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I just got my film camera (olympus mju ii 80) a few months back, and I've already used about 2 rolls of film.

I've always taken my pictures with two hands so that the picture would come out steady. However, it came out blurry when I had it developed.

Any ideas why this is the case? I want to figure it out before I finish my next film roll because film and developing isn't cheap.

Thank you so much! enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ Looks like motion blur due to a slow shutter speed. Probably too dark for hand holding. What was the film ISO and what was shutter speed used? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2022 at 3:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ What was the exposure time? Under 1/60s things get difficult. Keep in mind that films are much less sensitive than digital camera these days, so you will always be fighting for light. \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Mar 10, 2022 at 6:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can improve your steadiness if you can find something to rest your elbows or wrists on as you hold the camera. That's easier than trying to keep your entire body from moving. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 9:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is also the old trick of the (long) string attached to a screw under the camera. To stabilize, step on the end of the string and pull the camera up. Sort of a reverse/tensegrity monopod. \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Mar 12, 2022 at 9:26

4 Answers 4

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Motion. You moved the camera when shooting. The entire image is blurred. You can tell from the yellow 'things' that the motion was up-down, not left-right. You possibly pushed the entire camera down when you pressed the shutter. Practice keeping the camera still when pressing the shutter.

As a rule of thumb the shutter speed should be faster than the reciprocol of the focal length of the lens. If you use a 50mm lens, shutter speed should be at least 1/60s. For a 135mm lens, shutter speed should be 1/150s or faster. These are minimum speeds to prevent camera shake.

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    \$\begingroup\$ When my grandfather got me my first 110 Instamatic, he told me that I should always be a bit surprised when the shutter actually tripped. That meant I was pushing the button nice and slowly. My entire first rolls of film looked like this - I'm glad my folks were paying for the film and developing! \$\endgroup\$
    – FreeMan
    Mar 10, 2022 at 18:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might be able to acquire a remote shutter release cable for reasonably cheap. (I don't know if one exists for that model camera, but if it's at all a professional camera it should be able to support one.) Doesn't necessarily help since you're using both hands to hold the camera so you'd need a 3rd hand to press the shutter cable, but you might be able to work something out. (I've heard of photographers using their teeth, chin, elbows, or even toes for this, though you'd need a much longer cable for that.) There's also newer wireless solutions as well. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ And note how small the camera is--itty bitty cameras have always caused me trouble with motion blur. The force needed on the trigger is substantial compared to the force needed to support the camera, it's tricky. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 22:45
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As mentioned in ErinH's answer, this is motion blur, due to moving the camera for the duration of the shutter capture time.

However, I disagree with the conclusion that the motion blur as up-down and not left-right. If you examine the far-right center of the image, you'll see two bright 'squiggles', script-capital-O, upside-down-Q, however you want to describe them.

Examining other point-source-like specular reflections and lights in the image, you'll see the same shape. This indicates the camera was moved in a relatively circular pattern (with one or more smaller-amplitude 'loopbacks').

In the collage below, the upper-left image is a zoom of the pattern from the center-right of the image. The other three quadrants are zoom crops of other locations in the image showing the same (or similar) squiggle.

collage of motion blur paths from image

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As others have written, the answer is "camera shake".

I pretty much exclusively shoot with a Mamiya 6 + Mamiya G 75mm f/3.5L.
I never use a flash. This camera is a challenge, since the maximum aperture of the standard lens is f/3.5, which does not let in very much light for indoor situations (even putting aside "low-light" scenarios).

If your are shooting handheld on film with available light indoors, this will always be the battle. Now and to the end of time, your primary concern will be "how do I get enough light to avoid camera shake".

Other answers have given several ways to address this problem.
Here's what I do to mitigate the issue:

  1. Use a faster film. [Try using CineStill 800T (indoors) or Portra 400 (outdoors).]
  2. Press the shutter button as slowly and smoothly as possible.
  3. Breathe slowly, and fire on the exhale.
    This means: breathe slowly, exhale slowly, and fire the shutter immediately after the exhale is finished.
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Film is not as sensitive to light as a digital sensor is – which you are perhaps more used to. To compensate for being less sensitive, and in order to allow enough light in for the photo, the camera can do one of two things, or indeed both – open the lens aperture wider, and/or leave the lens open for longer (i.e. a long "shutter speed").

This is an indoor photo, and even though you might think it's reasonably bright in there, it really is not. (Human eyes are wonderful at adapting to low light.) Your camera is struggling to let enough light in for the photo. Probably the lens is opening as wide as possible, and the camera is additionally leaving the lens open for longer. Despite your best efforts to hold the camera still, this is really an impossible task.

There are a couple of solutions here – one being to add extra light by using a (better, more powerful) flash – but probably the first thing I'd try is to just use a small table-top tripod. Use your camera's self-timer if possible, so that you are not even touching the camera at the moment the photo is taken. This will reduce camera shake and the consequent blur in your photos.

Outdoors in sunlight, you don't need to bother with the tripod usually. Indoors, it will certainly help.

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