10 reasons why your photos aren’t sharp (and how to fix them)

10 reasons why your photos aren't sharp (and how to fix them)

Reason No. 7 Your Photos Aren’t Sharp: Continuous AF not selected

What is the best AF mode: Continuous Servo

In single AF mode the camera focuses the lens when the shutter release is pressed half-way and the focus stays at that point until you lift your finger off the shutter button and press again.

If you want to focus elsewhere you need to lift your finger and either recompose or select another AF point before depressing the shutter release again.

If you use single AF mode to photographing a moving object you’ll find that the camera focuses the lens on the subject at first, but that the subject moves out of focus. Consequently, if you are shooting continuously only the first image will be sharp.

As it name suggests, in continuous AF mode the camera continues to focus the lens for as long as the shutter release button is held down.

This means that provided you keep the active AF point over the subject (many cameras offer a tracking options to help with this) it will be in sharp focus in every shot (within reason).


How to buy a camera: 5 things you need to know about choosing a DSLR
10 Rules of Photo Composition (and why they work)
Best camera focus techniques: 10 surefire ways to get sharp photos


Reason No. 8 Your Photos Aren’t Sharp: Continuous AF selected

When to use Continuous AF

Continuous AF mode is enormously useful when shooting moving objects and provided the subject is under the active AF point it can also be used to shoot stationary objects.

However, if you use the focus-and-recompose technique the camera will refocus the lens as soon as you recompose the image.

So the simple rule is, if you are going to focus and recompose, make sure the camera is set to single AF mode.


Choose the best AF mode for your digital camera
AF Points: how to take control of autofocus to get the shots you want
How to focus your camera for any subject or scene: free photography cheat sheet

  • Fabio Amorim

    The number 9 and 10 are the same. Small apertures make shallow deep of field.

  • Christopher B

    That’s incorrect. Shallow depth of field is created by using a large aperture (small F number). Number 10 is about shooting at an aperture that is smaller than F8 (meaning, F8 and upward). Nice and confusing with a small aperture being a large F number, and vice versa.

  • Rick

    Excellent article. Well written, concise and to the point.!

  • John Comerford

    Number 11. Turn OFF image stabilization when using a tripod, mirror lockup, and remote. The stabilization motor will actually create motion blur as it tries to stabilize a lens/camera that’s not moving.

  • Filippos Georgiades

    All these tips ar all too basic.. Any serious amatuer knows them all after a couple of years in photography

  • Sandy Scott

    Another state the obvious article!

  • Sandy Scott


  • Brilliant! I managed to sort out the issue I had with my camera, thank you!

  • callmebob

    I refer to apertures like 1.8 as “low” and those like 11, 16, 22 as “high”… then explain the field of acceptable focus is “low” with a “low” ap, and “high ” with a “high” ap number. Seems to make sense to people I’ve tutored… for about 40 years now, even when all you had to know was “f-8 and be there !” 😉

  • IslandBearPhotography

    Love it! So helpful thank you