How to get sharp photographs with handheld camera?

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Let us face it, we all have gone thorough this. Getting blur photographs is the biggest frustration for all photographers. The reason for blur or soft photograph is not the gear but actually our shaky hands.

To get to the basics, we need to make sure that you are focusing on the subject and the camera is held still at the time of taking the photograph. This means using both hands for holding the camera, keep the camera close to your body, support yourself with some solid object and hold your breath and shoot. But, it is easily said than done.

The easiest way to achieve sharp pictures is to use a tripod. But, carrying tripod always is not possible and at times an irritation.

So, when you are taking handheld photographs, the best way to control camera shake relates to the shutter speed setting in your camera. There is a recommended minimum shutter speed for taking pictures. The thumb rule is that your minimum shutter speed should be 1/(the focal length).

So if you shooting at 300 mm focal length, then your minimum shutter speed should be: 1/300 sec.

If you are shooting with a cropped sensor camera your minimum shutter speed should be 1/(double the focal length).

This should ensure that your photographs are sharp and without blur.

I would love to hear your experiences on this topic.

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30 thoughts on “How to get sharp photographs with handheld camera?

  1. Thanks for the visit to my blog and liking my post Photography 101: Treasure – Aruvithura Church. This photo is taken in Nikon L610. I noticed that after click should keep the camera focused for a few secs. Otherwise it will be shaky and blur. Many times I forget this. I do not take much photos these days, just carry when visit some places and also in mood.

    • You may look at (Auto focus ) AF mode in your camera which should help in focusing on the image. It gives options of Single point AF / Dynamic area AF / Auto area AF / 3D tracking AF.

      I hope you are keeping the shutter speed at least equal to your focal length. This should help in avoiding blur photographs.

  2. Nice post! I, for one, am guilty of not always having my tripod on hand as well, since usually for me, landscape shots just “happen” – aren’t always planned. Thanks also for the peek into my blog as well. I’ll be following yours in the future. 🙂

  3. One other suggestion: for landscape photography, since your subject is standing still, take twenty or thirty shots for each picture you hope to capture. Even in marginal light, the odds are good that one of the twenty or thirty will be sharp.

  4. Thank you for these useful tips! I am taking photography class this semester and I love it – however, when I try to take a landscape shot with a smaller aperture to capture more detail, I do indeed encounter blurriness in my photos. I’ve tried experimenting with the shutter speed, but I usually end up underexposing the photo and I am left frustrated. Your formula makes a lot of sense to me now. I can’t wait to go outside and try it next time!

    Katrina 🙂

    • Thanks Katrina.

      If you are getting blurriness for landscape photograph, it might be due to using large aperture (small f stop ) which will decrease Depth of Field (DOF) while small aperture (larger f stop) will give you larger depth of field which means most of your image will be in focus.

      Have a great day 🙂

  5. “Sometimes you sharpest picture isn’t your best picture.” That’s a quote from an old photographer friend of mine.

    There are a whole host of options rather than just reaching for the ISO knob in low light if you don’t have a tripod.

    First, you can brace yourself against an object to steady yourself.

    Second, you can learn to hold the camera properly so that your body forms a brace.

    Third, you can buy newer lenses that have anti-motion software in them, with some providing the equivalent of 3 or 4 stops worth of added “light.” Or, you can shoot at even a lower ISO and let the motion carry the picture and turn it into sort of a painting. I’ve made a career on that.

    Yes. Turning up the ISO too far introduces noise unless the picture is perfectly exposed. Some noise can be filtered out in post production. But, it really does matter if you are going to do something more with the photograph then just post a small version of it online. Your ultimate intent is what matters.

    • Thanks Ray for sharing your thoughts and experience.
      I agree, apart from ISO there are other ways to deal with low light conditions. Photography is a medium to bring out our creativity and it ultimayely depends what we want to bring out in the photograph 🙂

  6. That’s a good tip!

    It’s also not a bad idea to crank up the ISO in low light. There’s a widely held opinion among even good photographers that high ISO leads to poor picture quality. In many low-light situations, it’s better to have a high ISO than a low shutter speed. In my honest opinion, a reasonably sharp but somewhat noisy image is better than a shaky image 🙂

  7. Great tips 🙂 I was wondering if you could help me about this .The problem is I have point and shoot camera,Nikon L330. So no chance of setting shutter speed.Whenever I try to take any photo where people are moving not even fast,just normal pace,but I am getting blurry pictures,even sports mode is not helping 😦

    • Hi, I am afraid Nikon L330 does not have manual mode where you can play with shutter speed. You can only use Smart Auto mode or sports mode with minimum zoom which should reduce the camera shake. If you are serious about photography, you can try a DSLR camera.

      • I have started very few months back and this is my 1st camera .I had not much idea,I even didn’t know what point & shoot camera means ..So,thought of buying this one and learning from it before moving to DSLR series …But I will definitely experiment with smart shoot and sports mode the way you have said 🙂 Thanks a lot for helping me out 😀

      • You are welcome!
        Even I started with Fuji Point & Shoot camera with manual settings. Later I moved to DSLR when I found that I like photography.
        You should spend time with your point & shoot camera and see if you are enjoying photography and then take a decision accordingly. All the best 🙂

      • Since childhood I have been interested in photography. But lack of time and guidance was a problem.I then satisfied myself with phone cameras.Now,I have time and learning few things everyday from fellow bloggers so feeling more confident and committed 😀 Since I bought this one few weeks back,so I have to make sure that I know it thoroughly,concepts of the modes,usage and other facts before moving on 🙂 Btw Happy Diwali !

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