Preventing Motion Blur

I hate having to correct for motion blur in post processing. It’s easy enough to do with programs like Focus Magic, but it frustrates me because it could all have been avoided if I’d have just set-up my camera correctly! Motion blur happens when the camera is moving and the shot is taken, but there are some simple rules I have that can help.

The rules I use are as follows:

  1. If I’m trying to shoot anything while I am moving, put my camera in Tv (shutter priority) mode and set the shutter speed to at least 1/500 second.
  2. If I’m in a low light situation, then I increase the ISO from the native 100 on my Canon cameras, and usually use the auto ISO setting. I try not to go above 400 ISO, but sometimes that is just not possible.
  3. If I am standing still and hand-holding my camera, I go by the rule that the shutter speed has to be faster than the reciprocal of the lens’s maximum focal length. It sounds complicated, but it is really easy. For example, if I’m using my 55-250 mm lens, then my shutter speed has to be 1/250 second or less. If I’m using my 18-55 mm lens, then my shutter speed has to be 1/55 second or less (like 1/60 second).
  4. I need to use my tripod more, and should be using it for every shot if possible.

For all of the above, I first make sure that my lens’s image stabilization is turned on. This is usually a switch on the lens (Canon, Nikon, Sigma), but can also be built-in to some camera bodies (Sony and others do this). An exception is with using a tripod (#4 above).

If using a tripod, I turn off the image stabilization because it will “hunt” and actually cause shaking of the camera. With the tripod on, the image stabilization should be off.

For extra sharpness while mounted on a tripod, I also turn on my camera’s mirror lockup feature. Normally, pressing the shutter release button on your dSLR camera to take a photo swings up the mirror, opens the shutter, and closes it swinging the mirror back down. With the mirror lockup on, the camera separates this process into two steps. The first press of the shutter release button swings up the mirror. The second press then does the rest and takes the shot. Why? The process of swinging the mirror up causes vibration. By doing it as a separate step, the vibration dissipates over time and when you press the button for the second time to take the shot, the camera is much more stable.

Getting shots super sharp or “tack sharp” as some call them, is difficult if you don’t start with a sharp photo straight from your camera. These rules here are simple guidelines I follow and they work.

The most-used one is #3, while the least-used is #1 (I’m hardly ever in a situation where I can’t stand still). Sometimes combining #2 and #3 works best. And, of course, #4 should be the most-used, but isn’t. I can always use my tripod more than I do!

Thank you for reading what I wrote — I hope your enjoyed it.