- Easy setup and take down
- High load performance
- Multi-angle legs
- Easy locking mechanisms
- Rubber feet with spike options
- Why You Need to Shoot in Program Mode
- ISO Explained for Beginner Photographers
- Beginner Photography Tip: Understanding Autofocus Points
Tell me if this sounds familiar...
You head out shooting, take great photos of landscapes, cityscapes, people, or whatever sort of subject suits your fancy, and come home, excited to view your shots.
And though the shots looked spot-on when you viewed them on your camera's LCD, when they're blown up to full size on your computer screen, you notice something horrible - the images aren't sharp.
It's happened to all of us at one point or another, so you aren't alone in your woe.
And as discouraging as it is to have photos that fail on the sharpness front, there's a ton of easy tricks you can use to get sharper photos.
Use a Tripod
One of the easiest and most effective things you can do to get sharper photos is to simply use a tripod.
No matter how still you think you are when you're holding your camera, you still move - your hands, your arms, heck, your whole body!
By removing the responsibility of holding the camera from you and putting it on a tripod, you instantly have a better chance of a sharp photo.
But don't think that any old tripod will do, either.
Cheap tripods can be difficult to use, flimsy in their construction, and if there's a breeze, they can vibrate as well.
But if you opt for a well-built tripod you can get around all those issues.
When looking for a good tripod, consider a few features as being essential:
These features not only make a tripod easy to use, but they also help make it more stable.
Top-end tripods like those from Vanguard sport these features and more.
Take the Vanguard VEO 235AB (shown above and below) as a prime example.
It's got rapid column rotation for instant setup and easy takedown, and with large leg locks, you don't have to fumble around trying to lock the legs in place, either.
If you're shooting outdoors on rough terrain, the VEO 235AB has rubberized feet, and you can add feet spikes as well, making it even more stable.
This tripod comes with various leg angle options, too, meaning you can shoot from eye level all the way down to just inches above the ground for more interesting shots, as seen above.
Add in a TBH-50 Ball Head with an integrated bubble level, and you'll have the ability to get your shots perfectly straight and move your camera around with ease!
This tripod is also small, lightweight, compact, and budget-friendly, too, making it an ideal solution for photographers that want sharper photos but don't want to carry around a giant (or expensive) tripod.
Check out the VEO line on tripods and other gear from Vanguard in the video above.
Use Image Stabilization
Image stabilization is a feature offered on many cameras (and lenses) that helps give you a few extra stops of shutter speed to keep your images sharp.
For example, without image stabilization, you might only be able to use a shutter speed of 1/30 seconds before the image becomes blurry due to camera shake.
But with image stabilization, you might be able to slow the shutter down to around 1/10 seconds or 1/15 seconds and get the same level of sharpness.
Image stabilization is handy for many situations, but particularly when you're using a long lens or you're shooting in low lighting.
In those situations, the shutter speed has to be slowed down such that the camera sensor has enough light for a good exposure.
This isn't to say that image stabilization will prevent blurry images in each and every situation. But it will work well for preventing blur from those slight movements when you're handholding your camera in low lighting or when you're using a long lens.
Image stabilization varies from one manufacturer to the next. Refer to your camera's or lens's owner's manuals for more details on the specific type of image stabilization they offer and how to use it.
Try Different Camera Settings
You can also adjust your camera's settings to try to overcome blurry images.
If you find that the images are blurry due to camera shake, switch your camera to a semi-automatic mode like shutter priority so you can set a faster shutter speed and allow the camera to adjust the aperture for a good exposure.
You might also try shooting in program mode, in which the camera selects aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, but you can override any of them to get a better shot.
Speaking of ISO, since it's responsible for the sensitivity of the sensor to light, using a higher ISO value allows for a faster shutter speed.
For example, if you're shooting in program mode and the image is blurry, simply adjust the ISO upwards (i.e., from 400 to 800) to allow the camera to use a faster shutter speed. On many cameras, this is as simple as pressing the ISO button on the top or back of the camera (as seen below) and choosing a higher value.
Sometimes, blurriness in photos is due to the focal point the camera uses to determine focus.
When the camera is in autofocus mode, it might select a point on an object in the shot that's not the primary subject, such as a foreground element that's nearer the camera than the subject.
You can get around this issue by manually choosing the autofocus point yourself.
The process for doing so varies from one camera to the next, so you'll need to consult your owner's manual for details on how to do that.
Even the focus mode you use can have an impact on the sharpness of your images.
For example, single shot autofocus is great for subjects that are still, like a person sitting down for a portrait.
But for moving subjects, continuous autofocus is a better bet because it allows the camera to track the subject as it moves and maintain focus on it throughout its movements.
Again, this is simply a matter of understanding what options your camera has and knowing how to use them to your advantage to get a better shot.
Get an overview of some of these techniques - and other techniques as well - for getting the sharpest images in the video above by PhotoRecTV.