Common Mistakes

Blurred photos

Written by Gail Bjork

Help prevent blurred photos by holding your digital camera correctly and using these simple techniques.

Blurred images are caused by several reasons: motion due to camera shake, use of slow shutter speeds and failure of the camera to focus correctly.

Focus

Misfocus focus

Digital cameras indicate when they achieve focus, either with a sound, a blinking LED or an on-screen indicator. To obtain focus, aim the camera at the subject and press the shutter-release button halfway down.

Make sure the camera locks before fully depressing the shutter button.

In some circumstances, especially low light, a digital camera may have trouble focusing. Auto focus modes work best when there is contrast between a subject and the background.

Move your camera around the subject to an area that has contrast. Keep trying until focus-lock is achieved.

Slow shutter speeds

When light is low, wide apertures and slow shutter speeds will be selected automatically by the camera. Most people can’t take blur-free, hand-held shots when the shutter speed is under 1/60th of a second.

Cameras that have optical Image Stabilization help but even IS has its limits. Increase room lighting, increase the ISO setting or use a tripod, or use a combination of all three.

Hold the camera steady

Even when shooting in bright light, you may move the camera without realizing it.  To help reduce blurred photos, hold the camera steady, taking extra care as you frame the shot with the LCD. When using a viewfinder, press the camera firmly against your face to give it extra support.

Camera shake and telephoto zooms

Digital cameras are more prone to camera shake when taking hand-held shots and zooming in on a subject. To help prevent blur, shutter speed should be set faster than the focal length. For example, a lens set at 200mm (35mm equivalent) requires a shutter speed of at least 1/200 seconds.

Freeze the action

To help prevent blur when photographing a fast moving subject, select a fast shutter speed. A fast shutter speed “freezes” the action. If your digital camera doesn’t have the option to select shutter speeds, use the Sports or equivalent mode.

Blurred images or misfocus

If an image is blurred due to camera shake, the blur will appear throughout the entire image. If parts of an image are in focus, and others are not, you’ve misfocused.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

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