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Thread: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

  1. #1

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    Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Have you ever captured an image just to find it is not as sharp as you expected it to be? Blame the lens! Blame the camera! Blame the tripod! NO! BLAME YOURSELF!

    How long have I been doing it? Not getting those images as sharp as it should be? FAR TO LONG!

    This post is not for those experienced photographers who do get their images tack sharp. Neither is it for those whom are masters of sharpening in PP. It is meant for those who keep bumping their head against the same wall. Those who are as arrogant as myself to believe they can get sharp images handheld at a shutter speeds of 1/60 and below. Those shooting long lenses at low shutter speeds because we are using a small aperture to gain as much DOF as possible. Those whom are getting more critical about their own work.

    I am not talking about those shots in broad daylight at 1/1000sec, neither BIF and flash photography. I am talking about those doubtful shots in less than perfect light, those shots where the shutter speed might drop a tad to low like landscape shots, flowers, especially those using longer lenses.

    The solution:
    1. Use a tripod when in doubt.
    2. Use a good tripod, it is worth investing in a good tripod I HAVE NOT!
    3. Get a remote shutter release! Some of them are cheap.
    4. Find the focusing point and set one of the focal points in your camera to the focusing point.
    5. DO NOT RECOMPOSE! The closer you are to your subject the more critical it is not to recompose.
    But I do not have a good tripod, neither do I have a remote shutter release, I hear you say. OK, do not despair, there is a solution.

    A. Use your crappy tripod, like mine a Vivitar, because I swopped my crappy Manfrotto for a more sturdy Vivitar.
    B. Learn how to use Mirror Up mode on your camera. My Nikon will release the shutter after 30 seconds if the shutter button is not pressed a second time. PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PRESS THE SHUTTER BUTTON WITH YOUR FINGER IN MIRROR UP MODE IT DOES NOT WORK!
    C. Another method: a good DSLR will have a function to DELAY SHUTTER RELEASE for a millisecond or four. What happens when you press the shutter button is that the mirror flips up and the shutter follows a moment or two later. The shutter does not release the moment the mirror is out of the way. Using this method you need to learn how to set time delay on your camera. That little function activated by the little clock sign on your camera.
    You MUST NOT touch your camera during the period the clock ticks off.
    What will happened is that the clock will run out of time, the mirror will flip up and then the shutter will be released a moment later. Bang, no motion blur! (On a crappy tripod like my Vivitar you will notice some camera shake when the mirror returns to the default position, does not matter, the shutter opened when the whole contraption was standing still.)

    For critical shots rather use Mirror UP mode as the whole lot has more time to settle after you have pressed that shutter button with your finger. It does use more battery power but at least you will get sharp images without motion blur. The best way is to get yourself one of those cheap Remote Shutter Release contraptions.

    Now, if you apply the above and you still do not get sharp images, you either have a crappy lens or your camera and lens need to be taken to a service centre for adjustment.

    If you do not have any of the above functions on your camera this post will not apply to solve any blur problem you might have.

    I hope this will help someone to get more sharp images.

  2. #2
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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Andre,

    The best way is to get yourself one of those cheap Remote Shutter Release contraptions.
    Exactly. They are VERY cheap. I use a more expensive radio controlled release some of the time, but I have had two cheap cabled releases that I bought on eBay, and both were fine. (I bought the second only because I changed cameras, and the plug on the first didn't fit the socket on the new camera.) They run $4-$12 US on eBay. Much simpler than what you describe, and you don't lose control over when the shutter is tripped. I virtually always use either that or the radio controlled release when I use my tripod.

    Dan

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    A few refinements and clarifications on the suggestions:
    1. MLU is only relevant for when you use a 'pod.
    2. Live View already has the mirror up, and generally does not need MLU. However, I have seen it claimed that, on some cameras in some modes, the mirror drops back down before the shot for some reason (final adjustment of exposure?). I don't know if that's true, and I don't know for which cameras and which modes it was claimed. But that may affect the value of Live View as an answer for a camera lacking MLU.
    3. Mirror slap is only an issue in a small range of shutter speeds on a tripod. The usual rule of thumb is somewhere between 1/30s and 1 sec. Either slower or faster and it doesn't affect the image sharpness.
    4. For many photos, it isn't the camera that is the source of the blur, but the subject. None of this is relevant for that -- you need to set your shutter sped fast enough to make mirror slap irrelevant anyway in that case.
    5. Monopods are matters of personal taste. I find them well worth using, especially on long lenses. I don't use my 150-500 without it. It doesn't just improve stability, but it allows me to hold the camera in the direction I am expecting to see a bird for an extended period of time without discomfort. Another virtue of a monopod is that you can often use them in places like museums that would never let you use a tripod.
    6. My personal preference is for a cable release over those IR remotes. I find them much more reliable, but that may just be my bad technique.
    7. I have never found focus-then-frame particularly unreliable, except in macro -- where I find anything other than manual focus to be unacceptable. But that is pretty much of a religious issue more than a sharpness concern AFAICS.
    FWIW

