ELIMINATING CAMERA SHAKE: HOW FAST IS FAST ENOUGH?
We all know that we need a fast shutter speed to freeze a fast moving subject. But even when the subject is not moving, a hand-held camera can still cause a blurred image. It doesn’t matter how strong or steady you think you are, a little bit of camera shake can ruin a good photo if the shutter speed is too slow. So when it comes to eliminating camera shake, how fast is fast enough?
When you zoom in with a large lens, you don’t just make the subject bigger. You also reduce the angle so that you are shooting into a smaller ‘window.’ And the smaller that window becomes, the more it can be effected by camera shake. So the larger your lens, the faster your shutter needs to be.
A good rule of thumb used by many photographers is that your shutter speed should be faster than the number indicating the focal length. So if you are using a 100mm lens, your shutter should be faster than 100th/sec. With a 200mm lens, shutter speed should be faster than 200th/sec. 500mm, 500th/sec and so on.
Remember that with wildlife you often don’t get as close to the subject as you would like so photos often require some cropping. If the outlines in your photo are not sharp, that only gets worse when you crop and enlarge. In fact it is so important to keep your photos sharp, it is not uncommon to photograph your wildlife subject at higher ISO settings to allow for a faster speed – especially if the light is low. Yes, that can mean a ‘noisier’ image, but which would you prefer…a photo that is a little noisy but sharp, or a photo that is noise-free but blurry?