Many people who transition from 35mm film to a smaller digital camera are surprised to find that many of their digital images are blurry.
The underlying cause is a slow shutter speed, which allows the camera to move during the exposure. The effect seems to be more troublesome for those using small, lightweight automatic digital cameras because:
– The cameras are smaller and lighter than the photographer is used to. While a lightweight camera is much easier to take along in a pocket or purse, the small size is harder to hold steady than an old fashioned, heavy 35mm SLR camera.
– Auto exposure settings may use a slower shutter speed than you would otherwise select. The slower the shutter speed, the greater the chance of moving the camera when shooting.
– We tend to take less time composing a shot with a small, auto-everything camera. Shooting from a moving car or trying to capture a fleeting moment is easier when you don’t have to focus and set the aperture and shutter speed manually, but this ease comes at a cost. Remember to steady the camera when you press the shutter release.
– Smaller cameras are more susceptible to being shaken if the shutter release is ‘jabbed’ instead of pressed smoothly.
You can take wonderfully sharp, clear pictures with your small digital, but universal rules that have been followed for years still apply. Here are some hints that will help you get the sharpest pictures possible and reduce or eliminate camera shake when using your small digital camera:
1. Remember that the camera needs to be held as steady as possible. If you are shooting in any light other than bright direct sunlight, steady the camera by any means possible. A tripod or monopod will provide the steadiest camera support, but using any stationary object (wall, chair, etc.) will be a big help. If there is nothing available to use as a support, place your elbows against your body and hold your breath as you press the shutter release.
2. Practice pressing the shutter release gently. Many people tend to jab at the button, which can shake the camera. Gradually increase the pressure on the shutter release until the picture is taken.
3. Increase the ISO. Many digital cameras allow you to set the ‘film speed’ (ISO). Use 400, or even 1000 to get the fastest shutter speed possible. Remember that the faster the shutter speed, the grainier the picture.
4. Use a shutter speed at least as fast as the focal length of the lens. Generally speaking, you’ll want to use a shutter speed at least as fast as the focal length of the lens on your camera. If you’re using a focal length of 55mm, be sure the shutter speed is at least 1/60 second.
You’ll see an improvement in the sharpness of your digital pictures if you are aware that small lightweight cameras are especially prone to camera shake. Follow the simple suggestions above and shoot away!