Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I have an old digital camera (A Fuji Finepix 6900Z) that, in automatic mode, tends to produce extremely blurry images, especially under slightly darker lighting conditions, most of the time but not all the time - in the example below, nine out of ten shots came out blurry, and one half-way okay (I was moving while taking the images). I did not use a Flash.

The less light there is, the more consistently bad the quality becomes, always with the characteristic blurring as if a huge exposure time were set.

Blurry example: http://i.stack.imgur.com/ac1It.jpg

Fine example (Edit: turns out this was with Flash - sorry. I'm leaving it in place so you can see what the book cover is supposed to look like) http://i.stack.imgur.com/s3J0K.jpg

I am positive that this has not been this way all the time, and began at some specific point a few months ago; however, I didn't change any settings, and with the camera being in automatic mode, I seem to have no further options that I could influence. The behaviour occurs in all image resolutions and qualities. As far as I can see, the camera has a "reset settings" function only for administrative functions (like date/time).

Might anybody with experience be able tell whether this is a common sign of decay in aging camera hardware, or name some typical misconfiguration that could be the culprit?

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I put the images into external links because they need to be huge so one can see the problem; if it's okay/customary to put these directly into the question on Photography.SE anyway, let me know. –  Pekka 웃 Mar 25 '11 at 13:17
3  
Having the EXIF information intact in the file would be a great help. –  Staale S Mar 25 '11 at 13:57
    
Ditto what Staale S says — unfortunately, imgur strips that out. –  mattdm Mar 25 '11 at 14:08
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Your camera probably isn't decaying or getting worse over time; it was always that bad. Your camera has 6.9 bits of dynamic range at ISO 400 - modern compact cameras like the Canon S95 don't get that low until ISO 1600. I'm not trying to make you feel bad - every digital camera sucked in 2001. –  Evan Krall Mar 26 '11 at 4:14
    
@Evan that sounds very convincing, thanks very much for the link. I'm astounded that my memory would play such tricks on me, but it is possible. If you'd post that as an answer, I'd be inclined to accept it –  Pekka 웃 Mar 26 '11 at 13:15

2 Answers 2

To add to the previous answers and comments, note that contrast based auto focus detection system has a much difficult time focusing correctly while in low light situation. This too can explain the difference between your first and second images.

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The first one is clearly motion blurred (though it may have been out of focus as well) –  Matt Grum Mar 25 '11 at 16:08

Despite what you have said, from your photos it looks like the second one used flash. You can see there's a dark, harsh shadow to the left of the book, which is absent in the first picture. It doesn't take a huge shutter speed to introduce camera shake.

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seconded, one's clearly displaying camera shake and the other is with flash, as the lighting colour and direction are totally inconsistent! –  Matt Grum Mar 25 '11 at 13:52
    
Third from me, there's clearly a strong light source on the second shot. Actual exif would probably confirm it. –  John Cavan Mar 25 '11 at 14:00
    
Arggh! Oh man, you are right. My apologies, the Exif confirms it. I somehow didn't notice or misremembered when taking the picture. Would it, however, be normal for the shake to occur with landscapes as well? I'll see whether I can find a more telling landscape example later. –  Pekka 웃 Mar 25 '11 at 14:49
    
@Pekka - Long exposures in poor light are often going to have camera shake in them if done handheld. That's whether it's portrait, landscape, etc. –  John Cavan Mar 25 '11 at 15:38
    
@John sorry, my photography vocabulary is very poor. I meant "Landscapes" as opposed to close-ups, i.e. objects far away. I'm sure there is a more correct word for it. –  Pekka 웃 Mar 25 '11 at 15:40

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