  4. #4

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    A couple of things up front...99% of my images are taken with either a 180mm macro or a 300mm 2.8, two of Canon's sharpest lenses, mounted on my 1Ds3 and, micro-adjusting the AF in those lenses made a tremendous improvement in their acuity when AF is utilized.
    Additionally, being a devout PS user, I will almost always shoot in an AS mode/taking numerous images of the subject, then apply focus stacking in PS, not for the usual reasons, but to improve the overall sharpness of the subject. I can't help the fact that I was born being anal retentive.

    Beyond that, I almost always use a tripod, whether it be the one mounted on my mobility scooter or the normal kind, using a remote shutter and/or utilizing the appropriate SS. At my age, handholding my heavy camera and lens is not the norm.

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    I use a more expensive radio controlled release some of the time,
    If anybody should ask my opinion I would surely recommend one of those to those whom can afford it.

    For those of us with limited budgets a crappy cheap cable release can do the job. My very wealthy brother in law made his wife a cable release for her 550D, cost him about R30.00 ($3.00) and it works. (He only made it because they were nowhere near a camera shop to buy a proper one.) I won't be happy with it but she is.

  6. #6

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by tclune View Post
    A few refinements and clarifications on the suggestions:
    1. MLU is only relevant for when you use a 'pod.
    2. Live View already has the mirror up, and generally does not need MLU. However, I have seen it claimed that, on some cameras in some modes, the mirror drops back down before the shot for some reason (final adjustment of exposure?). I don't know if that's true, and I don't know for which cameras and which modes it was claimed. But that may affect the value of Live View as an answer for a camera lacking MLU.
    3. Mirror slap is only an issue in a small range of shutter speeds on a tripod. The usual rule of thumb is somewhere between 1/30s and 1 sec. Either slower or faster and it doesn't affect the image sharpness.
    4. For many photos, it isn't the camera that is the source of the blur, but the subject. None of this is relevant for that -- you need to set your shutter sped fast enough to make mirror slap irrelevant anyway in that case.
    5. Monopods are matters of personal taste. I find them well worth using, especially on long lenses. I don't use my 150-500 without it. It doesn't just improve stability, but it allows me to hold the camera in the direction I am expecting to see a bird for an extended period of time without discomfort. Another virtue of a monopod is that you can often use them in places like museums that would never let you use a tripod.
    6. My personal preference is for a cable release over those IR remotes. I find them much more reliable, but that may just be my bad technique.
    7. I have never found focus-then-frame particularly unreliable, except in macro -- where I find anything other than manual focus to be unacceptable. But that is pretty much of a religious issue more than a sharpness concern AFAICS.
    FWIW
    I do not find this post amusing. It is clear you have no comprehension of what I have written.

    I am looking forward to you posting one of your tack sharp flower or low light landscape images shot with your 500mm lens set to F9 mounted on a mono pod and shooting at a shutter speed of 1/15sec.
    If you are not prepared to come to the party, please READ my post and try to understand what I have written.

    If you cannot afford "one of THOSE IR remotes" please do not degrade it. If people whom can afford it wish to use it rather ask their opinion on how reliable THOSE IR remotes are.

  7. #7

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by chauncey View Post
    then apply focus stacking in PS, not for the usual reasons, but to improve the overall sharpness of the subject.
    Chauncey I am glad we can agree to disagree.
    I would be very disappointed if I would have had to use focus stacking to get an image tack sharp when shooting a 1Ds3.
    Is Canon really that bad?

  8. #8
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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    I do not find this post amusing. It is clear you have no comprehension of what I have written.

    I am looking forward to you posting one of your tack sharp flower or low light landscape images shot with your 500mm lens set to F9 mounted on a mono pod and shooting at a shutter speed of 1/15sec.
    If you are not prepared to come to the party, please READ my post and try to understand what I have written.

    If you cannot afford "one of THOSE IR remotes" please do not degrade it. If people whom can afford it wish to use it rather ask their opinion on how reliable THOSE IR remotes are.
    Andre why do you think Tom has not understood your post? It appears to me almost the opposite is true.

