Articles, Blog

Blurry Pictures–What Causes Them and How to Get Sharp Photos!

Every photographer has had to deal with
blurry pictures. The important part is that you
understand why your pictures are blurry so you can fix them. So today Tony and I are going to talk
about eight reasons that your photos are blurry and how to fix them. The first problem is that your pictures
are blurry all over with a bit of motion to them. Your problem is probably camera shake. To fix camera shake, one thing you should understand is the reciprocal rule. That’s just a fancy shmancy way of
saying that your shutter speed should be greater than your focal length. So if
you’re shooting at 50 millimeters, for example, your shutter speed should be
1/50th or greater. An easy way to deal with this is to switch your camera to
shutter priority mode. Make sure that your shutter speed is
your focal length or greater and then put your camera into auto ISO mode and
that should eliminate camera shake. Another way to eliminate camera shake is
to use image stabilization or you can work on your your technique with holding
the camera. You can prop your arms up against your body and that will help
eliminate camera shake. Or you could use a tripod. If you’re
still having problems with camera shake and you’re in a situation where you just
can’t fail, maybe you’re taking pictures of your
kids blowing out their birthday candles. You can just put your camera to auto
mode and that should take care of it for you. The second most common problem is motion
blur. With motion blur your subject isn’t holding completely still and you kind of
see their movement in the picture. As you can see still parts of the
picture sharp but the subject itself is blurry. This is really easy to fix. Just put your
camera into shutter priority mode and pick a shutter speed that’s fast enough
to freeze the motion. With people, like this, 1/60th is usually good. If they’re
playing sports, 1/250th or 1/500th. And wildlife, you want to be at 1/1000th or 1/2000th. So i’ll bump this up to 1/250th because Chelsea was
moving pretty fast and we’ll take another picture. I’m a constant sport. If your problem
is that the part of your photo that you focused on is in focus, but the rest of
your photo including the background is blurry, you probably just have a shallow
depth of field. That’s an easy fix you just need to raise your aperture
number. So if you have a low f-stop number like f/1.8, raise it to f/5.6 or
something higher. It’s a common problem when people buy a new
lens like a new 50 millimeter f/1.8, because they’re not used to working with
shallow depth of field. It’s one of the benefits of those lenses, but it’s also
one of the challenges. Another common problem is missed focus.
Especially when you’re using a lens with shallow depth of field, cameras aren’t
perfect and they often miss focus. let’s take a look at what happens To make sure you nail the focus every
time, use a single small focus point. And if you’re shooting people, place it on their closest eye. Also be sure
to take lots of pictures and refocus, because no camera gets focus perfect a hundred percent of the time. So let’s try that again. Another way to solve it is to use a higher f-stop number, just like you wanted to increase
your depth of field. Now let’s talk about air quality. We’ll
have to head outside for this and it’s pretty cold, so we’re going to bundle up. Alright, so this will be a good example
of what we- oh my gosh it’s way too cold out here. All right we’re ready let’s go. Alright, so the farther your subject is
from you the more haze and humidity and all that other air garbage there is
between you and your subject. Especially if it’s a hazy or foggy day, a subject that’s
far away it is going to appear slightly out of focus or not sharp. So I’ll take a picture of Tony not too
far away with this 50 millimeter lens to show you how it looks. So it looks nice and clear, he’s not so
far away. So Tony is going to move far away and
I’m going to keep him the same size in the frame, but use ah, this monster. Ok, so now Tony is the
same size in the frame but very far away so let’s see what happens. What about light quality? That could be
your problem. The softer the light, the softer your picture.
If you have hard light your picture will be sharper but you probably won’t want
that for a portrait. It is good for wildlife pictures, though.
One more thing that can cause problems is focusing systems that are misaligned
just a little bit. people often blame their focusing
problems on the camera, but it’s very rarely the problem. If you check chapter
5 in Stunning Digital Photography, we walk you through the entire process of
troubleshooting. And I know what you’re thinking, this video is great how do I
learn more from you two? We wrote a whole book, 9 hours of video
plus a community that will help you out with problems like these. So you think we’re great and you want to
support us by our book, Stunning Digital Photography. And don’t forget to click
subscribe for more free videos and please click like to share with your
friends. Thanks so much.


