Sharper photographs by following this simple rule

You can do a lot in Lightroom or Photoshop, but even with tools such as the Shake Reduction filter it is still nigh on impossible to recover a shakey photo. But by following one simple rule you can dramatically reduce on the number of shakey shots you capture.

The rule is a simple one – take a look at the focal length of the lens you are shooting with then use one over this number as the minimum shutter speed. So, for example, if you are shooting at 50mm, then you minimum shutter speed should be 1/50th of a second. If you are shooting with a 500mm long lens then the shutter speed should be no slower than 1/500th of a second. At the other end of the spectrum, if you are shooting with a 15mm fisheye then you can go as low as 1/15th of a second.

To hit these minimums you would adjust your f-stop and ISO accordingly.

I find this rule worth following when using a tripod if it’s windy.

The longer the focal length the faster the shutter should be. This is because the more you zoom in on an image, the more any shake or vibration shows up.

Some take this rule further and say that the minimum shutter speed should be one over twice the focal length. Now if you are shooting at 50mm the shutter speed should be no lower than 1/100th of a second, and at 500mm it would be no slower than 1/1000th of a second. A 15mm fisheye would need 1/30th of a second on the shutter if following this rule. This should give you an even sharper image, but it is harder to achieve under suboptimal conditions.

Again, to hit these minimums you would adjust your f-stop and ISO accordingly. If you find holding the camera steady tricky, then shortening the shutter speed will help tremendously.

Do you always have to follow this rule? Of course not! If you’re good at holding a camera then you might have no problems shooting with a 500mm lens at 1/250th of a second (learn to brace the camera into your body and face rather than just holding it, and press the shutter button smoothly rather than jabbing at it). Also, if you have a tripod or a lens with vibration reduction/image stabilization then you can also put the envelope of these rules.

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