Reasons Behind Your Unsharp Photos

Having at least some part to be sharp in every image is a goal for most photographers. But it doesn’t always turn out that way, specially for photographers who are in the process of learning photography for the first time. After all, several things can put a stop to sharp photos. The list below is not a complete list as you can find many other difficulties just waiting to blur your images. We chose only the problems that you always have to look out for.

Handheld shots for long exposures

Your arms aren’t as stable as a tripod. They shake a little, and so for handheld shots, you cannot set your shutter speed to a very low value. Telephoto lenses can significantly magnify distant subjects, but every millimeter of hand motion can mean as much as a meter-wide jump for the objects in the frame. The general rule of thumb is that you can use a shutter speed of up to [1/focal length] seconds. So with a wide, 24mm lens, you can use up to 1/30 seconds approximately, while a telephoto lens with a 400mm focal length will need a much shorter time: 1/400 second. If there’s not sufficient light for the shot, then you need to increase the ISO, decrease aperture value or use the stabiliser if your camera or lens which comes with stabilisation. When none of these options works, then you can shoot using a tripod or lay your camera on a flat surface. If there’s nothing usable around, then you can support with your hands against your body. That gives you more steadiness, and so you can use somewhat longer times. By leaning against a tree, you can improve things even more.

Times Too Long for the Action

You can keep the camera as steady as you want, but if you’re photographing humans or other living beings, their movement in images will be blurry. So, when shooting social events, you keep to a shutter speed of 1/125 second or faster than that. Or at worst at a shutter speed of 1/60 seconds, but in that case, be prepared to risk having blurring in your images. If you want to capture sports, you’ll find that even shorter shutter speeds are required. They can need shutter speeds as fast as 1/400 seconds, depending upon the sport and the photo’s style. Here neither a stabiliser nor a tripod will assist you, so if you’re shooting within a hall with a restricted amount of light, unfortunately, the only answer is a good camera and lens which works well in low light.

Not Using a Tripod

But there are also images that instantly demand a tripod. Special shots like long exposure photos of the milky way or star trail shots or panning of moving cars etc. A tripod can assist you to maintain shutter speeds that are much much longer. But to work with a tripod isn’t as easy as it might seem. We recommend you to research which kind of tripod you may require and about tripod mounts, weights and so on before investing on one.

Leaving the Stabiliser on

While it’s best to leave the stabiliser switched on in low light conditions, there are also cases where it’s best to keep it off. These mainly refer to when capturing photos using a tripod, where a stabiliser will start vibrating your whole body due to the motor. Certain stabilisers only allow you to turn it “on” and “off”, but some also provide a third choice, “on for one axis only”. This fixes the problem of panning etc when the stabiliser is on.

Leaving the Stabiliser off

Photographers many times forget to turn the stabiliser back on after shooting on a tripod. And also, sometimes they might accidentally push its physical switch while manipulating the lens, or while taking the camera out of the bag. That’s why it is best to stay alert and, if the image in the frame is unusually shaky, double-check if the stabiliser is turned on.

Low Depth of Field

Difficulty with low Depth of Field is mainly displayed in two situations. The first is when you are using a DSLR with a prime lens and an f-stop of say f/1.8 which is a great low light choice mostly. It gives you a superb optical detachment of subjects from their background by using bokehs. The trouble comes when photographing more than one subject in one frame who are standing in different focal planes. You need to keep in your mind that for images like these, you have to keep aside the block lenses or increase your aperture value to f/4 or above to keep all the subjects in focus. Otherwise, all it takes is for one subject in the group to take a half-step back or front, and they get out of focus. Another problem shows itself when you are capturing landscapes, and you want to capture both small objects and a far horizon. Sometimes even the highest f-stop isn’t enough, and the only answer is to merge a picture from two images, one focussed closer and the other farther.

Bad Focus

Sometimes the automatic focus in the camera can be faulty too. It is sometimes disturbed by small nearby objects such as bushes behind people or moving objects in the background. Bushes provide lots of high-contrast points that your camera is happy to focus on. So for such a situation, all you need to do is turn off autofocus and focus your subject using the focus ring manually on the lens. Macro shots require high levels of focussing and it is often advisable to use manual focus for the same.

A Defective or Low-quality Lens

Once we get down to minutely examining a photograph on a pixel level, there is a clear difference between an expensive, high-quality lens and a lower-quality one that is supplied with beginner cameras. If you are bothered by blurry lenses, there is only one solution: research about the lenses and spend on a decent one. After the research, you may see there’s also a difference between a good lens and a great lens. If you consistently get bad results when the reviews say you shouldn’t, it’s time to take your lens into the shop for cleaning or other defects.

Bad or Dirty Filters

A good lens is a good beginning, but you can always make it terrible with a filter. There’s no risk with good filters, but look out for low-budget ones as they can pose problems for the lens during focussing which can cause blur and even add overexposed spots on the photographs.

No Computer Sharpening

Knowledgeable photographers always sharpen their images after reducing them down to presentation size. If you just reduce the picture size without sharpening them afterward, your work will probably look unprofessional at best.

You might already be well-known with the above mentioned points, but some might be new for you. No matter what, it is good to be cautious, and, if supreme sharpness is your goal, shoot slow and steady. As soon as something seems fishy, go ahead and look into the problem. Nonetheless, for other problems, you need to understand where they are coming from and try to check if any of the above mentioned things can help you out. Make sure you do not let any dust or other particles fall on the sensor or the lens when changing lenses outdoor. Your reward will be images that are sharp and stand out from the rest.

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