Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?
Rule of thumb, for telephoto's in handheld use shoot a shutter speed as fast or near the focal lenght of the lens used to control camera shake but I'm just wondering about the newer zooms out there now....
Say the 70-300mm ed, very short lens compaired to a telephoto at 300mm and a very nice handheld lens (which I'm considering buying), since this lens and others like it are so short is there any leway twards this rule? Could you get away with shoothing at 1/125 with zoom set at 300mm? I ask this question because I don't have very much experience with zooms, I've had a couple but stuck to tetephoto's and haven't played around with them much.
#1. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 0f8bthere Basic MemberFri 01-Sep-00 05:54 PM
The rule of thumb is not so much concerned with the phyisical demention of the lens, but the angle of view. It assumes the fact that no human is a robot, and just like a marksman with a rifle, you have built in movement.
If you move the camera 1 or 2 millimeters during exposure, the effect would be more pronounced with a longer lens than a wider one... therefore, you would need the faster shutterspeed to "arrest" that motion. If a lens has an 8 degree angle of view, it doesn't matter if it is 3 feet or 3 inches long... it has an 8 degree angle of view. A smaller amount of movement will be tolerated with the longer lens due to the smaller area covered on film... that 2 millimeters at the camera can be larger at the subject and therefore be rendered as image degrading "camera shake". With the wide angle, so much picure area is covered that more movement is able to be absorbed, before it show up in the picture.
As with all rules, there are people who can routinely break them. Some folks with the coffee shakes could'nt get a sharp picture at half of the recomended speed, and others can, due to good technique, double the speed and get a sharp picture. Test for yourself and learn your "YOUR" threshold.
Equipment wise, smaller and lighter doesn't always mean less shake. Due to the principle of inertia, a heavier lens would attenuate shake more than a lighter one... it is harder to accelerate a heavy item.
#2. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 1jrp Charter MemberFri 01-Sep-00 11:14 PM
LAST EDITED ON Sep-02-00 AT 03:15 AM (GMT)
I fully agree with the above statement.
Somewhere else someone also reminded me of the sharpshooter
(sniper) technique: "inhale, exhale, heartbeat, shoot, heartbeat".
I could also add that even with this technique, and keeping the
elbows to my chest or bracing into a tree, I have managed to get "decent" pictures below 1/60 sec with a 50mm, but seldom on the 300mm with the shutter below 1/250, not to mention that never with the 600mm below 1/500.
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#3. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 2frankie Basic MemberSat 02-Sep-00 10:47 AM
The best thing to do is to experiment A LOT. You can work towards using a tele with very slow speeds. I used to shoot tonnes and tonnes of film at night, at speeds of 1/30-1/8 of a second to try and get my shake down. It didn't help that medically I was once on a special kind of medication that left me with terrible shakes for nearly 2 years after I was off it.
So with my F60, I was eventually able to take a picture at 1/15 of a second with an 80mm lens completely unsupported.
What I've found now that I have an F100, I can drop that lower limit to 1/8 of a second because of the better-dampened mirror.
Braced, I've managed to take a picture with my F100, leaning back against a wall at 1/2 a second.
It took A LOT of film to get there though, primarily because I still haven't found a good tripod to replace my old Daiwah...
#4. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 3geo Basic MemberFri 08-Sep-00 02:56 AM
LAST EDITED ON Sep-08-00 AT 09:38 PM (GMT)
I would like to add a few points of view.
Indeed, images can be blurred by camera shake, and the old rule of thumb applies. But, in my experience, cameras are not all alike. I used to get very sharp images with my old, superquiet Olumpus OM-1 and 400 mm. lens shooting at 1/250, aided by good technique. This is absolutely impossible to achieve with my FM2n. With that camera, I can get sharp images when I use a 105 or maybe a 180 mm. lens; from 300 mm. onwards, I have to use a tripod. It seems the shutter is not quiet enough (1/250 flash synch and aluminum curtains, vs. 1/60 flash synch and silk curtains, even though travelling 1,5 times the distance). It is because of this fact that I decided to give the F3 a try. The F3 does not have such a problem.
I am trying to figure out how the micro-blurring induced by mechanical camera vibes actually works. It seems to me that those vibes "shake the film" during exposure time. They should be concentrated during the first few milliseconds of exposure time, due to the need for the vibes induced by mirror and first shutter curtain movement to dampen out. This makes me think... that with fast shutter speeds, you will have all of the exposure time affected by microblurring vibes. With longer exposure times, only the first part will be affected... therefore, with good technique (hands not shaking the camera) you should get better results! If someone has any idea about this, please let me know!
