Apollo Investigation
Small Apollo 11 Astronauts: Apollo for Dummys – Part Two
by Leonid Konovalov
Associate Professor Camera Department, Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK)


The TV scene of descending the Apollo 11 ladder is examined in detail with the inevitable conclusion that it had to be filmed in a studio. A major clue gives it all away, and we now know what Armstrong meant by 'one small step…'


Three weeks after the Apollo 11 mission on August 12, 1969 the post-flight press conference was held at the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas with crew members Collins, Aldrin and Armstrong. The TV recording of the conference was a strange event. The astronauts acted as if they were at a mourning ceremony. Their faces didn’t show pioneers’ joy or pride for their country. To my mind, they looked guilty, even fearful. Nervously tapping their fingers, rubbing one hand with the other, twisting pens, moving papers around. They behaved like worried men. For some reason, one of them took a thick notebook from his briefcase, then began twisting about in his chair. All three crossed their fingers, trying to speak normally but their voices were noticeably tense.

When Armstrong began speaking, he was searching for his words and his throat was tight, he had to force the words out. Later, during Aldrin’s speech, Armstrong clenched his teeth, tightened his lips and stared hard at the table. One YouTube user commented "I've seen happier guys at a funeral".

We can now begin to fully understand Armstrong’s depression. He had to lie throughout the entire press conference. I shall demonstrate that Armstrong’s famous descent to the lunar surface took place in a secure film studio where the Apollo 11 landing was filmed and photographed using a completely different person as the astronaut. This substitute was short in stature, and nothing like the real, tall Neil Armstrong. There was a very good reason for that substitution.

Who played Armstrong’s part descending the ladder?
It has been 50 years since the first NASA staged TV images were supposedly transmitted ‘live' from the Moon, where Armstrong is seen apparently descending the ladder to the lunar surface. The barely distinguishable figure, supposedly Armstrong, was captioned by many TV networks as ARMSTRONG ON MOON (Figure 1).

fig 1
Figure 1. Screenshot of the 1969 live broadcast.

It is surprising that no one noticed this before, but of course people always ‘see' what they expect to see. And the general public did not have the technical data required to be able to detect any problems. It is now easy to calculate the actual height of the actor in this scene because the height and width of the ladder is known, and consequently, the distance between rungs of the ladder is easily calculated.

There are many training pictures in the NASA archive of Armstrong and Aldrin standing near the LM, holding the ladder in almost the same way as in the historical TV broadcast. Armstrong and Aldrin are both tall and about the same height, at 180 cm and 178 cm respectively. In this image (Figure 2) Armstrong stands on the LM footpad, the first step or rung of the ladder is around his knee level, and he places his hands on the third rung.

fig 2
Figure 2. Armstrong next to the LM ladder (S69-31235).

And in the image below the first rung of the ladder is marginally higher than Armstrong’s knee level. While his hands are now on the fourth rung of the ladder. Comparing and contrasting with a supposed lunar setting, both these pictures underscore the point that this lander’s footpad is within inches of the edge of the ‘lunar surface’ and that this artificial setting is raised relative to the surrounding floor level.

fig 3
Figure 3. Armstrong on the footpad next to the LM ladder during an EVA run through (S69-32246).

Armstrong can also reach the first rung of the LM ladder (Figure 4), when he stands on the raised rim of the footpad.

fig 4
Figure 4. Armstrong at the LM ladder.

However, it is another matter entirely when it comes to the alleged lunar surface images. In Figure 5 the astronaut, supposedly Aldrin, is standing next to the ladder but here the first rung of the ladder is at waist level. It might be argued that the LM strut extended a little more on the lunar surface than it might do on Earth. It also might be argued that ‘Aldrin’ has bent his knees and thus lowered his body relative to the rungs. It is equally possible that in the lunar surface image, a shorter astronaut features in the sequence of the astronaut descending the ladder. But all of those are subjective evaluations. What can we use to ascertain the facts of the matter?

fig 5
Figure 5. A big difference in the astronauts’ heights in comparison with the ladder rungs, lunar surface images (AS11-40-5869, left) and the NASA Johnson training images (S69-31042, right).

