These guidelines are intended to help you start to figure our why your camera is not performing properly or why your images don’t come out as you intended. These are starting points to look at but the possible solutions discussed here may not solve your problem.  Another resource may be found in your camera manual. The names of functions will vary from camera to camera.  We will accept no liability for any damage caused by trying to implement these solutions. Email us at customersupport@shdlearning if you are still having problems or you have a problem we have not addressed. We may be able to refer you to another source of information.  You must be registered on the site with all of the profile questions filled out to have a question answered.

 Your camera will not auto focus?

  1. Check to see if the auto focus switch is in the Auto or Manual mode. Some AF switches are on the lenses and others are located on the camera body. You must be in the A position to use the auto focus capabilities.
  2. Each lens has a minimum focus distance. You can find this information in your lens manual or online at the lens manufacturer’s website. Make sure you at least that far away from the subject your camera is trying to focus on.
  3. Some subjects are difficult to focus on. If your camera is “Hunting” for focus, it may be because the camera has no detail to “grab” on to. The object your camera is trying to focus on must not be too bright or too dark and must have some detail or texture to focus on.
  4. If you have multiple objects in the scene at different distances from the camera and you have your Auto Focus Points set up in an array, the camera will focus on the closest object touched by an active AF point. If this object is not the object you want to be in focus and you have a very limited Depth of Field you may not get the shot you want. See lesson DP-111C to learn more about this issue.
  5. Shooting through a chain link fence may confuse the camera focusing system and you may have to switch to manual focus to focus on a subject beyond the fence. Remember to make sure your viewfinder diopter is properly set before relying on the viewfinder for manual focus. See lesson DP-104C and review the segment on the diopter for more information.

 Do you have motion blur or a lack of sharpness in your image?

There is a difference between motion blur and a lack of sharpness in an image. Identifying which issue is causing a problem is the first step toward rectifying that problem.

  •  Motion blur is associated with movement and is a shutter speed / subject movement / camera movement issue.
  • Sharpness is associated with focal points and depth of field and is affected by your f stop (aperture), distance from the camera to the subject and lens focal length.

Review the following scenarios to find out more.

You have motion blur in an image when you wanted a sharp image. (Situation #1)

You must handhold a camera and shoot a scene with Low Light Levels and you can’t or don’t want to modify or increase the light levels.

The most likely cause of the motion blur in this situation is a combination of handheld camera movement and/or a slow shutter speed caused by the low light levels. Look at the metadata to see what your shutter speed was for that image.

Discussion: The minimum recommended shutter speed rule of thumb is based on the focal length of the lens. The rule of thumb states that the slowest shutter speed should be as fast or faster than 1/lens focal length.   For a 100 mm focal length lens, this would be 1/100 of a second. This is a starting point. If the low light levels cause your camera to choose a shutter speed which is slower than the recommended handheld rule of thumb to get an adequate exposure, you will probably introduce motion blur into your image.  Image stabilization will allow you to handhold at a slower shutter speed. Also remember that the camera crop factor will also impact this recommended rule of thumb. See lesson DP-113 Shutter Speed for more information on recommended minimum shutter speed and the impact of the crop factor.

You might also review lesson DP-115C Light and exposure to review how low light levels affect shutter speed.

Possible Solutions:

First determine what is causing the motion blur. Handheld camera movement, slow shutter speed due to low light levels or both. If the issue is handholding the camera, switching to a shorter focal length lens and getting a little closer might help.  Assuming the light low light levels are the problem and you can’t or don’t want to increase the light levels, you will probably need to increase the shutter speed. The shutter speed can be increased by increasing the ISO. There are issues and limits associated with this. First, depending on the ISO, you might get more digital noise introduced into the image. Secondly there is a limit as to how high you can go with the ISO. See your camera manual for those limits.

This possible solution assumes that you cannot use a tripod due to space restrictions, trip hazards, local rules against tripod use etc.


You have motion blur in an image when you wanted a sharp image. (Situation #2)

You must handhold a camera and shoot in low light levels. As a result you are getting motion blur in your image.

If you can increase the light levels, do it.  This solves a lot of problems. How you increase the light levels is another issue. You could bring up the house or ambient light, add flash etc. Check before you start changing lighting levels, particularly when shooting with flash. Some locations do not allow the use of flash systems. Some of those include some museums, plays etc.

If you are shooting outside you might consider coming back when the lighting levels are higher. But this might entirely change the look and feel of the image.

This possible solution assumes that you cannot use a tripod due to space restrictions, trip hazards, local rules against tripod use etc.


You have motion blur in an image when you wanted a sharp image. (Situation #3)

You are handholding a camera in a low light situation and you can’t change the light levels.

If you have the option and have one available, use a sturdy tripod. This eliminates any handheld camera movement issues and low light issues. The only motion blur you might encounter will be from objects moving through the scene.


Your images of snow scenes are gray.

If you are shooting in aperture priority mode, use your camera’ Exposure Compensation system to increase the exposure by one or more stops to get the snow to be white. Conversely use Exposure Compensation to decrease the exposure by one or more stops to make a dark scene dark. See lesson DP-118C Exposure Compensation for a more complete description of this process.


Your images are not sharp.

Make sure that the camera is focusing on the subjects that you want to be sharp and that you have an adequate Depth of Field. Also make sure your Auto Focus (AF) points are properly set up. Also make sure your Auto Focus switch is turned to A for Auto.  See lesson DP-111C Focus for more information.


 Your flash keeps firing when you don’t want it to.

You may be shooting in a program mode such as Portrait, Sports, A (Auto) or P (Program). The camera is in control and will do what “IT” thinks is right. In most cases you have very little input as to how the camera operates in these modes.  If you want to control what he camera does, you will need to change to a creative mode such as Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual Mode. To understand how to use the creative modes, you will need to invest some time in understanding how the aperture and shutter work etc. If you have not done so already, enroll in our online classes to gain that knowledge.


When using aperture priority mode, why is your shutter speed so slow when using flash?

The camera is metering the scene without considering how much light the flash will contribute. So if the scene is dark and needs flash the camera is thinking you need a slow long exposure to adequately expose the shot. You might try manual mode and do few test shots with the flash. This is where an incident meter is very handy.


How do you get a backlit subject properly exposed?

Add light to the front of the subject with a flash, reflector or some other light source.


How do you see the “Blinkies” on your camera LCD?

The technical term for “Blinkies” is Highlight Alert on many camera systems. The highlight alert tells you if any areas in the captured scene are too bright or too dark and have lost detail. This information is viewed on your LCD monitor. Those portions of the image which have lost highlight or shadow detail may blink a certain color to bring your attention to those areas. You can use exposure compensation to correct this situation if you need to shoot an image without the detail being lost in those areas.  You may also have to toggle through various LCD screens to find and display this information on your camera. See Lesson DP-116C Histograms and Highlights to learn more.


You can’t change your camera file type to RAW.

Assuming your camera will shoot in the RAW file format, many cameras will not allow you shoot in that file format unless your camera is set to a creative mode such as Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual mode.


You forgot your tripod and you need a stable shooting platform.

There are a number of ways to minimize handheld camera movement. One is to use the shortest focal length lens you can use and still get the composition you want. Another issue relates to breathing and pushing the shutter button at the right time. Other possible solutions include using various shooting positions, other than standing, that will provide a better support system to minimize camera movement. See Lesson DP-113 C on Shutter Speed for more information on shooting positions. You might also look at the minimum rule of thumb shutters speeds recommended for your focal length lens, image stabilization and ISO.