Autofocusing or Manual ?
They do get confused between manual and auto focusing. manual does not let you focus better. I almost always use auto focusing for all my shots as it lets me do other important things like framing etc. Unless required, i do not shift to manual focus.
which focusing Mode is right?
Yes, I do shift my focus points quite a lot to overlap the area or even a small portion, i would like to have sharp in my photographs. many a times, as i am shooting fast, I do focus and recompose my frame, when shifting the focusing point is time-consuming. Do remember that the exposure is linked to the focusing point which you choose. ideally for better exposure I change the focusing point instead of recomposing. and when time does not allow, I focus and recompose. with Digital Photography, exposure is not so much of an issue as it sued to be at the time of film. Advanced full frame cameras with high dynamic range allow a lot of control in exposure during post production.
Single or continuous shot modes?
I generally, avoid setting my focus at " continuous" even when my model is moving. I shoot a lot of fashion images as well as street photography where it's very demanding to shoot fast. Instead of keeping the focusing mode on " continuous " or full-screen mode I always keep it on "single shot" as well as "single point" but release the shutter quite fast just at the right moment. This may not work for wildlife or sports photography but does work quite well in case of fast posing models or random people on the streets.
It also depends a lot on your shooting style and what really works better for you. I personally prefer using the single shot mode even if the subject is approaching me but many photographers would actually prefer that the camera always keep track of the focus as the subject moves towards or away from them. Note that the focus does not really change if the subject moves sideways maintaining the same camera to subject distance.
Be extra careful when Shooting at wide opened apertures
We all love that shallow depth of field and are always tempted to shoot at really wide apertures like f 1.4 or f 2.8 but do remember that there are all the more chances of missing the focus at such shallow depth of fields. always focus on the yes while shooting portraits or otherwise focus at the most relevant part of the subject. You may choose to take a number of shots to ensure that you do not miss on the focus at the right spot.
Shutter speed matters as well. You need to be very steady and press the shutter release
Every lens has a minimum focusing distance. shifting to the manual focus won't help if your subject is at less than the minimum focusing distance. step back to take the shot instead of moving to the manual focus. if your autofocus can't focus, you can't do it manually.
Add distance between the subject and the background. Your objective is to achieve that shallow depth of field, which is why you open up the aperture all the way to the maximum aperture available on your camera. This leads to a very shallow depth of field, so shallow that the subject itself tends to get out of focus if you have not focused very carefully. Instead you can keep good enough distance between the subject and the backgroud and close down a bit. Instead of shooting at 1.4 you may choose to shoot at maybe 2.8 while increasing the distance between the subject and the background.
Use Focus tracking.
many of the new advanced digital cameras now have this feature, which allows the camera to lock the focus on a particular person or the face. As the person moves, the camera tracks along the focus as well.
And most importantly the key to getting sharp photographs on your camera is to know the camera you are using very well. You should quickly be able to switch between modes and be able to shoot fast adapting your self and the camera to changing scenarios.
Settings on your camera.
make sure that the settings on your camera are correct. If you have reduced the sharpness on the camera, obviously you'll not get sharp photographs.
Switch over to better lenses
If you are a canon user for example, opt for L series of lenses. These will give you best possible optics as compared to cheaper lenses from the same brand. Check out for reviews to understand which lenses are known for good sharpness. Amongst the good sharp lenses, you would need an eagles eye to distinguish but yes, an image from a sharp lens would certainly stand out from the cheap glass. If sharpness is your priority go for an expensive lens compared to an expensive camera body. That is if are on a budget and can spend more on only one. ideally go for a good lens and camera combination.
You do not need UV filters on digital cameras, yet they are good for protecting your expensive lens. Always put on the best UV filter from a reputed brand like Hoya. A cheaper UV filter will kill the sharpness of your superior sharp lens.
This fashion photograph shot late in the evening was supplemented with an artificial strobe light. This not only makes the photograph crisper but allows you to shoot at a relatively higher shutter speed even when the light is quite low. This was shot with Phase one P30+ medium format digital back.
Focus at what is important as you release the shutter to capture such spontaneous moments. While holding the camera steady is important, it's equally important to firmly press the shutter release button just at the peak moment of the action. this is when any fast-moving subject is at the most stationery position.
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