In order to objectively evaluate the height of the astronaut in the lunar surface images he is compared with objects that are identical under both terrestrial and lunar conditions. Such as the ladder with known distances between the rungs. Firstly, we must add the height of the helmet above his head. Judging by the photograph we can see that the bubble helmet has free space of about 7-9 cm above the head (Figures 6 & 7).

fig 6
Figure 6. Space above the head, Aldrin 7-9 cm.

fig 7
Figure 7. Space above the head, Armstrong 7-9 cm.

The main helmet housing, the visors including the gold sun visor with outer protective fabric add at least another 3 cm extra. (Figure 8).

fig 8Figure 8. The visor assembly.

Therefore Aldrin’s actual height wearing his spacesuit should be at least 195 cm: his own height is 178 cm plus the height of the helmet assemblies is at least 12 cm plus the height of the sole of the pressurized suit (2-3 cm) – the thickness of the lunar boots at least 3 cm more, see Figure 9.

fig 9
Figure 9. The lunar boot.

Armstrong’s total height fully suited should be at least 197 cm as he is 2 cm taller than Aldrin. We can also calculate the astronaut's height differently. The astronaut wears on his back the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) backpack, and above it is the oxygen purge system (OPS), their sizes are known with high accuracy. According to NASA documentation the upper part of the PLSS has vertical height of 26 cm, and the lower part 66 cm.

These two compartments don't fit tightly against each other, there is a gap of about 1 cm between them. In total, the entire backpack's vertical height is 93 cm. Armstrong’s height in his spacesuit is calculated based on the backpack size. His right leg is straight, he stands upright, and in total his height turns out to be 195 cm (Figure 10). And if Armstrong stood completely upright he will be taller, 197 cm, almost 2 meters.

fig 10
Figure 10. Astronaut and backpack heights.

The astronaut is in the same vertical plane with the ladder; hence it is easy to determine its length and the distance between the rungs. According to this document the spacing is 9 ins or 22.8 cm, and the entire ladder is 1.75 meters long. This is less than the astronaut’s height in his spacesuit. If we take a photo of Armstrong standing by the ladder (S69-32246, Figure 11, left) with the help of a graphics editor move it so the astronaut’s foot is on the first, lowest rung, then the uppermost 9th rung will either be at his chin level, or somewhere at the upper part of his shoulder (Figure 11, right). The astronaut’s height in his spacesuit is greater than the height of the ladder by about 25 cm.

fig 11Figure 11. The ladder compared with Armstrong’s height using a graphics editor.

But at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, an astronaut-mannequin in a spacesuit is almost the same height as the ladder, recalling that the ladder length is 1.75 meters. The mannequin is standing on the lowest rung (Figure 12) and the top of the helmet does not even reach the top of the ladder.

fig 12Figure 12. The astronaut mannequin dummy is shorter than the ladder – his foot on the 1st step.

The enlargement shows that the top of the helmet only slightly extends beyond the 8th rung and does not reach the uppermost, 9th rung (Figure 13).

fig 13
Figure 13. The top of the helmet is only at the 8th rung.

These photos suggest that the museum mannequins depict neither Armstrong, nor Aldrin, but astronauts whose heights in spacesuits do not exceed 170 cm. Armstrong and Aldrin’s height in spacesuits should be 195-197 cm. Therefore these museum astronauts, shorter than they should be by almost 30 cm, misrepresent the facts of what was considered a scientific and historical event, Apollo 11. Although, if it’s a question of actually getting through the LM hatch then these dummy astronauts will likely fit the bill.

The LM is a 1:1 scale. If a real scale figure of Armstrong were put on the LM ladder then it would be an entire head taller than the astronaut-mannequins on display (Figure 14).

fig 14
Figure 14. The figure of Armstrong has been placed alongside the mannequin exhibit, on the lowest rung of the ladder, using a graphics editor.

