3 Reasons Why Your Photos Aren’t Sharp

June 7, 2018

01 | Shutter Speed

No matter what subject you’re shooting, there’s a minimum shutter speed that you should be using if you’re holding your camera by hand.

The general rule of thumb is: your shutter speed should be at least 1/focal length of your lens or faster. 

The focal length is the number on your lens followed by “mm”. So for example, I have both a 50mm lens and a 24-105mm lens.

If I follow this general rule of thumb, when I’m shooting handheld with my 50mm, my shutter speed should not go any lower than 1/50. When I’m shooting handheld with my 24-105mm lens, my shutter speed should not go any lower than 1/105.

If you don’t follow this rule, there’s a possibility you’ll end up with camera shake. Camera shake is when your camera moves while the shutter is open, causing blurry photos. By knowing what your minimum shutter speed needs to be, you can avoid this.

Shutter speed: 1/50

When you’re working with moving subjects, sometimes it’s tricky to determine the proper shutter speed. To freeze motion and get really sharp images, the general rule is: the faster your subject, the faster your shutter speed needs to be.

For the seagull photo below, I used a shutter speed of 1/1600 which was fast enough to freeze its movement. Say, for example, I had my shutter speed at 1/200 for this shot instead. At 1/200, the seagull probably would’ve been blurred because 1/200 would have been too slow of a shutter speed for this particular subject.

Shutter speed: 1/1600

02 | Focus points

Another reason you’re not getting sharp images might simply be due to the fact that your focus is off. Either your focus point was in the wrong spot or your subject moved and your camera didn’t track its movement.

If you’ve been shooting in fully automatic mode (A+), then your camera is choosing your focus points for you. By switching over to manual mode, you are now in control of where your camera focuses.

03 | high iso

Really high ISOs create grain or “noise”, which can greatly diminish photo quality and impact sharpness.

The general rule of thumb is, the lower the ISO, the better the image quality. Keep in mind that higher quality cameras and lenses can handle higher ISOs better than cheaper ones can.