Have you ever gotten home from taking photos on your camera, only to realize that many of them are fuzzy, blurry, or simply out of focus? You’re not alone in this issue! Trust me! I’ve had my fair share of frustrations from missed focus or improper settings issues when I first started learning Photography! The key is to learn how to fix those mistakes moving forward!
If you’re having a similar issue, don’t worry! I’m here to help, with just a few simple things you can do to make sure your photos are as sharp as possible!
#1 - Most likely, it’s simply a focus issue.
You’ll want to look up how to calibrate each of your lenses to your camera. Each lens could be just the tiniest bit off from where you’re telling the camera to focus - which will cause most of your images to be just slightly off on the focus. Sometimes you can’t even tell unless you zoom in.
If you have any any filters on the front of your lens that you don’t need it at the moment, remove it! Sometimes UV or polarizing filters can reduce the sharpness.
Once you’ve done both steps above, switch your camera’s focus mode to a single point. Personally, I always keep my focus mode on the center point. I aim and press my shutter halfway to focus, recompose if needed, then press the shutter the rest of the way to take the photo. It’s easier for you to tell your camera where to focus, rather than it trying to detect what’s in view. For portraits especially, this is how to get eyes in focus and sharp, rather than the nose or cheek.
#2 - Steady Your Camera.
It seems simple enough, but worth mentioning! Steady your arms against your body while holding your camera. You’ll also want to support the camera with your left hand under the lens and base. This will ensure you’re not shaking the camera too much inadvertently!
You’ll also want to make sure you’re keeping your finger rested on your shutter button. When you’re ready to take a photo, it’s much easier to squeeze the shutter button gently, rather than resting your finger beside it or hovering over the shutter and “pushing” the button and moving the camera in the process.
#3 - Adjust Your Camera Settings.
Use a faster shutter speed. Personally, I don’t like to go below 1/160 for portraits, even if they’re sitting still.
Use a sharper aperture. Don’t shoot on the widest aperture available, as the depth of field (i.e. focus) is narrow. Instead, open up the aperture by 2 or more f/stops for a wider depth of field and get more of your subject in focus. When you’re working with a group, try matching the number of people that are in a single line to your aperture! For example, if you’re photographing 2 people, shoot at f/2.0 or 2.8. Four people at f/3.2 or 4.0. Six people at f/5.6 or 6.0, and so on. *Personally, I don’t go above about f/8 even for large groups! I’ve found that for larger groups, I’m far enough away from the group to get them all in focus still. Any more than about 8-10 people, start a second row behind the first, and so on. I also have them stand as close to each other as they can comfortably!
Lower your ISO. The higher your ISO, the more noise or graininess will be in your images. If the ISO is too high, it can make even sharp details look fuzzy.
Of course you won’t need to do all three of these steps at the same time, unless you’re outdoors where there’s plenty of light available. Shooting in Manual will allow you to adjust all three and have the most control over the outcome of your images. Try adjusting one setting at a time and see how it affects your images!
Faster Shutter = Less light. / Slower Shutter = More light.
Small Aperture (Higher #) = Less light. / Wide Aperture (Smaller #) = More light.
Lower ISO = Less sensitivity to Light. / Higher ISO = More sensitivity to Light (and more noise)
Just a note about editing: NO amount of editing can fix an image that isn’t in focus. That’s why learning to take sharper photos in-camera is key.
In my classes and one-on-one mentoring, I teach beginner photographers how to nail the exposure, white balance, focus, composition, etc. correct in-camera, so that you don’t teach yourself to rely on editing to fix issues that can be avoided by learning to shoot correctly. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the page at the top named “Classes" under “For Photographers” to see my next in-person beginner photography class dates.
I hope these tips help you! Please let me know in the comments if you’ve been working on this specifically!