OP Home > How-To > Tip Of The Week > 7 Steps For Sharper Photography
  • I'd also like to receive the OP eNewsletter


Friday, October 1, 2004

7 Steps For Sharper Photography

Ensure crisp images using these powerful fundamental tips

Some of today's lenses include technology that reduces the effects of camera motion on image sharpness—Canon's Image Stabilizer (IS) and Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR). Available in a selection of lenses, these technologies use electronics and hardware to counter the slight lens movements that result in a soft image. These lenses have grown in popularity among sports and wildlife photographers, and although not intended to totally eliminate the use of a tripod, they provide a viable alternative when a tripod isn't practical or available.

These technologies offer the ability to handhold your camera at shutter speeds much slower than would be typically allowable. For example, a 200mm focal length that would normally require a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. may produce decent results at a shutter speed as slow as 1/60 sec. This is an advantage when light is fading and a higher ISO may not be advantageous or possible.

Continuous Shooting Mode
Most assume that the only time to use a camera's continuous shooting mode is when they're shooting fast action such as sports or wildlife. Actually, this mode can be used as a way to increase the sharpness of all your images.

With each depression of the shutter release button, there's a small degree of vibration that may adversely affect the crispness of your images. It occurs for only a fraction of a second, but it may be enough to produce undesirable softness. The use of a continuous shooting mode allows you to shoot several images of the same subject in rapid succession. Although the first image is slightly blurred because of vibration, subsequent images often will be sharper. Even for static subjects, you'll usually find one shot perfectly sharp among a group of softer images.

6 Confirming Autofocus
Autofocus has afforded a wonderful convenience for photographers. Its accuracy and responsiveness has improved the sharpness of many of our images. Particularly when photographing moving subjects, autofocus technology has made it possible to produce consistent results more often.

It's important not to totally surrender focus to this advanced technology, however. It's still necessary to confirm on what part of the scene is being focused. Multi-sensor autofocus systems, although accurate a majority of the time, may select another part of the scene that you don't want to emphasize. To ensure that your main subject is sharp, pay careful attention to the AF sensor indicators inside of your camera's viewfinder. The selected sensor will be different (depending on your camera). If the sensor isn't the one that you desire, set it manually.

When photographing moving subjects, begin tracking and focusing on your subject well before you actually release the shutter release button. This allows the camera to achieve focus before the critical moment you'll want to capture it.

7 Moderate Apertures
The rule of thumb for the aperture that results in the best sharpness on any lens has been two stops smaller than the widest aperture. A 105mm ƒ/2.8 lens likely will produce its best images at a working aperture of ƒ/5.6, for example. Computer-aided designs and advanced manufacturing techniques have improved lens performance throughout a lens' aperture range, but this is still a helpful guideline to follow.

Although fast lenses provide greater light-gathering capabilities (85mm ƒ/1.8, for instance), you should try to avoid using the lens at its maximum aperture. Even fast zooms, such as a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, that deliver impeccable quality due to their aspheric and low-dispersion glass elements may not produce the best possible image at its widest aperture. To achieve moderate aperture under low light, either increase the ISO or introduce an electronic flash into the scene whenever possible.


1 Comment

Add Comment


Popular OP Articles