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R6 sharpness issue on Moon photos


OK, here's my problem.  Taking pictures of the moon.  Have R6 using Canon EF 100-400L and Canon 2x III extender.  Using Canon EF-RF adaptor.  I am using manual focus so the focusing is not different.  Using a very sturdy tripod and attached shutter release so camera shake should not be an issue.  I am doing multiple bursts and some of the pictures are tack sharp and some fuzzy.  It happens regardless of f-stop, shutter speed, ISO or focal length.  I am using Lightroom 5 and doing 'Clarity' at +38, 'Sharpening' at 77, and 'Luminance' at 19.  Here is a link to a Google album with 2 examples.  You can see the camera settings in the info section.  I have run tests over the course of 5 different nights that have had different temperatures and phases of the moon and I consistently get about 5-10 super sharp images and dozens and dozens of soft images.  I'm at a loss.  



A guess is atmospheric distortion, see 3:04

If you shoot at 1/250 sec and in mechanical shutter mode you may notice shutter shock.


  Using Canon EF-RF adaptor.  I am using manual focus so the focusing is not different.  Using a very sturdy tripod and attached shutter release so camera shake should not be an issue. 

First and foremost, is your Lightroom 5 and ACR up-to-date.  Also, I did not know that LR5 could read CR3 files and process them.  Are you translating to TIFF or something?

If you are using a 2x extender, then image quality will suffer.  If you are manual focusing, then you own the focusing, anyway, not the camera gear.

"The right mouse button is your friend."

Product Expert
Product Expert

Hi jimweatherford1,

I'm sorry to hear you're getting soft shots of the moon. I took a look at your two example photos and the only difference I see is the shutter speed. As Peter mentioned shutter shock could be coming into play. If you are using mechanical shutter mode try switching to electronic shutter mode to see if the same thing happens.

Another thing would be to double check if it was more windy when the blurry photos were taken. I see you mentioned you were using a sturdy tripod and off camera trigger, but the further out the lens is zoomed the more exaggerated even small vibrations and shakes will be in your photos. Since you are also using an extender that will even further exaggerate small movements. If the wind was causing the camera to move at all it could cause the softness you are seeing.

Thanks for all the advice.  I'm skeptical of the distortion due to warm weather as I have been shooting in NJ and it is usually below 40 degrees.  I was wondering about shutter shake so I'll try the electronic shutter.  None of the nights have been particularly windy.  The only reason I was manually focusing was to take focus search out of the equation.  The majority of the shots were using autofocus.  Lightroom doesn't take CR3 files but I used the Adobe app to convert to RAW files.  Also, I did take some without the extender to eliminate that as the culprit and suffered the same fate. Motion definitely makes the most sense.  I'll switch to electronic shutter and keep going (although it is cloudy the next 100 days here).  My main sense of panic is the upcoming eclipse so obviously want those to be sharp.  Thanks, again, for all the advice.  I truly appreciate it.  I'll let you know how I make out.  

Actually, I just checked and I am on 'Elec. 1st Curtain' shutter mode.  Should I be on 'Electronic'?  If not, kind of back to square one.  I will concentrate on higher shutter speed but then you, obviously, run into higher ISO issues given you are starting at f11.  Thanks.

Atmospheric distortion may happen even if it is not hot.

First curtain will only give shutter shock in burst mode when the shutter already has started to shake.

Hello jimweatherford1,

In addition to all of the great suggestions here, I would recommend turning the image stabilization off if you have not already since you're using a sturdy tripod and attached a shutter release. This can cause internal "shake" and result in the inconsistencies that you are getting even though the camera is not being moved or touched even.

Rising Star
Rising Star

In addition to the great advice from my colleagues, you didn't mention if you are shooting in warm weather, or if you are pointing over nearby hot roofs.  I have found even in viewing through my telescopes that there is enough distortion in the warm air to cause this, and it has shown up more in my photos.


Digital: Canon: R6 Mk ll, R8, RP, 60D, various lenses
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