    One important factor that seems to be being ignored is that often because of ground conditions you need to stabilise the tripod by "loading it" and totally against all the hands off and use a remote approach I find the best stability is achieved by applying a bit of downward pressure using a hand. Very rarely out in the open with a bit of wind have I found using a remote of any worthwhile benefit.


    P.S. I use a very good tripod left over from when I was using medium format cameras.

  9. #9
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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    As indicated in some of the posts above, there are two types of remote shutter release - the cable version and the IR version. The IR version is usually more expensive but you can actually get cheap "non-genuine" versions of these on ebay at a very reasonable price. I have an RC-6 equivalent for my Canon 600D and have found it works well. I am also currently waiting on delivery of a cheap cable release version from HK.

    There are a couple of differences between the two types in terms of functionality.

    With the IR version, you have your camera set to delay/remote shooting and there is a switch on the remote which allows it to operate immediately or after a 2 sec delay. There is no half shutter press facility.

    With the cable version, my understanding is that it behaves exactly like the normal shutter button with a half press facility.

    The reason I have ordered a cable version is that I can't find a way to operate continuous shooting mode with the IR remote. But maybe I'm missing something. The half shutter press might also be useful on some occasions.

    Dave

    PS This applies to Canon, not sure about Nikon or Sony etc
    Last edited by dje; 3rd October 2013 at 10:32 PM. Reason: PS added

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    The reason I have ordered a cable version is that I can't find a way to operate continuous shooting mode with the IR remote. But maybe I'm missing something. The half shutter press might also be useful on some occasions.

    Dave

    PS This applies to Canon, not sure about Nikon or Sony etc
    Dave,

    Does it make sense shooting in continuous shooting mode when using a remote shutter release? I am trying to think what the reason would be for using a remote release. Is it not primarily to avoid any motion blur? Shooting in continuous mode you have the mirror flapping up to 10 times per second, will that not cause motion blur? Will you be shooting continuous mode in low light conditions?

    Agreed for some applications it would be nice to have a remote release that will allow continuous shooting mode. I do not have a remote shutter release, not yet in any case, so I would not know if it will allow continuous mode on my Nikon.
    The very first opportunity I have to get to a shop selling those cheapies I am definitely going to buy one. My opinion is that a remote shutter release is not an optional extra for a photographer, it is a MUST have!

  11. #11

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    Andre why do you think Tom has not understood your post?
    If Tom comes to the party and produce a tack sharp shot of a flower captured in low light using his 500mm lens on a mono pod shot at 1/15sec I might take his comments seriously.

    I discovered something else about getting tack sharp images, however I do not find it important to share my little knowledge with people whom seem to not wanting to have other members on this forum find ways of capturing better sharper images. I will leave it to those whom are not as incompetent as myself to lead the blind into the labyrint.

  12. #12
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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Sorry Andre setting Tom a ridiculous challenge does not explain why you think he did not understand your post. A more analytical response would be much more helpful for us and I suspect yourself.

  13. #13
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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    Dave,

    Does it make sense shooting in continuous shooting mode when using a remote shutter release? I am trying to think what the reason would be for using a remote release. Is it not primarily to avoid any motion blur? Shooting in continuous mode you have the mirror flapping up to 10 times per second, will that not cause motion blur? Will you be shooting continuous mode in low light conditions?

    Agreed for some applications it would be nice to have a remote release that will allow continuous shooting mode. I do not have a remote shutter release, not yet in any case, so I would not know if it will allow continuous mode on my Nikon.
    The very first opportunity I have to get to a shop selling those cheapies I am definitely going to buy one. My opinion is that a remote shutter release is not an optional extra for a photographer, it is a MUST have!
    Hi Andre

    The situation I had in mind was a light show over the Brisbane River (at night). This had laser lights that were changing quite quickly and I wanted to maximise my chances of getting them at the best moment. I certainly was trying to avoid blur as I was shooting typically with about 0.5 sec SS. I was using Live View mode so the mirror was up all the time.

    Dave

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post

    The reason I have ordered a cable version is that I can't find a way to operate continuous shooting mode with the IR remote. But maybe I'm missing something. The half shutter press might also be useful on some occasions.

    Dave

    PS This applies to Canon, not sure about Nikon or Sony etc

    Hahnel Giga T Pro II Wireless Timer Remote for Canon Features

    •Shutter release button with autofocus, single & continuous shooting, bulb mode and self timer

    And you really want to get fancy (at a price of cause).
    Hahnel Inspire Remote Control w/ LiveView Display for Canon

    See what I have now discovered for the poor amongst us:

    Phottix IR Remote for Nikon: Price R95.00, now that is cheap.
    Last edited by AB26; 4th October 2013 at 11:35 AM.

