You spent all that money on your photo equipment. Of course, you want the equipment to produce the highest quality images possible. Part of that quality is determined by the image sharpness. To help ensure that you get the sharpest images possible from your equipment, this article covers seven techniques that improve image sharpness.
Use a Tripod
The tripod is the place to start to get sharp images. The tripod provides a very stable base for the camera that will increase the sharpness of your images compared to hand held shots.
Weighting the Tripod
A tripod is a good start. However, a tripod can be made even more stable by using some object to weigh down the tripod. This produces even sharper images. This is so important that many tripods have some type of mechanism at the bottom of the center post that was designed for hanging objects to add weight to the tripod. A simple way to take advantage of this feature is to carry a small net bag with your photo equipment. The bag can be filled with rocks, or other materials, and attached to the tripod. Even if a tripod doesn’t have such a mechanism, other methods can be used such as hanging a camera bag from the center column of the tripod.
Use a Shutter Release
Just because a camera is on a tripod doesn’t mean that the camera will be steady. The simple act of pressing the shutter can cause vibrations that will cause a loss of sharpness. The solution is simple. A remote switch can be used to release the shutter. A remote switch is a device that attaches to the camera through a cable, or wirelessly, and allows the photographer to release the shutter without touching the camera.
Activating Mirror Lock Up
With all the precautions that you have already gone through, you can still have problems with image sharpness due to mirror vibration. This is caused because SLR cameras (i.e., camera with interchangeable lenses) have a mirror that must swing up and out of the way before the image can be captured on the film or sensor. When this mirror swings up, vibration results. This vibration causes the biggest problems with shutter speeds between about 1/30 second and 1 second. Lucky for us, there is a simple solution. Most SLR cameras have a mirror lock up function that allows the mirror to be locked up before an image is taken. This completely resolves the mirror vibration problem.
Chose Your Aperture
The middle apertures (around f/8 for most lenses) produce the sharpest images. The larger apertures produce softer images due to various aberrations while the smaller apertures produce softer images due to diffraction.
Selecting the Shutter Speed
So, your tripod is stable, and you have chosen a sharp aperture. You are still not out of the woods yet. The subject that you are photographing may be moving. Consequently, you must choose a high enough shutter speed to stop the subject’s motion.
Selecting the ISO
What do you do if you are still having trouble with image sharpness due to the motion of the subject? The simplest solution is to increase your ISO. With the higher ISO, you will be able to choose a faster shutter speed and freeze the subject motion.
You now have an arsenal of techniques from which you can select in order to create great, sharp photos.