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How to obtain sharp images in digital photography
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Jun 7, 2020 08:07:57   #
CHG_CANON Loc: the Windy City
 
When you look at the 1:1 pixels, are you disappointed by lack of sharp details? If yes, what are you doing about it? Most every day here at UHH, some aspect of the solution is presented. I've had success with the following tips:

1. Place a single AF point (or group / zone) specifically over the subject of the image. Do not focus someplace else in the frame and expect the exact subject to be in focus by repositioning the camera after focusing someplace else in the frame.

2. Use the camera's AI Servo (Canon) / Continuous-servo AF (Nikon) focus setting always, without regard to whether the subject is moving or stationary. See BBF (Back Button Focus) below.

3. Shoot in short bursts of 2- to 5-images.

Some commentary before continuing. Idea 1 rejects focus and recompose via the center AF point. Idea 2 leverages the advanced capabilities of your advanced camera body and the system's electronic auto focus. Idea 3 is clearly spray and pray to most. If you care more about old school technique over new school results, fine. It's your camera producing your results.

Now for the rest of us, consider these additional ideas for sharply focused images:

4. Investigate the sharpest apertures for each of your lenses.

5. Keep IS / VR active 100% on your lenses, except if / when this technology is known to be an issue with your specific lens model.

6. Hold your camera properly and / or shoot from a tripod.

7. Configure your camera for Back Button Focus (BBF) to enhance the idea #2 for using AI Servo / Continuous-servo configuration.

8. When you can, shoot at your camera's base ISO, or at the lowest ISO possible for the situation.

Each example image, below provided as attached files in the replies below, shows the original crop from the camera, with a 1:1 crop of the details. The images all follow / demonstrate most (or all) 8 of the ideas above.

Regarding Spray and Pray

You might ask, "what do I need 5 images for?" You're right, you don't. You need only 1 sharp image, pick that 1 and delete the rest: they're digital, they're free except for the time needed to consider the individuals within the group and discard those unneeded.

Remember, we measure the results in photography, not the effort. So, if you go 0 for 1 in sharp focus, you are what your records says you are. When you present only your sharply focused images, it doesn't matter if these results are 1 for 10, 3 in 100, etc. Your record is undefeated at 1 for 1 or 3 for 3, and so forth. We all know: 1 is better than none when it comes to sharply focus images.

Investigate the sharpest apertures for each of your lenses

If you've read any lens reviews, you've probably seen some form of "sharpness improves in the corners at f/x". Different lenses and different reviewers have slightly different forms of this comment. Some lenses need to be stepped down just 1-stop. Some lenses are as sharp wide open as any smaller aperture. Many zoom lenses are significantly different at different apertures across the entire zoom range.

If you go through a testing exercise 'looking at the corners', the technique I want to mention is shooting your subject at a 45-degree angle. The example below takes a crop of the corner of an earlier image to show the difference as compared to where the lens was specifically focused. As a manual focus lens, the digital Sony didn't receive the aperture value from the lens. The lens was probably f/5.6, maybe f/8. The lens was not set to f/11 that is likely to produce 'sharp in the corners' result. The composition wasn't intended for 'sharp in the corners'. Rather, this composition was a more natural view where the image is sharp where your eyes are meant to fall in the frame and a natural softening away from that sharp point of interest.

As you test / consider your own equipment, consider this 45-degree framing to give yourself details in the corners of the image to consider, whether testing with building or landscapes. Your 'kit lens' is likely everywhere as sharp as any of the examples presented in the replies in this thread, your lens just has to be shot at an aperture that best demonstrates that sharpness. Use a tripod (or handheld with the VR / IS active) and create a series of test images to confirm which aperture(s) to use. View those images at the 100% zoom on your computer. Look at the details and make notes. Then, investigate and utilize the 7 other ideas presented above.

Regarding Back Button Focus (BBF)

For the BBF, you have to reprogram a button on the camera. On more advanced models, almost every button on the camera body can be set to something else via the camera's menu options. For the entry-level models, such as the EOS Rebel line, the options to change the functionality of the external buttons are limited to “custom functions”. Consult your camera model or u-tube for your specific model for the reconfiguration / customization process. If you have the focus ‘beep’ active on your camera, you’ll likely need to disable this feature.

