Alley in Pisa, Italy

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I'm a beginner photographer and I was wondering how to freeze moments of time without having to resort to using flash or tripods.

I use a Sony HX200V and it basically only renders jpeg images. I have no formal training in photography and I just point and shoot. Any and all photographic terminologies are beyond me.

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4 Answers 4

If you don't understand aperture and shutter speed, and don't want to learn, and the other answers are already too technical for you, then there are a few simple things you can try.

Your camera has several "Scene" modes.

Sports mode - this will anticipate that you are shooting something moving, so it will select as fast a shutter speed as possible to freeze the motion. This is great for good light outdoors, but not so helpful indoors in poor light.

Anti-Motion Blur - this will help reduce blur of indoor shots in poor light without flash. If you are taking shots indoors without flash, this is the mode you'll want to use.

The other thing you need to know is that when you press the shutter, there is a brief delay before the photo is actually taken. If you hold the camera still, press the shutter, then immediately move the camera, it will take the image as you're moving the camera and you'll end up with blur. So get in the habit of holding the camera steady for a second after pressing the shutter.

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Thank you, thank you very much. You have given me the most practical photography advice ever. –  Nick Feb 5 '13 at 13:14
    
So, reward him by selecting it as the right answer. –  Michael Nielsen Feb 12 '13 at 11:27
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Ok lets examine your problem. Your pictures are too blury. if your camera is capturing your picture 1second, and if during that 1 second yor subcet moves, that move is going to captured by camera, and your subject is going yo be blured. Logicly, if you don't want this effect, you need to increase your shutter speed. So lets set our shutter speed to 1/50 which is 50-th of the second. If your subject now moves, it has to be very quickly because your camera is picturing only 50-th part of second. So if you increase your shutter speed to 1/1000 that would be 1000th part of second, so your camera will be very fast and it would freeze your subject.

But what is consequence of this. If you increase shutter speed, the less light is getting into your camera, and your picture might be dark. If this is your case, then follow the text. You still want to keep subject frrezed, so you have to keep you shutter speed very high. But how to get more light to camera whithout changing the shutter speed. Simle, expand the "gate" through light is comming in the camera. Your gate is your camera objective, and the gate is called aperture. If you open your gate as much as you can, you will get much light into camera which is exactly our aim. Aperture value is displayed as 2.0f or similar. If you set smaller numbers, then your gate/aperture will be wide open, and vice versa.

But what for example you want freeze your subject, you wide open your gate/aperture, and your pictures are still getting dark (if your picture is dark, then it is called under exposed). You can't decrease your shutter speed, because it will blur your subject. You can't open your gate/aperture more because it is wide opened. What to do? Here your ISO settings comes in game. Increasing your ISO, your camera is going to be more sensitive to light, and this is exactly what we wan't.
NOTE: Don't increase your ISO too high, it will cause grainy effect on your picture, but I suggest you to try it. Grainy effect is lots of white spots on your picture, and it sometimes can be very frustrating.

So, let's repeat all together: Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO are the first things you should read about. The more you know about them, and control them, you are better photographer.

Please, make sure you are not using zoom while you are testing my post with your camera. Your camera has great optical zoom, and it is another parameter in my story which I didn't described. First learn without using zoom, then, when you understand Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO try using zoom and see your results.

I hope I helped you :)

Also, I suggest you to start watching this videos, because you can learn a lot.

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Freezing movement requires a fast shutter-speed. A tripod does not help, unless you are the one moving, and the same goes for image stabilization.

To freeze movement, you must therefore pick a fast enough shutter-speed. How fast depends on the subject but 1/60 is barely minimal for still people, 1/250s at least for slow motion like walking and faster ones like 1/1000s+ for sports and fast action.

To get a reasonable exposure at a fast shutter-speed, you need to open the aperture, raise the ISO or both. The easiest is to set your camera to Auto ISO and go to shutter-priority mode (T or S, if both are there, then T). In that mode, you select the shutter-speed and the camera does the rest.

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Try to get as fast shutter speed as possible.

One of best ways to do this is switching into A mode (aperture control) and opening lens aperture as much as possible. This will ensure your sensor receives as much light as it gets.

Next thing you might do is increasing ISO, ensuring that camera register as much of this light a possible. By default camera will be in Auto ISO which usually behaves nicely, but in extreme conditions you might want to change it manually. Be aware though that higher ISO means worse image quality and more noise. General rule of thumb is that top 3 ISO settings on your camera are usually very very poor, not worth trying. BUT if you still get a blurred photos - it might be worth going there. Your camera can go as far as ISO 12800, so you should be able to use ISO6400 when needed (I'd very much advise for avoiding highest setting with this camera though, as even professional DSLRs can't handle such sensitivities well).

What shutter speed is good?

In general for most of the cameras anything below 1/50s will be fine (eg. 1/125s, or 1/250s are great). If you shoot at wide angle you may try going to 1/20s or so.

That's easy, cause at these times you won't see a motion blur coming from your hands shaking (that is - assuming that you don't shoot at -25°C outdoors ;) ). The difficult part begins when you get blurred people, because of how fast they move. Usually 1/250s is good enough, but for shooting parties or people dancing it might be necessary to go down 1/500s or 1/1000s to freeze the motion. Then I'm afraid you'll need flash (that's why wedding photographers use these gigantic flash guns - to freeze peoples motion).

So here's one generic advice - don't expect too much! You can shoot a lot with compacts, but low-light conditions, and fast-moving subjects are their least favorite topics.

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