What to do when there’s a whole lotta shakin goin' on
September 10, 2009
One of the most common picture-taking mistakes is camera shake. But it's easier than ever to avoid.
Today’s photos were taken with a Panasonic DMC-ZR1.
You've taken your picture and it looks all right on the tiny monitor, but when you review the photo back home on your computer screen, you notice that the entire image is blurred. This usually happens because you shook the camera slightly when you took the picture. It's a common problem, made worse by the lack of eye-level viewfinders on most compact cameras. This forces you to hold the camera a foot or so from your face so you can see the LCD screen. Your arms are not supported and you are more likely to move the camera when you press the shutter release.
Shake, shake, shake: Shot at dusk, handheld, no tripod to keep the camera steady or shake reduction, and the flash is off. The camera compensates for the low light by increasing exposure time, during which the camera moved.
Traditional ways to fix shaky pictures are to:
• Lean your arms and camera against a wall or table for support
• Shoot while looking through the finder, if your camera has one
• Mount your camera on a tripod
• Shoot with flash in low light (see sample, above).
Flash on: Many cameras in auto mode will simply turn on the flash if the light's too low. In this case, I forced the flash on and got a sharp shot.
But there's another option: Anti-Shake Technology! All but the lowest low-end snapshot cameras now have some form of remediation for blur caused by the photographer moving the camera during the exposure, and unlike the direct flash, this provides for a more natural look (see image above). Look for vibration reduction, anti-shake, or some similar variation, on your camera's specs. Optical anti-shake will produce better image quality than digital anti-shake, which boosts ISO and causes graininess. Use this feature when shooting hand-held images and you will increase your chances of getting sharp shots.
Shake reduction on: I turned on the ZR-1's Shake Reduction, which eliminated hand shake and produced a sharp shot with more natural lighting (note the lighter background). Most new compact digital cameras have anti-shake technology built-in. It works!