It is one thing to own a digital camera and another to be able to take tack sharp photos with it all the time. A tack sharp image is simply a well-focused image with enough details and corner to corner sharpness. Taking tack sharp photos with your mobile phone or camera is no rocket science although there are lots of things one needs to get right. When I started out as a photographer, one major hurdle I encountered was the incessant out of focus and blurry images I got out of my camera every now and then, which is why I am going to show you how to take tack sharp photos with your camera, even with your little smart phone!
Reasons why your photos are blurry (out of focus)
Some reasons why most people end up with blurry and out of focus images are:
- Slow shutter speed
- Very high ISO value
- Faulty lens
- Focus not properly acquired
Setting up your camera
The first step in getting tack sharp photos from your camera or phone is setting it up the right way to do so (to take tack sharp photos). There are several settings we are going to explore in order to achieve this. One of the most important things to do in order to get tack sharp photos from your digital camera is to shoot in manual mode, that way; you are in total control of your digital camera or mobile phone (some smart phones supports full manual shooting mode). Let us now take a look at some other stuffs you need to do to in order get tack sharp photos from your digital camera or mobile phone one by one:
The first thing you want to do is to adjust your apertuure. Generally most digital cameras produce the sharpest of images at an aperture of f5.6-f8.0. If you are doing a portrait shoot, you want to keep your aperture at the widest in order to create a more shallow depth of field (f1.2-f4.0). Have it at the back of your mind that at an aperture of f1.2-f2.0, it will take much more time for your camera to auto focus. When shooting a group with multiple rows; use a larger f-stop number (f9 and above), in order to keep everyone in the group in focus.
Read more: how to take amazing group photographs
After setting your camera’s aperture, the next thing to do is to set your shutter speed. When shooting handheld, you need to adhere strictly to these rules I am going to give you in order not to end up with blurry photos especially if you own a lens that can go above 100mm. It is a very simple rule; set your shutter speed to match whatever focal length you are shooting in (shutter speed=focal length). This applies to full frame cameras (35mm cameras)
From this little rule of ours, if you are shooting with your lens zoomed out to a focal length of 100mm, then your shutter speed should be at least 1/100 of a second or above. But this is never the case if you are shooting with a cropped sensor camera. You need to consider the crop factor when trying to figure out the focal length. A focal length of 50mm on a Nikon cropped sensor camera (1.5x crop factor) is 50 multiplied by 1.5 which is 75mm (full frame equivalent of 50mm), then your shutter speed will be at least 1/75 of a second.
- Shooting at 35mm will be 35 x 1.5 which is equal to 53mm which makes our shutter speed at least 1/53 of a second.
- Shooting at 100mm will be 100 x 1.5 which is equal to 150mm which makes our shutter speed at least 1/150 of a second.
The ISO is responsible for how sensitive a camera’s sensor is to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive a sensor will be to light. A high ISO value will lead to digital noise and artifacts in an image, which affects the overall sharpness and details in a photo. Keep your ISO value as low as possible if you are shooting with an older entry level DSLR (ISO 800 max); a point-and-shoot and mobile phone (ISO 400 max). Newer DSLRs and full frame digital cameras have better high ISO performance.
Another thing you want to get right is every setting related to focusing. Set your metering mode to “matrix” (nikon) “evaluative” (canon) “multi” (sony). This allows your camera to access and measure the whole light across a scene. Stay away from “multi” focus area and stick with “center” focus area. For portraitures, try to focus on the eye of your subject. You can always press the shutter button halfway, lock focus and then recompose your shots accordingly. You can also change the focus point of your camera in order to select a particular spot to focus on. Zoom in 100% into any image you take in order to confirm that the image is in focus.
You have to keep your hands as steady a possible if you are shooting handheld. Ask your subject to stand as still as possible to avoid motion blur especially in low light condition. One trick I use most times is to take a deep breathe, press the shutter button half, exhale and then press the shutter button all the way down. This will help you keep your hands as steady as possible.
One way to achieve a better focus is by looking for contrast in a scene and using it as your focus area. Look for edges, lines, buttons, and any contrasty object in the scene and focus on. Your camera will have a hard time trying to focus on objects with plain single color, example focusing on a plain white wall or material will be one heck of a task for any digital camera.
Turn on your camera’s focus confirmation sound and always keep an eye on the little green box at the center of your digital camera’s LCD which turns green when focus is achieved successfully. Take two or three images of your subject in succession while focusing and re-focusing multiple times. This is just to ensure you get at least one image in focus.
Shooting the night sky, city lights, night traffic? Then a tripod is your best friend. Invest in a tripod of good quality and do not hesitate to use it whenever the need arises. A tripod allows you to use a slower shutter speed with no risk of camera shake compared to shooting handheld with a slow shutter speed.
Like I said earlier, taking tack sharp photos with your camera is no rocket science. One other thing I failed to mention is your lens. Your lens may be dirty which may be giving your phone or camera a hard time to focus correctly. Get a lens cleaning kit and clean your lens properly or take it to any camera store near you and get it cleaned. Get a new lens if you suspect your lens is going bad, because a bad lens will never focus properly.
I believe you have learnt a new technique for taking tack sharp photos with your phone and camera. If you are still having difficulties getting tack sharp photos from your phone and digital camera, kindly use the comment box below and I will attend you to you instantly. Do not forget to drop your queries and contributions below.