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.

Eclipse and solar photographs © 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.

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

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 effect

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 scope

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.

Also, here are 4 Other Ways to Use Your Solar Filters after the Eclipse!

The corona of the sun and a nearby star.

The corona of the sun and a nearby star

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 composite

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.

 The mirror or reflex lens is a relatively inexpensive way to go super-telephoto.

The mirror or reflex lens is a relatively inexpensive way to go super-telephoto.

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 scope

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

My favorite solar eclipse photo ever

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 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2
Inner Corona 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60
Diamond Ring 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60
Baily’s Beads ---- 1/32,000 1/16,000 1/8000 1/4000
Prominences 1/16,000 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000

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.

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 diamond

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 of a total solar eclipse:

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.

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”

“Last contact”

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. Also remember that there is a reason they try to put telescopes in dry places at high altitudes—or in orbit above the atmosphere!



I'm reading up on eclipse photography tips for the upcoming annular event in October.  I bought a filter (and some glasses!).  My question is about "totality".  If the sun isn't FULLY blocked by the moon and there's a ring of sunlight in this eclipse, do I keep the filter on the camera or can I take it off for that period of time?  Just want to make sure I don't risk screwing up my camera during the height of the event.


I’m doing the October eclipse as well.  No Totality!  Always use glasses and filter.. Enjoy!! 

Hey Heidi,

David is correct. For the October 2023 ANNULAR eclipse you MUST have solar protection for your camera AND eyes for the ENTIRE event as the sun will never be completely obscured.

Do NOT remove the solar filters until totality in April 2024! :)

Thanks for reading! Let us know if you have more questions!



Hi Todd!  I love your articles - you provided INVALUABLE information that helped me achieve great success during the 2017 eclipse. I am now re-reading everything as I prepare for the upcoming Annular, and Total, eclipses on 14 Oct 2023 and 8 Apr 2024.  I plan to photograph both eclipses from a location in central Texas (near Ingram).  I have all the right solar filters, my cameras (two Canon 7D MkII's) will be mounted on tripods, and I plan to take pictures during all phases of the eclipse events.  I have two questions for you:

1) Recently, I have been "practicing" my photography techniques and have become concerned about camera overheat during the extended time on the tripod - over 3 hours.  I have been covering the camera body with a white towel, like an old-school focusing drape, but I am wondering if you have any better advice on how to keep the camera equipment from overheating due to ambient solar exposure?  (Overheat wasn't a problem for me during the 2017 eclipse, in Idaho, but conditions in Texas are very different.) 

2) I am hoping to capture a multi-photo composite image.  I'm planning to use my second body Canon 7D MkII + EF17-40 @ 17mm.  I am using the built-in intervalometer function to take exposures every 5 minutes, over a period of approx 3hr 30min.  During my practice sessions, I am having difficulty figuring out how to "align" the camera such that the solar "track" doesn't run out of my field of view.  Do you have any articles, or advice, on lens selection and camera alignment for optimum performance when shooting multi-photo composites?  BTW, I also have an EFS 10-22 lens.....  Would that be a better choice?

Thanks so much!



Hi Calvin,

You are very welcome and I am smiling to hear that you had great success with the 2017 show and the tips helped!

Your questions:

1) That is a good point about the heat. A UV/IR Cut filter might reduce some heat coming into the camera lens and might be a worthy investment. As far as keeping the camera cool, a towel might be a good idea. As I am typing and thinking of the JWST, I wonder if grabbing a Mylar sheet might be good for, at least, giving some really good shade to the camera while being lighter and easier to manage than a towel. You can then use the towel for your neck and face!

2) In 2017 I did a composite image with my telephoto shots—cut-and-pasting them into a panoramic canvas. So, that is one option available to you if the wide-angle shots don't turn out. I also shot 2017 with a 35mm-equivalent and, with some luck, got the whole eclipse without recomposing the image. In 2017 I "kind of" took mental note to where the sun was the day before, but definitely didn't do any scientific calculations.

For the upcoming shows, you can study the path of the sun the day before (the next day will be very similar) and make some notes. Or, probably better, you can use an app like PhotoPills to get a feel for where the sun will be on eclipse day and set up accordingly.

The wider you go, the better chance you will have of getting it in the frame, but, of course, the smaller the sun will be!

The 17-40 should be fine, in my experience from 2017.

Standing by for more questions, Cal!

Thanks for reading and the kind words!



Hi, Thx for excellent post and reading reply to comments - so much info. I have Z9, Z7 and Z6. I have 300mm 2.8, 2x converters,  100-400 5.6 to 6.3 and 1.4 converters, and 800mm 6.3 and 2 x converters. Eclipse is at  about 11am in Texas . Sun should high but not over head! Any suggestion combination of lens and camera and converters! Bit confused by  table regarding shutter speed during full eclipse! Looking forward for your insight. Thx again. 

