A Pro’s Advice for Getting Sharp Photos
I can’t count how many times I hear the exuse for blurry photos being the gear. It’s not the gear. It’s just lack of knowledge and poor technique. That’s all.
Choose A Fast Shutter Speed
Aside from holding the camera steady and pressing the shutter button precisely rather than crazily, the #1 thing you can do to reduce the chances of getting a blurry photo is to give yourself a fast enough shutter speed to make that happen.
You can do that by putting your camera into Shutter Priority mode (“S” or “Tv”) and letting your camera choose a corresponding aperture and ISO (the other two components of “The Exposure Triangle”), or you can take a little more control of your camera.
The way I would approach this would be to chose the maximum aperture my lens can do. Remember, that’s the smallest number (i.e. f/1.8). That will actually give you the biggest opening of the aperture ring inside your lens and that, in turn, will let in the most light.
Next, I’d pick a shutter speed I believe will give me a sharp photo. Generally you place a “1” over the focal length of the lens you’re shooting at and try that shutter speed. So, if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens, you would pick “1/50 of second”). Theoretically, that should be good. It’s going to depend on how steady your hands are. So I’d bump that up to 1/125 of a second. Then choose an ISO appropriate for your lighting conditions. If you’re indoors, you might want to start at ISO 1600.
Check your LCD and see what you got
If it’s too dark (underexposed):
Bump up that ISO to 3200. Reason being you’ve already chosen the widest opening your lens will do. If you’re at 1/125 of a second and your photo is dark you COULD go to 1/60 of a second to let in twice as much light., but now you’re more likely to have a blurry photo. So the other option available to you is to bump up your ISO until the exposure looks correct.
When you’re further along in your photography you’ll throw flash into the mix, but for now we’re talking about using ambient light only.
If it’s too bright (overexposed):
You can either lower your ISO to 800, stop down your aperture to f/4 or quicken your shutter speed to let in less light. So if you wanted to cut the light in half with your shutter speed in this example, you would set it to 1/250 of a second.
Choosing the later (quickening your shutter speed) will further reduce the chances of a blurry photo.
And what if it’s sharp?
If your photo is clearly sharp, I’d personally choose to reduce the ISO by a stop. Doing so will result in a less-noisy photo.
I wouldn’t even think about stopping down my aperture as that’s unneeded. I’d only consider this if I looked at the photo and decided I didn’t have enough depth-of-field (the portion which is in focus). Keep in mind that the closer you are to your subject, the shallower the depth-of-field. So, you might have to stop down depending on how close your subject is.
In my opinion, reducing the ISO is the way to go. But if the sharpness of the photo is iffy, my thinking would change and I’d decide to quicken that shutter speed instead.
There’s A LOT more to learn about photography. It’s nearly endless and will be a lifelong, rewarding venture. You might even decide at some point to turn it into an incoming producing venture so you can pay for cool gear. Don’t forget to check out my “Gear I Like!” section to see my recommendations for everything from cameras, lenses, memory cards, tripods and much more.
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