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chrisA Mar 27, 2008 5:55 PM

Hi - I am new to the group and have a question about my new Nikon D40. I bought it to shoot my twin boys (age 1). They can't even walk that fast and about 90% of my shots are blurry. I know a little bit about photography but not too much. I set it on the sports setting and it doesn't help. The problem is they move, then stop, move, then stop so it is hard to even know if I should have it on the sports setting. I have the flash turned off and an indoors but the light looks fine. They are all just blurry. I have heard this is such a great camera and know I must be doing something wrong. Any suggestions?

granthagen Mar 28, 2008 12:42 AM

That's a common problem with many people trying to get indoor available light shots of kids. Most likely, even though the light looks good to your eyes, it doesn't look as good to the camera sensor.

Sports mode is a good bet, but it isn't cutting it. There just isn't enough light to get you a shutter speed fast enough to freeze those twins. You have to either turn your flash on or turn up the ISO setting. Turning up the ISO will make the camera amplify the signal from the sensor more than it is now, letting you use higher shutter speeds. The drawback to higher ISO settings is increased noise in the picture. By all accounts the D40 has very good high ISO performance, but different people have different tolerances for image noise. Try taking some test shots of the same object/scene at different ISO's and compare the image quality. Then you'll see how high you can go and still get image quality that you can live with.

If you don't like the results of the built-in flash, you can get flash diffusion accessories that give a softer, more natural look while still adding plenty of light to the scene. Dedicated flash units that you can mount off-camera can give even better performance.

If you have software that can read the EXIF data from your pictures (things like the shutter speed, lens aperture, ISO and other camera information), you can see the shutter speeds used on the blurry pictures and the ones used on the sharp pictures. Then put the camera in Shutter Priority mode and set the shutter speed that gave you the sharp pictures as a starting point. It could be that the shutter speeds in the blurred shots and the sharp shots are the same, and that the only reason that the sharp ones are sharp is that the subject wasn't moving very fast when the picture was taken. In this case, set the camera to Shutter Priority and set the shutter speed to 1/250 sec. and, based on the results, adjust it up or down from there.

I don't know what the fastest shutter speed is that you can use with the flash, but you have to either add more light (flash) to the scene or jack up your ISO to allow a shutter speed high enough to freeze the motion of those kids. Exactly how you choose to go about it is up to you.

Feel free to post any additional questions!


chrisA Mar 28, 2008 9:29 AM

Thank you for the reply! I tried increasing the ISO and the I got some in-focus shots that were good quality. The lighting in here is not very good so I understand the problem.

What is the difference between raising the ISO (to be able to achieve faster shutter speed) and just increasing the shutter speed itself? Is it an either/or or is it best to do both?

Nagasaki Mar 28, 2008 10:11 AM

The sensor needs a certain amount of light to create the image. The higher the ISO the more the signal is amplified so the less light needed. This can cause some problems with noise in the picture but from what I remember of the reviews the D40 handles this well.

If you increase the shutter speed you need a bigger aperture, smaller F number. You get to a point where you are at the amximum aperture on your lens and the shutter speed is still not as fast as you need. You could put the camera on manual and keep increasing the shutter speed but your shots will be under exposed. Increasing the ISO allows you to increase the shutter speed and still get a good exposure.


JohnG Mar 28, 2008 11:38 AM


everything here is good advice. As a sportsshooter who does a lot of lowlight sports and as a parent of a 19 month old my advice is:

buy an external flash. You're not going to freeze the action of your babies without it. Well you could freeze it with the built in flash but the built in is really not great (isn't great on any camera). You want an external flash because it's more powerful, recycles faster and you can bounce the light off a wall or ceiling to get better results than you'll ever get with direct flash.

You can spend a lot of money on expensive prime lenses (f2.0, 1.8, 1.4) - most of which your camera wont autofocus with and in the end they are still likely not going to be enough. I can shoot at ISO 6400 and f1.8 and it isn't enough to freeze my child's motion. So save yourself a lot of money and agravation and buy an external flash.

mtclimber Mar 30, 2008 4:25 PM

I agree 100% with JohnG!

An external flash is an excellent investment. It will allow you touse bounce flash lighting which is very pleasing. When necessary it can give you the light you need in your photo, even if it is 30 to 40 feet away and you are zooming to get the photo.

When you learn to take advantage of a good external flash your photos will measurably improve. This sample photo shows the nice soft light that bounce flash can add to your photos.

Sarah Joyce

chrisA Mar 30, 2008 9:02 PM

Thank you for all of the input. This was very helpful!!

Valleyjim Mar 31, 2008 4:27 PM

The Nikon 400 external flash is a perfect fit for the 40, 40x and all the other nikon dslr's.

Because of it's size, it just seems to fit the smaller cameras better than the 600 or 800 with more than acceptable performance.

Bynx Mar 31, 2008 8:39 PM

After all this great advice if your pictures are still fuzzy I suggest you leave your lens cap on. I guarantee there will be no more fuzzies after that.

rjseeney Apr 1, 2008 5:00 AM

Valleyjim wrote:

The Nikon 400 external flash is a perfect fit for the 40, 40x and all the other nikon dslr's.

Because of it's size, it just seems to fit the smaller cameras better than the 600 or 800 with more than acceptable performance.
The problem with the SB400 is it is relatively underpowered and is only slightly cheaper than the SB600.

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