25 Ways to Get Sharpness in Your Photographs

There are few things in your life as a photographer that can obsess you as much as get sharp photos. The search for perfect sharpness is a journey that begins with taking the first pictures, and continues tirelessly camera by camera, lens by lens, until you either master it or settle for it and learn to live without it.

Has it ever happened to you that after taking a photo and seeing it on the camera screen you think you have taken the best photo ever taken, but then when you download it to the computer, and see it in a larger size, you begin to notice that that Magnificent perfectly sharp photograph, has it lost part of its charm?

Sharpness is not everything, but mastering it is a big step for any photographer to take a leap in quality in their photographs. In today’s article I bring you 25 tips that will help you achieve sharpness in all your photos. Are you going to miss it?

What is sharpness in photography?

Before telling you what are the most practical ways to achieve sharpness in each of your photographs, we must define what sharpness is:

Sharpness is a quality of sharpness, and sharp means clear, clean, that can be distinguished well without confusion.

A photograph is sharp when the object, subject or scene of interest to be photographed are well contrasted, that is, they can be clearly distinguished, they are perfectly focused and well defined. Remember that photography tries to emulate what you see with your own eyes.

From what I have just told you, it follows that sharpness depends on both the focus (definition) and the acutance (contrast). These two parameters are essential to be able to achieve maximum sharpness in your photographs: but what does each one mean?

  • Acutance: It is the degree of contrast that you can observe in the limit between the details of the photograph, which differ by their luminance or optical density. In other words, when you increase the contrast, the image looks sharper, but be careful that if you contrast too much, you can end up losing details.
  • Approach: We can say that an object is in focus when the light rays “coming” from it converge (cross) at the focal plane. Translated into Spanish, this means that an object is in focus when the light it emits, passing through the lens, is directed towards the sensor in focus, that is, sharp.

The presence or absence of sharpness will depend on what you are trying to communicate with your photographs. Not always everything has to be perfectly clear, but this will depend on where you want to direct attention in your photographs or how you want to convey the message with them.

There are photographs where sharpness is not an important factor, such as photographs that seek to capture and transmit movement, but in others, such as landscapes, sharpness becomes a fundamental factor.

Why is it important to get sharp photos?

Achieving perfect sharpness is not everything, in fact, the great masters of photography could only dream of achieving the sharpness that is possible today, thanks to advances in technology and even so, they have paved the way for all the next generations of photographers.

Sharpness helps us to appreciate an image in a “not uncomfortable” way. What does this mean? Because the human eye sees everything on which it focuses its vision clearly and it is desirable that when you take a photograph, especially those where you try to highlight one subject over others, it is clear. Otherwise, the photography can be very good, but it will not be enough to be excellent.

Observe the following image of this beautiful girl, it complies with the photographic rules, the position, the framing, the model, the expression, everything is spectacular. But don’t you notice anything strange when you look into her eyes?

partial sharpness

When looking at the small photo, the lack of sharpness in his gaze will hardly be noticeable (the same thing that happens when you look at your photos on the camera screen), which is the most attractive thing about photography. Her eyes are a little out of focus, not quite sharp, which makes a photograph that could be from a catalog just a beautiful photo of a girl.

In order for you to achieve the perfect sharpness in your photos, you have to get a little finicky and demanding. It is a process of continuous improvement, so it will require patience and a lot of practice. Leave your comfortable chair behind and go out to take photos.

How to take sharp photos?

Sharpness is not everything, but it is of great help when it comes to achieving the best results with your photographs. As I told you in the article 14 tips to photograph this Christmas, if you are already able to achieve spectacular photos without paying too much attention to whether or not they are perfectly sharp, imagine how incredible your photographs will be when you concentrate on everything that Interested in highlighting, come out perfectly clear!

The sharpness in each of your photographs depends on many factors, some controllable, such as the focal length or avoiding vibrations, and others with which you have to learn to live, such as the limitations of your equipment.

