Blurry photographs

Hi just a quick post this time.

There is nothing more frustrating to be in a beautiful place or capturing a moment with your camera when you get back to check the photographs and see that they are blurry and out of focus. You may be kicking yourself thinking what did I do wrong or why did this happen? This is usually followed by the thoughts that the camera or lens must be broken or not working properly ūüôā


example blurred and sharp elements in a photograph

Well we have all been there and here are the most common reasons that should help you eradicate blurry pictures from your photo library in the future!

One thing I should mention at this point is don’t always rely on the screen on the back of your camera unless you zoom into it to 100% to check the accuracy of the focus. The resolution of most screens is not great¬†and they are so small that when left at the default view, most pictures will look like they are in focus!

It is also worth pointing out that there are two different types of blur: the camera is shaken for a variety of reasons such as wind or human error and motion blur, where the subject that you are photographing is moving and the camera remains still.

Shutter Speed

This is where the shutter speed selected is too slow and the camera is not held steady enough for the duration of the shutter. The rough rule is that you should not select a shutter speed smaller than the focal length of the lens you are using Рe.g at 200mm you should ideally not go under 1/200 of a second. Also bear in mind that at long focal lengths, it only needs a tiny amount of movement to produce a dramatic amount of blur on the final image. Image Stabilisation or Vibration Reduction on lenses can help but not always.

Focus Issues

Obviously¬†if you focus on the wrong part of a scene then this¬†may result in part of the image being blurred. This is a common problem where you leave the camera to choose the focus point (as it can’t know exactly where you intended focus to be) or where you use a single focus point yourself and you reframe the shot after as if the subject or your camera distance has moved then the shot will most likely be out of focus.

Depth of Field

This is a bit of a double edged sword. A shallow depth of field (smaller f-numbers) results in a very small area that falls within the ‘focus plane’. Whilst increasing the aperture can help this – careful not to go too far as with a very small aperture (larger f numbers such as f29) can lead to ‘softer’ images due to diffraction. This is simply where the light¬†behaves strangely as it is interfered with in passing through such a small opening.

Improperly holding the camera and the shutter button

A common problem is where the natural instinct in pressing the shutter is to press downwards with a little force. This inevitably leads to pushing the whole of the camera downwards at the same time which results in blurry images. Try to practice pushing the shutter button gently and rolling your finger across it rather than just pushing straight down.

Again in holding the camera, it is a good idea to use a tripod but in handholding the camera – don’t just hold it out away from the body at arms length as it is unlikely you will be able to hold it steady. It is better to have one are bent with your elbow on your chest to provide additional support.

Smudged Lens

Pretty obvious this one but smudged lenses and filters will inevitably result in unclear images!


Whilst not exactly resulting in blurred images, the use of very high ISO will lead to noise and the reduce of the quality of your images.

I hope these tips help you to get better sharper images.

Once again please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about this post (or anything else on my website), and to pass this tutorial onto any photographer friends you think may benefit from it.


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Blurry photographsantonyz

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