why did my picture come out slightly blurry?

Discussion in 'Digital and Video Cameras' started by BlahBlahYouToo, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. BlahBlahYouToo

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    i was at my nephews christening, sitting way at the back of the church, and as they were walking up the aisle, i snapped a few shots.
    they looked good on the D5100's LCD, but when viewing on a monitor, they clearly were not sharp.

    Aperture priority (set to widest)
    shutter speed was 1/30
    focal length was 280mm (on a kit 55-300mm)
    auto ISO (capped at 3200, forgot what the cam actually set it to)
    VR on
    AF on

    what can i do to improve the sharpness?
    help a noob out.

    sorry, don't want to post the pic for privacy reasons.
     
    #1 BlahBlahYouToo, Nov 22, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  2. nboy22

    nboy22 Diamond Member

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    Well usually interiors like that aren't lit the best, so your first issue is probably the lighting.

    Second issue is probably your 1/30 shutter speed. The faster the shutter, the less motion blur you're going to get, but you need more light to have a faster shutter.

    What was your aperture for the shots? The lower the aperture, the more light gets let in, however it creates a more shallow depth of field which could also be a source of blur in your pictures.

    One way might be to purchase a better lens, or have better lighting, or increase your shutter speed and see if you can make it work. You might be able to bump your ISO to 6400 to get more light in, but you're more than likely to get a lot of grain.
     
  3. BlahBlahYouToo

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    it's the kit 55-300 4.5/5.6, shot at 280mm so probably closer to f/5.6 (i set it to widest aperture at the low end of the focal range).

    i thought that if i set it to A priority, it would automatically select the appropriate shutter speed for a proper exposure... ahhh, I think i answered my own question. it only compensates for exposure, and not sharpness?

    i must say however, the shot did have nice background blur, so the DoF was quite shallow.
    the background was probably 25 ft behind the subject, and i was about 100 ft away from the subject.
     
  4. nboy22

    nboy22 Diamond Member

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    I'd say the biggest two culprits are your f/5.6 aperture, and the slow shutter speed. f/5.6 is pretty high for indoors in my opinion, I would probably want to go much lower.

    Those two in combination will create motion blur with little movement.

    Oh yeah, and another thing. If your camera wasn't on a tripod, that's another reason it's not sharp. No matter how still you think you can hold your camera, when you depress the shutter button you're going to shake the camera, which will cause your image to come out blurry.
     
  5. JohnnyRebel

    JohnnyRebel Senior member

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    Couple of things to check:

    1. What IS in focus? Can you pixel peep the pic and see where the focus ended up? If not, perhaps it was camera shake due to slow shutter speed.

    2. Is the AF-C priority set to FOCUS?

    Try bumping up Auto ISO to 6400. At 280mm, your minimum Aperture is headin' toward f/5.6 quickly and you need higher ISO to keep your shutter speed down. I would try setting your minimum shutter speed to around 1/125 when using that VR lens. It's better to have a bit of grain and to be in focus. The D5100 looks pretty good at ISO 6400. Have High ISO noise reduction on, and don't plan to blow up or crop the image too much.

    JR
     
  6. BlahBlahYouToo

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    1. how do i do that?

    2. don't have the camera with me but i believe it's on 'Single' (not continuous)
     
  7. iGas

    iGas Diamond Member

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    2 problems, camera shakes and motion blurs.

    Rule of thumb, minimum shutter speed = lens focal length for 35mm cameras to prevent camera shakes, and that will get you sharp pictures most of the time (75-80% of the shots) if you brace yourself in a 3 contact points shooting position. But, in reality it is tend to be +1 shutter speed stop for most amateur users. The same technique can be apply for full frame digital camera or APS-C.

    D5100 @ 280mm:
    280 * 1.5 = 1/420s or (1/840s for amateur) - 3 to 4 stops for VR
    Indicates that the very minimum handheld shutter speed is 1/26.25s (1/25s) with VR on.
    But it is likely that you will need 1/105s (1/100s) for handheld with VR on.

