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Camera shake when all seems firm

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by eruanto, Jan 10, 2019 at 9:27 PM.

  1. eruanto

    eruanto New Member


    So I have a little problem, for which I could do with some assistance.

    I have a Nikon D3300, and recently bought a long lens (Nikkor 55-200) to use on it. I noticed that photos taken on location - with a tripod - tended to be blurry, so I tested the setup out under more stable conditions.

    I.e., I set up a photo indoors of an outside subject, so obviously no wind to worry about.
    I opened the tripod up as little as possible, as I read about the camera being less stable the more that the tripod is opened.
    I set up the shot, then tightened all the moving parts of the tripod so it was firm.
    I auto-focused on the subject ok through live-view, and used a two-second timer.

    And this is a section of the resulting image:


    Now, I'm pretty new to photography but it looks like the camera is still managing to move while the shot is taken.
    Is it that the tripod is not sturdy enough for the job? Mirror slap? Or something else?

    Here is some information about the shot:

    Shooting mode: Aperture priority
    Shutter speed: 1/50
    Aperture: F11
    ISO: 100
    Focal length: 200mm
    VR: off

    The tripod is a Sobrovo 60 inch

    Any help would be much appreciated :)
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Two main possibilities. One you moved it. Use a cable release if you can. If not try the camera self-timer. If the lens hasn't a tripod mount then mounting camera and long lens using the camera mount is very susceptible to vibration. Second, with a DSLR, the movement of the mirror itself can cause vibrations, especially with the set up above. The camera should have a mirror-lock up function. This raises the mirror. You can wait for vibrations to die away, then release the shutter, again using a cable release. Alternatively use liveview if the camera supports it.

    Unlikely but it is always possible to nudge the tripod unintentionally and they can "ring"
  3. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Since you used the 2 seconds self timer, possibly the camera and lens were still vibrating from your pressing the shutter release button to start the self timer.

    I downloaded the D3300 manual and see that you have the choice of 2, 5, 10 and 20 second I delay. I would try again with the 10 and 20 second settings. I also looked for 'mirror lock up' but the manual only mentions this in relation to cleaning the sensor.

    I cannot find 'cable release' in the index, but there are references to a 'remote chord' that fits an accessory socket on the body, and a 'wireless remote control'. I would try to find one of these so that you can remove the risk of starting the camera and lens vibrating when you fire the shutter.

    If none of the above cure the problem, then you need to look at the tripod. I've also found the Sobrovo 60 tripod on Amazon and whatever the makers say, it may not up to the job of supporting your camera body and this lens when at its 200 mm setting if the tripod is fixed to the screw under the camera body. However much you tighten the tripod head, the camera body and lens may still move as the weight of the extended lens pulls it downwards (this is why some long lenses have tripod screw mounts on them so that the tripod can be attached to the lens so that the camera body and lens combination can be supported near its centre of balance). One way to test this is to try a shot with the lens at is 55 mm setting and see if you have the same problems on the image, or try a lighter lens (the 18-55 kit lens perhaps).

    A few years ago I had to replace and old tripod because of a problem like ours: it had a fixed pan and tilt head, but the weight of an 18-250 lens at longer focal lengths made the camera body and lens slowly tilt downwards. I had to replace it with a heavier tripod that allowed me to by a separate head, and got a 'heavy duty' ball and socket head.
    If you want to try a different tripod, you could consider a secondhand one from one of the regular advertisers in AP (have a look at their websites).
  4. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I've no idea where you got that. Any support will be better the wider its baseline. The narrower the baseline the less stable the support will be so doing what you said is probably part of your problem. Also: a tripod needs mass. It should be heavy enough to soak up any vibration from the camera and to resist any external forces like wind or touching. Rigidity can be a delusion if the result is you have something so tight it vibrates like a violin string. I looked up the Sobrovo and it looks like a typical lightweight tripod. I'd guess that with more than 1 section extended it exhibits all the defects of such things.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  5. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I looked up the Sobrovo too and I agree it didn't look the most convincing support. However, it is true that the quality of support diminishes the more the tripod is extended. Specifically the lowest leg sections tend to be less rigid than the upper ones and raising the central column more than a small amount is asking for trouble. I'd consider a Manfrotto 055 as a benchmark - if the tripod wobbles more than one of those with the column down then it's likely to give problems.
  6. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I read it to mean that the legs of the tripod hadn't been extended to their full height as I've also read that the taller you make your tripod the less steady it will be. However it's possible that's not what was meant. I take stuff liket hat with a bit of a pinch because sometimes you need the tripod at full height so you just have live with that tiny bit of instability and mitigate against it with weight added perhaps.

    I'll be honest I suspect the issue might be more to do with your focusing than on movement from the tripod. Or perhaps a combination of the two. I don't know your camera but I'd try manual focus, not using live view.
  7. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    How much of the frame is this from? It certainly doesn't look sharp, but if it is from part of anything that would have been approaching A3 or larger you cannot really expect a budget lens to be able to resolve fine detail to this level. Also tele-zooms usually suffer a clear drop in performance at the longer end, this being taken from a part of a frame at 200mm. I suspect you may be expecting more than the lens is able to deliver. My own assessment of any lens is whether it can produce a good A3 print, rather than pixel-peeping. It also depends which part of the image the section is taken from, the centre is usually the sharpest and the edges the poorest.

    What quality settings are you using on the camera? I notice you are using an iso setting of 100, a better idea might be to increase it to 200 or 400 to allow a faster shutter speed, at least that should reduce or eliminate camera shake, most cameras used to be optimised for 200iso anyway, I don't know whether this is still the case. Finally is this straight off the camera, or have you done some post-processing? Images generally need sharpening if nothing much else. I take it that you didn't shoot this through an unopened window!
  8. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Quite right. I was taking what the OP wrote literally but I can see I might have been wrong.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  9. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    That's how I read it

    I find it true. I use a right angled finder and the tripod at a low level rather than raise to eye-height. I ditched the centre column extension as dead weight.

    Can do - but I've never found it very practical.

    Come to think of it the example given looks more like horizontal movement than focus error - maybe the tripod was knocked.

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