4 Ways to Get Sharper Pictures

January 23, 2014

4 Ways to Get Sharper PicturesYou can boost color saturation and crop loose backgrounds with image editing software, but there’s not much you can do with blurry photos. Before you start clicking away, use these four tips to get sharper pictures at the time of exposure.

Set your camera’s shutter speed. The time-value (TV) setting on your single-lens reflex (SLR) camera determines how fast the shutter opens and closes during each exposure. Known as shutter speed, this feature can make or break your picture; too slow, and you’re left with blur.

The unwritten rule among photographers is never let the shutter speed go below what you can handhold successfully, which for many people is 1/60th of a second. Examples of slow shutter speeds that would cause blur include 1/15, 1/30 and 1/45th of a second. Shutter speeds of longer than a second will also blur without the use of camera support. When in doubt, choose a shutter speed of 1/400th of a second or faster for most subjects.

Use a camera support. If you have shaky hands, hand holding your camera simply isn’t a good idea. Instead, use a monopod, tripod or bean bag support to keep the camera steady while you take pictures. The use of a self-timer or remote can also help keep your hands off the camera at the moment the shutter fires.

Pick the best lens for the job. The shorter the lens, the easier it is to hold steady. So, always choose the smallest lens that will get the job done. The old rule of thumb is always keep your shutter speed at least the inverse of the lens focal length. So, if you’re shooting with a 100mm lens, don’t drop below 1/100th of a second shutter speed.

If you’re photographing athletics with a long telephoto lens to get close-up shots, it’s nearly impossible to keep the heavy, lengthy lens steady enough to get sharp pictures without using a support.

Know your ISO setting. If you haven’t ventured into manually setting the ISO, or film speed equivalent on a digital camera, do it now. The higher the ISO, the grainier (which looks a little like blur) your images will appear. Examples of high ISO settings include ISO 800, 1600, 3200 or 6400.

If your camera is on an automatic setting, it’s likely defaulting to a mid-range ISO, such as ISO 400. Be in control of the camera and choose the ISO you want. For example, outdoor portraits will appear much sharper shot at ISO 200 than ISO 400.

Do you have any other tips for creating sharper pictures in-camera? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Image source: SXC.HU.