I am an amateur photography and although i have taken long exposure photos before, this is the first time for a while and with my new camera Canon EOS1300D.

I am surprised at the blurry result. The photo was taken on a sturdy tripod with 2 sec timer delay. Aperture 29 and 30 sec exposure. Iso 100. I was in our house and there was no wind.

Lens 18-200mm tamron.

Am I missing something or forgotten some basic photography skills?

Although I call myself an amateur, there were some basics that I was sure I had got right. For the record, the initial photo in question was taken in clear view. There were no windows or any sort of obstruction. Also, the tripod was sturdy and I was surprised that the second-floor flooring might make such a difference. Saying that, these are all possible options.

After some testing, I have come to a solid conclusion that the issue only occurs when the 'VC' function on my Tamron 18-200 mm DiII VC Zoom Lens for Canon is turned on. Below are two pictures taken. The blurred one is with VC on and the good one is with VC turned off. Both on a tripod 2 sec delay; 30 sec exposure and 29 aperture. 100 ISO.

VC Off


Looking at the website I purchased the lens through, the VC function is "Three-coil electromagnetic VC image stabilization system provides a 4-stop handling advantage for significantly sharper images"

So my question now is; Is my lens VC function working? Perhaps the VC function is not meant to be used for long exposure shots. This is beyond my expertise.

  • Thanks. Photo uploaded. Photo taken on 2nd floor with wooden floor and carpet. I feel everything was very still but I will try outside this evening on hard rock and test the camera. I have a 50mm lens I will try too. I will report back. Thanks Sep 19, 2017 at 8:20
  • I saw speculation below it was through a window -- was anything between the camera and the mountains? Window, screen, plastic, etc.?
    – Linwood
    Sep 19, 2017 at 14:48
  • I have updated it now but at the time I had no idea what the problem was. Thanks to the help of those on the forum I have managed to windle it down. Sep 19, 2017 at 19:29

8 Answers 8


It looks like movement (primarily vertical) during the exposure. I understand you think the tripod was steady, but I think the parallel doubled mountain range and background seems to indicate that during the exposure the camera moved.

EDIT: Given the updated question and example, since right now this is the upvoted, wanted to clarify since it appears to have a specific cause not just vibration.

It appears the VC is not maintaining control during the entire exposure. My GUESS is that it's timing out in some fashion and re-centering; it might also be defective. Lens based optical vibration reduction works by shifting one or more lens elements to track (or more precisely track opposite) of vibration. The effect means the field of view is shifted during exposure, ideally to keep it in one place. It is possible that it is timing out, and re-centering back to some neutral position. It is possible it is defective and "flops" in some fashion after a given time. Testing a different VC lens might tell you if this is a "feature". All that said, most vendors recommend vibration control be turned off when locked down on a tripod; a few lenses may have a "tripod mode". If it is working at more typical stabilization shutter speeds (say 1/30th), it is likely not worth pursuing.

An interesting way to tell how image stabilization interacts with long exposure is to get a dark night and lock down on a tripod and shoot a bright star for a long exposure (adjust ISO as needed to get a dark sky and thin line). Ideally you get a perfectly straight line. Rotate the camera 90 degrees and shoot again; still should be a straight line. Both regular vibration (e.g. wind) and any optical stabilization impacts can be seen in that, effectively graphed over time, and the 90 degree flip will tell you if the stabilization is different in different orientations (note some lenses have a "mode" for active or normal or similar that can affect this also). This will let you see, for example, if it times out at 10 seconds or something consistent, with a sudden movement (my guess), or if it is just jittery. Reading the manual (lens or camera) to see if there's any comment on timeout may help also.

  • I took a number of photos with similar results. I do not see any camera movement. Tomorrow night I will try placing the camera on a solid surface, instead of tripod but I feel something else is wrong..... any ideas on anything else? Is there any chance that the motion of the shutter movement moves the camera? Sep 18, 2017 at 21:13
  • 2
    It's hard to imagine what else it could be, there's no mirror or other object in the light path at the time of exposure. If you had IS lenses conceivably they could be malfunctioning but that seems quite unlikely especially with this amount of motion, but you should turn off any image stabilization if you have it on your lenses. You can try taking a photo of a bright, point source (star, far away bright light) and may be more able to see the path of any movement. See if it's similar shot to shot.
    – Linwood
    Sep 18, 2017 at 21:33
  • Hi Linwood, Thanks for your help. I have updated my post (not sure if I have done it the best way). I think it is the image stabilization. Can we assume that my lens VC is faulty? Sep 19, 2017 at 19:11

When using a tripod you're supposed to turn VC/IS/OS/(any image stabilisation) off, with the exception of certain more expensive lenses which have a special mode for use on a tripod. This effect is pretty common and often a cause of problems like this. You should turn stabilisation off even during bright days when you have fast shutter speeds to eliminate any possibility of it interfering with the shot.

