Tips for getting sharper images in photography

By: Bhanu Seth

Sharp vs blurred imagesEvery amateur photographer struggles in getting perfectly sharp images even when trying to be as careful as possible. There are a number of factors that contribute in getting a perfect sharp image, these factors with proper knowledge and practice can be controlled to obtain a perfect image.

The main causes why photographs lack sharpness are:

# POOR FOCUS: Most of the times lack of proper focus results in un sharp images. Focussing on the wrong part of the image, or getting the camera lens too close to the object which makes it difficult for lens to focus. Clicking pictures too quickly, before the camera has properly focussed on the object, also creates blurred images.

#SUBJECT MOVEMENT: Blurred images are also caused by the movement of the subject. This problem is generally related to a slower shutter speed which makes it difficult to capture the image sharply.

# CAMERA SHAKE: Blurred images may also be caused by the instability of the camera. Lack of stillness of the camera creates movement which makes the images blurred.

# NOISE: Noisy images results in the image being very pixelated and a lot of dot appear on the photograph.

Here is a list of 8 tips that can help you capture some brilliant shots, even though the photographs can be digitally enhanced later using software like Photoshop, these tips will help in controlling various parameters associated with photography.

#1. HOLD THE CAMERA STILL:

Most of the times, blurred images are caused by the movement of the camera while taking pictures, so holding the camera firmly can reduce the movement to a great extent. While using a tripod is the best way to avoid “camera shake”, using it everywhere might not be practical, hence the camera must be held with a steady grip to avoid blurred images.

#2. TRIPOD:

Use a camera tripod

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripod_(photography)

Using a Tripod for photography is the best way to reduce or even eliminate the camera shake, using it has its own constrains, but in suitable places, tripod helps in taking some of the sharpest images.

Shutter speed chart#3. SHUTTER SPEED:

Shutter speed is one of the most important parameters, when it comes to taking sharper images. The faster the shutter speed, the more quickly it will freeze the frame and take the photograph without any shake. Taking pictures at higher shutter speeds eliminates the effect of both the problems, camera movement as well as subject movement.

The thumb rule for controlling the shutter speed says:

CHOOSE THE SHUTTER SPEED WITH DENOMINATOR THAT IS LARGER THAN THE FOCAL LENGTH OF THE LENS.

Therefore:

  • Choose a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second if the lens has a focal length of 50mm.
  • Choose a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second if the lens has a focal length of 100mm.
  • Choose a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second if the lens has a focal length of 200mm.

Attention must be paid while adjusting the shutter speed, because at larger shutter speeds, the aperture should be compensated, which will result in smaller depth of field that makes focusing even more difficult task.

Shutter speed chart (right) image source: http://www.shortcourses.com/use/using1-8.html

#4. APERTURE:

Aperture directly impacts the depth of field in the images. Depth of field is the zone on which the focus has been done. Decreasing the aperture( say f/20) will result in increasing of depth of field, which means it will have a wider focus zone and will include both distant and close objects. While on the other hand, by increasing the aperture( say f/4), the depth of field will decrease and the foreground and background gets separated. Therefore the camera man has to exactly focus on the part of photograph he want to highlight.

Attention must be paid while working on smaller aperture, because it will result in increasing of shutter speed which makes it difficult to obtain sharper images. Read more about aperture.

#5. ISO:

Exposure triangle consists of three elements which plays a major role in deciding the quality of the image. These three elements are Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. ISO has a direct impact on the noisiness of the picture. Choosing a larger ISO value, allows the user to use a faster shutter speed and a smaller aperture value, both of these conditions aid in obtaining sharper images. But increasing the ISO value has a major drawback that it also increases the noise in the photograph. Depending upon the camera and the size of the photograph you want to take, you can comfortably use ISO values up to 400 or even 800, without making the pictures noisy while keeping them perfectly sharp.

#6. IMAGE STABILISATION:

New camera and lenses come with advanced Image stabilised technology which significantly reduces the camera shake and helps in capturing sharper images. Image stabilisation lenses give the camera man two-three extra stops and allows him to use slower shutter speeds. Keep in mind image stabilisation only reduces the impact due to camera movement and does not reduce the effect of subject movement, so using a slower shutter speed even with IS will be affected by subject movement and may result in blurred images.

#7. FOCUS:

Manual_focus_main_controls

Image source: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2012/05/03/manual-focus-what-you-need-to-know-to-get-sharp-images/

This is perhaps the most important parameter which decides the quality of the photograph. Lack of focus can ruin everything even if every other parameter is perfectly set. Most of the time people use Autofocus mode while taking pictures, this is very convenient as the camera does all the work and you can pay attention to the details. But sometimes, the camera also misjudges the subject and results in improper focus. So attention should be paid before clicking the picture, and the picture should be visually checked so that correct part of the image is in focus. If focus is not appropriate, it can be adjusted with manual focus mode.

Using a large aperture results in small depth of field, and here small difference in the focus of the object results in significant changes in the photograph.

#8. GOOD QUALITY LENS:

DSLR users have the option of using different kinds of lenses for different conditions. Using good quality lens can enhance the quality of the images significantly. Investing in a good quality lens can result in sharper images and brilliant photographs.

These are some of the tricks that can help you take great shots, apart from that regular practice and creative imagination is the key to capturing the beautiful shots perfectly.

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