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I am using a Nikon D5300 with 18mm-300mm lens. My problem is that the camera is not working properly in "No flash" mode - in all other modes it's working well. Mostly I am using manual settings, but in no flash mode manual and automatic are having the same effect: the image is blurry and not focused properly.

Here's a sample image, taken at 50mm, 1/800s, ISO 800:

example images...

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    Are you sure about the shutter speed? The image shows movement that goes on for a lot longer than 1/800s, more like 1/8s. Although there is movement blur and possibly camera shake, there is still a sharpness to the details, so the focus seems to be correct at least. – Guffa Dec 8 '14 at 13:42
  • If OP is also on a moving and shaking (small) boat, I can sort of believe this photo taken with 1/800s. – user1032613 Dec 8 '14 at 15:06
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    @user1032613 I can't. – Matt Grum Dec 8 '14 at 15:07
  • @MattGrum Have you tried to set the shutter speed to 1/800s and release the shutter while moving your camera quickly (like, simulate a dropping)? I did it just now, it was blurred. – user1032613 Dec 8 '14 at 15:08
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    @user1032613 yes but I bet the blur was completely linear, this blur has a definite curvature to it which would indicate either a) it took place over a much longer period of time, or b) the boat was moving about incredibly violently to create a change in direction within 0.00125 seconds (probably to the extent to which nobody would even be attempting to take a photograph) – Matt Grum Dec 8 '14 at 15:11
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This looks very much like motion blur, caused by the camera being moved during the exposure. I seriously doubt the shutter speed was really 1/800 s. Is that just what you thought you set it to, or is it what the EXIF data says? If the latter, there is probably something wrong with your camera.

Note that the blurring is more a horizontal smear than actually out of focus. The focus was probably reasonable. At the time the picture was taken, your hand was moving the camera a little, in this case horizontally. The width of the streaks indicates how much the camera pivoted during the exposure time.

Nobody can hold a camera absolutely still, so there will be some combination of focal length and exposure time above which the inevitable camera motion from hand-holding will become apparent in the picture. A very rough guide is that exposure time in seconds should be the reciprocal of the focal length for a full frame sensor in mm, or less. For example, for a 50 mm lens you should try to keep the exposure time to 1/50 s or less. That's for a full frame (36 x 24 mm) sensor. For a 1/4 frame (18 x 12 mm) sensor, you'd need 1/100 s. This is of course just a rough guide, and your technique when hand-holding can make a significant difference. You should experiment to find what you can get away with and what you can train yourself to do.

If you are just free-standing, spread you legs a little, take a deep breath, let it out a little, tuck your elbows against your body, use one hand to hold the camera and press the shutter button, and the other to support the lens. When you press the shutter button, be extra careful to only more the finger on the button, not generally tighten up both hands or something. This may take some practise.

Avoid free-standing when possible. Leaning against a tree, wall, or lamp post, etc, will help your stability, which will allow a slower shutter speed with all else being equal. Even better is to be able to partially support or rest the camera against a stable object, like sideways against a tree trunk, or lying down against the top of a boulder.

Of course the ultimate solution is a tripod. That's basically what they are for. A monopod is a compromise that still gets you some of the stability of resting against the ground, but more freedom of movement, which is often useful for following fast action like a sporting event.

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    What is usually done with DX bodies is to correct also the shutter speed by the crop factor, 1.5; actually, given the higher resolution of digital cameras, a factor of 2 is also indicated. So for a 50 mm lens 1/100 would be safer in many cases. – clabacchio Dec 8 '14 at 14:55
  • @clabacchio: Good point. My camera is full frame, so I'm not used to thinking about issues with smaller sensors. I have edited the answer to mention sensor size. Again, whatever formula you chose will be a rough guide only. I encourage everyone to find their own limits with their own equipment, maybe using the rough formula as a starting point to test variations from. – Olin Lathrop Dec 8 '14 at 15:16
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This is obviously a motion blur of some sort. Unfortunately, there's nothing in the exif for the image shown.

I'm going to concentrate on one small spot here to give my theory, note that it may not tell the full story.

part of the boat

enter image description here

The thing we are seeing here is two overlapping images. From the Nikon site for the 5300 features:

Two images taken with one shutter release at varying exposure are combined to produce a single image that has a wider dynamic range (range of contrast to reproduce tonal gradation) with less loss of detail in highlights and shadows.

This is exactly what I would expect to see in the situation where HDR was attempted to be applied in camera and the two images didn't line up. Note the difference in exposure in the triangular part (one triangle is dimmer than the other). If this was an issue with focus you would instead see a blur that had a more Gaussian nature to its shape rather than two distinct overlapping images.

The linked page has a bit more to say on this:

Effective for stationary subjects such as landscapes or still life.

Note: It is recommended to use a tripod for HDR shooting.

Handheld HDR are difficult to get to line up correctly - use a tripod. This is further exacerbated by the movement of the boat. It is difficult enough shooting a moving object while on a moving object while holding the camera. This is not the proper environment for shooting HDR.

  • Just an FYI: imgur, which SE uses for its image hosting, always strips the metadata from images so you'll never get EXIF data on embedded images here. – Philip Kendall Dec 9 '14 at 6:52
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Is High Dynamic Range(HDR) getting enabled in that mode only somehow? Possibly in combination with Image Stabilization resulting in curvature of streaks.

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    This does not answer the question. Once you have enough points, you will be able to leave comments. – user1032613 Dec 8 '14 at 15:15
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    Doesn't look like HDR artefacts: look at the water splashes around the buoy. Furthermore, the image doesn't look like it has been HDR processed (the people in the boat are quite dark, the water pretty even). – Calimo Dec 8 '14 at 15:45
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    @Calimo I think the thought is that the camera may be taking multiple images in sequence and combining them. See MichaelT's answer. – mattdm Dec 8 '14 at 22:59
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I have those ghost-pictures like this, if I use VR-ON with D5300.

Try only to use VR with longer times than 1/15 in normal case.

I have trouble with this camera when using shutter speed between 1/80 and 1/250.

I've posted some pictures demonstrating this here: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3815060?page=6#forum-post-56228683

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