The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of solar photography. Additionally, two solar filters will be compared.
- Equipment used: Canon 100 – 400mm 4.5-5.6 L IS II lens with the Canon Extender EF 2X III, yielding 800mm.
- Canon 5DSr body was used for all the photographs.
- All photographs were taken with a tripod.
- Baader solar film 70mm. Photo below, top.
- DayStar Filters Universal Lens Filter 70mm. Photo below, bottom.
- At least ten photographs were taken of each subject. Autofocusing was performed for every shot. The best photograph from each sequence was selected for this article.
- Never looked directly into the sun as this can lead to permanent eye injury including blindness. Always wear certified solar viewing glasses to observe the sun.
- Never looked directly into the sun through your camera, telescope or binoculars, as this can lead to permanent eye injury including blindness as well as permanent damage to the equipment.
- Only use filters approved for solar viewing. Neutral density filters, will not block UV and/or IR wavelengths and will result in permanent eye injury as well as damaging your equipment.
- DO NOT point a camera at the sun unless the optics are fitted with a properly certified solar filter. The filter must go in front of your optics, i.e. it is the first thing the sunlight will hit prior to your lens.
- Filters must be secured properly, if they fall off your equipment will be damaged and/or permanent eye injury may result. It is recommended that you tape the edge of the filter to a secure nonmoving part on the side of your lens.
- It is recommended to use live view rather than the cameras viewfinder.
- First secure your approved solar filter to the front of your lens, as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Check that the filter is not allowing light to leak directly into the lens.
- Mount your camera to a sturdy tripod.
- Using live view acquire the sun. The widest setting on a zoom lens will make this easy, zoom in after target acquisition.
- Autofocus may not work well through a solar filter. If this is the case you will have to use manual focus. Do NOT remove the solar filter to focus or for any other reason whatsoever.
- Given that you will be in bright sun light you may want to bring a towel to cover your head and the rear of the camera. This will make it easier to see the live view screen.
- Take some bracketed exposures, review your results and adjust accordingly. My exposures were in the range of 1/30sec., at f25, ISO100, with the equipment / solar filters listed above.
Left – Baader solar film 70mm. 1/30sec., f25, ISO100
Right – DayStar Filters Universal Lens Filter 70mm. 1/25sec., f25, ISO100
Analysis: The Baader solar film filter produced a slightly sharper image with better detail in the sunspots when compared to the DayStar Filters Universal Lens Filter.
Conclusion: It is fairly easy to produce aesthetically pleasing photographs of the sun provided that you take the proper precautions and use an approved solar filter.
Take care, and keep experimenting.