Banishing The Fuzzies: 2 Simple Tips For Crisp, Clear Photos
by Tim Barnes · July 14, 2011
A lot of photographers feel that if only… I bought a new lens or a better camera my photographs would be better. The pros have these really expensive, high-end cameras and their photographs always turn out great, right? WRONG!
There are a lot of techniques for improving your photographs. And, most of these techniques involve working with the equipment that you’re already using. If, after improving your technique, you still can’t get as good of pictures as you want, yes, then maybe it’s time to consider better equipment.
But, there’s still a limit to that equipment, and you still need to rely on better technique – that’s what separates the amateurs from the professionals.
Here are a couple of techniques that all good-to-great photographers use to improve their image quality (note to self: duck for cover as irate photographers write in disputing the list!).
Keep your shutter speed greater than the reciprocal of your focal length
Yes, there are a lot of other confounding issues, but this is still a good, general rule. For example, if the focal length of your lens is 50mm, then your shutter speed should be faster than 1/50th second; for most cameras, this will mean that the shutter speed will be at 1/60th second or faster.
Similarly, for a lens with a focal length of 200mm, then your shutter speed will need to be faster than 1/200th second (or, faster than 1/250th second for most cameras).
It is frequently possible to shoot at one or two stops slower than what this rule states if you steady yourself and camera against a firm object (a tree or building, for example), hold your breath, and gently press the shutter button.
However, when you start using telephoto lenses on your camera it becomes very difficult to take a decent photograph (because of issues involving the available light, your sensor’s sensitivity and your aperture, along with the shutter speed) even at high shutter speeds.
Which Leads Us To The Next Option:
Tripods were invented for a reason….use them!
Even if you are shooting with a shutter speed that’s faster than the reciprocal of your focal length, the quality of your photographs will improve if you steady your camera on a tripod or something similar. The obvious thing is to have a tripod and to use it. But, if a tripod isn’t handy, then rest your camera on a table, post, or something else very solid (and, be certain that your camera won’t fall off ). This technique can allow you to get into your family portrait, too. Out of all of the techniques that I’ve used to improve my photographs, using a tripod is the single biggest improvement.
For a poor man’s tripod (particularly if you’re traveling light), purchase a bolt at the hardware store that’s a ¼” in diameter, maybe an inch long, with a number 20 thread (aka a “1/4 20” bolt), and preferably made of nylon (take your camera with you!). While you’re there, buy a large, heavy washer, maybe two inches in diameter. Screw the nylon bolt into the tripod socket on the bottom of your camera. Tie a length of cord (maybe five feet, depending on how tall you are) to the bolt, and tie the other end to the washer. When you’re ready to take a photograph with your new “tripod,” place your foot on the washer on the ground and then create tension on the cord from your camera by gently pulling up so that your camera moves less.
This simple technique will help you to stabilize your camera and take better photographs!!!