Eliminating Camera Shake/Blurry Photos
Recently I was asked how to stop pictures from being blurred. Immediately before hearing anything else, a barrage of scenarios went through my head on possible causes and solutions. Upon hearing the situation however, as with all blurry photos, a few simple solutions were offered. Still, the question stirred up something and got me to thinking. Most camera owners, at one time or another, have encountered this same problem. More so with digital cameras than 35mm. I'm sure anyone that has encountered this, usually found the fix and went on without a second thought. What about those that struggled with it? Well, hopefully the following techniques will help eliminate those issues.
First off, the number one culprit is usually camera shake. I'm only going by my own experiences on this one and I've only experienced camera shake on larger lenses like my 75-300mm. Only in low light situations where I've had to use 1/15 shutter speed and no flash, have I really experienced this with smaller lenses. Even then, with proper technique, it looked like the focus was a little soft, not completely blurred.
Camera shake happens when you take the photo and can't hold the camera steady while doing so. Most of us feel we have a steady hand but with digital cameras, sometimes there is a pause from the time you press the button to take the shot, to the time the camera actually records it. This is known as shutter lag. I've found that quite a few people aren't aware of this and that's where some simple techniques come into play.
Technique #1: Hold the button down halfway before you take the shot. Doing this is helpful in a couple of ways. For one, some cameras will actually auto focus at this stage. By holding it down half way, allows the camera to auto focus and you can double check your framing before you snap the photo. The other reason is that you aren't going through the whole range of motion of pushing the button down. If you hold the button half way, at this point is when you should steady yourself and concentrate on not moving the camera. When you’re ready, take the photo. This technique helps eliminate shutter lag.
Technique #2: If your digital camera has a viewfinder and an LCD screen, use the viewfinder. By using the viewfinder you will be using the second technique to stabilize the camera during your photo shoots. Using the viewfinder alone isn't going to eliminate blurry photos however. The act of using the viewfinder positions the camera against your face and if held firmly against your face will help stabilize the camera.
Technique #3: When holding the camera up to your face and using the viewfinder, position your elbows so that they are firmly against your chest and keep your legs spread slightly apart.
Technique #4: Use a tripod. There is no better way to stabilize a camera than this. If you have to use a shutter speed below 1/60, then you definitely should use a tripod. Keep in mind that when using a tripod, camera shake can still occur in low light situations when you go to press the button. Be careful not to wiggle the camera or tripod when snapping the photo.
When doing night photography, a tripod is a must. Also a must is a cable release or remote control device to snap the photo for you, without actually touching the camera.
Longer telephoto lenses are more prone to camera shake and therefore you may only be able to take a clear and crisp photograph by using a tripod versus holding the camera and lens in your hand.
Technique #5: Use a flash. Flash will help stop any motion within your frame, whether it is your subject moving too fast or even camera shake.
Technique #6: If your camera allows you to control the shutter speed, use a faster shutter speed.
While a tripod is the ultimate choice to avoid burred photos, it's not always possible to use one. In low light situations you can try to use a natural tripod. You can set your camera on a fence, brick wall or maybe even a park bench. Also, you can try leaning up against a tree, post or wall to help stabilize you, the human tripod, to achieve a clear photo.
There are other ways to help eliminate blurry photos, such as specific shutter speeds based on the length of lens you are using, but I wanted to keep this article as simple as possible. If you find that none of the above techniques help you at all, a quick search on the internet should help you further.
Good luck with your future photos!