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Photography Question 
lori nieuwenhuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/9/2009

slightly out of focus pics w/larger lens

hi! I took some pictures of my daughter and her friends for their high school yearbook and some of the ones I took with my tele lens are a little out of focus-not the sharpness I would have liked. other ones were very sharp. it doesn't seem to have to do w/the settings, just seems to be when I used the tele w/no tripod. any suggestions for being able to take these sharper without a tripod?

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10/24/2009 9:27:55 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  If it's out of focus, then a tripod is not much of a factor. If it is blurry, then use a faster shutter speed, holding the camera steadier(might take practice). Are you focusing yourself or letting auto focus do it for you?
Is it an actual telephoto or a zoom? Could be you're seeing better optics with your longer focal length lens when you compare them to your short focal length lens.

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10/24/2009 12:31:00 PM

lori nieuwenhuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/9/2009
  thanks gregory! it was on auto focus. great point about the lens length...i'll have to look into that. any tips on holding my camera steadier?

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10/24/2009 12:48:45 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Meant to say you might be seeing better optics with your shorter focal length lens.

It could be your lens isn't locking in on the face. Or they moved after it locked and changed the focus point. Is there any definite point of sharpness, like the ear? Hair is a good way to check focus.
You can try keeping your elbow closer to your body to add support under the camera if you have trouble keeping steady.

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10/24/2009 2:32:04 PM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/11/2005
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  Lori, there's a rule of thumb for hand-holding a lens..shutter speed versus focal length. For example, if your focal length is 50mm, your shutter speed should be at least 1/50th sec or faster. At 100mm focal length, it would be 1/100th sec or faster. At 400mm, it's 1/400th sec or faster. Again, this is just a rule of thumb. Gregory has provided some great tips too!

Also, if you're using a tripod and if your lens has image stabilization, you should turn this off..but only if on a tripod. I've not done tests on this, but others have mentioned it plus the owners manuals also talk about turning IS off when on a tripod.

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10/24/2009 3:29:31 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hello Lori,
You didn't say what shutter speed you shot these at and unless you have good technique, anything at 1/60s or slower can be a problem.
I use the 3 fingers on my right hand to grip the camera firmly but dont squeeze as this can create too much tension and then use my 1st finger to adjust my shutter speed dial & shutter button and my thunb to move the dial on the back for my DOF adjustments (this is using my Canon cameras). My left hand is positioned under the lens and again held firm but not being tense and I sometimes extend my fingers for longer lenses. I brace my left arm/elbow against the side/front of my chest/ribs (just beside the left breast area for females) and then I pay attention to my breath. Some people hold their breath but this doesn't work for me personally as if I hesitate or readjust, I tend to get too tense. I usually breathe slow and gently press the shutter just as I start to exhale. You have to find what works for you & your breathing.
I have been able to succesfully capture 1/10s shots but I really hate to hand hold anything under 1/60s and much prefer to use a tripod - and as Ken mentioned, turn IS OFF when using a tripod.
I also take advantage of fences, walls or anything I may be able to lean or brace myself against when its convenient :)
Hope this helps,

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10/24/2009 11:33:56 PM

lori nieuwenhuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/9/2009
  hi carlton, thanks for the advice on holding my camera-exactly what I was looking for. i'm going to play with my shutter speeds today.

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10/27/2009 4:49:31 AM

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