We can now determine the astronaut’s height as it appears in the 1969 TV coverage (Figure 15).

fig 15Figure 15. Screenshot of the 1969 live television broadcast (restored version).

The rungs of the ladder enable calculation of the height of the figure in the TV transmission which is 140 cm, including his spacesuit. By way of confirmation a visual comparison can be made. Among the training photographs a picture was located taken from a similar position where Armstrong is next to the ladder (S69-31042). For comparison purposes with the TV picture it has been mirrored (Figure 17).

fig 16Figure 16. S69-31042. Astronaut Neil Armstrong participates in lunar surface simulation training (left). A mirror copy of the photo (right). This time the ‘lunar surface’ edge lies well beyond the footpad. In contrast to Figures 3 & 10.

The mirrored picture (Figure 16, right) is very similar to the TV frame (Figure 15). Some difference in the tilted ladder arises because the lunar TV camera mounting was tilted relative to the horizontal (Figure 17). Therefore the horizon line was tilted by about 12° (Figure 18).

fig 17
Figure 17. The camera mounted at an angle relative to horizon.

fig 1
Figure 18. location of the TV camera circled in blue.

fig 19
Figure 19. The horizon line tilted by approx 12° to the horizontal.

Two images Armstrong on Earth (Figure 16, right) and Armstrong on the Moon (Figure 19) are combined so the ladder rungs correspond and overlap. As a result the astronaut figure from TV frame and the astronaut in the photograph (on Earth) are depicted to the same scale (Figure 20).

fig 20
Figure 20. Size comparison of Armstrong from the TV coverage (B&W overlay) relative to Armstrong in simulation rehearsals.

A comparison was made using another pair of pictures. In Figure 21 the astronaut is visible full height with his right foot on the lower rung. The top of the helmet is between the 7th and 8th rungs.

fig 21Figure 21. What is the height of this astronaut? (frame from restored version).

Knowing that two rungs of the ladder total 45.5 cm (along a line parallel to the ladder) the height of this astronaut can be calculated. The height from top of the helmet to the heel is approx 140 cm (4 ft 7 ins). The astronaut on the ‘live' TV transmission is way too short for him to be Armstrong (55 cm less than Armstrong in his spacesuit). For another objective comparison of both astronauts, the photographs were overlapped along a line passing through the middle of the rungs (Figure 22). Five rungs and the heels of the left foot are matched. This comparison therefore is more accurate.

fig 22Figure 22. Size comparison of Armstrong from the TV coverage (B&W overlay) relative to Armstrong in simulation rehearsals. The right foot of both astronauts rests on the lower step. At least five clearly distinguishable rungs overlap in both pictures.

The conclusion is unequivocal: the famous historical ‘live' TV coverage on July 20, 1969, does not show astronaut Armstrong, but a much shorter individual descending the ladder, wearing a much smaller, scaled spacesuit. And such an actor, whose height without a spacesuit was about 130 cm, (4ft 3ins) and in a spacesuit about 140 cm (4ft 7ins) has been fulfilling the role in this coverage of Armstrong ‘s descent onto the lunar surface for nigh on 51 years.

fig 23Figure 23. Apollo documentary production in a film studio with a reduced scale astronaut-mannequin.

In addition to the anomaly of the astronaut’s height, in the 1969 recorded TV coverage there are other inconsistencies. Knowing that the TV camera was just 2.8 meters distant from the ladder it is questionable as to how the studio managed to get such a wide-angle view of the astronaut descending the ladder, so that he is visible full height with ample room above him (Figure 24).

fig 24Figure 24. The LM camera location (circled in blue).

In the 1960s the wide-angle lenses that we are used to these days were rarely used on TV cameras. On such cameras, as well as on regular photographic cameras, a standard lens with a field of view of 30-40° was usually mounted. But in the TV coverage from the Moon we see a shot taken by a camera from a short distance, and a virtually two-meter tall person appears as if the camera was actually about five meters away, or as if an ultra-wide-angle lens had been mounted on the TV camera.

