BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Arin Brown

Getting Clearer Pictures

I recently purchased a Sony Mavica MCD 500 and am having a few problems. This is my first "serious" digital camera after using a Nikon 35mm for many years. It seems that many of my shots are just not that clear. Some turn out just great while some seem to be fuzzy. Could this be due to how still I am holding the camera while shooting? I do mostly nature photography and hate the thought of dragging a tripod with me on every shoot. Any suggestions from members here would be greatly appreciated. I can also be reached at as I am not sure how this online Q&A thing works. I will check back each day to see if I can find answers. Also, are there any good books that deal with this camera that might help me?
I love the camera and really want to be able to use to it's full potential.
Best Regards.

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8/28/2004 10:12:13 PM

Dave Cross   Hi Arin.
I suspect that (since you are doing nature) you have the "smart-zoom" enabled. This is not smart! -since any digital zoom degrades the picture significantly. Disable smart zoom. If you then are too far away from your subject, either get closer or get one of the add-on telephoto attachments (I am assuming they are available for this camera).
You don't need a tripod. Carry a small beanbag, so you can use walls, rocks, trees, etc., to steady the camera. If you use the beanbag, you will also be able to use one of the lower ISO settings of the camera. The ISO 400 tends to be rather noisy on these tiny CCD imagers.
Let us know how you get on.

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8/30/2004 12:23:33 AM

Michael Kaplan   The basic theory is that you can handhold a camera 1/lens focal length - so if you were shooting at, let's say, 102mm (your camera's zoon has a 35mm equivalent of 34 - 102mm) you would have to be shooting at least 1/125 second. That is only an average. Some people can hold it much slower and others, especially if you are new to this, should have the speed even faster.
There are tricks to be able to get the speed up if you are not shooting in daylight, You raise the ISO. Normally people shoot in daylight at ISO 100. This will give you the lowest amount of noise. For each change in ISO you get 1 rise in speed so if you were only able to shoot at 1/60th sec, moving the ISO to 200 would give you 1/125th, and moving it up to ISO 400 would allow you to shoot at 1/250. This will allow you to get sharper pictures while handholding the camera.
For this, you would either shoot in manual mode and adjust the exposure yourself or the easier Av (aperture) mode where you can leave the aperture set wide open (F2.0-2.5 depending on your zoom), and the camera would give you the fastest speed it can for proper exposure.
A tripod, though, is still the best method or, as DC said, a tree, a step, a car ... anything you can use to brace yourself or the camera to make it steady.
Michael Kaplan
Canon EOS-20D

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8/31/2004 4:21:53 PM

Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  I have a 10X zoom on my camera, and in low light conditions I need a tripod or rest. But I have learned that if I use the optical instead of the LCD to compose my pictures I can "brace" the camera against my forehead and my pictures are MUCH, MUCH more clear. I use my zoom a LOT, and I don't use my tripod much at all. My husband can get clear pictures at full zoom in low light, because he's a hunter and has a VERY steady hand at any type of shooting, including with the camera. But I use the optical view, and it's improved me. The other benefit is lower battery drainage.

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8/31/2004 5:06:09 PM

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