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Five Ways to Beat Camera Shake

Shooting handheld in low-light situations can often result in blurry images. Here are five useful tips to stop camera shake impacting on your photos.
We’ve already learned that objects that move while they’re being photographed look blurred. This can be a pretty cool effect when shooting moving subjects, but it can also be a problem if you happen to have shaky hands. Move the camera itself when the shutter is open, and the whole scene can appear blurred.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, 5 Ways to Beat Camera Shake

This is called camera shake and can spoil otherwise decent pictures. You’ve probably seen it in party photos shot in gloomy conditions, or when you’ve pulled out your camera phone to try to shoot a beautiful nighttime scene. This is because shooting in dim light often requires the use of a longer shutter speed. If that shutter speed is long enough to register the tiny movements of your shaky hands, blur from camera shake will be the result.

Camera shake is also worse when using telephoto lenses, as they magnify the effect. Conversely, it’s less of a problem when using wide-angle lenses, though certainly not unheard of.

There are quite a number of ways to tackle camera shake. Let’s have a look at a few and see how and why they work.

1. Hold Your Camera Properly

It might sound basic, but you wouldn’t believe how often even beginner photographers get this one wrong. It can be tempting to grasp your X Series camera by the sides, as you would a compact camera or smartphone, but this is not the most stable way of holding it. For less chance of accidental camera movement, use your left hand to cradle the camera underneath, supporting the lens, too. Then, bring your right hand around the grip (you should be able to take this away again without dropping the camera).
Now, brace your elbows into your body and stand with your feet slightly apart. When you take a picture, gently squeeze the shutter release button; don’t stab at it. Avoid holding your breath, which can make you tremble, and instead exhale when you shoot a picture.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, 5 Ways to Beat Camera Shake

2. Raise the ISO Sensitivity

One way of eliminating camera shake is to ensure that the shutter speed you’re using is fast enough for accidental camera movement not to register. And a good way of raising shutter speed is to increase ISO sensitivity.

There’s a rule of thumb to help you judge how far to go: camera shake tends to be a problem when you’re using a shutter speed longer than 1/focal-length-of-the-lens-you’re-using. In other words, when you’re shooting with a 35mm lens, you’ll need a shutter speed of at least 1/35 sec (the 1/40 sec setting on your camera will do). So, keep raising the ISO until you hit this mark.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, 5 Ways to Beat Camera Shake

3. Use a Wider Aperture

Another way to raise shutter speeds is to let in more light by setting a wider aperture. But what if you are already at your maximum aperture and can’t go any wider? Well, it might be worth looking at a new lens.
There are lots of lenses in the X Series that have very wide apertures and are great for avoiding camera shake in low light. For example, our legendary FUJINON XF56mmF1.2 R has a maximum aperture of F1.2. Compare this to the F5.6 that an XC16-50mmF3.5-5.6 OIS II has at its 50mm setting: the F1.2 lens will let in 4.5 times more light, which is enough to take a slow 1/8 sec shutter speed up to comfortable 1/180 sec.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, 5 Ways to Beat Camera Shake

4. Engage OIS

However, don’t feel you have to abandon your standard zoom in search of more exotic optics just yet. Lenses like the XC16-50mmF3.5-5.6 OIS II or XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS feature Optical Image Stabilization (hence the OIS in their name). When switched on, this technology senses accidental camera movements and moves a piece of glass inside the lens to compensate. It can often help get a sharp shot rather than a shaky, blurry one.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, 5 Ways to Beat Camera Shake

5. Find Support

When all else fails, go for the old-school technique: secure your camera on a stable support like a tripod, which stops any accidental movement. Working in this way lets you use very long shutter speeds – much longer than you could use with the camera handheld. That’s useful for shooting interiors, close-ups, and landscapes at night.
A word of warning, though: try to avoid wobbling the camera as you touch the shutter release button. Use a two-second self-timer, a remote release, or the FUJIFILM Camera Remote app to shoot without making physical contact. (You can find out more about the Camera Remote app in the Quick Start Guide for your camera.)

Learn photography with Fujifilm, camera shake

Your Next Steps

  • CHALLENGE The next time you are out for an evening with friends, take your camera with you and shoot some pictures without flash that capture the atmosphere of the occasion. Use the technique described here and post your results to social media with the hashtag #MyFujifilmLegacy. You can also submit your work here for a chance to be featured on our social media channels.