Each of these factors will decrease the sharpness of your photos, so your photos will improve greatly if you pay attention to the following Tips for getting sharp photos:

  1. Get the juice out of your team
  2. Set up your camera
  3. Always keep your goals clean
  4. be careful with filters
  5. Choose your goal well
  6. ISO, to the minimum possible
  7. Use middle openings
  8. The faster the better
  9. Inverse Focal Rule
  10. Use the hyperfocal
  11. Find the best exposure
  12. Firmly hold the camera
  13. get a tripod
  14. Remote Switch
  15. raise the mirror
  16. Adjust the focus mode
  17. Be careful when reframing
  18. Use precise focus
  19. zoom in
  20. Practice manual focus
  21. take care of lighting
  22. Use contrasting backgrounds
  23. Get closer to the reason
  24. Compose at the time of shooting
  25. Shoot in RAW

Now let’s see point by point.

team selection

1. Get the juice out of your team

Not all photographers have the possibility of having the latest camera or the most expensive lens, so to get the most out of your equipment you must know it to the fullest. Reading the manual can be boring but I assure you that if you do, you will discover functions that you did not imagine that your equipment had.

2. Set up your camera

One of the functions that you may not have known about and that most advanced SLR and compact cameras have is that of being able to configure the sharpness and contrast parameters from their menu. May appear as sharpness, sharpnessdefinition, etc

Arm yourself with patience and start testing which configuration best suits your taste, although I recommend you not to maximize these settings as they can generate aberrations. And keep in mind that, depending on the conditions where you are going to take your photos, you may have to readjust all these parameters.

3. Always keep your goals clean

If you wear glasses you will understand more than anyone what I am talking about. The stains on the lenses of the objectives will also reduce the sharpness of your photographs, so try to always keep them clean. I recommend you read the following articles: Lens Cleaning: The Basics You Need to Know and The Complete Guide: Cleaning Tips For SLR Cameras.

4. Be careful with filters, they can reduce sharpness

As I told you in the article 8 ways to improve your photos thanks to a filter, not all photos will require a filter to take them. If we talk about sharpness, this becomes even more important since filters also reduce sharpness in photographs. And it was to be expected that if you put a few bucks filter ahead of your much more expensive lens, some undesirable effect should show up, in this case loss of sharpness. If you are looking for maximum sharpness, I recommend that you remove the filter.

5. Choose your goal well

The objective that you are going to use when you go out to take your photos will also have a great impact on the sharpness of your photographs. The objectives are built with a variable number of elements (crystals) that inside direct the light towards the sensor. With the more elements that are built, the lower the quality of the final photographs. Lenses with fixed focal lengths offer higher quality and therefore sharpness than the same ones with variable focal length, not for nothing they cost more than double. If you have one, feel free to use it. If you have any questions regarding focal lengths, I recommend that you read the following article: Focal length of objectives and lenses. You can put it into practice virtually using the Nikkor lens simulator.

Lens construction plays an essential role in achieving sharpness

Setting up the equipment for a sharp shot

6. ISO, to the minimum possible

The higher the ISO sensitivity, the more noise will appear in your photo, and therefore, less sharpness. Use, as far as possible, low ISO values ​​as long as the photograph is not underexposed, otherwise you will lose contrast (acutance) and therefore sharpness.

Likewise, don’t be afraid to increase the ISO sensitivity, it’s better for the photo to have a little noise than for it to be blurred, but be careful to do it in conditions where you won’t lose too much quality: if you increase the ISO, don’t underexpose the photo because noise will spoil your photography. Do tests with your camera and see what is the maximum noise you tolerate in your photographs.

7. Use middle openings

All lenses have their “sweet spot”, ie their point of maximum quality level, in the opening midpoints. The maximum sharpness is usually achieved when using f/8 to f/11 apertures (approximately half the minimum aperture). The intermediate openings allow the camera to use the center of the lens, its sweet spot, and not capture light coming from the edges of these, which is where the greatest distortions occur.

8. The faster the better

Do not be afraid, there is no fine here! The higher the shutter speed, the less camera shake, and therefore the sharper. Increase the speed enough so that the photo does not come out blurred. There is a rule that will help you know what is the minimum speed at which you should shoot in order to ensure that your photo does not come out blurred: use a speed equal to or greater (faster) than the focal length used. Let’s see it in the next point.

9. Inverse Focal Rule

As I was saying, use this simple inverse focal rule:

Shutter speed = 1 / focal length used

Example: if you are using the prince of lenses: 50 mm 1.8 without stabilization on a Nikon APS-C camera (not Full Frame), the minimum speed at which you must shoot so that your photograph does not come out blurred is: 1/75 of second.

Why 1/75 and not 1/50? Because being an APS-C sensor it is smaller than…