You set up your shot, with its lighting and composition just as you want. But when you see your image, you find it is ruined by blur or debris. The lack of clarity in your picture may be caused by many things, such as a moving camera, incorrect focal range or dirty lens. Though difficult to detect as you shoot, these complications diminish your picture clarity.
Do not settle for little mistakes that defile your shots. Follow these five tips to make your images sharper.
Get an extra leg (or three) of support.
Monopods and tripods are useful for all photographers, novice and expert alike. Invest in a sturdy tripod or monopod that you are comfortable maneuvering. In low-light situations especially, pull out your tripod. Its three legs are more solid than your two for steadiness when you’re also dealing with slow shutter speeds.
Even the best tripods aren’t perfect, though. Weigh down your tripod as needed and use your body to block any wind that might tip it.
(“Belmore Falls” by Brian Mann (@bmannphoto), Fujifilm X-T1)
Hold your camera with a sturdy posture.
Most blur is caused by mid-shot camera movement, however slight. If you are not using a tripod or monopod, at least use the best posture possible. Keep your camera in both hands and close to your body, with your elbows locked. When possible, support your balance with an external surface, such as a wall or tree.
Use a mirrorless camera or a lock-up setting.
Even when you do your part to maintain steadiness, your camera’s mechanics can foil the shot. Many DSLRs rely on mirrors, which swing as they send visuals from the lens to the viewfinder. Movement from that swing, known as “mirror slap,” can lessen image sharpness.
To avoid mirror slap, work with a mirrorless camera, such as any in the Fujifilm X Series, or select your camera’s lock-up mode, which swings the mirror into place well before you activate the shutter.
Set your aperture and ISO right for the moment.
Most lenses have an aperture that produces the sharpest images. If you set your aperture to either extreme of your lens range, you may have softness because of light diffraction. Whatever your lens, test it at various apertures to gauge its top performance. For a traditional lens, the ideal setting is likely in the middle of its range. For a wide-angle angle lens, it may be a small aperture (or large f number), because the lens is designed to capture a big focal range.
(It is definitely not an eyebrow-raising lens and will not attract a lot of attention, making it that much easier to grab a shot unnoticed.- Sven Schroeter (@bokehmonster)
Maintain a tidy camera lens.
Every so often, pause from shooting and clean your camera lens of dust and debris. Even material too small to detect with your plain eye can diminish a few pixels of your image. Clean the lens thoroughly, because smudges may warp the light in your shots.
With your camera steady and tidy, and with your lens working from its best range, you can take sharper images consistently.