The figure is visible full height, and there is enough headroom to virtually fit in another astronaut (Figures 19 & 20). Usually, in order to take such a wide shot a photographer would have to be about five meters away, i.e. next to another strut. This is exactly what photographers did when photographing astronauts during their training sessions (Figure 25).

fig 25
Figure 25. The photographer took this picture (S69-31045) standing beside a further LM strut.

According to the record, a Westinghouse camera was used (Lunar television camera for Apollo 11, Westinghouse). A television camera of exactly the same model is on display in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. (Figure 26).

fig 26
Figure 26. The Westinghouse lunar TV camera.

According to NASA documentation, a lens with a field of view 30° was mounted on the camera for 'daytime’ use on the lunar surface (Figure 27).

fig 27
Figure 27. Lens Characteristics, NASA table.

fig 28
Figure 28. Four lenses for the Westinghouse television camera. The lens labelled DAY is circled in red.

Knowing that the distance from the camera mount (point A) to the middle of the ladder is about 2.8 meters (Figure 29) and the distance to the middle of the footpad is about 3 meters, therefore it is possible to calculate the area covered by such a lens in the focal plane at the ladder.

fig 29
Figure 29. Distance from the ladder to the camera.

This is a frame with an aspect ratio of 4:3, 1.6 meters wide by 1.2 meters in height (Figure 30).

fig 30

Figure 30. Area covered by the lens from a distance of three meters.

Other lunar lens look-up tables mention a field of view 35° (see, for example, Figure 31) – but this is the diagonal field of view.

fig 31
Figure 31. Geometric f-stop and effective relative aperture of the lunar day lens.

The TV camera near the ladder would cover a frame 1.2 meters high. It is clear that an astronaut fully dressed in his spacesuit measuring 1.95-1.97 m high would not fit into such a TV frame. According to calculations, little more than half an astronaut would be visible. Knowing the length of the ladder and the distance between the rungs, it can be calculated that the actual vertical distance is approx 1.93 m, instead of 1.2 m (Figure 32).

fig 32Figure 32. TV frame (restored version).

imageConsequently either the coverage was from a greater distance using the normal lens (with a coverage of 30°), or a wide-angle lens was used that was not fitted on the TV camera.

If the scene was shot with a lens with field of view 30°, then the camera needed to be moved farther back to about 4.8 meters; this is point B on the LM diagram (above Figure 29). But this does not correspond to the published NASA data. Despite the fact that the data states where the camera was located, it does not follow that the camera was actually at that location because everything in the Apollo record is built on false information.

Alternatively another, wider angle lens was used for this setup. A lens with diagonal field of view 80° would be needed, (see table Figures 27 and 31). On page 18 of the Apollo 11 operations plan Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Operations Plan (left image) there is a drawing of the TV field of view for an 80° wide-angle lens. This is the diagonal field of view, the horizontal field of view is approximately 70° (Figure 34).

fig 34
Figure 34. Horizontal TV field of view from MESA for a wide angle lens.

It would seem that the answer is simple: when allegedly shooting on the Moon, an ultra-wide-angle lens with diagonal field of view 80° or approximately 70° horizontally (more precisely 68°) was used (further technical details in the Appendix). But this is a deceptive conclusion. If the coverage really was from the Moon, such a lens could not have been used. The reason is as follows. Knowing that the ladder length is 1.7 meters, we can confidently say that it will entirely fit into the TV frame. And the frame borders will be as indicated by the green rectangle, and not at all as NASA has depicted in its documentation. (Figure 35).

fig 28Figure 35. Green rectangle (added) this should be the field of view when using a wide-angle lens. Blue rectangle is the frame for the DAY lens.

The blue rectangle in the above figure is the frame boundary for a lens with 30° field of view. NASA not only incorrectly indicated frame borders but also used an actor whose height in the spacesuit did not exceed 1.3m. The lower step, somewhere at knee level in the training photographs, is now at the diminutive astronaut’s waist. There is a possibility that the astronaut was actually a child. In the history of cinema there are examples where adults are portrayed by children. For example, in Ridley Scott’s movie Alien (1979), there is a scene where three astronauts pass by the spacecraft’s landing leg. In the wide shot three children stand in for the adult actors-astronauts, so that, in relation to their height, the Nostromo starship exterior seems gigantic (Figure 36).

fig 36Figure 36. Screenshot from the movie Alien (1979), where children stand in for regular actors. 20th Century Fox.