Of course, another parameter to consider is how much sharpness you want. If one wants all the possible sharpness, he should use a sharp lens set at its best aperture in front of a sharp (slow) film, and sharp film + telephoto lens stopped down = tripod anytime. If one uses a zoom, he has to compensate the lack of speed with a fast film, and this means: worry less about camera shake. If the zoom is not one of those superexpensive fast pro zoom lenses supposed to equal a prime's performance at full aperture, worry even less.
In any case, one has to understand the right combination of: lens sharpness + aperture + ease of handheld use + film speed vs. sharpness + personal technique vs. tripod. Sharpness wise, it is useless to load a Velvia if its low speed forces you to shoot a telezoom wide open at 1/30. It is useless to use a 50 mm. prime set at f/5,6 in front of a 400 ISO slide film.
#7. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 4frankie Basic MemberFri 08-Sep-00 01:58 PM
>due to the need for
>the vibes induced by mirror
>and first shutter curtain movement
>to dampen out. This makes
Curtain differential doesn't apply here. Above sync speed, the curtains travel together with a variable width slit. This is why you can't have rear-curtain sync with FP sync enabled. Speeds of 1/250 and below actually operate in two stages for the actual exposure, then a third to "recock" the shutter. There are only two at 1/250 of a second.
>me think... that with fast
>shutter speeds, you will have
>all of the exposure time
>affected by microblurring vibes. With
>longer exposure times, only the
>first part will be affected...
Most of the shake is probably due to the mirror. I'm guessing that on the f3, with its horizontal focal plane shutter, the horizontal movement of the shutter is balanced by the verticle movement of the mirror.
#8. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 7geo Basic MemberFri 08-Sep-00 05:37 PM
Right. And thank you. Anyhow, at 1/250 with an FM2n (top flash synch speed), there will be an istant in which the first curtain has just stopped and probably induces vibes, while the second one is starting its run and the film is completely exposed.
Not quite sure about the F3. I think that it is just a most refined product, with a better damped mirror and a quieter shutter. Its flash synch speed is 1/80 with the curtain travelling for 36 mm. instead of 1/250 with a 24 mm. travel with the FM2n. The curtain speed on the FM2n should be about twice that on the F3.
#5. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 0
here is my _personal_ rule of thumb:
If the denominator in the sutter speed is less than
then I can have problems with sharpness.
E.g. if FocalLenght = 200mm
then I try to avoid sh.speeds slower than 1/600 sec.
It does not mean I suffer the Parkinson's illnes
it means that unsharpness will be less than 0.01mm on the film (the standard I try to follow) if I'm in normal physical condition (calm, not too tired etc). It means also that 35x40cm enlargement from the good film won't show the blur caused with the camera shaking.
It does not mean that I will not try to photograph if in the above example the available light and DOF required alow me only, say, 1/60 sec.
But I can figure out what to expect.
#6. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 5Merlin Basic MemberFri 08-Sep-00 06:39 AM
Just a quick practical tip - sometimes you'll be in a situation where you'll need a slow speed and a long lens, and of course, you just happened to leave your tripod in the garage...
If you can find a solid object to lean your camera against, like a lamp post, or a door frame, or a car, or even your gadget bag, you can get away with much slower speeds than the "rule of thumb". Try to avoid using a Coldstream Guardsman standing outside Buckingham Palace.
Another good technique is this: wrap the camera strap round your left hand a few times to get it as short as possible, and use your hand to squeeze the viewfinder against your head. Yes, it's uncomfortable - I'm not saying walk around all day like this (which would get you some very funny looks...) - but for a few seconds, you and the camera become one unit. Rock steady. And if you also apply JRP's rifle shooting method, 1/60th with a 300mm IS possible.
Of course, lying down in the street in the prone firing position, with a 400mm lens aimed at a visiting Prime Minister tends to be frowned upon. When they drag you away in handcuffs, just don't tell them you're a Nikonian, Okay?
#9. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 6Fri 08-Sep-00 06:46 PM
I was able to get a photo last week of a bald eagle using an F5 with a 80-200 mm F/2.8 with a Kenko 2X converter at a shutter speed of 1/60, aperture F/2.8 (F/5.6 with converter), 400 mm...hand held. Didn't have a choice no tripod. Yes, I shot off ten frames and only two came out focused.
(I should have the photos back tomorrow from the local pro shop who scans them on CD for me.)
I leaned my left shoulder against a tree, brought my left elbow basically to my belt buckle and locked my arm with the elbow pressing against my stomach. I also locked my right elbow against the side of my body. Then I did the inhale, breath and fire off ten shots, then watch the bird fly away.
