One of the major problems of a beginner photographer—apart from going through the challenge of changing lenses for the first time without breaking something—is that most of their photos turn out blurry for no apparent reason.
After reading numerous how-tos and tutorials about this issue on the web, photographers will most probably become even more confused than before. This happens because all these guides mention only one reason for blurred photos, which is camera shake.
However, everything is not as easy as this and the problem is a lot deeper. This is why we think we should start with explaining what blur is and then talk about the most common reasons that cause it.
Although the most common reason for blurred photos—or in other words fuzzy—is camera shake, there are other factors that may influence the sharpness of your pictures. These are often confused with blur by beginner photographers. Let’s name them and say a few words about every of these reasons.
Camera shake is the most wide-spread reason that leads to blurred photos. It’s especially true if you are a beginner photographer and you haven’t yet developed that hand steadiness that enthusiasts and professionals have.
With time you will gain that hand steadiness we are talking about, but in the meantime you can read our post about the most popular techniques to reduce camera shake.
Slow shutter speed
Shooting with a slow shutter speed—which may be necessary if there’s not enough light—is the second most common reason for blurred photos. It is partially connected with camera shake too, especially if you are making a photograph hand-held.
If you can’t use a tripod or stabilize your camera, try increasing the aperture (the smaller the aperture value the more light enters the lens) or ISO. Please mind that it will influence the way your photos look.
Wide aperture leads to more bokeh and shallow depth of field, which is exactly what you should avoid when making landscape photos, whilst higher ISO will make your photos more grainy and less sharp.
Not using a tripod
Taking photos without a tripod—another reason connected with the slow shutter speed leading to camera shake—makes them blurry. If you don’t have a tripod, stabilize your camera upon something and try to take the photograph this way.
However, there are times when even photos taken using a tripod turn out blurry. This may happen because of micro camera shake that you create with your hands or fingers upon releasing the shutter.
Be sure to use a remote shutter release to avoid it. If this doesn’t help, you should use the Mirror Up mode built-in in your DSLR.
Amateur photographers oftentimes confuse incorrect focus with camera shake. If your camera is stable when you are making a photograph but it still turns out to be blurry, the chances are that the focus is not spot-on.
You will need to refocus and take another shot to see what happens. Locking the focus using Back Button Focus helps a lot.
If the four reasons we listed above are not the case, there’s yet another thing that may be confused with camera shake.
The reality is that some lenses—especially cheap zooms or superzooms—are simply not sharp enough if you are shooting with wide aperture. Apart from it, they make have a lot of chromatic aberrations too, causing even more false blurry sensation on your photos.
However, in most cases this is really easy to fix. Just stop down your aperture by a couple of stops—say from f/3.5 to f/5.6 or more—and your images will start coming out sharp once again. The right aperture value of every lens is called the sweet spot of a lens.
We hope that this article was of help to you and we’ll be glad to answer your questions in comments. Feel free to shoot us a message!
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