So you just got a brand new DLSR and you’re super excited about the fantastic photos you have just taken but when you finally see them on your laptop
screen at home, they are all blurry! What a disaster!
Something all of us can relate to and undoubtedly have experienced before. Fortunately, there are some easy steps
you can take to prevent blurry photos.
1. Understand the cause
Blurry photos are caused by movement of the camera or the subject while the photo is taken and is amplified with a
slow shutter speed and/or long focal length (i.e., zooming in). Now that you understand this, you can use the steps
below to deal with camera and subject movement.
2. Increase your shutter speed
Shutter speed is the length of time the shutter remains open to allow light into the camera for a photo. Any
movement (camera or subject) while the shutter is open will result in blurring. Fast shutter speeds freeze motion and
slow shutter speeds blur motion. The faster your shutter speed is, the less likely you are to get blurry photos.
So to prevent blurring, you must use a fast enough shutter speed. The general rule for handholding your camera is a
shutter speed, at least, equivalent to the focal length of your lens e.g., 1/50 sec for a 50 mm lens and 1/100 sec for a
100 mm lens etc. Anything slower and you will need additional stabilizing.
That general rule only works for camera movement. If your subjects are moving, you will need a shutter speed that is
fast enough to freeze the motion of your subject as well. The faster they move, the faster your shutter speed must
be. As a starting point, anything faster than 1/250 sec will start to freeze movement.
3. Stabilize your camera
The number one rule for preventing a blurry photo is keeping your camera still while taking a photo. Importantly, you
need to use a method that is appropriate for the shutter speed you are using. Slow shutter speeds require a very
stable camera and still subjects, while fast shutter speeds allow hand holding and moving subjects.
The simplest way to keep your camera steady for hand holding is adjusting your body position. Tuck your elbows in
tightly against your body, spread your legs and bend your knees slightly as if you are trying to prevent someone from
pushing you over. Grip the camera firmly in your preferred hand while you cradle the camera in the palm of your other
hand, then gently squeeze on the shutter button to take a photo.
If the light is dim and your shutter speed is slower, another simple option is to brace against something solid like a
wall, street lamp, chair, car or table. The best solution is always a tripod. A sturdy tripod will eliminate camera shake,
but may be cumbersome if you need to be mobile. Instead, you could use a monopod, bean bag, gorilla pod or any
makeshift stable surfaces.
Long exposure landscape or night photography will require a solid camera on a good tripod because even the
slightest of movements will result in blurring. If you are taking action shots on the sports fields or wild animals on
safari, you will most likely be zooming in or using a telephoto lens. Long lenses amplify any movement of the
camera. For sports, a monopod is great because it gives you balance between mobility and stability while a bean
bag on the car window is very versatile for wildlife on safari trips.
In summary, a stable camera and the appropriate shutter speed are all that is required to prevent blurry photos. The
fun really starts when you intentionally blur your photos for artistic effect!