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    I might add that it's technically impossible to get a tack sharp RAW capture without applying capture sharpening, and in many cases, photographers degrade their shots far more by the incorrect application of sharpening than they do with the effects of the likes of mirror slap. Having just said that, the "A" answer is of course to do all these things.

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    I do not find this post amusing. It is clear you have no comprehension of what I have written.

    I am looking forward to you posting one of your tack sharp flower or low light landscape images shot with your 500mm lens set to F9 mounted on a mono pod and shooting at a shutter speed of 1/15sec.
    If you are not prepared to come to the party, please READ my post and try to understand what I have written.

    If you cannot afford "one of THOSE IR remotes" please do not degrade it. If people whom can afford it wish to use it rather ask their opinion on how reliable THOSE IR remotes are.
    I too got the impression that Tom did not try to be amusing and understood your post quite well. And he gave some useful additional information.

    For the monopod: those are quite useful in the kind of situations Tom mentioned (long waits, heavy gear) and do allow you to gain a few stops in stability (1/6s with monopod is quite good for me). Don't forget that the 'canonical' hand-held max. shutter speed for a 500 mm is between 1/750 s and 1/500 s... Going from that, asking for a tack sharp shot at 1/15s is perhaps a tad exaggerated. And perhaps not really the kind of photography you'd use a 500 mm for in the first place.

    Wrt. to the IR remotes: those things are very directional, and if there's no direct line of sight between the remote and the sensor on the camera, they just don't work (I have one and use it when possible). So there are situations where a cable remote is easier and more reliable (but my camera doesn't accept one).

  17. #17

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    in many cases, photographers degrade their shots far more by the incorrect application
    The reason: because we are often to proud to admit that we don't know how to.

  18. #18
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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Hi, Andre -

    You always have something interesting going on!

    I recently invested in a seriously expensive (for me, not for others, most likely) tripod. A guy by the name of Bob, who contributed most to expanding my horizons as a photographer, has been bugging me for quite a while to ALWAYS use a tripod for "photographic" pictures, by which he seems to mean things that don't involve bunches of little kids running around at a backyard birthday party, for one example.

    And, now that I have a tripod that really works and can be bent upside down, I notice a 1000% better results in the kinds of pictures he's talking about. Recently I've been in a part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area taking pictures of the animals in a particular pond. I'm getting sharp edges defining the colors in the heads of male ducks (several teals and a mallard), a koi under the surface of the water, four species of turtles, and some inchworms. It's been hugely satisfying.

    And, several weeks ago, I finally got my dream shot of a falls. The "flowing water" images that seem to pervade postcard shots of places like Bridal Veil Falls, Snoqualamie Falls, and other falls that I like, just drive me nuts because they can never convey the splats of the water on my glasses, face, etc., that, to me, are part of taking pictures of rivers, oceans, or other water bodies. I WANT to see the sunlight glinting off the droplets of water and see those droplets landing in little puddles alongside the river/falls. When I'm snapping ocean surf, I want to see what makes that surf, the teeny droplets around a surfer, etc., not some blurry "stuff".

    Consequently, given how much just adding a serious tripod to my kit has done for me, I'd recommend that to anybody who's serious, and not shooting plays in a football game (just as an example) where a tripod could prevent getting the shot.

    So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    JMHO. Hope this helps.

    virginia
    Last edited by drjuice; 4th October 2013 at 02:45 PM.

  19. #19

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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    Quote Originally Posted by drjuice View Post
    to ALWAYS use a tripod for "photographic" pictures, by which he seems to mean things that don't involve bunches of little kids running around at a backyard birthday party, for one example.
    Thank you Virginia.

    I have been bumping my head, should others also do the same?
    What triggered me are the images of ALL good landscape photographers always using a very good tripod and remote shutter release.
    Those functions on our cameras to reduce blur are not there to fill the menu, I guess.

    You must be very critical and serious about your own work?

  20. #20
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    Re: Avoiding camera shake and get tack sharp images:

    As indicated in some of the posts above, there are two types of remote shutter release - the cable version and the IR version.
    There are three. The third is radio controlled. The Hahnel, which I use, is radio controlled, not IR, and it is therefore not directional at all.



    Re mirror slap: it is only a substantial issue at slow shutter speeds.

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