Here’s Everything You Need to Photograph Fireworks at Night

For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer. 

It’s time to celebrate. The opportunity is right around the corner to photograph the soon-coming fireworks. So we decided to share a short guide on everything you need. Better yet, we’re also giving you some tips on how to use the gear. Better yet, you can probably do this with the gear that you’ve got laying around. You can even try it with your phone if you wish. Either way, we’ve got all the accessories and all you need. Take a look at this list to celebrate Independence day!

Your Camera (or Phone)

Lots of people will photograph the fireworks using their phones. But most phones are pretty awful at this. The only ones I’d truly recommend are the entire Sony Xperia lineup. Those have the best cameras and the best interfaces on the market. Your iPhone or others might have manual controls, but they’re just not going to do the job unless you use a tripod. We’ll take more about a tripod later though.

Ideally, you’ll be using a mirrorless camera or a DSLR. As long as your camera can deliver good high ISO images above 1600, you should be in a good position. If you’re using a camera with a 1-inch sensor or something smaller, you’re not going to get good results. Even Micro Four Thirds will have issues at ISO 1600. Instead, go for APS-C or full frame to photograph fireworks.

Also, just forget about autofocus: it’s not going to do well. Switch the camera to manual focus and focus out to infinity for the most part. Use a variety of high and low ISO settings. Here are some cameras with great high ISO abilities.

Your Lens

If there is anything that will excel here, it’s a superzoom lens. These four superzooms are great. We’ve also got a guide to shooting the night sky with a superzoom lens. With a superzoom, you can either go wider or more telephoto. You’ll never have to take the lens off the camera. That’s ideal in this case.

A Tripod

This is mandatory to photograph fireworks. If you’re going to shoot photos, then use a tripod. You’re going to be shooting at slow shutter speeds and your camera is going to shake. Very few people can handhold a camera for a few seconds. Our staff is trained to do so, but we don’t expect everyone to be able to do this. Here are some of our favorite tripods.

Pro Tips to Photograph Fireworks

  • It’s sometimes a good idea to set your camera to a long exposure, low ISO, and just shoot a random area. This is a method similar to doing a “Hail Mary.” You’re basically taking a chance.
  • A great thing to also get is a light pollution filter.
  • Use a vivid color profile.
  • Manually focus out to infinity or really far away.
  • Stop your lens down. It’s the best way to ensure a larger range in focus.
  • Have a backup battery ready. You’re going to be wearing out your camera’s battery for sure.
  • If you’re using Fujifilm, shoot in Velvia Mode or Classic Chrome.
  • If you’re using Sony, try the deep color mode.
  • If you’re shooting Canon, use the Landscape color mode.
  • Shooting Leica? Go with the vivid mode.
  • Shooting Panasonic? The CineLike profiles are what you want!
  • Photographers shooting Nikon should go for a Vivid color profile.
  • Shooting Olympus? Try the Art Filter modes. Pop Art might be pretty cool.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.