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Why are my night shots blurred?

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mpnuttall  791 forum posts United Kingdom6 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 11:52 AM

Hiya All

I've just got myself set up with my first SLR - a Canon EOS 350D with 18-55mm Canon EF lens.

I tried some night (well, late dusk) shots last night. I had the camera secured on a fairly substantial tripod and used the self timer to avoid camera shake when pressing the shutter.

I used full manual (AV and TV were exposing more than I wanted and losing the impact of the fading light) and tried a few settings, typically with a shutter speed of 3 seconds (ish) and aperture of around f4/f6 (ish). I kept the ISO fairly low (around 100/200).

The photos are far from pin-sharp when I zoom in on the LCD though (I haven't returned home yet to view them on a monitor). Blurry might not be the right word, maybe fuzzy, but they aren't well defined or crisp by any stretch of the imagination.

I'm something of a novice and am reading books and trying to teach myself as I go along but this has me stumped. Any ideas what I could be doing wrong?

Many, many thanks for any advice.


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Tooth  95772 forum posts Ireland227 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 11:55 AM

Were there moving clouds? they would register at the 3 second kind of speed....

Also ,you can't go too much by the LCD, you really do need to look properly on the monitor to properly judge

mpnuttall  791 forum posts United Kingdom6 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 12:09 PM

Thanks for the reply.

It was actually a street scene, with a building, road and a few trees in. There was some articial light from a streetlamp.

I appreciate that the LCD is very limited for reviewing the images, but when zooming in I am pretty sure that it isn't sharp when compared to my daytime shots.

Thanks again

20 Dec 2006 - 12:12 PM

Just a thought, I'm no veteran, but if you're using tripod and therefore exposure time isn't a problem, try using a smaller aperture and longer exposure. Maybe that with a relatively wide aperture of f/4 your depth of field is too shallow? If it was a scenic shot, look up hyperfocal technique using the search facility (basically involves focussing at a certain distance rather than on an object within the scene, and using the small aperture/ large epth of field to keep the whole scene in focus).

Another thought might be that the tripod isn't quite as rock-solid as you thought? Try weighing it down with a bag of stones or similar.

And if your camera has a noise reduction facility for long exposures, which I'm sure it will, make sure that is activated.

Hope some of that helps

Helpful Post! This post was flagged as helpful
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 12:29 PM

How di you focus it? I would have thought that if it is very dark the focusing could be suspect. I normaly manual focus using the distance scale on the lens and stop the lens to about f10. If your lens does not have a focusing scale it may be worth doing some distance settings in the day and marking it with a pen/tipex.

And remember the preview screen is not a good indication of quality. Were the photo's correctly exposed using the levels display?

Helpful Post! This post was flagged as helpful
20 Dec 2006 - 1:09 PM

Might I suggest using the timer on the camera for your shots instead of pressing the shutter on the body of the camera. This might help if the camera shakes slightly when pressing the shutter release.

spaceman  105166 forum posts Wales3 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 1:11 PM

Perhaps you live in a fuzzy area.

Morpyre e2 Member 91622 forum postsMorpyre vcard Wales8 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 1:19 PM

the answer is simple - your images are fuzzy due to your lens - the canon kit lens is crap quality - replace it with a better make like sigma or tamron - the canon kit lens is free because that is all it is worth

i used mine a couple of times in the early days of owning my 350D but 100% of the images were blurred compared to the photo's i took at the same time using my two sigma's and apart from a couple of slightly blurry ones most were 100% perfectly sharp

the night shot blur could be part due to exposure timing issues but i am confident it is the crap lens quality

peter "morpyre" turner

mpnuttall  791 forum posts United Kingdom6 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 1:20 PM

Thanks all (especially spaceman - although having had a quick check I can confirm that the area I live in does not appear fuzzier than the surrounding localities)

In reply to Strawman; I just focused it by turning the focusing ring until it looked sharp through the viewfinder (not very professional I know, but like I said, I'm still learning as I go!). My lens doens't have a focusing scale and I wouldn't know how to go about doing some distance settings. What does this involve? Should i always be focusing my pictures in this way when auto-focuing isn't available/desirable?

And regarding the exposure, I deliberately underexposed most of the pics after those with 'correct' exposure were much brighter than I was trying to get.

Thanks again for all your help.

20 Dec 2006 - 1:48 PM

I hope you understand this is all conjecture and suggestion, but if you upload an example you will likely get the answer fairly quickly along with what to do about it.

Mention in the description that you underexposed it on purpose.

20 Dec 2006 - 1:52 PM

After checking the lens it might be worth checking the hip flask - a cold night empties the hip flask and brings on out-of-focus images.


ade_mcfade e2 Member 1014812 forum postsade_mcfade vcard England216 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 2:09 PM



cable release or self timer


Depends what light there is. For motorway car light trails I start at about F11 for 15 seconds at ISO100, then up it or lower it from there.

I'd shoot manual at night - Av and Tv are easily fooled - if you get a streetlamp in the middle of the viewfinder, you'll have an underexposed shot.

If it's windy, you'll get blurred things - but edges of t buildings etc should be sharp.

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strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 3:38 PM

I think the comments about the lens you have are OTT and unfair. Stop it down to about F8 and providing it is not defective it should be capable of decent quality.

20 Dec 2006 - 3:41 PM

Quote: Nightshooting....


cable release or self timer

Ade forgot to add it has to be dark


mpnuttall  791 forum posts United Kingdom6 Constructive Critique Points
20 Dec 2006 - 3:52 PM

Thanks all

I'll give it another go and try and upload a couple of pics when i get back to my own computer - probably just after xmas.

It's nice to have some people to chat to about this stuff - nobody I know has any interest in photography let alone any knowledge.

Cheers again, Mark

PS. I appreciate that the lens that came packaged with my camera is not going to be the best quality available, but I'm sadly not in a position to fork out for loads of new stuff just now (I'd love a wide angle but its going to have to wait!) so i'll have to work with what i've got for the time being.

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