Getting sharp images: every photo technique you need to know starting out

    | Photography Tips | 15/01/2013 11:30am

    Taking sharp images is perhaps the ultimate goal of any photographer, and it’s only natural then that over the past 150-odd years photographers have found a number of different ways to achieve it.

    Our head of testing Angela Nicholson draws on her wealth of experience and explains all of her best camera tips and other methods photographers use to get sharp images. 

    Getting sharp images: every photo technique you need to know starting out

    Apart from a few creative exceptions, one of the ground rules of photography is that the subject should be sharp. Sharp images are something we start to take for granted over time, but in some situations we need to take more control of the camera to make sure it happens.

    Fortunately, it’s all pretty straightforward as there are essentially just three elements involved; focus, freezing the subject and keeping the camera still. Let’s take a look at how to do that:

    Best Ways To Get Sharp Images: 01 Focus

    The first step in creating sharp images is to get the subject in focus. In most situations this is easy, but if you allow the camera to choose the focus point itself there is a chance it will get it wrong, as many cameras tend to assume that the subject is the closest object and near the centre of the frame.

    If there’s something between you and your subject then the camera’s AF system may pick the wrong target and the most important part of the image will be soft – especially if you are shooting with a large aperture.

    This is an easily rectified situation, just set your camera to allow you to select the active AF point – the mode is usually called something like Single point AF or Select AF, or in some cases the number of available AF points maybe mentioned, for example 51-point AF.

    How to focus on off-centre subjects: take the shot

    After activating the mode use the camera’s navigation controls to select the AF point that lies over your subject in the frame. If this isn’t possible choose a point that’s near the subject or the central point (as it is the most sensitive) and move the camera so this point is over the subject.

    Then half-press the shutter release to focus before recomposing the shot (still with the shutter release button pressed) before pushing the release fully home to take the shot.

    This focus-and-recompose technique is incredibly useful, in fact some photographers use it all the time, and you’ll find it gets quicker and easier with a bit of practice.

    When using the focus-and-recompose technique it’s important to set the camera to single AF mode rather than continuous otherwise it will continue to focus the lens as the image is recomposed.

    PAGE 1: Best ways to get sharp images – Focus
    PAGE 2: Best ways to get sharp images – Freeze the subject
    PAGE 3: Best ways to get sharp images – Keep the camera still
    PAGE 4: Best ways to get sharp images – steady the tripod
    PAGE 5: Best ways to get sharp images – get a remote release
    PAGE 6: Best ways to get sharp images – mirror lock-up
    PAGE 7: Best ways to get sharp images – diffraction


    Best camera focus techniques: 10 surefire ways to get sharp photos
    New camera anatomy: 12 key camera settings to get you started right
    Digital camera modes explained: choose the best shooting mode for your subject

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 at 11:30 am under Photography Tips.

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