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Are your smartphone photos blurry? Here’s why



A blurry photo of a woman and a dog.
Harry Guinness

Sometimes you can use your smartphone to take what you think is a great photo and then see that everything is blurry. If this happens to you a lot, let̵

7;s see what could be causing it.

You take photos in low light

Image of a dog sitting at a bar with ISO blur.
Harry Guinness

Smartphone cameras have very small image sensors, which means they need a fair amount of light to take good photos. At night, in the evening or on a cloudy day, even indoors, the amount of light available is insufficient for your smartphone to take a decent photo without any problems. So your phone is compromising.

The first thing it does is increase the ISO (basically how sensitive the sensor is) so it needs less light to get a photo. The downside, however, is that it also increases the amount of digital noise. If your photos look grainy (like the picture above) instead of blurry, this is likely the case.

Another compromise your smartphone will make is using a slower shutter speed. This means that the photo will take longer to take so more light can reach the sensor.

Unfortunately, a slower shutter speed means other things can happen too.

Your hand moved

A blurred image of a woman and a dog caused by hand gesture.
Harry Guinness

A slow shutter speed of around a quarter of a second means that the camera takes the photo long enough to record every movement of your hand – even if it’s just a little shake.

You can see a pretty dramatic example of this in the picture above. Most of the time, however, this type of blur is much more subtle. However, this is one of the most common causes of blurry photos when shooting indoors or in low light. Even just tapping the shutter button can shake your smartphone so badly that an image will be blurred.

This type of blur doesn’t often happen when it’s nice and bright outside because your smartphone uses a shutter speed fast enough to prevent it from happening.

Something moves when you shoot

A blurry image caused by the movement of a man at a bar.
Harry Guinness

Even if you keep your hands completely still and something (or someone) moves while you are taking your photo, it will become blurry. For example, in the picture above the guy only moved a little when this picture was taken, but it was still enough to ruin the photo.

While this is common when shooting in low light, it can happen anytime the subject is moving fast enough. For example, if you try to shoot down a racing car driving by, it will likely get blurry no matter how good the light is.

You zoomed in too far

An image of a dog with zoom blur.
Harry Guinness

There are two types of zoom:

  • Optical: The lens magnifies objects that are far away. This is what a telephoto lens does on smartphones.
  • Digital: Instead of zooming in on distant objects, your smartphone crops the photo closer (or does other tricks). This makes it look like you’ve zoomed in, but it really just throws away image data.

An iPhone Xs, for example, has a 2x optical zoom with the telephoto lens. However, it also has a 10x digital zoom, for which a photo is taken from the telephoto lens and cropped very closely.

The problem is that it lowers the quality of the image since there is no additional image data to draw. Other problems also arise, e.g. B. to make the blurring of your trembling hand even clearer.

There is a stain on the lens

A blurry image of a man caused by water on the lens.
Harry Guinness

Sometimes the problem isn’t how the photo was taken, but rather that it was taken with a dirty lens. If there is water, oil from your skin, dirt, sweat or anything else on your smartphone’s camera lens, it will affect your photos.

In the picture above, some water from the mist got onto the lens, which is why it is blurry.

Your camera is out of focus

Instead, a close-up of a blurry stuffed unicorn with the fireplace behind in focus.
Harry Guinness

While this isn’t a particularly common problem due to the design of smartphone cameras, your photos may be blurry because they are out of focus.

Smartphone cameras are set up so that most photos are in focus. Because of this, everyone looks great in a group photo, but it’s impossible to take a portrait with a blurry background without resorting to software tricks.

However, smartphone cameras still need to focus the lens, even if they usually don’t have to adjust it too much. For example, if you’ve previously focused on something close and try to capture something farther away before the camera can focus again, it will be slightly out of focus.

Your smartphone camera can also focus incorrectly if it accidentally focuses on the wrong thing. For example, let’s say you’re trying to take a close-up shot of a unicorn but the camera continues to focus on the background as shown above.

You saved a photo from social media

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram degrade the quality of the images you upload to save bandwidth and upload time. Unfortunately, it means that a photo you’ve previously posted on social media can look terrible.

This is the case even if the original looks good on your phone.

How to avoid blurry smartphone photos

Regardless of why your photos are blurry, there are some handy steps you can take to avoid it in the future.

The following has to be done:

  • In the best lighting, record: Taking pictures in low light conditions creates numerous problems. The best way to avoid them is to avoid poor lighting whenever you can. Shoot outdoors or only in the best light you can find indoors.
  • Keep your hands steady: If your hands move, you will get a blurry photo. Keep your arms tight to your body and keep your smartphone as still as possible. If you have a smartphone tripod, use it whenever you can or just prop your phone against something.
  • Cue your topics: If you are photographing a group of people, ask them all to stay as calm as possible.
  • Avoid fast moving subjects: Even in the best of circumstances, these almost always become blurry.
  • Use burst mode: Taking more than one photo in quick succession increases the likelihood that at least one of them will be all lined up. It also prevents you from shaking your phone by tapping the shutter button.
  • Don’t zoom in too much: A bit of digital zoom will likely go unnoticed, but if you zoom in too far, it’s obvious.
  • Tap your subject to focus on it: Your smartphone’s auto focus can sometimes think the subject is wrong.
  • Clean the lens: A microfiber lens tissue is best, but a bit of tissue will do.
  • Take manual control of your phone: When you find yourself in a really difficult situation, you can set the shutter speed and ISO that you need to get the best photo possible. Here’s how it works on an iPhone or Samsung phone.
  • Be realistic: Smartphone cameras have come a long way but are still limited when compared to dedicated cameras. This is due to the size of the sensors, the fixed aperture of the lenses, and the more limited designs. With that in mind, you can’t wait to capture the perfect picture every time.




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