Why Are My Photos Blurry?

Why Are My Photos Blurry?

Nov 9, 2022
3 minutes

Imagine the picture: you return home after a beautiful photo shoot and eagerly run to your computer to look at the wonderful photos you've taken. However, after importing it becomes clear that all the pictures can be scrapped because they are blurry. Even professional photographers have to delete more than one promising shot just because it wasn't sharp enough. Let's face it, protecting your lens is very important. We recommend reading the article about when to use a lens hood on Skylum's blog page.

Ideally, you would go home with perfectly sharp pictures 100% of the time, but this rarely happens in practice. However, there are certain things to keep in mind when taking pictures to reduce the chances of getting blurry photos. This article lists some of the most common reasons why photos lose their sharpness.

The exposure is too long

The first and most common reason is that the shutter speed is not fast enough. This can happen when using auto or semiautomatic mode or when you have not chosen the best shutter speed for a particular situation. Let's look at this situation in more detail:

  • This often happens when shooting during the golden hour or any other time of day when there is little light. The chances of encountering such a problem when shooting at noon are small.
  • There is a rule of thumb that says you cannot use a shutter speed lower than the focal length of the lens. Otherwise, it's a good idea to put the camera on a tripod.
  • The alternative is to use a higher ISO sensitivity or a wider aperture, so you can cut down on the shutter speed. But don't forget that changing the ISO sensitivity or widening the aperture will also affect the quality of the photo.

Inappropriate aperture

This brings us to the second point: you may not have chosen the optimal aperture. While there is no single correct aperture value for every case, you need to understand how it affects the shot. At f/2.8, the overall sharpness will be lower than at f/13. At f/2.8, the focal point will be sharp while everything else will not, resulting in a blurry picture overall.

Finding the perfect aperture for every particular situation isn't always easy, but with practice, this skill can be developed. Techniques such as focus stacking are very helpful when shooting scenes that have elements in the foreground as well as in the background.

Camera Shake

Using a tripod is the most common advice when it comes to talking about sharp shots. However, just by locking the camera on a tripod, you won't necessarily get the results you expect. By pressing the shutter button, you're already creating a slight vibration. While this may seem like a small thing, when working with relatively slow shutter speeds, it's enough to make part of the frame blurry. When working with a tripod, make sure you use an external button or a delayed shutter release. This will eliminate the vibration that occurs when you press the shutter and result in sharper photos.

There are situations where a slightly unfortunate shot can easily be corrected by a photo editor. Both for beginners and professionals we recommend using simple and intuitive Luminar Neo with a wide range of tools. Thanks to the advanced AI this photo editor allows you to perform the most complex tasks in just a couple of clicks.

Unstable tripod

Many people who are new to photography (especially landscape photography) cannot understand why their pictures sometimes get a little blurry: the camera is on a tripod, the shutter speed is normal, and they use an external button to release the shutter. Isn't that the perfect recipe for sharp photos? Turns out it isn't.

One thing you might not consider is that an inexpensive tripod wouldn't be stable enough to stand normally in the wind or a shallow river. Any movement would cause it to vibrate, making the pictures less sharp. A better tripod will not produce any vibration even in more extreme conditions.

The moral of this paragraph is that you should get a tripod that is stable enough to handle your usual shooting conditions. You don't have to buy the most expensive one, but it's better to avoid cheap models.

The focus factor

There are two common cases:

  • Autofocus doesn't work well enough. Autofocus is a great tool for most digital cameras, but it doesn't always work as expected. This is especially true when shooting in low light, as the camera has a hard time seeing details and finding the right focal point.
  • Incorrect manual focus. This is not an easy task. It's very convenient to be able to get the most accurate focus, but getting it wrong just a little bit can worsen the sharpness of your picture. Knowing how to find the optimal point and focus correctly takes time and experience.

You're using a low-quality lens

We won't spend much time on equipment right now, because great photos can be taken regardless of the tools you use. However, when it comes to shooting quality, high-end equipment certainly plays a role.

Better not be lazy and take the time to find the best lens for your camera model and budget. It's always better to have one or two great lenses than a bunch of unnecessary ones. You'd be surprised what a difference it can make. Be sure to read the article about when to use a lens hood on Skylum`s website.