When ’s it safe to handhold AN SLR?
Subject movement is just one cause of blur; the other is camera movement
Subject movement and camera movement are two completely different things. You can often achieve striking creative effects with subject movement, but camera movement (or ‘camera shake’) just produces an unattractive all-over blur where nothing in the picture is sharp.
There is an easy way to work out the minimum shutter speed for handheld photography, based simply on the focal length you’re using (or effective focal length, if you’re using a DX-format Nikon). For example, if you’re shooting at a focal length of 30mm, 1/30 sec is the slowest ‘safe’ speed for handheld photography. If you’re shooting with a 500mm lens, it’s 1/500 sec.
Of course, many Nikon lenses have VR, or ‘Vibration Reduction’ systems. These reduce the effects of shake and allow you to use shutter speeds two to four steps slower than normal. You have to remember that although this will stop camera movement, it has no effect on subject movement. If you want to freeze a fast-moving subject, you’ll still need a fast shutter speed, with or without VR.
You can use our table, above, to work out the minimum ‘safe’ speeds for different lenses. We allow an extra two steps for lenses with VR – you may get more, but it’s best to be conservative.