Shooting at Slow Shutter Speeds

Shooting at Slow Shutter Speeds


Here’s a neat tip for digital photographers trying to shoot at slow shutter speeds without image-stabilized (IS or VR) lenses. Actually, it can even be helpful for those using IS/VR lenses when you’re really pushing the limits of hand-holdability.

Set your camera to burst mode, frame your subject, brace yourself as firmly as you can, and squeeze the shutter button gently. Hold it down so that you fire off a burst of about 3-5 images. Odds are, once you get back to your computer and examine the images, there’ll be one image that’s considerably sharper than the rest. Delete the duds, and keep this good one!

The downside is obvious – you’ll use up a lot more space on your memory cards.

If you’re shooting in JPG mode and want a quick way to tell which image is the sharpest, just look at the file sizes. The one with the largest file size is nearly always the sharpest shot. This is because the JPG algorithm tries to preserve detail – the sharper your image, the more fine detail is present, and the less the JPG algorithm is able to compress the image. Incidentally, this is why high-ISO JPGs are larger than low-ISO JPGs of the same scene – the higher noise in the high-ISO image adds lots of fine detail, so the image can’t be compressed as much.

Of course, just like real IS/VR this technique only helps with correcting for camera shake. A moving subject and a slow shutter speed will still result in motion blur in the image.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.