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Taking pictures of your aquarium with digital camera

by Jan Hvizdak

Brief Description

This page explains how to take pictures of your aquarium - and what to avoid. You're welcome to share your experiences at the bottom of this page.


When you try to take pictures of your aquarium for the first time, you'll realise that it is not as easy as it looks. Here you can find various examples, so that you'll avoid beginners mistakes.

Mistake no.1 – Moving your hands

Here you can find pictures taken without tripod. Tripod is necessary in order to produce quality images because it allows you to think before you push the trigger.

Solution: Use a tripod.

Image taken without tripod, 1 Image taken without tripod, 2

Mistake no.2 – Too much light in the room

Beginners usually don't care about noise light which practically disallows you to take a quality picture. Here below is an example. Note that I didn't use any tripod yet. With minimal zoom man can achieve nice pictures which aren't blurred. Moreover, the mode is still “auto”.

Solution: Darken the room as much as possible.

Image taken without darkening the room

Mistake no.3 – Using the “auto” mode

Automatic mode is good if you're learning, however it is insufficient for top quality photos. As you can see on the image below, there are still errors including exposure time (1/15 sec) which caused dark picture, F number (2.8), and ISO 400.

Solution: Disable the automatic mode, switch to manual, lower the F number, increase the exposure time and use ISO 200-400 max.

Image taken with automatic mode

Mistake no.4 – Automatic focus

No doubt that focusing is very important for every image. Automatic focusing works fine for long distances, however it is not recommended for close photography. See the image below for understanding.

Solution: Use manual focus and use the object finder. LCD displays aren't very precise for this purpose.

Image taken with automatic focus

Mistake no.5 – Flash usage

Use flash if only you are sure that it is necessary. If you stand in front of the aquarium pushing the trigger with flash, you'll get something like picture below.

Solution: Do not use Flash, or take pictures from angle. The best angle is 35°-45° where the flash will not be visible on the final image.

Image taken with flash

Mistake no.6 – Missing additional light source

Missing light causes very dark or very bright places.

Solution: Try to use 1-2 ordinary lamps, they will help the final effect a lot. If possible, put them on your sides so that the scenery will be illuminated enough.

Mistake no.7 – Everyone is just human

In order to show you a real case I wrote this article “on-fly” with taking pictures. I took approximately 140 pictures (!) and only 2 of them look serious. Anyway they contain small mistakes. Additionally, it is different to take pictures of slow moving fish and fast swimming fish. Bristlenose catfish is very good object to start with. Tetras species are usually moving everytime.

Relatively good image, 1 Relatively good image, 2


I am not professional and my own pictures may be of better quality, however this is basic guide. I wanted to point few common reasons which cause lack of quality. It is always easier to take your camera to mountains where you're going to take pictures of hills, trees, sceneries. If you try, try, try and try again, your pictures will be worth it.

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