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03-30-2020, 02:32 PM   #1
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Focussing for sharp images.

I have always tried to get the sharpest images in my photos and have been advised that, in addition to buying the best cameras and lenses that I can afford, I should pay attention to my photographic techniques. I know about holding the camera steady, increasing the ISO to allow faster speeds, spot metering, stopping down the aperture, etc. but are there other things a pro adopts to get sharp photos? I always use auto focussing. except when I use an older lens that requires manual. The results are usually fine but can I get better results? I am wondering if there are occasions when a pro would use manual focussing to get that extra bit of resolution. Manual or auto may not make much difference in long-distance shots where the depth of field is large enough to handle sloppy focussing, but is it a good idea to resort to manual for close up shots. When should manual be preferred over auto? What say ye learned Pentaxians?


Last edited by psoo; 03-30-2020 at 05:33 PM.
03-30-2020, 02:44 PM - 1 Like   #2
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It may seem to obvious, but well, how about tripods?
03-30-2020, 02:51 PM   #3
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Don't forget about using LiveView as an aid for optimal focus accuracy and achieving image sharpness, if the subject allows it.
03-30-2020, 02:56 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by psoo Quote
When should manual be preferred over auto?
For macro purposes.
Another thing to consider is testing your lenses for back and front focus.

03-30-2020, 03:34 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Two that come to mind are smooth shutter operation and shooting in bursts.
03-30-2020, 04:02 PM   #6
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Two other factors that influence sharpness are the weight of the camera and the length of the lens. A heavier camera reduces movement because a greater force is needed to accelerate the mass (f=m.a). You can easily increase the weight by adding a battery grip. A shorter lens is favourable too, the opposite of a telelens.
03-30-2020, 04:10 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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I have worked as a professional photographer for many years and I almost always used a tripod and still do. It's an absolute, as far as I'm concerned, if you want sharper images. I would guess that over 85% of my photos where taken with a tripod. It gives maximum flexibility in controlling motion allowing me to shoot at very slow shutter speeds to get that milky look of water or getting the f-stop up higher to obtain greater depth of field and keeping the ISO low for better quality images.

Most people don't like carrying a tripod and while I would prefer not to, it makes an enormous difference. When I can, I also use a remote shutter release or shoot with the 2 second timer especially when I'm using slow shutter speeds. By the way if your using a tripod turn the camera's SR off

There are also technics I use for photographing moving animals and birds which helps me a lot. It takes a bit of practice but it's a skill worth learning. In tracking animals especially birds I always use the Viewfinder and not Live View. I find I have more successes tracking using the Viewfinder. Using the Viewfinder I keep both eyes open, one eye is watching for the bird inside the camera frame the other eye is looking at the overall scene outside of the camera, that way if the bird goes beyond the camera frame the other eye picks it up and I can then reposition the camera to get the bird in the frame again and it can happen very quickly it almost happens automatically.

When I'm shooting I usually use the spot focus setting. When photographing moving subjects (with the background a long way from the subject like birds against a sky) I change the focus setting to Expanded Auto Focus (getting the 33 focus points) and to Continuous Focus, this almost works like a focus limiter on a telephoto lens and reduces the amount of hunting the camera has to do as the subject moves through the image frame.

I also use the USER settings on the camera, and save such features to different USER numbers, I have one set up for photographing birds as I mentioned above, another set up for using my older lens and using the camera similar to having a motion sensor with Catch-In-Focus and another for Astro. It is so much faster to use the USER settings then to try and dig through the various menu settings to find what I want.

When I'm finished a shoot I always put the User setting back to my normal settings so when I pick up the camera another day I know what it is set for. I learned this the hard way after having been at a shoot and couldn't figure out why the camera was not doing what I had expected and I missed some very important shots all because I had changed a setting the previous shoot and forgot.

Getting sharpe images is part camera functions and part photographer ability.
03-30-2020, 04:50 PM - 1 Like   #8
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The Online Photographer: Open Mike: Sharp Is Another Way Photographs Can Be

03-30-2020, 06:29 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Garry Conway Quote
By the way if your using a tripod turn the camera's SR off
On my K-1, I actually get sharper results in the "shutter shock" range (1/60s - 1/200s) when I leave it on (tested on a few small primes only), enough to not have to worry about it at all. My tripod isn't flimsy, but not super-heavy either.


I haven't noticed any negative effects caused by SR on a tripod, but then it is automatically off when I use the 2s shutter delay, so it doesn't happen too often.
03-30-2020, 07:15 PM   #10
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Another trick when you don't have the option for a tripod, is the bean bag. Set the camera on a bean bag full of heavy shot (lead isn't the option much any more but steel shot works well). The heavy shot will add to the stability of the camera and you can reposition the camera fairly easily.

Relative to live view, use magnification if your camera allows (e.g. the K-1). This allows for a much more critical focus than just live-view focusing alone, and when using live view, you're guaranteed your seeing what the sensor is seeing. When using the VF, your camera has to guess at the focus using focus sensors which may not always be that good (and can vary from lens to lens).
03-30-2020, 07:28 PM - 1 Like   #11
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There is no technique or set of techniques that amount to one size fits all. Depends entirely on what you are trying to do, and what you are looking to accomplish. Just for example, if you are panning and doing an action shot where you've set your shutter speed so part of the subject shows blur (motion) where the rest of the subject is sharp- well that part of the subject being sharp is not very likely to be as sharp as your non-action shots of a solid, stationary non-live subject under good lighting conditions, where you have exercised good focus technique for that circumstance.

Different objectives, different circumstances, may also include different standards of expectations along with different techniques for success.
03-30-2020, 07:29 PM   #12
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Hmmm...I feel like I need to have a full disclosure here. So, in bringing up the whole tripod thing, I have to admit that, while I too know to use it and more often than not have one handy, I do tend to feel like, it's ok I don't want to bother setting it up and just take the shot without the tripod. I do that many more times than I break the tripod out and use it. Ok, now I have a clean chest here.
03-30-2020, 07:32 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
Hmmm...I feel like I need to have a full disclosure here. So, in bringing up the whole tripod thing, I have to admit that, while I too know to use it and more often than not have one handy, I do tend to feel like, it's ok I don't want to bother setting it up and just take the shot without the tripod. I do that many more times than I break the tripod out and use it. Ok, now I have a clean chest here.
Nothing wrong with that, as long as conditions allow for adequate shutter speed.

---------- Post added 03-30-20 at 07:33 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Kobayashi.K Quote
Two other factors that influence sharpness are the weight of the camera and the length of the lens. A heavier camera reduces movement because a greater force is needed to accelerate the mass (f=m.a). You can easily increase the weight by adding a battery grip. A shorter lens is favourable too, the opposite of a telelens.
Absolutely!
03-30-2020, 08:07 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Garry Conway Quote
When I'm finished a shoot I always put the User setting back to my normal settings so when I pick up the camera another day I know what it is set for.
No need to do that if you set your camera up using the memory settings.
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03-30-2020, 09:08 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kobayashi.K Quote
A shorter lens is favourable too, the opposite of a telelens.
I'm assuming that you mean short focal length.
If you have long, big lenses, then the addition of mass as far as possible from the camera can be helpful, it increases the polar moment of inertia which reduces the angular accelerations of hand held movement.
As an experiment I wound a 250g stick of solder around the outside of the lens hood of my DFA 150-450. It does seem to help, but can't say how much.

Cheers,
Terry
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