A sharp picture: 12 tips

The plague of many photographs and photographic hardware devices is of not being able to produce nicely sharp pictures, nearly crunchy images (Nota bene: I do understand that this is not the ultimate goal of a photographer and that many a picture is technically mediocre or fuzzy or foggy and still is a great photograph).

A few tips and tricks I grouped for you in order to reach the maximum possible sharpness on your photos (and my photos):

  • Light: Darkness is not favorable; It brings fuzziness when the subject moves and a difficult automated focus.
  • Speed: A fast shutter speed is good to freeze the subject in place.
  • tripod: In order to be stable, there is no better solution than screwing the camera to a good old sturdy tripod.
  • ISO: Choose a sensitivity high enough for the shutter to stop all movement, but not too high (to avoid blowing the digital noise up).
  • Autofocus: An AF finely tuned (for those who have micro-setting of the AF), using the AF in the right mode (according to the subject -moving or not- there are different AF modes on your SLR).
  • Autofocus Zones: The choice of the AF zone(s) is also critical (it is all too often to focus on the background rather than the model). It is quite important to focus on the eye of the subject rather than on the nose.
  • Subject: If everything else is already optimized (especially in low light), make sure that the subject itself does not move.
  • Sensor: Of course, use a camera whose sensor is as high resolution as possible; But do not let figures fool you: The more resolution, the more digital noise. do not use a 10MP+ P&S, or a 18MP+ D-SLR with an ASP-C sensor, for example).
  • Lens: It’s always better to use a lens with a pro sharpness (and a pro price, too) but each glass has its optimal conditions for use (hardly the full aperture, often not the most closed diaphragm).
  • Filter: shun unnecessary filters (like the Skylights or the UVA/UVB) or low quality filters (who add their own optical defects to those from the lens).
  • Software: Do not push to the limit of the noise reduction software settings (while NR crunches noise, it also removes details and image crunchiness).
  • Format: Avoid JPEG or use JPEG at a low compression rate (the compression artifacts start by eroding the fine quality of your image). Stay in RAW (or in TIFF)