It’s just not one thing you do to get sharp photos, but a combination of things that all come together to give your sharp shots. Professional photographers use the term “tack sharp”. Tack sharp describe the ultimate level of sharpness. But the most important tip to remember is for a sharp photo, shoot on a tripod. This is what really separates the profs from the amateurs. It might be more work, but this step is the reason why their photos look like they do. Keeping the camera still and steady is the tripod’s only job, but when it comes to tripod’s, some do a better job than others.
John Fielder in his book, “Photographing the Landscape: The Art of Seeing”, writes:
You can make good photographs while hand-holding the camera, but you won’t achieve excellence. A tripod and cable release of the shutter are as important to the landscape photographer as the shovel is to a ditch digger.
An essential piece of learning about photography is to know when to use a tripod. There will be times when hand holding the camera simply won’t do.
Many professionals, leave the camera permanently attached to a tripod, and a good one too, it is always better to be safe than sorry. With sports photographers a tripod or monopod is necessary just to take the weight of those huge 500/600mm lenses during a game.
What is the standard “rule” for when to use a tripod? Try this simple tip. If the shutter speed is slower than the focal length of the lens, use a tripod! For instance;
- 50mm lens needs 60th/sec or faster
- 200mm lens needs 200th/sec or faster
- 500mm lens needs 500th/sec or faster
Why? The more you magnify the subject with telephoto lenses, the more you magnify any movements which will inevitably give you “camera shake”. Also, if you plan to enlarge the photo many times, you need to use a tripod to get the clearest image possible. For small prints it is less noticeable therefore not so necessary.