For scenes showing the exterior of the Nostromo, a 58-foot (18 m) landing leg was constructed to give a sense of the ship's size. Ridley Scott was not convinced that it looked large enough, so he had his two young sons and the son of Derek Vanlint (the film's cinematographer) stand in for the regular actors, wearing smaller space suits to make the set pieces seem larger. The same technique was used for the scene in which the crew members encounter the dead alien creature in the derelict spacecraft.

Not only did an actor, one and a half times shorter than the suited Armstrong, stand in for this iconic lunar landing scene, there is yet another indicator that the astronaut descending the ladder was filmed in a studio using props and a shorter individual. It can be demonstrated that instead of the LM, a studio set up was used that had no relationship with a real lunar module. Moreover, the ladder was not even attached to the LM; it was just a separate prop strut with the ladder, as we will see shortly.

fig 37Figure 37. Angle between the LM strut and the vertical is 30°. According to NASA documentation, the LM did not land vertically, but was tilted backwards 4.5° relative to the exit hatch and support strut with the ladder. Consequently, in total the ladder actually deviated from the vertical by slightly under 35°.

The astronaut had to go down the steps on all fours, something like in the artist’s depiction in the Apollo operations handbook Lunar Module. (Figure 38).

fig 38

Figure 38. Illustration depicting the LM ladder descent, image: Grumman handbook (LM manufacturer).

It can be deduced that all this was done in order to simulate the appropriate lunar environment, the production team having failed to create an illusion of weak 1/6g using a LM with its real ladder. Although the PLSS backpack was fake, when filming on Earth in 1g the PLSS would still have contributed to pressing the astronaut against the ladder, making him look like a crawling turtle, immediately giving away that it was filmed on Earth.

Adopting the same wire-flying methodology that was used by astronauts in the production of the lunar surface imagery would resolve the situation by creating the illusion of ease of descent. Setting the ladder in a more upright position, and with the actor supported by a monofilament cable, he would no longer be pushed against the ladder (see Appendix 1 of Apollo Space Suits). In addition, by deploying the wire, it was possible to create the sense that the astronaut (even burdened by a relatively heavy spacesuit) could easily jump up the rungs, slide along the ladder, and at the same time can even have his legs hanging loose (Figure 39).

fig 39
Figure 39. Astronaut is pulled up and supported by a cable.

And now imagine what this jump up the ladder would look like if this episode was shot without tilting the camera and on the real LM ladder. Here is a picture AS11-40-5869 which we rotated so that the horizon is horizontal (Figure 40).

fig40Figure 40. Lunar surface image AS11-40-5869 with the horizon correctly aligned horizontally.

Having descended the ladder, standing on the footpad, the actor decides to jump up the ladder. But 'up' is not vertically up, it’s forward diagonally at an angle 60° to the horizon. He pulls himself up by his hands; his legs come off the footpad and hang in the air momentarily. And while the astronaut holds onto the ladder, his two legs are suspended in the air, i.e. at 60° angle to the horizon, hanging there for a few seconds (Figure 41).

fig 28
Figure 41. Two astronaut’s legs (right frame) hang in the air for a few seconds.

Moreover, as the astronaut moves away from the ladder he is standing vertically, despite the fact that the horizon line is tilted (Figure 42).

fig 42
Figure 42. The astronaut has moved away from the ladder.

If the scene is correctly oriented the astronaut is at an angle to the vertical, the centre of gravity is beyond his footprint (Figure 43).

fig 43Figure 43. The astronaut stands at an angle to the vertical.

