Who needs a telescope? 50mp Canon 5DS R + Tamron 150-600mm x 1.4x teleconverter = Lunar bliss!


posted Thursday, November 26, 2015 at 8:37 AM EDT


Wake up with IR! Here's today's dose of Caffeine Priority

OK, so this isn't meant to be a slight on telescopes... the headline is more of a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that it's becoming ever more amazing what modern digital cameras and good lenses can achieve. I wanted to see just how close I could get to the moon with the high resolution 50mp Canon 5DS R, so I descended into the labs of SLRGear to see what I could find in the way of long lenses.

Rob Murray is our senior lens authority, and he's the man to see when you need a lens. He's also amazing at solving problems. I told him what I wanted to do and he handed me the 150-600mm Tamron (Canon mount) and I knew that would get me into the ballgame. But I wanted just a bit more reach so I asked about the possibility of a teleconverter. Our comrade William Brawley had a Canon 1.4x, but we couldn't get that to physically attach to the Tamron, so we seemed out of luck. I checked with Tamron about their 1.4x, but they said it wouldn't work well with this particular lens.

Hmmm… I was stuck at 600mm… but Rob is a very diligent man! He scoured the lab shelves that evening and found a Sigma 1.4x teleconverter that our publisher Dave Etchells had brought back from a Japan trip several years ago, and popped it onto the Tamron. When I came into the lab the next day he was holding the whole rig out for me to take… and what a whopping rig! An 840mm lens combination on a 50mp full frame camera, all for costs that won't break the bank (relatively speaking, of course).

Canon 5DS R + Sigma 1.4x teleconverter + Tamron 150-600mm
(Image courtesy Rob Murray | SLRGear)

I decided to try my hand at a daylight shot first, with the almost-full moon just cresting the horizon. I'd hoped to find something large and distant to use as a foreground object for perspective, but had to settle for trees that were too close to be as effective as I'd wanted. The combination of the Tamron 150-600mm and the Sigma 1.4x TC on the 5DS R are able to effectively autofocus, but I decided to go with manual focus all the same.

1/250s / f/11 / -3.0 EV / aperture priority / ISO 100 / 840mm

[original | edited]

I next went out the night before the full moon and captured the shot below. Once again using manual focus, and this time manual exposure. The settings are typical of a moon shot when there's plenty of available light and not much in the way of atmospheric issues like haze. This was a cold, crisp mid-autumn night, so about as good as any I could hope for.

1/160s / f/9 / manual exposure / ISO 100 / 840mm

[original | edited]

This image is zoomed in to almost full 1:1 magnification, but clickling on the original link above will take you to access to the 50mp full resolution image as delivered by the 5DS R. You can also access the RAW file for either image in our Canon 5DS R Gallery (look for "TAM-600mm" in the filename). And if you're wondering how this zoomed in crop might compare to, say, a superzoom camera, we have you covered. Just click here too see how many of the current superzooms handle the moon (scroll down to see them at 1:1 magnification). Some are fairly good considering the price, but none are anywhere close to this image for overall clarity with minimal noise. You can also click here for how the more recent Nikon P900 imaged the moon from Maine, USA, compliments of our writer Jeremy Gray.

Tamron 150-600mmCanon 5DS R Gallery

[Want another dose of Caffeine Priority? ...Get it now!]

• • •


Caffeine Priority is a new series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!