Digital Night Photography

Reduce Camera Shake with Special Lens

SUMMARY: A special lens may help you take better night photos by reducing 'camera-shake'.


Obviously a tripod or other stabilizing device makes taking digital photographs at nighttime much easier. With a stabile digital camera you can take longer exposures that make up for the reduced lighting, and these photos should not suffer from the dreaded "camera shake". The built-in or a shoe mount flash can also help in some situations.

However, there are times where your subject is too far away and too large to be affected by flash. Perhaps you are shooting panoramic photos on top of a skyscraper, and your flash unit is simply not going to illuminate buildings miles away. Or, you may be taking photos in an urban environment and tripods may be bulky or simply not allowed.

If you use a digital SLR camera, you know that lenses with lower f/stop numbers can allow more light to enter the camera, meaning you can take a photo with a shorter exposure time. Another option is to buy a lens with specific technology that can help reduce the effects of camera shake, such as:

* Nikon: Vibration Reduction (VR) (more info)
* Canon: Image Stabilizer (IS) (more info)

What does this mean? If you can shoot a hand-held image at nighttime at 1/250th of a second without the photograph experiencing camera shake, you should be able to shoot the same image with a 3-stop stabilizing lens at 1/30th of a second. A 4-stop stabilizing lens could, in theory, let you hold the digital camera for a whole 1/15th of a second. Results can vary between lenses, subjects, camera zoom, how sturdy you hold your digital camera, etc., but you can see how this could result in quite an improvement!

Details and examples of how these technologies can help can be found on a variety of sites including KenRockwell.com - "Why IS and VR Matter".

Return to the Digital Night Photography page.

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