I'm afraid no stabilisation is 100% perfect.

  • Whether to leave stabilization on or off when a camera is tripod mounted is an individual lens based decision. Some lenses even have IS modes specifically designed for tripod usage. Particularly at shorter shutter times with very long focal length lenses IS can be very effective in reducing blur even when used in concert with a tripod. Canon's IS II series of Super Telephoto lenses have an IS mode designed to reduce mirror slap when the camera is tripod mounted.
    – Michael C
    Sep 21, 2017 at 3:19
  • @MichaelClark, that's true, thanks for pointing it out. I didn't include this as I saw OP has just a very cheap and basic Tamron zoom which doesn't have this feature, but I guess I should have at least mentioned it in the answer.
    – walther
    Sep 21, 2017 at 5:51
  • Including VC/IS/OS/(any image stabilization) in the answer leaves the impression you mean to include pretty much all forms of IS. If your opening sentence were Tamron specific it wouldn't present the issue in quite the same way.
    – Michael C
    Sep 21, 2017 at 7:37

Tamron VC has the unfortunate tendency to kick in while your image is exposed, and move the image a considerable distance, when you don't give it enough time to settle between half-press activation and full-press shutter release. You can see the movement yourself when you look through the view finder. I had a lot of ruined pictures because of that when i used back button focus.

VC isn't recommended for most lenses anyway when you shoot from a tripod, so just switch it off in this situations.


Tamron manual VC instructions below.

Note in particular: 1. Turn the VC switch OFF when using tripod. 2. The VC mechanism may introduce errors during long exposures. 3. When the shutter button is pressed down halfway, it takes about 1 second for the VC to provide a stable image. 4. When VC is not used, set the switch off.

How to use VC mechanism 1) Set the VC switch on. When VC is not used, set the switch off. 2) Press the shutter button halfway to verify the effect of the VC. When the shutter button is pressed down halfway, it takes about 1 second for the VC to provide a stable image.

The VC can be effective for hand-held shots under the following conditions. • Dimly lit locations • Scenes where flash photography is forbidden • Situations where your footing is uncertain • Taking panning shots of a moving subject

The VC may not be able to give full effect in the following cases: • When a photograph is taken from a fast moving vehicle • Shooting during the excessive movement of the camera • Turn the VC switch OFF when taking pictures with the bulb setting or during long exposures. If the VC switch is ON, the VC mechanism may introduce errors.

• With the VC mechanism, there are occasions that the image in the viewfinder blurs right after the shutter button is pressed down halfway, but this is not a malfunction. • When the VC is ON, the number of images recordable is reduced due to the power used from the camera. • When the VC is ON, immediately after the shutter button is pushed halfway down and approximately 2 seconds after a finger releases the shutter button, the camera will "click". This sound is the VC's locking mechanism activating, not a malfunction. • Turn the VC switch OFF when using tripod. • After releasing the shutter button, the VC will continue to operate for about 2 seconds until the locking mechanism activates.


You're tripod probably got knocked by someone (blame your cat), but it's possible that there's a weird reflection thing going on if you're shooting through a glass window. Try using a lens hood or dark cloth to make sure no light gets between the window and the lens.


Is my camera working properly

The best way to answer this question is to test the camera. Forget about the landscape image that's puzzling you for a moment and just try the camera out under similar conditions. Set up your on some really solid surface, like a concrete wall, and take some long exposures. Do they come out the way you'd expect them to, or do they also suffer from the shifting that you're asking about? If your test shots are fine, then the problem most likely isn't the camera.


It looks like the tripod wasn't fully tightened. During the start of the exposure, I suspect that the weight of the lens on the front of the camera meant that the camera tipped forward a little. Make sure that everything is tightened properly on the tripod, especially in the direction that would make the camera point up/down. Also check that the tripod is sturdy enough. The rated weight of a tripod is misleading, it isn't just the weight of the camera plus the weight of the lens. A lens, especially a telephoto lens, acts as a lever on the up/down joints of the tripod


The mere process of pushing the button can make a slight camera shake with results like this. Check if your camera has a setting with a 2 or even 10 second delay (typically advertised for selfies, but great for this too). When you use that function, you click the button, walk away, and ten seconds later the picture is taken, with no more shake.

I don't know your camera model, but it is probably a DSLR (with a mirror). The slight ding from the mirror flipping up can also produce such issues. You can avoid this by locking the mirror up before you take the picture (keep using the ten second delay).

Finally, light could be reflected from behind the camera, and enter through the viewfinder. Some models have a flap that closes the view finder; if yours hasn't, put a piece of cloth or tape over it (a black sock work too...).

  • 1
    The OP has already stated that he is using a 2-second timer for the shot.
    – osullic
    Sep 19, 2017 at 7:15
  • 1
    Neither would account for that motion either in a 30 second exposure.
    – Robin
    Sep 19, 2017 at 17:20

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