Sharper Focus

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Ricky21, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. Ricky21

    Ricky21 TPF Noob!

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    I've had a DSLR for a little over a year now and I have been improving steadily as I learn more and more techniques. My biggest hurdle has been consistent sharpness in my photos. I have had pretty good sucess in well lit situations, such as outside or a very well lit room, but I wanted to get some tips/advice on getting sharper photos indoors. I've been shooting a lot in A/V mode at F/2.8 - F/5.6. I've tried bumping up the ISO and using an external bounce flash, but don't always like the results from the harsh flash. Any advice on getting sharper photos in these situations?

    Thank you.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    It sounds like you issue is motion blur, and not a focus issue. The shutter speed controls how motion is captured in a photo. The motion may be something moving in front of the camera, or the movement of the camera itself.

    So if your photos are blurry, my first question would be; What was the shutter speed?

    Even when maximizing your aperture and/or turning up the ISO, you are not guaranteed of getting a shutter speed fast enough to get a sharp shot. It all has to do with how much light you have. Of course, the degree of motion will determine just how fast the shutter speed needs to be.

    The rule of thumb for controlling blur from camera shake, is that you want a shutter speed of at least 1/focal length. So if you are shooting at 55mm, you will want a shutter speed of at least 1/55 (1/60). This rule goes back to the days of film, so some people include the 'crop factor' in the equation (1.6 in your case). So you would really want a shutter speed of at least 1/88 (1/90).
    When shooting in dim lighting, you may have trouble getting those speeds while maintaining proper exposure.
    If you are shooting moving subjects, like kids etc. then you may want something faster like 1/125 etc as a minimum.

    One of the main limitations to getter a faster shutter speed, is the maximum aperture of the lens. That is why many of us like to use 'faster' lenses. (larger max aperture). A common suggestion for Canon/Nikon is a 50mm F1.8 lens. At F1.8, you can get a much faster shutter speed than at F4 or F5.6.

    Upping the ISO does help, but at the cost of increased digital noise.

    Of course, another way to eliminate blur caused by motion, is to eliminate the motion. So if your subject is already still, you just have to steady the camera....a.k.a. use a tripod (or something) for support. When using a tripod, you can use any shutter speed and get reasonably sharp shots of stationary subjects.

    Lastly, if you can't use a faster lens, higher ISO or tripod etc., the alternative is to add light. Flash is the most common way. You say you don't like the results from the 'harsh flash'...well then, I'd suggest learning ways to make your flash less harsh. Using flash to your advantage is a very wide topic and there are many techniques you can use to get the results you want.
     
  3. Ricky21

    Ricky21 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you. Yes, I would say the challenge is moving subjects and trying to achieve the proper shutter speed while also getting the right exposure. I've gotten to the point where I can get pretty good expsoure, but the subject is not in complete focus. I will investigate more flash techniques as well. Thank you.
     
  4. mr sussex

    mr sussex TPF Noob!

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    I shoot available light wedding photography all the time using f/1.4 and f/1.2 prime lenses which can be picked-up for a reasonable price.

    I also shoot at high ISO, often 6400, and then reduce the noise using one of several noise reduction software packages available and they work well.

    Finally, I choose locations indoors that are the best lit and, if I can, ask the subject to stay still. You can also use a little pop of flash within the exposure set for the ambient light which will help freeze, and therefore sharpen, the image although it will not be completely blur free.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. Vautrin

    Vautrin No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What camera do you use? At least on an Olympus EVolt 520 noise @ 800 is terrible... Certainly wouldn't even use iso 400 @ a wedding due to noise
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've never seen a group of words like that in that order before :lol:
     
  7. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    You can also set the camera to sync (fire) the flash when the front (Canon calls it first and second curtain) curtain has opened fully (usually the default and called front(first) curtain sync).

    Or to sync concurrent with the start of the rear (second) curtain closing (rear curtain sync).

    Front curtain sync will leave ambient light blur in front of the apparent subject motion and rear curtain sync will leave ambient light blur behind thwe apparent subject motion.
     

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