Focus and Camera Stability Determine Sharpness

Bad focus

Incorrect auto focus ruins this night photo.

There are two causes for photos that are not completely sharp, incorrect focus and camera shake. Both of these problems are most likely to occur in low light situations. Auto focus cameras have difficulty focusing in dim light. There are a number of reasons not to use autofocus and low light is a main one. If there is not enough detail or contrast in the scene, the lens will continually hunt for focus without success. Some cameras will refuse to fire until focus is achieved. Worse yet, the camera might fire when the lens is out of focus. The error might be subtle and not immediately apparent in the camera monitor. But it will be obvious on a full computer screen and the shot will be unusable like this example.

It is best to turn off auto focus and pre-focus the shot manually in low light. Many cameras do not offer a manual focus option. In that case the solution is to focus on a brighter part of the scene by depressing the shutter half way then re-compose and fire the shot.

Camera shake

Blur due to camera shake is obvious in this photo.

If focus is correct, then camera shake is the cause of blurred photos. It is usually easy to tell the difference between improper focus and camera shake. Blur from shake will be apparent in one direction and points of light will be streaks as in this example. But the problem may not always be that obvious. It may be necessary to use the monitor’s magnify function to determine if the culprit is focus or shake.

HandlePod Eliminates Camera Shake

If camera shake is the cause of blurred photos in low light, then the only solution is camera stabilization. There are a number of techniques and equipment to solve this problem—proper camera holding stance, bracing the camera against supports, etc. Most on line instructions recommend a sturdy tripod. But if a tripod is not available, camera shake can be eliminated with a pocket size tripod alternative like HandlePod. Just press it by hand against any available support for tripod like stability without a tripod.

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