One of my students just mailed me about her disappointment after
using her 70-300mm lens for the first time. She says the shots
are "blurry". So how do you fix blurry photos?
If this has happened to you, don't throw the lens away - it's a
standard disillusionment that all buyers of "long" lenses
experience! It's called camera shake, and it is easy to fix.
Stabilising a long lens
Because you zoom in on a subject, you're seeing only a section of
the entire scene in front of you. Because you are magnifying that
bit of the scene in front of you hugely, you also hugely increase
the effect of any hand movement, breathing or jabbing shutter
The only way to stop this is to shoot at a high enough shutter
speed to freeze the action. And to shoot on tripod, even in
If you're using your long lens at the wide end (70mm), you should
not shoot hand-held at a shutter speed lower than the closest
shutter speed to that, ie an 80th or 100th of a second. If you're
shooting with the lens at 150mm (you can see that on the barrel
of the lens), you should not shoot hand-held at a speed lower
than 200th or 250th of a second, and at full zoom, 300mm, you
should not shoot hand-held at less than a 350th or 500th of a
To select these shutter speeds, go to Manual mode on your camera,
select the shutter speed you need, and adjust the aperture to
correctly expose for the scene. Alternatively, use the TV (Canon,
Pentax) or S (Nikon, Fujifilm) function on your camera. It's the
shutter priority selector: with that, you force the camera to
shoot at the shutter speed that the length of lens you're using
dictates, and the camera automatically selects the appropriate
aperture for the amount of light available.
You may not always have these speeds available due to bad light,
and hence you need to invest in a good tripod for when you use
your long lens.
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