The last word gear information for filming the Northern Lights

The aurora borealis (AKA Northern Lights) is excessive on the bucket record for a lot of vacationers and photographers. It’s no shock so many individuals need to see this unimaginable pure gentle present. When you’ve seen it, the fascinating feeling leaves you wanting extra. However what gear is the perfect for taking pictures the northern lights? You’d want a large, quick lens. Huge for framing and quick for getting plenty of gentle in. Except a miracle occurs, you’d normally shoot lengthy exposures for the aurora lights. Whereas this works for photographs, how would you movie the northern lights? Lengthy publicity is now not an possibility. Properly, I’ve provide you with the last word answer.

An introduction to taking pictures the Northern Lights

[Geeky science aleart] I’ll start with a little bit of science. The northern lights are charged plasma particles ejected from the solar. These fly by means of house at break-neck speeds. Ultimately, a few of that plasma hits the earth. One mind-set about it’s to take a look at The Earth as an enormous magnet with a north and south pole. The poles entice the plasma, relying on the polarity. When the plasma has a adverse cost, it flies towards the north pole and enters the ionosphere. The plasma is helium particles that collide with the environment’s gases. The power change from that collision emits gentle—particularly, the Northern Lights.

Completely different aurora colours are merely plasma interacting with completely different gases – The inexperienced gentle, for instance, comes from oxygen collisions. Two foremost components within the plasma form the Aurora: Pace and density have an effect on the depth; Magnetism determines the position and stretch.

That’s what occurs in a nutshell, however in the event you’re eager to study extra, I’ve a e-book out there: The Complete Aurora Guide for Travellers and Photographers. (There’s additionally a brief that reveals the phenomena here).

So as to add to this science, we’re approaching a Photo voltaic Most, the solar’s most energetic state over an 11-year cycle. Humanity has been recording these cycles for lots of of years, and traditionally, the aurora has been seen as far south as Spain throughout significantly intense durations of the Photo voltaic Most. NASA is accountable for declaring the precise arrival of Photo voltaic Most, and so they haven’t introduced it but.

Lens for taking pictures the Northern Lights

So, about this video rig. Let’s start with the lens. The aurora can fill the sky. To get as a lot topic within the body as doable, we have to go extensive. The lighting circumstances can change fairly quick. One issue is the depth of the aurora – it could possibly differ.

One other factor is the sunshine within the foreground – It closely depends upon the moon, ambient, and synthetic gentle. Due to this, we’d like a quick lens. These are the 2 major components when deciding on a lens, however the third issue is high quality. A high-quality glass that’s properly made and capable of face up to extraordinarily chilly temperatures generally makes an enormous distinction, primarily once we go between completely different temperature and humidity environments, reminiscent of getting out and in of a heat car. With all that in thoughts, the lens I’ve discovered that ticks all of the bins and meets the factors right here in each respect is the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG DN Art lens. The extensive discipline of view and extensive aperture are good for a perspective that’s extensive sufficient to squeeze the sunshine present into the lens however not so extensive that it’s unnatural.

Digicam for taking pictures the Northern Lights

camera for shooting the northern lights

Shifting on to the digicam, the sensor’s capability to shoot properly at excessive ISO is probably the most important issue. The sensors which have hit the headlines lately within the broadest sense are these within the Sony Alpha vary. Extra particularly, I selected the Sony A7Siii. This digicam has a 12-megapixel sensor which appears like completely nothing by as we speak’s requirements. Nonetheless, having solely 12 megapixels means every pixel will get a bigger share of the general processing energy. When it comes to sensor sensitivity, it could possibly deal with a whopping ISO of 409,600. It additionally means you gained’t see any overheating points like in different Sony sensors. Pairing the Sony A7Siii with the e-mount model of the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG DN Artwork lens is the last word rig for filming the aurora in real-time, reaching a smart body charge and with minimal noise.


Increasing additional nonetheless, I exploit the 3 Legged Thing Jay, a carbon fiber tripod with a leveling base excellent for filming that goes as much as 1.1 meters tall (43.78″). It’s an important touring tripod as a result of it collapses all the way down to 40.5cm (15.9″). This 14km (30lb) tripod offers stability as a counterweight once we’re handheld but in addition supplies the choice of placing the digicam down and taking pictures static. Lastly, we are able to put the entire rig down within the snow with out worrying. The three Legged factor vary of L-brackets doesn’t embody a Sony-specific product, however the universal L-bracket works simply fantastic and nonetheless offers entry to the ports on the facet of the digicam.

For sound with this digicam, it’s most necessary to have the voice of the operator somewhat than any ambient sound, so I exploit the DJI Mic. This mic creates constant audio after I’m on digicam or behind it.

sony a7siii sigma 20mm f1.4


Having the ability to put this rig collectively isn’t precisely low-cost. The full value of the camera, lens, mic, tripod, and memory card from B&H at present costs is $5,339.97. It’s hardly pocket cash. For my part, although, that is all top-quality gear and does its job completely. However even with all that gear, there’s the obligatory disclaimer. Crucial consideration when utilizing this rig isn’t the gear itself; it’s the operator.

Taking pictures the northern lights includes preparation each when it comes to our gear and our clothes. The northern lights and the chilly come hand-in-hand. Once we’re taking pictures the darkish skies of the arctic, it’s important from a security perspective that you just’ll be properly dressed. This extends to your creativity, too. For those who’re chilly, you aren’t more likely to be giving full consideration to creativity. For those who hold concentrating on getting heat as an alternative of making footage, you’ll probably find yourself with out nice supplies

Taking pictures the Arctic and the Aurora is nice enjoyable, and I might encourage anybody to strive it. The intense surroundings and delightful landscapes lend themselves to some extremely dramatic photographs, with or with out the northern lights.