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Photographing the Northern Lights

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by juno, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. juno

    juno Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 20, 2010

    In the new year I'll be making a trip to Iceland with the hope of photographing the Northern Lights. Just wondering if anyone has any experience of this on the m4/3 platform so I can plan to get the right gear and hopefully have a vague idea of what I should be doing.

    Current camera is a GF1, and current native lenses are the Panasonic 7-14, 20mm and the 14-140. I've also got a Planar 50mm 1.4 and Sonnar 90mm 2.8, excellent lenses but can't imagine they will me much use for lights photography with the 2x crop factor.

    I presume my best bet would be to pick up the 14mm 2.5 when it's available.

    From what I've read, with an f/4 lens I'll need to use ISO800, f2.5 ISO400 both with shutter times of 20-45 seconds.

    My other thought was to move to a GH2 body if it's available in time. Would this be a better camera for this purpose? As it's a once in a lifetime trip I want to have the best chance of getting some good images.

    Does this sound along the right lines? Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

  2. Gwendal

    Gwendal Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 6, 2010
    Juno, I have no advice for you, but do report when you get back, I'm interested !
  3. NZUnicorn

    NZUnicorn New to Mu-43

    Oct 15, 2010
    Have you considered using the 20mm, in conjunction with panorama stitching software? You can easily get free trial versions of software like Autopano, so you can see if it fits your needs.

    Most important thing, for a one time chance like this, is to get some practice (in as similar conditions as you can find) before you go.
  4. walt_tbay

    walt_tbay Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 24, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Try checking out this website for lots of great information and advice about astrophotography:

    Astrophotography Techniques

    Don't forget to post some pics of those lights!

    P.S. Make sure you add the Panasonic electronic cable release to your gear.
  5. walt_tbay

    walt_tbay Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 24, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I thought I would add some pictures I recently took when staying at a resort in Northern Minnesota. I took these with my GF1 set up on a tripod, using the Olympus 9-18mm zoom lens set at 9mm and f4.0. The shutter speed was set at 60 seconds. I used the cable release to make sure I minimized any vibration. They turned out OK and I'll try a similar set up when the northern lights fire up here in northern Ontario.

    Attached Files:

  6. juno

    juno Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 20, 2010
    Yep I'll be trying everything!!! Taking my MacBook Pro with me, and we'll be hiring a car and intend to be out there every night over our 5 day trip if the conditions are right. We intend to be out there for a good few hours from 12am onwards providing adequate viewing conditions so should have a chance to experiment with different methods.

    I've been trying some night shots of star trails and the moon etc out in the country.

    Thanks for this, not come across that one on my googling, some good reading material there.

    Absolutely!! Just hope the conditions are right.....February seems like a good time to go, so here's hoping...

    Yep, I didn't fork out the £75 for the Panasonic one though, got a £4 one from China off ebay. Red Snapper RS-324 carbon tripod also waiting for action...

    Lovely shots!! Like the composition. Look forward to seeing your lights shots :cool: 
    • Like Like x 1
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