How to Take Sharp Photos

The blurriness and softness of specific photographs are one of the things that might be irritating about photography. Images that are not blurry are not nearly as attractive as those that are sharp. When you take a photograph of a memorable occasion and the resulting photos are blurry, fuzzy, or otherwise not in focus, it is a source of incredible frustration. In light of this, the purpose of this post is to walk you through the processes that I go through to ensure that the final photographs I produce are always razor-sharp.

In order to find a solution to these problems, you will need to handle all of them at the same time. This will help you attain the highest possible level of sharpness. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss a few other factors that might lead to blurry photographs.

1. Set the Right ISO

To begin, adjust the settings on your camera so that the ISO “base” number is at its lowest possible level. For my Nikon camera, this setting is 200. It is essential to keep in mind that the camera’s base ISO will create photographs of the most excellent quality and maximum clarity.

When the ISO (sensitivity of the sensor) is increased, the image will display an increased amount of noise. It is recommended that you read the post I wrote on comprehending ISO.

2. Use the Hand-Holding Rule

The standard “rule” for hand-holding a camera indicates that the shutter speed should be comparable to the focal length specified on the lens or faster. If you have a zoom lens that extends beyond 100mm, I would recommend adopting this rule, which specifies that the shutter speed should be quicker. For instance, if you have your lens zoomed all the way to 125 millimeters, the bare minimum shutter speed you should use is 1/125 of a second.

Remember that this rule was intended for use with 35mm film and digital cameras; hence, if you use an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera that uses a crop factor and is not a full-frame camera, you will need to adjust your calculations appropriately.

Simply multiplying the result by 1.5 is all that is required for Nikon cameras with a crop factor of 1.5, but multiplying by 1.6 is required for Canon cameras. If you use a zoom lens like the 18-135mm (for Nikon DX sensors), you should set the “Minimum Shutter Speed” to the lens’s most extended focal range (135mm), which is 1/200 of a second. This will ensure that you get the sharpest images possible. Here are several examples:

  • 50mm on Nikon DX (D3500/D5600/D7500): 1/75 (50mm x 1.5)
  • 100mm on Nikon DX (D3500/D5600/D7500): 1/150 (100mm x 1.5)
  • 150mm on Nikon DX (D3500/D5600/D7500): 1/225 (150mm x 1.5)
  • 200mm on Nikon DX (D3500/D5600/D7500): 1/300 (200mm x 1.5)
  • 300mm on Nikon DX (D3500/D5600/D7500): 1/450 (300mm x 1.5)

Remember that this only affects blur fromĀ camera shake. If you are taking pictures of a fast-moving subject, you very well may need a quicker shutter speed than this in order to get a sharp picture.


3. Choose Your Camera Mode Wisely

When I am taking images in low light, 99 out of 100 of the time, I shoot in the Aperture-Priority mode and set the aperture to the widest setting on my lens, which is the maximum aperture, also known as the lowest f-number. This is often anywhere between f/1.4 and f/5.6. However, it varies depending on the lens. (To illustrate, when using the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens, I will adjust the aperture such that it is set to its highest possible value of f/1.8.)

The camera will automatically meter the scene and make an informed judgment on the appropriate shutter speed to use in order to expose the image correctly. By using exposure compensation, you may quickly change the assumption that the camera makes. Therefore, switch your camera to the mode that focuses on aperture, and then adjust the aperture such that it has the smallest feasible f-number.

You should change the metering mode on your Nikon camera to “Matrix” and the metering mode on your Canon camera to “Evaluative” so that the entire scene may be evaluated to determine the appropriate shutter speed.

4. Pick a Fast Enough Shutter Speed

After ensuring that your camera is set to aperture priority and that the appropriate metering mode has been selected, you will need to aim it at the subject you wish to picture and then partially depress the shutter button. If you do so, the shutter speed should appear at the bottom of the viewfinder when you take a picture.

