off, thanks for asking questions.

2nd, Canon is saying that that camera will work well for shooting the eclipse, but on another website, Canon strongly states that you should not, under any circumstances, use an ND filter of any strength for shooting the eclipse. Nikon recommends the same.

However, at B&H, we do have a lot of vendors of heavy "solar" ND filters that claim they are safe. Having said that, no one should use an optical viewfinder while photographing the sun with any ND filter or filters.

And, in addition, as I stated above, I would NOT use multiple ND filters to photograph the eclipse. Many have done it successfully, but I will not recommend it. If you do try it, do it at your own risk and PLEASE do NOT use the optical viewfinder. Use Live View only!

You got through to me...I'm writing while on vacation so that I can keep helping folks before tomorrow!

Good luck and be safe!

If posts twice sorry was typing blind was not showing what i was typing. Thank you so much for taking time to answer me. Guess I am just out of luck. Will stick to my whales and dogs. Happy viewing enjoy your vacation

Hey Teressa,

You can still enjoy the show viewing the eclipse indirectly or with solar viewing glasses!

Enjoy! Cheers!

Good article on the eclipse. Here in Oregon we're all hyped up about it. Almost too much. Ads everywhere. Including a tire store selling eclipse tires! (Are they good only in totality?)  I have a Canon T3 and am planning on using 300mm zoom lens. Excited and apprehensive at the same time. One must keep so much in mind if you need filter off during totality. Still keep solar glasses on? Not practiced like I should have. I have a Daystar filter....cardboard style, I ordered from B&H. Looking forward to Monday and enjoying the people in the crowd. Take photos of them viewing with their glasses on as well. Thanks for all the information in spite of it making me a bit nervous, Todd!! Take care!

Hey Becky,

Are the eclipse tires white-walls showing an annular eclipse? :)

Good questions.

If you are looking through your camera, it must be filtered. That Daystar filter is OK for using your optical viewfinder, but feel free to use Live View if the T3 has it (I'm writing from vacation and not doing much research!).

You will not use your solar glasses to operate or look through the camera. They are for direct viewing only.

Thanks for shopping at B&H and let me know if you have more questions! Good luck!

HAHA! I like your reply to my eclipse tire sale! I practiced today and got something good from the sun. Not thought about live view. That will probably help alot. Have a good time on your vacation! No need to reply. I enjoy shopping at B&H over the years.

Thanks for shopping at B&H, Becky! :)

Hi Todd!

Very good article, thanks!  One question I have as I am preparing for the big event here in Salem, Oregon.  Specifically; for the "Diamond Ring" effect do you reccomend shooting both the first & last appearances (before & after totality) with the solar filter in place or without?  A careful reading of your article leaves that aspect uncertain to me as one part seems to say it should be in place for the first appearance and then the next part leads me to think that it is the last thing to photograph before putting the filter back on after totality.  THANKS!


Hey Norm,

If viewing directly with your protected eyes, the solar glasses come off at the diamond ring and then go back on when the 2nd one appears.

For photography, Fred Espenak's exposure guide (which is what ours is based on) shows shutter speeds that would indicate that Baily's Beads and the Diamond Ring are shot unfiltered.

If in doubt, keep the filters on! And, I would say that you definitely do NOT want to look at Baily's Beads or the Diamond Ring through an unfiltered telephoto lens.

Great question that I have asked myself! Thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words!


Thanks for your reply!    :)

You are welcome, Norm! Cheers!

You must have the filter in place to shoot the diamond ring effect. Remove the filter after diamond ring effect ends and replace it when it starts again.

Hey Greg,

I would agree with you, but Fred Espenak's exposure tables are obviously written for the camera being unfiltered at that time...and he is the true expert!

Good luck!

I am late getting prepared for the eclipse. I will be in Georgia where I will see the total eclipse. I have a Nikon D7100. I only have a UV filter, a warming filter and a CPL filter. Will these work in any way? and how should I set up my camera? I will be using an 18-300mm Nikon lens.

Thanks, Todd.

No, no, and no. Did you read the article? Nothing short of a solar filter is safe. However, if you are certain to be in the path of totality then you can safely photograph during the two minutes of totality without a filter. ONLY then.

Thank you, Randall! I appreciate the backup!


I CANNOT recommend using any or all of those filters to protect your camera. However, if you choose to do try it, PLEASE do NOT look through the camera's optical viewfinder. You could do severe damage to your vision.

I would just shoot totality and skip the partial phases as you do not have the right equipment. Sorry for the bad news, but you need to protect your camera, lens, and eyes!

Also use this time to observe because there will be another full solar eclipse in 2024 on april 8th. Start now to build your knowledge and equipment 

Great advice, Dj! Thanks!

I have a handmade pinhole camera I'd like to use Monday with high school students - a cardboard box with a lens that's a hole in foil and electrician's tape "shutter/lens cap". How long, if it's clear out, should I expose the paper, do you think? Do you think it will work? I've used it lots to photo close objects - but not the sun!!!  Sally

Try it out tomorrow, before the Monday eclipse.  

Hey Sally,

Like Shelly said, practice! The sun is up every day, not just tomorrow!

I have never done a pinhole photo of the sun, so can't help much! Sorry!

Thanks for advice - I did try it already and getting sun/clouds to be visble did not work when I tried -however,  I'll give it another shot tomorrow but my mine focus will be...enjoying feeling the planets/stars align. 

Enjoy, Sally! Good luck!

Show older comments