10 Reasons That Cause Blurry Photos

Aug 01, 2022

If when taking pictures your photos are coming out blurry and not sharp, the good news is you’re not the only one this happens to. In fact it’s one of the most common questions that I get asked “Why are my pictures blurry?” “Should I change my equipment?” the short answer, No!

Blurry pictures is more common than you think and majority of the time it has nothing to do with the equipment that you use, it’s about the technique that you use. However, I have a created a list of the common of mistakes than easily be corrected, and I’m willing to bet one of these is the solution to your problem.

No. 1 – The shutter speed you’re using is too slow.

This has got to be the top reason of all reasons. Everyone thinks that they can hold still for even just half a second, but rest assured there’s very few people that actually can. So the next time you’re holding your camera and experience camera shake, just remember that all you need to do to avoid blur is ensure that both your shutter speed and lens focal length are reciprocating or complimenting one another. As an example if you’re using a 200mm lens, use at least  1/200th of a second, and so on. Also all modern cameras have stabilisation technology built into them. This allows you to slow your shutter speed upto three stops which can really help.

We all suffer from hand shaking; I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t. Now that were in the middle of winter as well, there’s a good chance you’ll experience it more than usual. The secret here is to know at what point does the camera shake that is starts creating blurry pictures. I read somewhere that if you were to put your camera in priority shutter mode, and make a picture at 1/500th of a second, then keep going slower and slower. When you look back at the pictures you will see which picture where the blurring starts and you can then make adjustments from there.

No.2 – You don’t use a tripod

If you are experiencing camera shake, and conditions don’t allow you to use a faster shutter speed then you need something strong and sturdy to such as a tripod or a monopod. I should caution you here though that if you use either a tripod or a monopod, that it would probably not be a good idea to have your image stabilisation turned on, in fact it does the exact opposite of what it’s intended to do. So now is a good time to start practising to turn it off when you use a tripod.

No.3 – You’re not using autofocus

We’re all different as individuals, strong eyesight, and weak eyesight, wear glasses and don’t wear glasses. No matter which category you fit in, it’s always a great idea to make sure that you’re using autofocus. If for nothing else it takes away all the hassle, let the camera do all the hard work. You’d also be surprised how many people don’t adjust the diopter. A diopter is that small wheel on your viewfinder that adjusts the clarity of your picture when focussing. This is really useful for people who wear glasses but who are not at the time of the picture.

No.4 – You’re using the wrong focus mode

Another culprit! How many times have you taken a picture and then noticed when browsing through your pictures that you were using the wrong focus mode? All photographers know there are 3 focus modes that every camera should have. (If your camera has less, it’s time for an upgrade). They are AF/AF-S, continuous and automatic. They all have one function and that is focus. For any beginners reading this article the differences are AF-S or One-shot AF is what you would typically use for a still subjects, continuous is designed to track movement, so taking a picture at the next Pakistan cricket match you should be using this more. Auto is more the default setting, it determines from what it sees the appropriate mode that should be used. If you’re not sure what to use, use autofocus always!

No. 5 – Your not holding the camera properly.

Yes there is such a thing as an “official” photographer’s position, and this position brings out the best results. I’m sure you have all seen it at some time. The photographer stands with his feet slightly apart. One foot is forward is planted firmly on the ground. This is so it holds your body weight and brings stability. The next thing you should do is use your right hand to grab the grip and have your index finger ready for the shutter button. Your left hand should be underneath the camera by holding it underneath.

No. 6 – The aperture is to wide

It’s a well known fact that the size of the aperture has an effect on the sharpness of your picture. When your lens finds focus it calculates the distance. So for example if you’re taking a picture of a still subject which is 20 feet away, generally anything that is 20 feet away from your camera will have the maximum amount of sharpness. At this stage anything behind or in front of this distance is where the blur starts.

No. 7 – You’re not focusing in the right place

Many photographers who leave their camera in AF mode (camera makes best judgement on focus). The more complex the picture, the more the camera can get confused and focus on the wrong place. In this situation it’s recommended that you switch to single point AF mode.

Often photographers leave their cameras set on auto-area AF mode, which tells the camera to use its best judgment to decide what part of the picture should be in focus. Most of the time modern cameras are pretty good at this, particularly if the subject is prominent in the frame. However, with more complex compositions the camera can get confused and try to focus on the wrong thing. To specify the focal point yourself, switch to single-point AF area mode.

When you look through the viewfinder, what you should be seeing is squares or dots laid over the display. These are called focus points, and what they do is show you where in the frame your camera is able to find the most amount of focus. Use the camera’s direction pad to select one of these dots, and then the camera will always focus on that point alone.

No. 8 – You’re not using manual focus when you need to be!

I love autofocus, as I mentioned earlier that it just takes away all the hard work for you. But if you’re using a tripod or a monopod you should be turning this off. What you can do is switch directly to manual focus and then use the LCD zoom function to magnify the display allowing you to make adjustments to get it just right. See mistake No. 2.Mistake No. 9 – Your lens is filthy.

No. 10 – Using poor quality lenses

This one I have purposely left right till the end. Why? Because this is one of the most common reasons what people blame their blurry images on, when in reality this is not the case. However, I do admit that lens quality does make a difference, but with caveats. In today’s world lens quality is determined by the materials used and how it was made. Lenses are made up of several pieces of glass which are aligned perfectly so that it can focus, zoom, and correct itself. Some lenses are sharper than others or are better but in different ways. Every lens has a unique characteristic about it. It depends on whether it would be of use for the type of photography you are creating.

Do you have any tips you could add? I would love to hear on other reasons that would cause blurry pictures. Leave a comment below and connect.

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  • Very informative blog! Thanks for sharing Also I...
    Feb 13, 2024
  • nyc Explanation, Great work mate.
    Dec 02, 2022