    [edit/add sentence] Subject top motion suggestions below:

    1/250s shutter speed is the absolute minimum for stop motion of airplanes, cars, boat races, bicycle races, and flying birds (however, most will shoot at 1/500s to guarantee sharp image).

    1/125s shutter speed is for people with little movement (1/250s for running).

    1/60s shutter speed can be use when people remain still, however some of the shots will not be absolutely motionless.

    1/30s shutter speed is reserve for the only time that you can't crank the ISO speed up. Praying may required here to get one or 2 good shots out of a dozen when people are the subject.

    As you have experienced, VR and IS aren't going to save the day in many circumstances.
     
    #7 iGas, Nov 22, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  8. JohnnyRebel

    JohnnyRebel Senior member

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    Look at the following shot at full size. Looking closely you can see where the plane of focus is. I was wanting you to see if on your shot if the autofocus "missed" and some other part of the picture was IN focus.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Lifer

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    For the camera shake issue, try setting the camera to drive mode. That way, the camera will move when you press the button, but as you hold it down it will keep taking shots without your finger moving it.
     
  10. BlahBlahYouToo

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    oh ok. so it's just a visual inspection.
    i thought there was some software out there like ps that would tell you exactly where the focal point was.

    it might be hard to do in these photos because it's zoomed out so far, and there's faces, clothing and other textures involved.
     
  11. BlahBlahYouToo

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    the subject was walking slowly.
    so, it sounds like i should set it to S priority and set it to ~1/125?

    then the camera will try to open up the lens as much as possible (f/5.6 at 300mm), and there wouldn't be enough light so it would auto bump the ISO up a few stops?
     
  12. jpeyton

    jpeyton Moderator <BR> SFF, Notebooks, Pre-Built/Barebones
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    That's why. Coupled with the slow max aperture on your lens, and it's a blurry combo indoors.

    Also, VR isn't useful at very fast shutter speeds.

    I would try:

    1/125s
    ISO 3200
    f/5.6 (which is the max at that focal length)
    VR - On
    AF - C
     
  13. iGas

    iGas Diamond Member

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    Correct.
     
  14. twistedlogic

    twistedlogic Senior member

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    View NX or Capture NX will show the AF point on a RAW image. Not sure if its flagged in a JPEG.

    That depends on if that is your desired result. You could also pan with the girl at a slower SS resulting in (if your successful) the girl being sharp with the background blurred. This takes practice and good hand-holding technique and you would actually get the added benefit from VR. Otherwise VR is useless if the subject is moving.
     
  15. Gooberlx2

    Gooberlx2 Lifer

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    If you could crop a section at 100&#37; and upload to imgur (which strips exif, iirc) we might might be able to help you determine if it's motion blur, poor focusing, poor lens resolution, soft due to noise, etc...

    My gut says slow shutter speed combined with motion blur or camera shake. Though if she was walking toward you, lens at the long end + wide aperture = shallower DOF. Could also be misfocused.
     
    #15 Gooberlx2, Nov 22, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  16. TuxDave

    TuxDave Lifer

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    Is that a real camera picture or post processed for shallow DoF? I just don't get the sharpness in the reflection
     
  17. Gintaras

    Gintaras Golden Member

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    How long do you have a telephoto lense?
    To use and to learn to take photos with telephoto lense might take some time, depends, how much you want to learn and how fast can you learn.
    Aperture Priority doesn't say much about. Lense might have some "sweet spot", like mine - Olympus ZD 70-300 mm "sweet spot" is about F8

    AF? what AF were you using? how many focusing spots?

    Your lense isn't fast, taking photos inside, with no good light available - no need to expect good, sharp pictures while taken handheld.

    In not good light, with telephoto slow lense is needed a tripod and remote control, if you want a good sharp photo.
     
  18. DLeRium

    DLeRium Lifer

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    min shutter speed is 1/focal length.

    But even if oyu have VR/IS/whatever, don't expect it to do magic. You might get away with 1/100 or 1/60th. At 1/30th your acceptable images start dropping off.
     
  19. BlahBlahYouToo

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    just checked.
    it was set to AF-S (single servo).
    what should it be at?
     