Hey Atul,

Sorry for the delay in replying! I am no longer at B&H full-time, so just getting to comments as they are shared with me.

It sounds like you have everything you need...unless you are short on tripods! :)

I shot the 2017 eclipse with a 300mm lens on an APS-C camera and was happy with the results. The April eclipse gets a 350mm astrograph on an APS-C camera, and I think I will enjoy that a bit more.

I would personally skip the teleconverters and maximize your sharpness (I am kind of in the anti-teleconverter camp unless you have super sharp ones).

How many cameras are you planning on setting up?

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



Todd, I'll be out in remote, central Utah shooting the eclipse in Oct. I will shoot with my D810 and/or D850 and either the Nikon 80-400 f/4.5-5.6 or the Nikon 200-500 f5.6. Would you have a lens preference?  Also, I will likely want to composite an image with a landscape shot... perhaps shot somewhere between 18 - 40mm. Any tips or thoughts as I go about planning that approach? I'll be out there the entire day before scouting and preparing. Thank you! Darron

Hi Darron,

Awesome! May I join you? :)

I would bring both bodies and keep a telephoto on one and a wide-angle on the other while shooting off two tripods! That way you don't have to worry about switching lenses during the show.

I might go with the 200-500...but, the best plan is to use whichever lens you feel is sharpest.

Remember, a ring of fire eclipse is bright so you will need a solar filter (NOT a heavy ND...unless you are using Live View EXCLUSIVELY) on your camera(s) for the ENTIRE event.

Standing by for follow-ups! Thanks for reading!



Todd, I plan to shoot both the annual eclipse this October and the total eclipse in 2024. I will be using a Nikon z9 and either the 400 4.5 or the 100-400. I currently have a Wimberly 200 Gimbal. It appears that totality will occur when the sun is virtually straight overhead, which prohibits being able to use the z9’s articulating screen. Can you suggest a tripod head for this type of shot? I used a Manfrotto 410 in 2017 but have since sold it. Would a geared head still be a good choice? Thanks, Pat

Hi Pat,

Sounds like you'll be busy with the sun soon! Great question!

A geared head would work ONLY if it allows you to get your camera pointed vertically. Almost any tripod head allows vertical orientation, but the issue is sometimes the camera (or lens) impacts the tripod chassis. One solution I have used when doing astro viewing and photography (when I have used panning or 3-way heads) is to mount the camera "backwards" from the usual orientation so that the adjustment arms or knobs are pointing the opposite way that they usually would.

A geared head might also be good for controlled tracking of the sun as opposed to course adjustments with a ball head or 3-way head.

If you cannot find a suitable head, you could think outside the box...maybe lay a tripod laterally on a steady picnic table, weigh it down, and lay on the ground as the camera and head are positioned off the edge of the table? There is an IG account (@sh_ttyrigs) that shows crazy setups! The underscore is actually the letter "i". Check it out!

Standing by for follow-ups! Thanks for reading!




If this is a duplicate comment, please forgive me, I thought I submitted the previous one, did not show up,

great tutorial, new to solar photography, live in Fredericksburg TX ground zero for Oct23 & Apr24 eclipses.  Questions 1) assume that the table is for a solar filter, if I can’t afford a solar filter, I have a 16.5 stop ND filter coming in case, how do I translate the table for a 16.5 stop ND filter 2) assume the terms in the left column are phases of a solar eclipse, assume if I google term I can learn more and how to identify when the eclipse enters each phase, am I correct in this? 3) I don’t want screw up this once in a lifetime opportunity, so are there different Solar Filter (besides cost)?  I don’t have a big budget, I have a 16.5 Stop ND filter coming, so would like to find a Solar Filer in mt price range if possible, any suggestions for a Sigma 150-600mm lense requiring a 95mm filter?

Thank you in advance for your guidance


Hi Martin,

It looks like this is your only no worries!

May I ask what kind of camera you are using? I might have more to add with that info.


1) That table should be fairly accurate for your ND filter...but be ready to adjust exposure settings on the fly. The entire eclipse is very dynamic, so bracket your shots and change your settings as needed. Check your exposures between shots using your LCD and histogram.

1a) Solar filters are not expensive...usually much less than a good ND filter. And, they give you the benefit of protecting your eyes if you are using an optical viewfinder. I highly recommend a solar filter for these events!

2) Yes, those are the different phases of the eclipse. Google will help with the identification, but feel free to post follow-up questions here!

3) Recommended solar filter:… ... as you can see, this is pretty inexpensive when compared to some heavy ND filters.

[Shop around:…]

Thanks for your questions and thanks for reading! Standing by for follow-ups!



PS. It is cool that you live in the home of Admiral Nimitz! One of my favorite Navy shipmates grew up there!


thank you for your response, to let you  know I have bought the Thousand Oaks Solar Filter 95-T for my Sigma 150-600mm Lens.  I am using a Nikon D7200.

