7 Reasons Why Your Photos Aren't Perfectly Sharp

It's easy to start blaming your equipment when your images aren't perfectly sharp, but nine times out of ten, it's user error. Here are seven reasons why your photos might not be blurrier than they ought to be.

Understanding the exposure triangle is the first port of call for most new photographers — as it ought to be — but that doesn't mean you apply it perfectly every time. The more years and shoots under your belt, the less likely you are to make mistakes that leave you with blurry images, but it still happens to the best of us. In low-key, moodier shoots, I often walk the line with shutter speeds, ISO, and apertures in conjunction with my lighting as I like setting the mood in camera, not in post. This means that while I'm finding that balance, I'll occasionally have a little blur in my tester shots.

This video is aimed at newer photographers, however, and my problems with blur when I first started were quite different. My primary error was missing focus. Well, that's not strictly true, I did manage to focus, just on the wrong part of my subject. I had many portraits in my early days where I wanted to shoot at f/1.8 or f/2.8 but let the camera (this was a long time before Eye AF) decide which part of the face would be sharp. That meant a lot of tack sharp noses and slightly soft eyes. Particularly with my dog!

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10 Comments

Teresa Oldenbourg's picture

People get so caught up in this

Eric Robinson's picture

Photographers get caught up in so many things, this being one of them.

Steve White's picture

As an amateur who doesn't do portrait work, it's still useful to see the seven points laid out. I'm sure more advanced photographers will say "d'oh, of course!"

Daniel Medley's picture

Reason 8: Because I may not want them perfectly sharp.

Michelle Maani's picture

That's a good article, and I would much rather read an article than watch a video. I don't, and never have, used P mode, but everything else you've mentioned I already do.

John Ellingson's picture

Regardless of shutter speed, I found that my macro images in particular if I had my camera on a monopod. Even a small improvement in the stability of the camera can be discerned at shutter speeds as high as 1/500.

Nitin Chandra's picture

A flash might help with macros...

Michelle Maani's picture

Something else I learned accidentally.

Indy Thomas's picture

I learned this when in a fit of teen irony (1970's) I decided to troll the large format friends by shooting work on a tripod for a month using my Nikkormat. Imagine my surprise at the leap in sharpness I experienced as a consequence. I was rightfully shown up for my impudence. There was a visible improvement at all shutter speeds even 1/500. I later transitioned to a lot of daylight flash to create dramatic effects but I also got much sharper images to boot.