Out of Focus

Mar 10, 2008
Westchester County, New York
Please understand that I am relatively new to photography and my question may seem somewhat vague. I own a D300 and was taking outdoor photo's of my wife and son the other day. I set the camera to aperture priority, 200 ISO and White Balance of direct sunlight. I took apicture about 15 feet from the subject and the results were somewhat out of focus. Upon review the camera setting indicated a shutter speed of 1/15 sec at f16. My other photos that were clear indicated a shutter speed of 1/30 sec. This was a rather sentimental photo and I am disapointed with the results. What am I doing wrong and what should I do in the future to prevent this from happening again?
Feb 22, 2005
You set your aperture to f16. When you are shooting in A priority, it is your job to check the shutter speed in the viewfinder. If it is too slow, you have to make an adjustment to the aperture or ISO to increase it. With DSLRs with a crop factor (ie, DX format) I have found that I need a shutter speed of 1/(1.5X the focal length). For example, a focal length of 100mm would mean a minimum shutter speed of 1/150 sec by that formula. This is a guide as some people can hold steadier than others. This is a modification of the 35mm rule of 1/focal length due to the 1.5 crop factor.
I'm not sure that it was a focus issue, it seems more likely that any softness was motion blur due to too slow a shutter speed.
In the future, try a more reasonable aperture setting, f8 should suffice, and check the shutter speed in the viewfinder before you fire off the shot.
Jun 15, 2008
Yep, just to clarify the above, it was not out of focus. It was blurred because you had camera shake.

Aperture priority is a useful mode, particularly suited to deciding how much you want in focus. People pics often don't look as good when the background behind them is in focus, so we can open the aperture (which mean a lower f number, more like f4). If you had used f5.6, that would have let in 3 times as much light (for the same shutter speed) than your f16 - so your camera would have adjusted the shutter speed to 1/125.

What lens did you use? It isn't strait forward to get a clear pic at 1/30 sec, unless you have a lens with VR.
Jan 26, 2005
Marysville, WA
I totally agree with with the two esteemed gentlemen who have already responded.

As a general suggestion, the more information you can give along with your question is helpful. In this case, knowing the lens you used would be very helpful. As noted, use of a VR lens can get you anywhere from 2 to 4 stops of "help" when hand-holding. And even better, posting an image really helps a lot.

The last thing to mention is practice. As you have already seen, 1/30th seems to have worked well, continue to work to steady yourself.

And remember, the D300 is pretty darned good at higher ISO's, so don't be afraid to use that as well.

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