  1. El Calvo Zidane Author

    1:16 are you kidding me? calling auto mode when that's Aperture Priority, is this woman really a photographer? that camera doesn't even have auto mode.

  2. sohpol Author

    Does reciprocal rule apply to physical focal length of the lens or to the the "full frame equivalent" focal length? For example, if I use 50mm focal length on 1.5crop body (Nikon) am I good with 1/50sec shutter speed or should I bump it up to 1/75sec?

  3. prashant kumar Author

    i love ur videos Tony and chelsea….just one question last time I went for shooting with with my 55-250 lense only room lights were there so when I checked all the photos in my laptop my photographs were blurry. does using a flash can solve this problem?

  4. Steve Gerrrior Author

    Chelsea, you bring real personality to the videos. Tony, while very knowledgeable, is real stiff, so thanks for all your creative ideas, they make the videos much better.

  5. Daniel L Author

    Awesome video as always but I do have a question… what is that little, black & red, round thing hanging off the right side of your camera's strap ring at the 1:07 mark? I've seen those before in other videos but have no idea what they are. Thanks!

  6. Lucero Carroll Author

    Hi Tony & Chelsea! I have learned a lot with your videos thank you! I would like to buy one of your books, which one would you recommend? I'm a semi beginner and I would like to learn more.

  7. Mo Hashim Author

    Can you share the link to the video you mentioned in the end, Standard Digital photography Chapter 5. I couldn't find it in you channel. thanks

  8. Johnstergood Author

    Just right before the cut at 1:19 you can tell a 100% for sure they had an argue and she is pissed as hell and not supposed to show that but still does. Her body language is exactly like my girlfriends 😀 AMAZING !!!!

  9. Ankit Rawat Author

    can anyone suggest me a good lens for 700d i need a lens for 50mm portrait photography which gives us a good blurry background…

  10. Tony & Chelsea Northrup Author

    📚 Buy Our Books on Amazon! 📚
    📕Stunning Digital Photography:
    📘Lightroom 6 Book:
    📙Photoshop Book:
    📗Buying Guide:

  11. Paolo Cristofoli Author

    For crop sensors the reciprocal rule has to take care of the crop factor? I mean if I have a 50mm on a Canon APS-C the reciprocal number would still be 1/50 or 1/50*1.6?

  12. Evelin Rivas Author

    Hi I have a question I have a Camedia E-20 5.0 Megapixel, every time I take a picture it doesn't show it it just goes to the gallery how can I fix that?

  13. GrandeTaco Author

    Oh my, thanks for telling me about the reciprocal rule on focal length to shutter speed. I thought there was something wrong with the camera. My 300mm lens has no image stabilization, I thought the lens was bad. When forcing my shutter speed to 1/300 and greater the pictures came out sharp. (even on a t2i!)

  14. artemorbid Author

    This was really helpful, I struggle with this problem more often than I would like to think. I will be sure to use these suggestions next time I head out on a photo shoot.

  15. Shima Abraham Author

    Because I use a canon and they a Nikon, it's a little bit hard to follow. It will help more if you are able to tell what to use on other camera.

  16. Marco Andrade Author

    Thank you guys. Nice video, the only weird thing I noticed is that tony seems in a really bad mood or he doesn't like this or I don't know… Keep the good work!

  17. BizWiz Author

    I am so frustrated because I got a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon L 24-70f2.8 and the 70-200. In AV mode the shutter is always way too slow. This is crazy because it's too slow for a subject even if I used a tripod. I also have it set to minimum 250/S but it's not working.

  18. Mainak Dev Author

    Hey, nice video, love your content, can you please tell me what is the metadata of the photo you took at 3:15, i wanna know the aperture, Thanks

  19. Michael Angelo H. Author

    For the first rule, setting the shutter speed value the same or higher than your focal length, I think it could be simplified to using 1/60 or faster. This might be a primitive approach, but I've noticed that old cameras have that value marked as the point of being fast enough. I even have a camera that sounds an alarm if it's below that and stops as soon as it hits 1/60 or higher. I think you should be pretty safe from that point up, at least when you're stable enough.

  20. SakuraCrystalWulf Author

    For the air quality/distance problem, I think that's my issue, what can I do about it?

    My camera tells me that my point is in focus, but when I get around to putting the pics on my computer the photo is all fuzzy/hazy. I've tried changing around camera settings, and even using a tripod, but same result.

