Digital Camera Settings to Capture Star Trails

In order to maximize your star trail photography, you need to know the correct digital camera settings to capture star trails.Before you set up your camera though, you need to first make sure you choose the right time to head out with your camera and equipment.  In order to get the best results that you can, make sure to head out on a night where there are no clouds in the sky and when the moon is not out. A shining moon illuminates pollutants in the atmosphere that would not be seen if it was dark, and also decreases the brightness of the stars that are in the sky.

Best Locations

Before you start touching the settings on your camera, you also have to make sure you stay away from areas that are dense in populations such as cities.  Even a little bit of light can cause light pollution which will ruin star trails.  The best way to tell if there is any light pollution is to look into the sky and see if there is any glow of light in the sky.  The best locations to capture star trails is out in the country or up in the mountains, if you you are willing to dedicate a trip for it.


If you are using a camera to capture star trails, that means that you have a DSLR/SLR. You need a DSLR/SLR camera for capturing star trails because these are the only type of cameras that can handle long term exposure, or exposures that are at least 30 minutes long. The first thing you are going to want to do is set your aperture very high. You can do this by setting it to one of the highest small numbers. The numbers that are in the hundreds and thousands are very low apertures. You need to do this because star light is not very strong so the aperture has to be open longer as to keep the sensor in your camera as sharp as it can be on light intake.

ISO Speed

Next thing you will want to do is set your ISO speed. Generally, for star trail capturing photography, you are going to need to have your ISO speed set low. The actual setting for your ISO speed is dependent on your camera but it has to be in the lower range of settings.


The last thing about camera settings for star trail photography is that many people believe that f/stop settings has to be set to the highest but in actuality, f/stop speed has nothing to do with the results of star trail photography.

Now that your camera is set up for capturing star trails, the last thing you need is patience. Sometimes it takes over an hour of waiting for just one photo, so you will need some patience in order to capture star trails in photography, so bring a book, a chair or an iPod and enjoy.

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