Let’s face it, there are lots of ways to get a not-so-perfect shot. Each step to taking a photograph in manual mode requires lots of consideration and accuracy, and a slip up in the process can cause a less than ideal photograph. The worst part of taking a bad photograph is not understanding why it turned out that way. Exposure can generally be an easy fix – too bright? Let in less light, and vice versa. But getting a blurry photograph can mean one of many things may have gone wrong and sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which step was the issue.
We’re going to outline 5 different reasons why your photograph may have been blurry, and walk you through the solution for each.
All Over Soft Blur
In the case that your entire photograph has a soft, fuzzy appearance, this is likely a Focusing issue. Your lens is likely set to Manual focus rather than Autofocus. In manual focus the focusing ring on the lens must be adjusted until the image comes into focus.
Manual focus takes some time to master, ensuring that your photographs are perfectly sharp. If you’re not ready to shoot in this mode yet, switch your lens back to Auto Focus.
- Set your lens to Autofocus or manually readjust your focus in Manual
focus to ensure the image is sharp before shooting. On most camera’s the autofocus/manual focus option will appear as a switch on the lens- keep it off the M, MF or M/A side.
greg | https://flic.kr/p/4HvFZr
Parker Knight | https://flic.kr/p/v5H9Ay
Subject is Soft and Blurry
This one is a little trickier to spot. You may not even realize that your image isn’t sharp until you open the file on your computer later on.
In this case we can see that the actual subject is slightly blurred, while the pole behind him is sharp, and so this is also a Focusing issue. This indicates that part of the image came into focus while shooting but that area was slightly behind the subject.
- Shoot in autofocus for moving subjects. Manual focus takes too long to adjust for something moving so quickly.
- Set your focus mode to AF-C or AI-Servo. This focusing mode is suited for moving subjects and predicts the subjects position to achieve a sharper focus.
- Another reason this may have happened is because your depth of field is too shallow and when you took the shot, the subject moved outside of the range of focus. To fix this simply close down your aperture or choose a bigger f-stop number.
Subject is Streaky
In this example you’ll see that most of the image is sharp, while the moving toddler is blurry. When the path that the moving subject has taken is visible we can pinpoint the problem as related to Shutter speed. This streaky blur is due to a shutter speed that is too slow to freeze the action of the subject.
- Increase the shutter speed to freeze the movement of your subject. In this case a shutter speed of at least 1/250th-5ooth should be used to freeze the back and forth movement of the toddler. Remember: the faster the subject is moving, the faster the shutter speed must be to freeze the movement.
- Ask your subject to stop moving. This isn’t always an option.
Mads Bodker | https://flic.kr/p/gpWnp
Paul Sullivan | https://flic.kr/p/7eFKMr
The Entire Photo Looks Slightly Streaky
Telling the difference between Camera Shake, due to a slow shutter speed, and an out-of-focus image can take some practice. The best way to describe it is that an out-of-focus image has a soft quality to it, while this image with camera shake looks like it could be vibrating.
The best way to identify camera-shake is by zooming in on a detail to see a “ghosting” effect. It may look like the same image is doubled, one overlaid on top of the other.
- Identify and shoot at your Minimum Hand Holding Speed. Generally this is at 1/6oth or faster, but will have to be sped up while using telephoto lenses longer than 55mm. The quick equation to calculate your Min HH Speed is 1/the focal length of your lens.
Image Looks Speckled or Blotchy
A speckled look, especially in the dark areas of your photograph, I usually the result of Noise/Grain caused by a High ISO. Low light environments call for a higher ISO, but the result can be unpleasant, with discoloured blotches and a rough texture.
- Avoid putting your ISO to your highest settings to preserve quality.
- Use a tripod to allow you to elongate your exposure by slowing down your shutter, and decrease your ISO (Not a solution for moving subjects).