Sharp… Focused… and Detailed.
That’s what you want with all your photos normally, but for some reason, your photos aren’t as crisp as your lens or camera manufacturer promised.
Take a second and look at your last 10 or 20 photos, scrutinize them, I’m sure quite a few of them aren’t focused on the right area nor as sharp as it can be, right?
The other eye isn’t in focus, the subject isn’t isolated from the background enough, or the subtle details aren’t clearly outlined.
This isn’t what the new triple lens coating and 80 point auto-focus is supposed to do!
Remember when you first upgraded from your kit lens and saw how much clearer the world can be captured? Or how that mid-end AF system snaps and confirms focus so much faster than your entry level camera felt?
You know the potential is there, all the reviews say your gear is stellar and you see your forum friends getting great, sharp captures with the same gear.
So how come your photos aren’t as sharp or as accurately focused as theirs?
Your Photos Are “Nyarp”
Recently, I came across a book titled Sharp Shooter by Martin Bailey about image sharpness, it got me thinking, what are the most common causes for unsharp (aka ‘nyarp’) photos?
We’re not talking about motion-induced blurriness here, but fundamental focusing errors that photographers unknowingly commit.
I’m certainly in that camp as I have trouble picking the right focusing spots of subjects between 20-50ft when I use modern AF cameras.
What I’ve learned from Sharp Shooter was less-than-sharp images often come down to a more complex implementation of old-school focusing techniques with modern equipment.
Accurate and fast focusing seem ubiquitous with today’s high-tech cameras. With technological advancements that find contrast edges better than ever for accurate focusing, you’d think that focusing errors are things of the past.
However, our over-reliance on technology strips us of our understanding and practice of proper focusing techniques.
Much like the advancement in metering technology made manual exposure or exposure compensation metering techniques seem obsolete on paper, any advanced photographer knows that the intuitive knowledge in knowing where to meter and how much exposure to compensate for, solid focus knowledge goes a long way in getting the most out of your equipement and subjects.
Critical Focusing Parameters
In Sharp Shooter, Martin listed the quite a number of critical focusing parameters to take note of for maximum focusing accuracy, adequate depth-of-field in the areas of focus, as well as shooting techniques, I picked the three (from many) that I found very relevant.
Where to Focus
Choosing the precise spot to focus is often an afterthought for most photographers, particularly as the subject is farther from the camera lens. However, knowing which “sub-part” of the image is the primary focus within your main subject separates a snapshot from a high-impact image.
Understanding Hyperfocal Guidelines
Many of us think the concept of hyperfocal focusing techniques are obsolete and should be left to film shooters. The camera manufacturers sure think the same way as most lenses no longer have depth-of-field indicators and hyperfocal indicators.
Also, even those who are aware of the concept think that it’s a technique that benefits landscape photographers only, but the truth is, the closer your subject is or the more magnified your point-of-focus is, the more beneficial hyperfocal focusing gets. Simply understanding one specific focal length’s common hyperfocal points can improve your image sharpness greatly.
Choosing the Right Focusing Mode and Technique On Your Camera
Different cameras (and lenses) have different focusing technique requirements even among the same brand. Your focusing technique for sharp images depend on the type of subject you shoot, the conditions where your subject is in, and how your camera’s AF sensors are designed.
The more complex the camera, the more difficult it is to master proper focusing. It’s no coincidence that we see more complains in forums about focusing errors, less-than-tack-sharp images with higher-end models than entry level 7 to 9-point AF cameras.
In order to maximize your advanced AF cameras, you have to find advanced guides on teaching you how the intricate AF systems work and test all of them to see which of the focusing modes and sensor arrangement best suit the subjects you’re shooting.
Want to Learn More Advanced Techniques In Focusing and Maximizing Sharpness?
Sharp Shooter is a book by British photographer and author, Martin Bailey teaches his proven techniques for sharper photographs. His goal of allowing photographers to have an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of proper focusing, depth-of-field analysis, and post-processing techniques so you can adapt as required for each unique photographic situation, and selecting the best method when the time comes.
Check out Sharp Shooter from Martin Bailey with this link => Click Here