Blurred/dark camera on rostrum

edited February 2017 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
Hi, got my D3100 on a rostrum. Subject is B&W artwork under glass, and rightly lit!

But pictures are coming out very blurred and dark. What's going wrong? I've adjusted ISO from 100 to 400, but shutter speed went up to 1/500 from 1/125. Need to get this right, I will be taking a lot of pictures like this. This is my first attempt!


  • edited February 2017
    Artwork under glass will always be a problem, as reflection can be an issue, as well as light you cannot control, and proximity you cannot control.

    Just changing ISO with automatic metering will not change your overall exposure. If the image is too dark, you must compensate. If you want to stay automatic, try changing your metering mode to spot, and aiming it at the subject. The spot meter occupies the same space as the focus point and moves with it. Otherwise, get out of auto ISO and switch to manual exposure, and simply disobey the meter recommendation until you get what you're after.

    What focus mode are you using? Don't use multi-area, as that will try to find the nearest thing it thinks is a subject, which might not be your art work. Go to Single servo, single point, and aim that point at what you're after. Make sure you know where the point is, and recenter it with the [OK] button if it's strayed. If that does not work, go to manual focus. Make sure that the subject you want to shoot is within the focus range of the lens. If you're on a tripod, you can switch to Live View zoom in the rear screen to fine tune your focus. You can also try AF in Live View with the focus set to AFS. If the light is decent, the focus will be very accurate.

    If you're using a tripod, ISO and shutter speed can stay low with no worry. The best depth of field is with a wide angle and a small aperture. If you can, put your aperture at a middling point - f/8 is often the best spot for the kit lens. If you're shooting freehand, you'll have to keep shutter speed high enough to avoid camera blur, but that should not be too much problem. For sculpture in a case, especially in black and white, ISO should not be a problem, and it ought to be fine at 400 or even more. The finest detail and definition will be gotten at lower ISO, but some will be lost to the display case anyway, and it's much more important to avoid motion blur and to keep depth of field reasonable, so don't be a slave to low ISO. If you're in a difficult position, set the shutter mode to continuous, and take a burst of three or four shots. Often you'll get the best image in the middle of a burst.

    If the subject is in a glass case, try to get the camera as close as you can to the case itself. Obviously you sometimes cannot do this, as either the object will be too near to the camera, or it will not fit in the camera's field, or you simply aren't allowed to do it, but when possible get up close to minimize reflection. Move around to find the best compromise between the angle you want of the subject, and stray reflection. Depending on relative sizes and placement, sometimes you can stand between the light source and the subject, and provide some shade from glare, but make sure you don't end up showing on the glass. You can't always get it perfect, but you can often get it better. If you have a lens hood use it even if it seems silly in a dark place.

    Here, for example, is a link to one I took in Peru not long ago with a D3200. Owing to poor light, the settings are not ideal. It's ISO 3200 at f/4 and a fairly slow shutter speed, but the depth of field is OK at 25mm focal length. A D3200 is noisy at 3200 ISO, and worthless for scenery and wildlife at that setting, but as you can see, it's not so bad here.
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