As the astronaut maintains his footing it means the actor in Figure 43 is actually standing upright – the camera is tilted neither left nor right. Only the ladder is tilted relative to the vertical. To obtain about the same angle of inclination of the standing astronaut and the ladder (in the TV coverage they are almost parallel, the difference is less than 10°) – the LM must have been significantly tilted (Figure 44).

fig 44Figure 44. It was only possible to reproduce the TV imagery in a film studio with the LM tilted, as shown.

Of course, the multi-ton LM wouldn’t be able to support itself in such inclined position. But an entire LM did not have to be used, all that was required was a studio prop strut with a ladder, and that assembly is what was tilted (the part circled in the figure). With the result that a few meters from the LM the horizon was included. That is the give-away, and once the mist of deceit cleared from our eyes, it would later demonstrate the fact that this entire Apollo 11 event was filmed in a studio on Earth.


As a result thefore, there is no genuine historical descent of Armstrong down the ladder onto the lunar surface, and even Armstrong himself wasn’t anywhere in the claimed 'live TV broadcast from the Moon'. The entire episode was shot in the studio with props employing short actors or even a child. In order to create a feeling of ease of descent and ascent, the actor was suspended on a cable, and a prop strut with ladder was positioned almost vertically (instead of at an 35° tilt) and the scene filmed and photographed. The role of Armstrong was played by an individual just 130 cm high half a meter shorter than the real astronaut (180 cm).

Armstrong’s famous statement 'one small step' can no longer be perceived as a statement of pride, but rather a statement of fact, and the biggest whistle blow of all.

It was indeed a small person’s step.

Leonid Konovalov
English translation from the Russian by BigPhil

Aulis Online, March 2020


Starting with the column where the field of view of the lens is indicated, and from there information contained in the other columns can be calculated. It should be noted that the wide-angle lens is intended for shooting inside the spacecraft (Spacecraft Interior), and it has aperture 5 (lens T-stop number). But the lens for shooting in sunlight has an aperture 1:60. "60" is effective aperture (T-stop number), i.e. it takes into account not only the real aperture of the lens, but also an integrated light filter that reduces its light transmission capability. The footnote with an asterisk under the table says just that “T-number is the combination of f-number and the effects of filtering” (Figure Appendix 1).

Appendix 1Figure Appendix 1. Four lens characteristics, the rightmost column is the effective aperture (T-stop number) NASA table.

In other words, for a sunny day (and the Sun is shining on the Moon during the day), a lens marked DAY should be used. A neutral-density filter was mounted inside this lens.

It is worth noting that the sensitivity of video cameras (even without additional amplification) is quite high (800-1000 units in terms of ASA). This is enough to shoot indoors without additional lighting. But this sensitivity is too high to shoot outside on a sunny day. Therefore on a bright sunny day, neutral-density filters are introduced into a lens (or into the space between a lens and a sensor), which reduces the luminous flux. Such filters are mandatory on all modern video cameras, and in sunny weather they use a neutral-density filter, which reduces the light flux by 64 times; this denotes as 1/64 (Figure Appendix 2).

Appendix 2Figure Appendix 2. Neutral-density filters settings for bright objects and for sunny weather on a modern video camera (ND = neutral density).

Therefore, the initial aperture of the DAY lens is equivalent to a value of 1:60, and this is very close to the standard f-stop 1:64. And with closing aperture, the standard f-stop are set as if aperture was equivalent to 1:90, 1: 128, etc. On a sunny day one has to close aperture considerably, greatly decreasing luminous flux. But the wide-angle lens from the Westinghouse camera kit has an aperture 1:5, i.e. this is approximately halfway between the standard f-stops of 4 and 5.6 (Figure Appendix 3).

Appendix 3Figure Appendix 3. Standard f-stop scale.

If the diameter of the inlet in numerical terms changes by twice (for example, from aperture 2.8 to 5.6), then the area of the circle (inlet) changes by 4 times (2 squared), respectively, 4 times less light passes through the lens.

