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Avoiding Camera Shake
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Avoiding Camera Shake

Lens quality is so good today that even the least expensive digital cameras can take acceptably sharp pictures. So why is it that "blurry" pictures are the chief complaint among most photographers?

The answer is simple—people have shaky hands. In order to get good, sharp photographs, you've got to hold the camera very steady or use some type of camera support. Additionally, you've got to release the shutter gently. Whether you're using a point-and-shoot camera or a DSLR, the best technique is to rest the camera in the palm of one hand and squeeze the shutter button gently with your free index finger.

Recently, a new system called "anti-shake" technology (sometimes known as "image-stabilization") has begun to appear on cameras, and it has made great strides in providing sharper photos even at substantially slower shutter speeds. In fact, most anti-shake systems enable you to shoot at shutter speeds up to two or three stops slower than would be safe without the new systems. Look for the initials "AS" (anti-shake) or "IS" (image stabilization) in the camera's model name to know if the camera incorporates some type of anti-shake technology.

Whatever the camera or technology, some basic facts apply: Camera shake increases as telephoto zoom settings increase because these lenses magnify vibrations. Also, long telephoto and zoom lenses are simply larger and heavier, making them harder to hold steady—even strong shoulders get weary after a few hours of shooting. Also, camera shake is far more likely at shutter speeds of 1/60 second or longer, and most digital cameras have a "camera shake" warning that will warn you to either use a higher shutter speed (which might require setting a higher ISO speed) or use a camera support, such as a tripod or monopod.

Finally, don't rely on image-editing "sharpening" tools to save images blurred by camera shake. While these tools will increase overall sharpness a small amount, they won't salvage images that are just plain blurry.

Next: "Exposure and Metering Modes"

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