"Take only photographs, leave only footprints"
#10. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 9BJNicholls Charter MemberFri 08-Sep-00 07:16 PM
I would only add that the "rule" offers a recommended minumum shutter speed for a given lens with handheld shots. If you can shoot at a faster shutter speed, by all means do it.
Even if you find you're capable of shooting with speeds slower than "the rule of thumb" (reciprocal of the focal length), knowing the rule is a good red flag to make you slow down and concentrate on keeping the shakes to a minimum.
#11. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 10nkcllewis Charter MemberSat 20-Jan-01 03:15 AM
I have taken shots with the 70-300 ED hand held at less than 1/250th of a second but I am always dissapointed in the image quality when I try to enlarge the image. I am an award winning marksman, have been for many years. I try to apply firearms shooting techniques whenever shoot with a telephoto. For the most part when handholding the 70-300, an image enlarged to 4x6 the shot looks good. At 5x7 I start to get concerned and by 7x9 it is obvious that I wasn't using a tripod. If you plan to sell the image, use a tripod or some other means of bracing, when shooting at less than 1/300 second. If you are taking snap shots, then by all means, handhold the 70-300 and shoot at whatever shutterspeed you feel comfortable with.
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#12. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 11Sat 20-Jan-01 03:17 PM
Sorry to hear about your photos coming out blurry. However, I agree with BJ. There are two many variances in this day and age to say that this rule you mention should be followed at all times.
Let me make a few friendly statements and ask a few questions?
The rule does not take into effect the length of the lens; the weight of the lens and camera setup; is there a place you can support your arms and/or body to help stabilize you and the camera/lens; general techniques on how to correctly hold a camera/lens, and yes; the strength of the persons arms, hands, shoulders, etc.
For an example, my Tokina 28-80 F/2.8 is larger and heavier than the Nikkor 70-300mm; however by this rule a person should use a shutter speed faster than 1/300 of a second with the Nikkor, but by the same rule it would be 1/80 of second with the Tokina.
Well, if you have someone who has used long lenses for years, has the 70-300 mounted to an N70, versus a newbie with a F5 and the Tokina mounted to it does this formula work?
The other question I would have is with internal focus zooms. Does this mean with my 80-200mm F/2.8 at 200mm I should never to slower than 1/200 of a second, while at 80mm I can go to 1/80 of a second? Lens size and weight stay the same throughout the zoom range.
I fully understand that a person must take into affect the angle of view of the lens used. The angle decreases significantly as the focal range increases. This causes any type of camera shake to be a heck of a lot more noticeable. I will also say I have blown some possible great shops with a long lens, and a slow shutter speed, and many times I have had to bracket to get the good shot. I will also say that the older I get, the rougher it gets, and I have just last year, purchased my first monopod. However, I hand-hold my 80-200 F/2.8 all the time, in all lighting conditions at all shutter speeds and apertures, and I have done this with and without the 2X converter. (A heck of a lot harder with the TC, I will admit.)
If the forumula of using the reciprocal of the lens works for you, that's great; however, there are many of use out there who have a friendly disagreement with this formula.
My recommendation for anyone starting out in photography is ask as many questions as you can, take all this information and digest it, then go out and try it out for yourself. Purchase a few rolls of inexpensive film at the local store, go out with your lenses and use that long lens at all shutter speeds and apertures. Try it with a tripod and/or monopod, without a tripod/monopod, freestanding, leaning against a tree, with the camera/lens resting on a rock, tree limb, top of a vehicle, etc.; then let the one-hour photo lab develope your film and sit down with a lupe or magnifying glass and compare the photos. This is the only way everyone will learn (including us seasoned photographers), for we are all different, and beginners at one time, and we will all blow the great shot at least once. I still do this with almost every new lens/camera I purchase.
--Take only photographs, leave nothing but footprints--
"Take only photographs, leave only footprints"
#13. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 12bgs Charter MemberSat 20-Jan-01 06:43 PM
Sound advices. Just like you, I tend to use my 80-200 on the F5 fairly often (at all lengths) w/o tripod and quite often at lower speeds. The weight of the combo itself introduce some stability. If I want to be sure that I don't get any shakes, I use a tripod.
Btw, I used to be a good marksman, but that was some years back.
Bo (Nikonian in the Black Forest/Germany)
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#14. "RE: Camera shake, shutter speeds and zoom lenses?" | In response to Reply # 13Sat 20-Jan-01 09:23 PM
>Btw, I used to be a good marksman, but that was some years back.<
Me too, back when I had to be.
--Take only photographs, leave nothing but footprints--
"Take only photographs, leave only footprints"