Is sharpness important for a good photo? Yes and no. On the one hand, a technically perfect photo should usually be definitely sharp. No matter how interesting it may be artistically, the vagueness of plot-relevant elements will make it suitable only for an Amateur photo album. On the other hand, if a photograph is technically perfect, but lacks artistic or even Protocol value, then it is not suitable for anything at all. In other words, sharpness is important, but you should think about it only when the lighting, composition, and other fundamental aspects of the photo do not cause you difficulties.
Sharpness is one of the most overrated photographic indicators. A whole army of enthusiasts is only engaged in that scrupulously testing lenses and cameras in various combinations, comparing the sharpness obtained under certain conditions. These people have created countless tables and computer programs to evaluate sharpness, but did you buy a camera to photograph test tables? Leave the tests to theoretical photographers who devote more time to web forums than to shooting directly.
Getting a sharp shot is easy. This requires only accuracy and regular practice. Getting a beautiful picture is immeasurably more difficult. Here you will need an imagination that not everyone is able to develop. As Ansel Adams wrote: “there Is nothing worse than a sharp photo with a fuzzy idea.” Don’t worry about sharpness, as long as the artistic component of your images is limp.
However, I want to believe that the readers of my site are conscious photographers with good artistic taste. It is very likely that your pictures are beautiful and interesting, but their sharpness sometimes leaves much to be desired. The last thing to do is blame your hardware. It’s usually not to blame. In the vast majority of cases, the blurriness of the image is the result of the photographer’s negligence. Modern cameras have excessively high resolution, which continues to grow every year. A large number of megapixels allows you to capture microscopic details of the scene, but the slightest blurriness, invisible on older cameras, becomes obvious. The higher the potential resolution of the system, the less likely it is to forgive errors.
What should you pay attention to so that your images are consistently sharp?
Make sure you focus exactly where you want to. Depth of field is a relative concept. Absolute sharpness is only possible in the focus plane, which is not thicker than a sheet of paper. Long-focus lenses and shooting at a wide-open aperture significantly exacerbate focus errors. It’s easy to spot them: look at the image to see if there’s anything sharper than the subject. If there is – most likely, you missed.
The most important object should be the sharpest – this makes it stand out from the less important ones. If we are talking about shooting people or animals, then the eyes should be perfectly sharp. Not the nose, not the ears, but the eyes. In the case of a half-turn, focus on the eye closest to you.
Learn how to use autofocus. Although the focus is automatic, it still needs to be constantly monitored by the photographer. Yes, it can automatically focus on the specified point, but it is not able to independently determine exactly where this point is located, and why it should be in focus. Very carefully examine the algorithm of the auto focus of your camera, find his weaknesses and does not require the impossible from him. Read the instructions and practice until you are satisfied with the result.
The vibration of the camera
Shivering is one of the main reasons for the blurriness of Amateur images. If you hold the camera in your hands, a tremor or tremor is given to the camera, which invariably leads to a decrease in image quality. Wiggling is a random, stochastic phenomenon, and even using a short exposure does not insure you from smearing. Even at 1/500 s, you will sometimes get blurry images. It will just happen very rarely. At long exposures, such as 1/15 s, the wiggle will haunt you almost relentlessly, although here, from time to time, the pictures will come out sharp. In other words, we can’t completely insure against smudging, but we can significantly increase the likelihood of getting a sharp picture. Here’s what will help you:
A short shutter speed is fine, but unfortunately only possible if you can open the aperture or raise the ISO without visible damage to the future frame.
The image stabilizer is a remarkable invention. It is most effective at shutter speeds in the range of 1/30-1/60 s. Do not forget to disable the stabilizer when the camera is resting on a tripod, otherwise, hunting for non-existent vibration, a sophisticated device can degrade the image.
Press the trigger smoothly. A sharp tap causes the camera to twitch at the very moment of shooting. Press down to the first stop, focus, compose the frame, and then gently bring the button to the second stop and release the shutter. This is written in all instructions, but who reads the instructions?
Take a stable position, spread your legs wider, rest your elbows on the body, in a word-minimize vibration. Release the shutter on the exhale, like a sniper. Hold the camera with two hands if possible. You should not use the Live View mode in SLR cameras without the need. When you look through the optical viewfinder, the camera supports not only your hands, but also your head.
Shoot more takes, since the digital camera allows you not to save film. Turn on the burst mode and shoot 3, 5, or 10 frames in bursts. The higher the risk of wiggling, the longer the series should be. Select the sharpest frame from the captured images, and delete the rest ruthlessly. Let probability theory work for you.
For more information about how to use the camera to get sharp images, see the article “how to hold the camera”.
When shooting still subjects in low-light conditions, a tripod can help you out. In the right hands, it allows you to get uncompromising sharpness, but due to its bulkiness, the tripod significantly slows down the shooting process. Not everywhere you can put it, and not always you will be ready to carry an extra weight with you. If you are using a tripod, don’t forget about the following things:
The tripod must be stable. If the tripod is installed in water, make sure that it does not vibrate under the influence of the flow. A strong wind also does not add stability.
Use a trigger cable or, in my opinion, more convenient, remote shutter release. As a backup option, a timer for shooting self-portraits, available on any camera, is good.
If the design of your camera allows, enable pre-lift of the mirror. Otherwise, vibration from the mirror clap just before the shutter is released may slightly impair image clarity. This effect is noticeable at shutter speeds from 1/60 to 1 second and is compounded when using telephoto lenses.