  • If the shutter speed is showing 1/100 or faster, you should be okay to go unless something in the shot is moving quickly (or if you’re using a long telephoto lens; remember the hand-holding rule). If the shutter speed is showing 1/100 or faster, you should be good to go. Take a picture or two and examine them to determine if there is any blurring occurring in the images. In most cases, I examine the photographs on the back of the camera at a magnification of one hundred percent to make sure that nothing is fuzzy. Use a faster shutter speed, such as 1/200 or 1/500 of a second, if your shot has any blurry elements, whether the entire image is blurry or simply one fast-moving subject.
  • If, on the other hand, the shutter speed is lower than 1/100, this might indicate that there is insufficient light in the room. Increasing the shutter speed of your camera may be accomplished by either opening the windows to let in some light or turning on the lights if you are shooting indoors. It is still feasible to take crisp images with a handheld camera quicker than 1/100 of a second, but the challenge increases as the shutter speed gets longer.

5. Use High ISO in Dark Environments

If the photographs you are obtaining are still fuzzy, you should try to snap another picture while holding the camera more steadily and avoiding shaking it too much. If it doesn’t work, try setting your shutter speed to a level that allows you to take explicit photographs while simultaneously increasing your ISO.

Either by using Auto ISO, which will be covered in the following section, or by manually adjusting the ISO, you may do this. It is not unusual to have to utilize quite a high ISO in dimly lit settings in order to achieve a shutter speed that is adequate for the situation. Even while this causes the shot to have more noise or grain, it is typically preferable to the alternative of obtaining an image that is blurry.


6. Enable Auto ISO

The “Auto ISO” function found on many modern cameras is a very helpful tool for obtaining clear images in a variety of lighting conditions. Adjust it so that it reads “On.” Adjust your camera’s settings to a maximum sensitivity of ISO 1600.

If you have the ability to choose a minimum shutter speed, pick “Auto” for that setting as well. This will ensure that the hand-holding requirement is always followed. If you do not have this option, make sure that the “Minimum shutter speed” is set to 1/100 of a second.

If the quantity of light that enters the lens diminishes and the shutter speed drops below 1/100 of a second, the camera will automatically boost the ISO in order to keep the shutter speed above 1/100 of a second, which is considered to be above the hand-holding rule. This is a valuable function since it prevents the shutter speed from falling below the hand-holding rule.

I would suggest setting the “Minimum shutter speed” to anywhere between 1/200 and 1/250 of a second if your hands tend to shake while you take photos. Alternately, if your camera has an “Auto” setting for the minimum shutter speed, you should set it to “faster” to be on the safe side. Check out our other post for more information on how to keep a camera steady when you’re holding it by hand.

There are cameras on the market that do not include an Auto ISO option. In such situation, you will need to manually alter the ISO settings in order to get the same result. Simply increasing your ISO in low-light conditions will let you maintain a shutter speed that is appropriate for the situation. Increasing the ISO to a value higher than 1600 or even 3200 is not something I would recommend doing.

Why shouldn’t they? Said an entry-level DSLR camera with a sensitivity setting greater than that generates an unacceptable amount of noise, which has a deleterious effect on the image’s overall quality. It is recommended that you retain the highest ISO setting on earlier models of DSLR cameras, such as the Nikon D90/D200/D3000/D5000, at 800.

7. Shoot a Burst of Photos

You may take photos of your subject in a series of bursts by simply holding down the shutter button when the camera is set to the “continuous shooting” mode (also known as the burst mode). If you are photographing a subject that is moving, such as youngsters, using burst mode can assist in increasing the likelihood that you will get an image that is in focus.

You should be able to take at least three pictures per second with most modern cameras, and more often than not, you should be able to take four or five. Even if your subject is moving around, you may still acquire excellent images by using a technique called panning, which involves following along with your subject with your camera.

Sometimes, you’ll catch just enough of the face (for instance, a joyously running youngster) in focus, then everything else will go blurry due to the motion, leaving you with a beautiful isolation that shows the emotion of that moment. For example, if you get just enough of the face in focus, then everything else will get blurry.

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