I will be practicing with both my Solar Filter and my 16.5 stop ND filter to see which one I like best, am sure the Solar Filter will win out, but will wait an see.

Living in the town where Admiral Nimitz was born and raised is very special.  Did you serve in the Navy?  The Nimitz museum (Museum of the South Pacific) is a great museum and it rivals the Smithsonian.

I am sure I will have more questions once i start to practice.

Again Thank you for providing this forum.


Hi Martin,

Congrats on your new purchases! NOT look through the viewfinder when you use the ND filter. You should ONLY use the viewfinder with the solar filter.

Yessir...former Naval Aviator here and I sailed on the USS Nimitz!

Let us know what filter you prefer and if you have more questions!



I assume when using the 16.5 ND filter, I can use Live View on mt Nikon D7200, right

thank you for all your help


During totality, when you remove the solar filter, is there a need to refocus? I've been told focus will change when the filter is removed.

I'm in the process of making my own filter using a sheet of solar film that will slip over the end of my cylindrical lens hood.


Hi Ray,

Good question and the answer is: Maybe.

If you do not touch the focus adjustment on the lens when you don/doff the filter, then you should be good to go, assuming your lens was correctly focused in the first place.

If you touch the focus ring when donning or doffing the filter, then all bets are off.

The filter should not effect the focus of the lens, but I would recommend periodically checking your focus through the event to ensure that nothing wonky is going on. It would be a shame to get everything set up and have the focus shift (for whatever reason) sometime during the event and later find blurry or slightly blurry images when you upload them to your computer.

Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any more questions!



What an excellent, detailed tutorial! I've seen most of this info in multiple places, but have never seen it all put together in one spot!


Hi Jan,

Thank you, so much, for the kind words! I am glad you got a lot out of the article!

Please let me know if you have any questions as you prepare to capture an eclipse on camera. :)



Hi Todd,

I live in Austin, Texas, which is about 80 miles from Fredericksburg.  Fredericksburg is pretty much on the center of the path for the April 8, 2024, eclipse and will see a little over 4 minutes of totality.  I'm planning to drive there early and get setup.  I'll be using a Canon 70D.  I'm trying to decide what lens I should use.  I have a Canon 75-300, a Canon 100-400, and a Tamron 150-600.  I have just ordered a solar filter to fit the Tamron which uses a 95mm filter.  So, to use either of the other lenses I'll just need to get the appropriate step-up ring.  Of course my camera will multiply the view focal length by 1.6.  Should I use the Tamron, or will that be too long a lense?

Hey Thomas,

I would flip a coin between the Canon 100-400 and the Tamron 150-600—go with whatever is sharper...the Canon at 400 or the Tamron at 4/5/600.

If you go out to 600, you'll miss some of the corona, but you might get some great detail that you won't get at shorter focal lengths. You can also zoom in and out with the Tamron, but you'd likely leave the Canon at 400.

Actually, now that I think about it a bit more (and too lazy to delete my train of thought)...go with the Canon for the wider aperture—you'll be better off with that f/4 lens than the smaller f/6.3.

Canon at 400!

Almost all of the images above were with a 300mm f/4 lens on an APS-C camera. For the 2024 show, I will be using an astrograph that is the equivalent of a 350mm f/5 lens.

Also, use live view and not the optical viewfinder if you don't have a filter that is designed for solar viewing!

Standing by for follow-ups!



Without question the tamron 150-600 and @600. You'll want that reach for Bailey's Beads, and the flexibility of 150+ will be great for the Diamond Ring Effectx2. I've shot 3 totals and each time I have used a cheap Bausch & Lomb 750mm mirror lens. There are two flavors of it, one is relatively sharp, the other is garbage. I have the relatively sharp one. My point though is that I really like the 750 focal length for a good balance between the sun's disk itself and the ability to capture the corona.  I have not seen the corona cut off, though I would accept that there may be some far flung bits that are. I have not seen it. The aperture mention I respectfully disagree with. 6.3 is plenty wide enough, use a higher ISO if need be. TBH, I am awaiting the z8 and I want to get either that Tamron or the Sigma or Nikon equivalent just for the 2024 eclipse.

Prepare for your sequence of bracketed shots during totality, do dry runS for a few days before. Remember to take off the solar filter for totality, damhik. Have a checklist for prep and for totality. There is a lot of adrenaline flowing during totality, so be prepared and enjoy!

Hey John,

Good stuff. Sounds like you have the makings of a good plan!

Mirror lenses can be great...or just a waste of not much money. I've had a Nikon one, but sold it when it wasn't hardly ever used. I currently have an older Tokina that is probably as good as the Nikon was...but rarely gets taken out.

I did find that the corona almost made it to the edge on my 450mm (equivalent) shots...I think my 525mm equivalent will serve me well if the clouds stay away.

I already have lodging and a viewing spot arranged for next year...and the airlines don't plan that far in advance, so patiently waiting to get my tickets!

Keep in touch and let us know if you have more questions!



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!

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