So let's assume I've got the focus nailed down, so my focus is the best possible. I have a single subject I'm shooting at very high telezoom on Panasonic TZ-80, using 60x or 120x zoom, so the camera is quite shaky.

From my basic research the following options could be possible to get the clearest image:

  1. Force aperture to the lowest possible value to give highest depth of field in case focus is not so accurate (i.e. subject is moving so camera makes mistake or can't keep up)
  2. Force shutter speed to a very high value
  3. Force ISO to a low value

Since these all work against exposure, I can't do everything. Is there one of these in particular that are likely to be my best option or would I have to experiment?

  • 4. Use a tripod with a smoothly panning head. – twalberg Apr 25 '18 at 20:34
  • Not an option. Think wildlife photography. – Marco Apr 25 '18 at 20:35
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    I suggest you use less ambiguous terminology: "narrowest" instead of "lowest" for point 1 and "very fast" instead of "very high" for point 2. – ITWorker Apr 25 '18 at 21:19
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    While I don't have any reliable statistics to back this up, the majority of wildlife photography is done from a tripod with a gimbal head. – Aram Hăvărneanu Apr 25 '18 at 21:41
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    @twalberg Please make your comment an answer. It might not be OP's preference to use a tripod, but it is an answer, and is already generating comment-discussion regarding it. – scottbb Apr 25 '18 at 21:45

There are several important things. I leave the most important to the last.

  1. Use the widest aperture possible. If needed get a better lens. Of course, you can not do that in your camera, so it is a limitation of your camera.

Force aperture to the lowest possible value to give the highest depth of field in case focus is not so accurate

  1. No. If you want good focus you need a lens and camera that give you good focus. You can not sacrifice something that will give you real problems, like lowering the amount of light at the expense of something "just in case".

Force shutter speed to a very high value

  1. You set the speed to the highest value possible. Given your aperture and ISO. I will address the "force" word for later.

Force ISO to a low value

  1. Nop. Use the ISO to the highest value you are willing to use.

You need to test your camera. Change the ISO and see the images on a computer screen. If the images at some High ISO value, for example, 6400 are too noisy that you can not live with them... do not use that value.

Now the word "force".

If your camera is limited, as all cameras are, you need to live on what you have.

  1. A way to force the shoot to have less motion blur is to underexpose it.

If a happy image is shot at 1/250 but the image is still blurry by motion blur, then underexpose at 1/500. Then you compensate it on post. The result is similar to use a higher ISO, this is... more noise.

  1. Get a good tripod, or way to stabilize your camera. It can be a rock, the car, the floor, a wall.

  2. And finally... In some cases, you can reduce the shakiness of the camera itself using a timer or remote controller so you do not touch the camera, and leave it alone for some seconds so the shakiness of your hand dissipates.

And the most important factor is...

  1. Light up the moving subject!

If it is a football player at night... ask the stadium to turn on the lights.

  • Thanks, that's very useful, what do you mean by "Then you compensate it on post?" – Marco Apr 26 '18 at 1:53
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    @Rafael I'm pretty sure you meant 6400, not 64000... If not, feel free to change it back. – Michael C Apr 26 '18 at 3:52
  • @Marco "Compensate in post" is using a program like Lightroom, Darktable, Photoshop, Gimp, etc, to adjust the Image. If you underexpose a shot, you could play with "exposition controls" if you are using a RAW file or play "with curves" if you are using JPG files. Using JPG files can potentially produce "banding" but that is another issue. – Rafael Apr 29 '18 at 14:46

You've missed a couple of items in your list.

Reducing exposure time helps sharpness by reducing motion blur due to camera shake. (If you're panning it also helps to reduce motion blur due to failure to follow the subject perfectly). There are other things you can also do to reduce motion blur due to camera shake:

  • Use a tripod or monopod, and/or work on your technique for bracing the camera.
  • Use burst mode. I've had a quick look at the manual, and your camera seems to support it. Approximate the camera shake as a sine wave: in a burst of five photos you can expect to have some taken at the fastest movement in the middle of the curve, and some taken at the slowest movement in the extrema of the curve.
  • Use a heavier camera. This might sound counter-intuitive. I initially rejected my friends' suggestions that I get a DSLR because I thought that I had enough problems with camera shake with a compact, and the heavier camera would be worse, but I discovered that in fact I have fewer problems with camera shake. I suspect that the benefit of greater inertia is more significant than the extra effort required by my muscles.

There are several factors that come to my mind.

  1. Is the subject stationary? If so you can go with a slower shutter speed and lower ISO. If not, do the opposite. You can try experimenting with aperture too. If it's stationary you can probably get away with a wider aperture, while lowering ISO and slowing shutter speed.

  2. Is there decent light? Then slower shutter speed and lower ISO.

  3. Keep in mind this formula: 1/( focal length mm) should be your guideline base shutter speed on the slow end to reduce chances of blurriness.

  4. Practice good hand held technique, such as holding your breath.

So yes the answer is you need to experiment depending on your specific scene.

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