|How Steady Are Your Hands?|
The ‘best lens’ in the world (if there was any such thing) would no longer be the best if your shooting techniques are poor.
There can be several reasons for your pictures not being sharp – poor focussing, poor lens contrast, poor lens resolution, subject movement, and camera movement.
The biggest culprit is often the camera movement during ex-posure. Camera movements increase with slow shutter speeds. Please, once and for all, get it out of your head that you can shoot at low shutter speeds and get sharp images all the time. That is why professionals and advanced amateurs use a steady tripod whenever possible. But for the purpose of this article, we shall assume that using a tripod is not possible or is not al-lowed. We shall also refrain from using the advantages offered by image stabilisation systems. In such a scenario, you need to know how low can you go on your shutter speeds before the hand-shake-dragon gobbles you up.
First decide the genre of your interest; is it macro photography, function photography, street photography, or nature and wildlife photography? Each genre requires different focal length lenses, (with lens weight varying from a few hundred grams to a few kilograms), and as such, the lowest shutter speed for hand-held photography will differ.
Here is a simple rule of the thumb which will suggest you the lowest shutter speed for hand-held photography with whatever lens you may use:
1. Check the focal length. Let us assume it to be 200mm.
2. Next, consider the crop factor for the sensor size. We shall consider three crop factors – 1.6x (as with some Canon D-SLRs), 1.5x (as with some Nikon D-SLRs, and 2x (as with Micro Four Thirds ILCCs). With the Canon, the effective focal length would be 320mm, with the Nikon, 300mm; and with the Micro Four Thirds bodies, it would be 400mm. With full-frame camera bodies, there is no crop factor and hence the effective focal length does not change.
3. Now use the shutter speed which is the reciprocal of the effective focal length. Hence, the lowest shutter speed for the Canon would be 1/320 sec; for the Nikon, 1/300 sec, and for the MFT bodies, it would be 1/400 sec.
Now let’s add a 2x teleconverter to our 200mm lens. The Canon will now have an effective focal length of 640mm; the Nikon will be equivalent of 600mm. Currently, there are no teleconverters for MFT bodies. The lowest shutter speeds for hand-held photography will change accordingly.