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Old Nov 27, 2008, 8:29 PM   #1
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I'm having 50% success taking crisp pictures. Some situations disallow flash; the results of these are mostly blurry-pixely. I shoot mostly in Aperture mode. I took indoor shots (Aperture mode) with flash at a Thanksgiving dinner (lit fairly well), zoomed-IN with the results being very pixely/blurry considering the flash was used. Also ISO was set to Auto.

Can someone give me some basic advice for taking clear pics (w/o flash) and some hints on what settings to change when Zooming-IN? Does zooming effect final results?

In advance thanks!
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Old Nov 29, 2008, 1:12 AM   #2
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I have a 5700, so maybe most of this will be applicable to your situation.

Shooting in Aperture Priority Mode is okay, but you have to pay attention to the shutter speed the camera is using. With no zoom, you might be able to get away with speeds of, like, 1/60th sec' if you have a steady hand and your subject(s) isn't moving very fast. If you zoom out, you need to shoot at higher speeds because the longer the lens focal length the more it magnifies the effects of your own movements as you take the shot.

You said that: "I took indoor shots (Aperture mode) with flash at a Thanksgiving dinner (lit fairly well), zoomed-IN with the results being very pixely/blurry considering the flash was used. Also ISO was set to Auto."

The "blurry" could be caused by the things described above: not a high enough shutter speed to freeze your own/subjects motion. The "pixely" part could be caused by using too much zoom to the point where you activate the cameras digital zoom feature. If you aren't familiar with digital zoom, look it up in the camera manual. Getting into digital zoom will not give you as clean a result as shooting with optical zoom only.

Also, you say that you were using Auto ISO. This can dramatically increase the digital noise in a shot if the lighting is low enough that the camera starts raising the ISO past 200. These older Coolpix models don't produce clean images at higher ISO's like many of the newer cameras can.

If you want to find out what the camera settings were for all your pics, open them up in an editor that can display the camera's EXIF data. The software that came with the camera can probably do this. Then you can see the various settings the camera used on the good shots and on the not-so-good ones. Then you can try to adjust the camera to shoot with settings more like those in the good pics.
Like, if the pictures shot at 1/50th sec' are blurry, try the camera on Shutter Priority Mode and set the shutter speed to 1/125th sec'. If there are shots done at ISO's over 200 and look really grainy, set the ISO to 100. That might be the lowest ISO you have. Cameras produce their cleanest pictures usually at their lowest normally available ISO.

Yes, using the zoom can affect your shooting in lower light situations. Besides magnifying movement as mentioned earlier, the camera can't use its widest lens aperture when zoomed out. The wider the aperture the more light gets let in and the better you can shoot in dim light. Using the flash will certainly help, but the effective distance of the flash decreases when you zoom out.

To get the best pictures possible, you should always shoot at the lowest ISO setting and with a fast enough shutter speed to freeze camera shake and subject motion. Unfortunately, many times these conditions can't be met and you have to compromise. It's better to get a picture with a little bit of blur and a bit of noise than no picture at all. It's going to be up to you to decide how much noise and how much blur is too much.

Use the zoom as little as possible and try to use the flash if zooming out in low light.

Use the lowest ISO you can get away with, the fastest shutter speed you can get away with and the largest lens aperture you can. Something like a monopod can steady the camera well enough that it can reduce blur from camera shake, but it won't help with subject motion.

If you keep getting under exposure warnings from the camera, you need to compromise with your shutter speed and ISO settings -- using a lower shutter speed and/or a higher ISO. If you are shooting under conditions where you need an 800 ISO to give you a shutter speed that doesn't smear your subject all over the place, you need to either break down and use the flash or think about getting a newer camera better suited to shooting in low available light conditions.

I hope that some of this is helpful!

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