We go over a lot of things in the Lightroom class I teach: differences between digital file types, how to color correct, cropping in a pleasing manner, and so much more. But one thing that I reiterated time and time again is that you can fix a lot of things in your image, but there’s nothing you can do to fix a soft/blurry photo.So that begs the question:
How do you get sharper photos in camera?!
The good news:
There are definitely things you can do to improve your consistency and get sharper photos in camera.
The not so good news:
It’s going to take a little bit of work on your part in order to get sharper photos in camera.
But that’s totally doable! (I have every confidence in you!)
Here are some tips to point you in the right direction:
How to Get Sharper Photos In Camera
Lenses Make a Difference
I think it goes without saying that a nicer lens will give you better results.
While the kit lens (18-55mm F/3.5-5.6) works well enough when starting out, you will quickly find yourself feeling limited and get “the itch” (you know, the one where you have an insatiable desire to acquire better/more expensive gear ALL THE TIME?! Yeah… that one). That being said, it’s all about how you use what you’ve got.
Don’t Focus and Recompose
It can be difficult to get an image tack sharp if you are focusing and recomposing when shooting wide open (F/2.0 or lower). It may look sharp on the back of your camera, but any flaws will immediately become noticeable if your client wants to order a big, 16×20 canvas for the wall. If you like shooting at F/2.0 or wider, I recommend that you take a few extra seconds to position your camera and compose the image so that the focal point still lines up with the eye when you are ready to press the shutter.
Choose Where to put your Focal Points
Set your focus point instead of allowing the camera to choose it (trust me, this is going to change your life!). Set the camera to single point focusing (instead of dynamic or zone focusing). If your camera allows it, move the focus point around as necessary to ensure the focus is exactly where you want it. Even on a shot by shot basis! When photographing people, choose the eyes as the focal point. If your subject is not a person, choose the area of your frame that is closest to the camera (for macro photography) or where it will best tell the story of your photo.
Fast Shutter Speed
If you keep your shutter speed higher, it will help keep your photos sharp. When photographing kids, I definitely recommend keeping the shutter speed above 1/200. As a good rule of thumb, keep your shutter speed at least the same as your focal length (i.e. focal length 100mm = 1/100 shutter speed. Make sure you have plenty of light because the higher your shutter speed, the less light you are allowing into the sensor. This matters because you want to allow enough light in order for the lens to properly focus.
Watch Your DOF
It’s very tempting to want to shoot at F/1.8 (or even F/1.2) all the time, but you’ll very quickly realize that it’s nearly impossible to get a useable shot when your depth of field (DOF) is that low because there is very little in focus. The more people you have in your frame, the higher your F-stop needs to be in order to have everyone in focus. Be specific with where you want your focus to be, and practice, practice, practice!