How to photograph the Aurora with different cameras

The basics of exposure applies to all cameras, and there are no exact settings specific to a particular model of camera to enable you to capture this phenomenan. So you if you want to learn how to take pictrure of the aurora, using various cameras, please read on.

How to photograph the aurora​

The list below shows some of the settings and other hints and tips, used by members of the Aurora Research Scotland group for the cameras they use. The exact same settings may not work entirely for you, due to light pollution and any other factors - but please use them as a guide to get started, and then experiment and tweak each of the settings to find out what works best for you.

Canon 1200D

Submitted by Chris Stone
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    20 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    35mm
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    800
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    3.5
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light?
    No
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Timer
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Stay away from the city or you get a orange glow
  • If you want to find out more about the Canon 1200D, please click here

Canon 650D

Submitted by Jacky Little
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    25 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Samyang 14mm wide angle
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    1600
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    2.8
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Red torch... although a white torch with a red Quality Street wrapper/elastic band works really well. No need to buy a red torch if you don't need to.
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Cable shutter release
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Use auto white balance and don't be afraid to change camera settings during the shoot. Look at the exposures used in post processing and decide what you like best. You will kick yourself a few times when you really mess up the exposure and miss a good photo but long term it will be beneficial as you will be able to go straight to the correct exposure for the conditions on the night. Above all, have fun.
  • If you want to find out more about the Canon 650D, please click here

Canon EOS 450D

Submitted by Daf Smith

Rather than answer the questions directly, Daf Smith recorded a video showing his setup and recommended settings:

Canon EOS 450D

Canon EOS 450D

What a great video - seeing how to do something, rather than being told is sometimes easier for some people to follow.

Thanks Daf for demonstrating how to setup the Canon EOS 450D for taking pictures of the aurora borealis.


Canon 700D

Submitted by Paul
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    15 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Tokina 11-16mm
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    1600
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    2.8
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    -
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    2 second timer
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    -
  • If you want to find out more about the Canon 700D, please click here

Canon EOS 6D

Submitted by -
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    16 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    14mm
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    1600
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    3.1 (or as low as your lens will go)
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Headlamp
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Cable release or infra red remote
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Make sure you have a decent tripod.
  • If you want to find out more about the Canon EOS 6D, please click here

Nikon D3200

Submitted by -
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    5-20 seconds depending on ambient light (moon) or strength of display
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Just the 18-55 kit lens, at the most zoomed out setting (18)
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    200/800, maybe pushing up to 1600 for a very weak display.
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    Lowest number you can get
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Take a torch for safety's sake, but red is recommended to save your night vision.
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Remote, or small delay setting in camera.
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Keep checking the sky, it's there more often than you might think!
  • If you want to find out more about the Nikon D3200, please click here

Nikon D5100

Submitted by Wayne MacDonald
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    5-20 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Stock 18-105mm
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    1600
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    F/3.5
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Red torch is always handy
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Intervalometer or IR remote
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    -
  • If you want to find out more about the Nikon D5100, please click here

Nikon D5100

Submitted by Roddy Barclay
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    15 secs starting point
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Nikkor 18-200 VRII F3.5 and Nikkor 35mm F1.8
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    1600 starting point and adjust as necessary
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    As low as possible f3.5 or f1.8 as per lenses above
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Black Diamond Spot 200 (has red light as well as normal white torch)
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Manually
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Wrap up warm especially feet, fingers and head and take hot fluids! also patience is an absolute definite. Also shoot in RAW and take a few memory cards (if all on one card then you can lose all photos if there is an issue). Take a second battery for your camera! The Cold sucks power out of your battery so keep it in your pocket and not in a bag. Do not delete any photos as robs you of battery life also. Recce during the day for clear views North and for light pollution as photoshop can only fix so much without ruining a photo altogether.
  • If you want to find out more about the Nikon D5100, please click here

SONY HX60V

Submitted by Jan Marius Evang
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    4-30 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Standard lens, full zoom out
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    Between 800-1600
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    F3.4
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    none
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Camera timer or ideally a wire remote (bought on eBay)
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    "Tripod is best but leaning against a tree or building is often much better than handheld.This camera is pocket sized. Always keep it in your pocket and take a photo if the sky looks different. Often you are lucky and it’s an Aurora."
  • If you want to find out more about the Sony HX60V, please click here

Fujifilm X-T1

Graeme Duncan
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    12 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    16mm
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    6400
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    2
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Never used
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Camera app on iPhone
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Tripod essential!
  • If you want to find out more about the FUJIFILM X-T1, please click here

Nikon D5100

Submitted by Evelyn
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    20 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Wide angle 11mm Tokina
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    1600
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    F/2.8
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Red head lamp, plus a good white light/lamp to light foreground
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Remote controlled and/or intervalometer remote
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Practice with your camera at night, don't just wait for the aurora, and don't be scared to play with the settings.
  • If you want to find out more about the Nikon D5100, please click here

Nikon D5300

Submitted by -
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    10 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Sigma 18 mm
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    1000 or 1250
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    2.8
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    -
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Remote
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Good tripod
  • If you want to find out more about the Nikon D5300, please click here

Nikon D5300

Submitted by -
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    13-20 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Nikon 18-140mm
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    800 to 3200
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    f/3.5
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Red torch
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Remote
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    -
  • If you want to find out more about the Nikon D5300, please click here

Nikon D800

Submitted by -
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    20-25 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    12-20 Sigma 28-300 Nikon and sometimes 500mm prime
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    100-500
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    2.8 - 4
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    No
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Attached trigger
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    A lot of luck
  • If you want to find out more about the Nikon D800, please click here

Nikon D800

Submitted by -
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    3-5 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    50mm
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    1600
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    f/2.8
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Red torch
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Remote
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    -
  • If you want to find out more about the Nikon D800, please click here

Sony A6000

Submitted by Belinda Geddes
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    Maximum of 20 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    Standard kit lens @14mm or 16mm prime
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    Between 640-1600
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    F3.5 for kit lens or F2.8 for 16mm prime
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Red torch light
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Camera timer
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Find your local dark spot away from light pollution beforehand.
  • If you want to find out more about the Sony A6000, please click here

Canon 70D

Submitted by Stephen McLean
  • What exposure time do you recommend?
    15 seconds
  • What type of lens do you use?
    10mm samyang
  • What ISO setting works for you?
    1600
  • What f-stop (aperture) do you recommend?
    F2
  • Do you recommend a red torch, headlamp or other type of light? 
    Red
  • What do you recommend to trigger the photo?
    Attached trigger
  • Do you have any other hints or tips for people wishing to photograph the aurora? 
    Keep white light to minimal
  • If you want to find out more about the CANON 70D, please click here

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