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Why is this blurry?

edited August 2015 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Here's a Flickr address for a photo I recently took (see here) . I had reset the camera menu to factory, put the focus on automatic and the camera dial on automatic, with VR on. I had anticipated far more detail and a much more "crisp" look to the picture. Does anyone agree, or am I getting fussy?

I'm heading off to Burning Man today. I love photography, and would love to know ASAP.

Thanks in advance!!

Stan F.

Comments

  • edited August 2015
    It looks as if the automatic focus may have chosen the mother's face instead of the baby's. Multi point focus has a face recognition feature, and it tends to look for the closest face.

    It's hard to analyze here, because Flickr edits out the EXIF information for the shot.

    If you open up the camera's playback menu, you can enable the feature that gives you all the information on a shot. Many computer programs give you that information too, and it's very valuable for trying to figure out what may have gone wrong.

    But often I think, "auto" puts the shutter speed rather low, and if you are not holding the camera very steady, you'll get motion blur. In addition, multi-point focus does not always guess the best focal point.

    For myself, I prefer a single focal point to start with. When possible, use the center point which is more sensitive ([OK] button centers it when it's gone off). If you use "A" and "dynamic area" it will work pretty well most of the time for both still and moving subjects. If you are focusing on a still subject and want to recompose with the subject off center, switch to S and single point.

    I also find it nearly impossible to shoot freehand in Live View mode, and much easier to hold steady in viewfinder mode. I never use Live View except for manual focus fine tuning on a tripod.

    In a shot like the one shown, try to put your focus right on the baby's eyes. Always aim for the eyes, because if they're off, perception immediately says "out of focus." If the eyes are sharp, perception says "in focus" even if much of the rest of the face is out. There are exceptions, of course, but that works most of the time.

    If you want a degree of point and shoot animation, but more control over things like focus mode, ISO, and the like, I suggest you switch to "P" mode. If you put it in P and leave ISO at auto, with a starting point of 100, you'll have pretty complete automation, but you'll still be able to control many settings. If you need depth of field control, switch to A mode, for aperture priority. The camera's meter will set shutter speed. Once you're used to manipulating values, you can achieve most of what you want fast with A mode and manual ISO, but for speed, P and Auto ISO work well. The P mode selects a combination of shutter speed and aperture that tends to favor a higher shutter speed. If you move the camera's adjustment wheel in P mode, you can vary this, but it usually chooses pretty well.

    The more you understand about the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO, the better off you'll be. Somewhere in the general discussion forum you'll see a post by former forumite @Ohyeahar in which he links to a pretty clear demonstration of this.
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