Lenses not making your image sharp? Think again.

Lenses are one of the most impor­tant com­po­nents of your cam­era in terms of get­ting crisp and clear images. The lens does all the focus­ing, so the bet­ter the lens, the bet­ter the pho­to­graph (espe­cially when mak­ing enlarge­ments). How­ever, there are other ele­ments respon­si­ble for the sharp­ness of your images. Before you blame an unsharp pho­to­graph on the lens, there a few other cru­cial things to con­sider. In fact I hate to say this but the vast major­ity of unsharp shots are the result of pho­tog­ra­pher error not a lemon lens.

Shut­ter speeds that are too slow for some shots such as mov­ing tar­gets, will not pro­duce the sharp­ness you are look­ing for if you are look­ing to ‘freeze’ the action. Mov­ing tar­gets require faster shut­ter speeds. Gen­er­ally though, for objects that are not mov­ing, the rule of thumb is 1/focal length of the lens as the slow­est shut­ter speed to use while hand hold­ing a cam­era. This means that if you have a 200mm lens the SLOWEST hand­held‚ shut­ter speed you need on any sub­ject is 1/200. Choos­ing a speed slower than that intro­duces the photographer’s own move­ment into the image and sharp­ness is sac­ri­ficed. Gen­er­ally fol­low­ing this rule will give you favor­able results. Prac­tic­ing at dif­fer­ent shut­ter speeds will give you a good grasp on things; so prac­tice, prac­tice, prac­tice. While you’re prac­tic­ing, slap the lens on a tri­pod and shoot some text on a news­pa­per pasted to your wall at dif­fer­ent aper­tures. Use a cable release. Now you can gauge the sharp­ness of that lens you were questioning!

For more info on this topic click the link to our Pho­tog­ra­phy forum

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