  20. JohnnyRebel

    JohnnyRebel Senior member

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    The link is to flicr. The photographer had a series with these same pencils. Otherwise, all I know is the lens and camera.

    JR
     
  21. BlahBlahYouToo

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    i've had this camera/lens for a little over a month, but this is my first real "shoot".

    i used AF-S, if that's what you're asking.
    i set it to the middle point, since it's the only cross type on this camera.
     
  22. BlahBlahYouToo

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    i just changed the min shutter speed to 1/60 under auto-ISO settings.
    it was set to 1/30 before. doh!
     
  23. GoSharks

    GoSharks Diamond Member

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    To be specific, 1/(focal length in 35mm equiv)
     
  24. bobdole369

    bobdole369 Diamond Member

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    jpeyton wins - he beat me to it:

    Your minimum shutter speed should have been 1/300 or whatever is the next faster step.

    That would have resulted in a very dark picture unless you moved your ISO up by a factor of 10.

    Interior lighting is not nearly as bright as you think it is. It is terribly annoying to shoot anything indoors for me. Either the wide-open aperture needed screws me (with missed focus and crazy small DOF) or its camera shake.

    Even if you held completely still - unless your subject was dead still at 1/30 you'd still have some motion blur.

    If it were a still life pic you could have used a tripod, in any case you are stuck with super high ISO - or convincing the event to turn up the lights.
     
  25. slashbinslashbash

    slashbinslashbash Golden Member

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    1/30 at 280mm is a recipe for blurry for anything moving.

    1/30 is slow enough that normal "people movement" is often perceptible even at normal focal lengths, even when sitting still. Long focal lengths like 280mm multiply the effect of subject movement due to the magnification inherent to the focal length. At a wide angle, a person might fit entirely into the image (i.e., a full body shot)... take your image size to be an 8"x10" print. Look at what one inch on the print represents, at the plane of focus. It could be 6" or greater. Maybe that 1" matches the width of their head, or the length from their fingertip to their wrist, or the distance between buttons on a button-down shirt. Now look at an image taken at a long focal length, same subject distance, same print size. It is now possible that their head is taking up most or all of the image. That same 1" on the print might be the length of their nose, or the width of one of their eyes.

    Now back that out to consider what "blurry" is. Let's simplify and say that it's a pixel of difference. (Look up "circle of confusion" if you want a more detailed discussion of how blurriness is defined in photography.) If a person sways 1/4" during the time of your exposure then it might not be perceptible at a wide angle, if that 1/4" takes up less than a pixel. But a long zoom will make that 1/4" take up multiple pixels and result in a blur. So it is all relative to a lot of things, including the pixel density of your sensor.

    VR can correct your camera shake pretty well, but again this camera shake is magnified by long focal lengths. If your camera shakes 1mm during your exposure, this subtends a small arc (relative to the size of the image) at wide focal lengths, but it might be the equivalent of a sizeable fraction of the image at long focal lengths. VR is pretty good and can correct for much of this. I would say that 1/30 at 280mm with a Nikon VR lens should be possible for a completely static subject, if you have good technique and you're not being blown around by the wind or standing on a vibrating vehicle or something.

    In the end you only have 3 variables to exposure: ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. Ironically, by being zoomed in so much, you hamstrung yourself with both shutter speed (because the shutter speed required to take a sharp photo of a moving subject decreases with the focal length) and aperture (because the maximum aperture of your f/4-f/5.6 lens gets smaller (numerically larger) as you reach the longer focal lengths). Your only recourse is to high ISO. Indoors at over 500mm equivalent, I would definitely try not to go slower than 1/100 shutter speed, and of course keep your lens at its maximum aperture (which also generally decreases sharpness, BTW -- most lenses are at their sharpest when they're stopped down a stop or two. This probably isn't a major factor in your case, but it contributes.). Bump your ISO as high as it needs to go to get the right exposure, or as high as it can go if it can't go that high.

    BTW f/4 lets in twice as much light as f/5.6. f/2.8 lets in 4x as much light as f/5.6. So under the same conditions and camera settings, with an f/4 lens you would have had 1/60 shutter speed, and with an f/2.8 lens you would have had 1/120 shutter speed.