  21. Classic Man 90 Author

    Thanks so much for this video. The shutter speed tip just instantly solved my shot issues while using my new 80D. Bought the book last week, and I'll definitely be learning from it as I continue on this journey. Best videos for beginners like myself! ✌🏾

  22. Jacob Raji Author

    Guys if you have an aps-c sized sensor then the rule switches to roughly -> shutter speed = 1/(2*Focal length). Just letting Y'all know!

  23. Epsilon Theta Author

    There is nothing you can do about a blurry photo that's been already shot. Certainly you can't fix that photo. The only thing you can do to take another, properly. The title of the video is misleading. It should have been named – ''How to avoid making blurry shots''.

  24. Ken Haynie Author

    I love the practical application process of this video. I'm trying to put these principles into use, but I don't get as much free time as I want at the moment. So even though I'm working with a completely new body and lenses, it's much slower than I'd like, but I love your videos!

  25. Zipp4Everyone Author

    I love your videos. I went into learning photography about 4 weeks ago, coming from absolutely nothing (phone camera and three hours with a dslr about 10 years ago). Now i know what lens to choose, why i want an APSC sensor, focal distance, proper focusing, framing, light… Really, thank you! Whole heartedly!

  26. Meld Author

    Was at Vivid Sydney recently & I was too lazy to change settings. Most photos were 1/25 shutter, 5.6 aperture and auto ISO, These were my video settings. No flash. I had an LED light in my bag but I totally forgot that even had it. Doh! All I could think of during the night was how cold the wind was.

  27. Mark Pryborowski Author

    Hello Tony&Chelsea I have a new 70-200 f4 is canon should Iget more than a 1 out of 10 in focus photos . Iwas taking pics of a blue herin 30yrds and as close as 15 yrds and still had poor focus .

  28. Arjun.U Author

    Hi, I just want to know why smartphones macro shots look a lot sharper and have better image quality than a costly DSLR. I tried comparing with Canon 6D with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens and my Galaxy S7 edge. The images from my s7 camera looks a lot sharper and of high quality than the ones from the really expensive DSLR. I tried shooting with higher shutter speed to reduce any small hand shakes. The lighting was really good but still the s7 camera outputs was better.

  29. Tossed Salad Author

    I bought two lenses used off B&H. I know, they're used so it is what it is. I got a Sigma 50mm ex dg hsm and 85mm ex dg hsm. The 85mm is pin sharp and hits focus all day long. The 50mm however front focuses consistently. It isn't enough to catch in the viewfinder so at first I didn't notice. When I got the images into Lightroom and viewed them at 1:1 on a large monitor I saw it. You focus on the eye and it hits the tip of the nose. And this inconsistency is throughout the focus ring. Even when focusing to infinity it is a little fuzzy and you can see on the lens that it isn't quite hitting the infinity spot. I guess now I have to learn how to calibrate a lens. That or always manually focus which is pointless. So ill be looking for your video on how to deal with such problems!

  30. Romário Roges Author


  31. Philip Petrov Author

    Using the viewfinder instead of looking at the back screen helps a lot against camera shake. The head supports the camera well. Unless you are listening to metal music of course 🙂

  32. Sobano S Author

    I have done an odd experiment with 6D, SL2 Canon and MFT Lumix – where I am shooting close-ups and trying to evaluate how sharp the lens or sensors are – my comparison is based on me shooting FILM for many many years – and I am not impressed with digital sharpness. I've tried using autofocus as well as manual – and nothing compares to slide or color negative film sharpness – IMHO. AM I imagining things or is this also a complaint with everyone. I have used prime lenses, zooms, Canon, Tamron, Sigman lenses – and nothing is as sharp as film. I will say that out of the 3 cameras – the 6D produces sharper images than the SL2 or MFT. Any feedback is welcomed.

  33. Shreekar Srivastava Author

    Their is some kind of warning icon appearing on the viewfinder of of my canon 80d
    Sir can you tell me what it is? And how to fix it?

  34. looneyburgmusic Author

    I recently ran into a motion blur problem with my 5-yr old autistic son – With shutter speeds approaching 1/100th/sec I picked up a ton of blurring, especially with his fingers/hands. This boy just can't sit still for a microsecond, even if his life depended on it. At slower shutter speeds his entire body looked like it was vibrating.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *