Five tips that will help you to make sharper images!
1. Use a tripod. This will probably have the most impact on the sharpness of your images. Unless you only want to shoot in bright hard sunlight or raise your ISO to unhealthy levels, you will probably end up in situations where there just won’t be enough light for your camera to choose a high enough shutter speed. Result? Blurred images! For instance you want to shoot a nice sunrise near a lake, or an indoor shot of your kids without ruining it with flash. In those cases you’ll need your tripod to avoid blur and save your photos. You may feel silly and uncomfortable dragging one around, but as the saying goes no pain,no gain!!
These days you can get tripods for little money that will do a decent job. They are lightweight, come in a little bag and even fit in your handluggage.
2. use a remote control or cable release. I’d say that this is probably the second most important tip. By pressing the shutter of your camera you create vibrations. To get sharp photo’s you need some way of triggering your camera without touching it. Now, you could set the self timer on your camera to introduce a couple of seconds between pressing the shutter and taking the picture. This works cause a couple of seconds is enough to eliminate the camera shake. It’s just not always practical, especially when you forgot the self timer is still on when you what to shoot that passing bird. Bye-Bye bird, bye-bye picture.
I find it much more handy to either get a cable release or even better a remote control. The latter come pretty cheap (depending on your type of camera, less than 50EUR) and have a good range, sometimes up to 100m. The good thing about remotes is that they will allow you to get in the pics without having to rush like mad because of a ticking timer.
3. Make sure your shutter time is higher than your lens focal length. This is a very simple rule of thumb but it really works. It means that if you’re shooting with a focal length of 100mm, you want to have a shutter time higher than 1/100seconds. If you shoot at 200mm, you’ll need to go for 1/200 or more. The reason being that at longer focal lenghts the slightest camera shake gets amplified a lot more than when you’re shooting wide angle. You can increase your shutter speed in aperture mode by either choosing a lower aperture or a higher ISO.
4. Shoot at your sharpest aperture. That’s right. Your lens doesn’t give you the same sharpness throughout its aperture range. As you approach the upper or lower aperture limits (for instance less than 5.6 or higher than 16) your images will become a bit softer. Often the aperture at which you’ll get the sharpest photos is around 2 stops above your minimum aperture. That is, if the lowest you can go is 4.0, then you’re likely to get your sharpest photos at around aperture 8.0. Make some tests and decide yourself, or check out test results of your lens on the net.
5. Use fill flash when you don’t have enough light. When your shutter speed drops below 1/50 of a second it will become harder to get sharp pictures whilst handholding your camera. In these situations using fill flash can save your picture. The trick though is to blend in your flash with the daylight so that you don’t get that horrible pop-up flash look. To do that you need to switch to manual mode. Then, lower your shutterspeed to around 1/15, open your flash and start shooting. The lower shutterspeed will allow the daylight to blend with the flash light. If the flash is too strong, lower its intensity until you obtain a balanced image. Give it a try!