The lens T-stop number for the lunarscape 60 differs from the T-stop number 5 (interior lens) by 12 times, which means that the throughput of such lenses differs by 122, i.e. 144 times. In other words, each lens in the camera kit is adapted for very specific lighting conditions. For the Spacecraft Interior with poor light this is a fast lens with T-Number 5, for night shooting (Lunar Surface — Night) this is super-fast optics with T-Number 1.15, and for a sunny day (Lunar Surface — Day) this is a lens with a built-in neutral-density filter and effective aperture 1:60. This is what the rightmost column of the table in Figure 36 tells us.

And the first column after the Scene indicates the Light Levels in ft-lamberts for which the lenses are designed. What light levels (brightness) will we expect to see on the moon on a sunny day? It is believed that the brightness of moon objects will be approximately 1.3-1.4 times higher than on Earth; the Earth’s atmosphere scatters and absorbs some of the sunlight. Consequently, on the moon the brightest white objects will have a brightness of about 5,000 ft-lamberts.

A Westinghouse camera lens labelled “Lunar Surface – Day” can work when light levels vary (see table) from 20 to 12,600 foot-lamberts (in the frame there can be both very dark and very bright objects). In this case, the maximum allowable brightness is 12,600 ft-lamberts – it is 2.5 times higher than typical brightness of white objects (5,000 ft-lamberts) – this is a safety margin of brightness so that white objects don’t go into overmodulation (overexposure) and, most importantly, so that excessive light level doesn’t damage the camera’s vidicon. These are the characteristics of a lens with 30° field of view.

Now let’s consider characteristics of the ultra-wide angle lens from the Westinghouse kit. It is designed for completely different light levels; from 0.5 to 300 foot-lamberts (see table Figure Appendix 1). How to shoot with such a lens on a sunny day, if the upper allowable limit for this lens is 300 ft-lamberts, and the object in the frame (a white spacesuit illuminated by the sun) is actually 5,000 foot-lamberts? We will see just a white overexposed screen and there is a danger of 'burning' the vidicon sensor. If the maximum allowable brightness of 300 ft-lamberts is the limit, then typically white objects should not be brighter than 120-150 ft-lamberts (so that there was a "margin of safety"). And the brightness of the white spacesuit is 5000 ft-lamberts, which is about 30-40 times higher than 120-150 ft-lamberts.

If NASA actually used a Westinghouse TV camera with a wide-angle lens (field of view 80°) for its ‘live' transmissions from the Moon it means only one thing: the light level during shooting was about 30 times lower than on a sunny day. If on Earth on a sunny day outdoors the luminous power can reach 30-50 thousand lux, then the light level 30 times lower is 1-2 thousand lux. These are typical light levels of a studio production. In addition, regarding wide-angle lenses, we should pay attention to one more discrepancy. If a lens with an 80° field of view is installed in the place indicated by NASA, and this is 2.8 meters away from the ladder, then in the place where the astronaut was standing the lens will cover a space of 2.82 m high and 3.76 m wide.

Appendix 4
Figure 4. TV field of view covered by a wide-angle lens from distance of 2.8 meters.

About the Author

fig 82

Leonid Konovalov graduated with honours from the Camera Department of VGIK in 1987. He has been teaching at VGIK for 28 years and now teaches at the Moscow School of Cinema and at the University. He is an Associate Professor in the Camera Department of the Russian State University of Cinematography. Konovalov was camera operator/ additional camera operator on many movies and film series. He was camera operator on the movie The Belovs which received the State Award in 1994.

Leonid is a participant in television shows like The Battle of Psychics, Psychics are Investigating, Secret Signs as well as contributing to TV programs dealing with the Moon landings on major Russian networks such as TV Centre, RenTV and Zvezda.

Leonid Konovalov engineered the non-standard photographic films RETRO and DS-50 at the Shostka Chemical Plant "Svema" which were used in the production of 14 movies. In the magazine Cinema and Television Technology (in Russian) Leonid has published seven articles in scientific and technical topics. He also has written the book How to Make Sense of Films.

We consider that this analysis falls under the ‘fair use’ laws of the USA and the United Kingdom, and any copyrighted material is included on a not-for-profit basis for research, discussion and educational purposes only.

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