Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Motion Blur

At the Hive series 2-6
Originally uploaded by Dalantech.
Recently I wrote a post about diffraction, and how I think a lot of people blame it for soft images when the real problem might be motion blur or poor focus. From the reaction that I got you’d think that I stood up in a church and yelled “There is no God!”… ;)

Many of you argued that the flash duration, no matter how slow, is going to freeze motion –even thought the motion that I was referring too is no more than a few pixels (that’s all it would take to make an image look soft and you might not even recognize the effect as being motion blur). But then again some of those same individuals admit to bracing their cameras when they are shooting above twice life size because their images are sharper when they do…

So what’s the deal: Can the flash freeze everything or not?!

Nope, it can’t. I know from my own experience as a photographer that motion blur is a problem, especially when you’re not in full control of the flash duration. Since most of us shoot in E-TTL or some other automatic mode then we’re not controlling the flash, the camera is.

Want proof that the flash can’t freeze everything? Look no further than the image I’ve submitted with this post. The bee is using its wings to provide air conditioning to a bee hive in 37C (98F) degree heat. I took that shot at F16, 1/200 of a second, and ISO 100. I can shoot at 5x hand held at those same settings, and that image is only about one and a half times life size. It should have been easy for the MT-24EX to catch those wings, and yet they are a complete blur…

Granted that photo is an extreme example –that bee was pumping its wings so hard that you could put your hand next to it and feel the wind (I did). But I used it for this post because it’s easy to see the movement. Now imaging taking a shot and the subject moves just a few pixels during the exposure –it’s very possible when you look at those wings. Do you still think that diffraction is your biggest enemy when shooting at high magnification? I don’t.

You don’t have to use a tripod either –just look for ways to brace the camera…
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