Capital Photography Center | Photography Classes in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia

Troubleshooting Tips for Digital Camera Users

February 8, 2012 by Marie Joabar

Whether you’re using the simplest Point & Shoot camera or the most advanced SLR, digital cameras are more complicated than film cameras simply because of the quantity of features they offer.

  • Learning the function of each button, dial or wheel can be challenging, not to mention trying to navigate the menus and sub-menus to locate the particular setting you need.
  • Although the instruction manual might be something you’d rather shove in the bottom drawer hoping to learn the camera out without it, I’ll stress its value and recommend it has a place in your camera bag.

Check back to this blog over the next few weeks as I’ll be posting some troubleshooting tips you may find helpful.  This week we’ll look at some probable causes of capturing BLURRY SUBJECTS and some tips for preventing it.

  • Check that the focus was directed to the intended subject. Most cameras set the focus point in the center of the viewfinder. If photographing the faces of two people standing next to one another, the camera will focus between them because that is the center of the frame. The faces will be blurred and the point in between them sharp.  To solve this, center one of the faces and lock the focus on it by pressing the shutter button down half way, then without releasing the shutter, recompose the photo and frame the faces however you would like them, then depress the shutter fully to take the photo.
  • Check the exposure settings, especially the Shutter speed. The subject may be moving too fast for the camera to freeze the motion and increasing the shutter speed will correct for this. Use the S (Shutter) or TV (Time Value - Canon) setting and adjust it to 1/60, 1/125 or 1/250 etc. The faster the motion, the higher the shutter speed needs to be. If your camera doesn’t offer the option to control the shutter manually, try using the Sports Mode which should set a faster shutter speed than some of the other Auto settings.
  • It’s not always possible to increase the shutter speed enough to freeze the motion especially in low light.  One solution might be to use a higher ISO speed, such as 400, 800 or 1600 which allows you to use a faster shutter speed. If you are in the Auto mode or any of the Auto Scene modes, the camera may dictate the ISO.  In order to change it you may need to use the “P” Program mode or any of the manual modes. Note that the trade off for using higher ISO speeds might be a speckled pattern called “Noise”, similar to what “grain” used to look like in the days of film. Newer camera models have greatly improved in reducing noise, while with older cameras, it’s more apparent.
  • Consider using a tripod especially with shutter speeds below 1/30th of a second. Hand holding below that speed can cause blurry photos.  Additionally, when using a tripod, simply pressing the shutter button can cause the camera to move - using the self timer, remote switch, or shutter release cable will correct for this.
  • If your camera or lens has “Image Stabilization” (IS), “Anti-Shake” (AS), “Vibration Reduction” (VR), or something similar, by all means use it. This is a great feature to help reduce blur.  (Only use these if hand holding, not on a tripod.)

To gain a better understand of your camera’s setting as well as photography basics, consider the Intro to Digital Photography class, the Intro to SLR Photography class or any of the In-the-Field Shooting classes.