After configuring your camera for BBF, you'll grab the camera and use your thumb to enable focus by pressing and holding the a button on the back the camera with AI Servo. You release the shutter with your index finder as normal.

This is BBF. You begin to use your camera as follows:

a. Grab camera.
b. As you raise the camera your eye, enable focusing with your thumb pressing the BBF button.
c. Frame / zoom and release the shutter with your index finger. Keep pressing the BBF button the entire time.
d. Release your thumb when you lower the camera from your eye.

Keep in mind your eyes operate in continuous (AI Servo) focus, whether you're following a moving subject or look at a static subject. You're updating your camera to operate in the same manner so where the AF point / zone is positioned, the camera is continuously focusing there.

No one needs to update to BBF. The key point is updating the camera to the 'continuous' focus mode, whether you use your thumb or index finger to focus.

Will these techniques rundown my battery?

In a word: No

Your camera, specifically the DSRL, and camera battery are optimized for shooting. The main drain on your camera's battery beyond the basic operation of capturing and storing images is the display playback and / or shooting in live view. Running the AF and IS has no material difference on battery life. Chimping your images, culling in the field and / or shooting in Live View is what burns your battery life.

Reply
Jun 7, 2020 08:10:50   #
CHG_CANON Loc: the Windy City
 
Example Images

Each example image, below provided as attached files in the replies below, shows the original crop from the camera, with a 1:1 crop of the details. The images all follow / demonstrate most (or all) 8 of the ideas above. The merged images have been resized to 2048px on the long side, but the 1:1 crop shows the actual details. The images are processed in Lightroom and the merged examples are created in PSE10 from the export files from LR. The square crops are 800x800 of the 1:1 processed details. You'll have to launch the attachment (or download) and zoom to the 100% zoom to see the same level of detail.

1. Panning Technique

The F-86 Sabre shown below was tracked with BBF until the plane reached the almost closed position when I then began capturing frames. The use of the 1.4x extender reduced the maximum aperture of this configuration to f/8. Experience has show the extended lens is a bit sharper around f/11. For the low(er) light on this cloudy day, I picked the slowest shutter I could use to free this fast moving subject (1/800) and balanced the ISO to the aperture. I captured probably 5 to 8 images as the plane passed, picking and keeping only the best of the group.

2. Focus Peeking

The Sony mirrorless a7II provides an invaluable tool for using manual focus lenses: the 10x focus peeking zoom in the Electronic View Finder (EVF). The manual focus / non electronic lens doesn't report the aperture to the camera. I'll guess this example was from an aperture around f/5.6. The shooting technique was to focus specifically on the blossoms and then shoot a burst of 3- to 5-images, allowing for any movement due to the slight breeze. Typically, I focus and shoot and then repeat by refocusing. Over the 10 to 20ish images that might result, usually there will be one if not several that are better focused than the rest. Again, I just find the best one and delete the rest.

3. Testing your lenses

The second of the two images below shows a technique for testing the 'corner sharpness' of your lenses. The first image of the security light shows an extract the 1:1 pixel level sharpness at an aperture between f/5.6 and f/8. The manual focus / non electronic lens doesn't report the aperture to the camera. I likely focused at the base of this multi-story bay window, in the foreground of the image. The extract of the security light shows some of the details of the image.

The second image shows a technique for 'testing the corner sharpness'. Note how the camera is held diagonally. You can do this for landscapes too, having the natural horizon pass through the frame's corner rather than the left- and right-sides of the frame. This technique then gives you 'details' in the corners to access the corner sharpness of the lens for each available aperture. Shoot the same image over and over after different apertures until you can confirm the sharpest results in the corners, when 'corner sharpness' is a desired result in your image. I know from experience this lens (FD 24mm f/1.4L) will need to be at f/11 or smaller to have the sharpest corners along with the point of focus. For this image, the corners are not relevant for this composition.

4. Single AF point on the animal's eye

I came away with probably 30 individual frames of this snowy egret. The bird moved slightly over about a 15-minute period as well as the sun / light changed slightly just before sunset. For Canon EOS bodies, using a single AF point will yields the sharpest results along all the other aspects of good shooting technique. I placed that single AF point the bird's eyes. The camera was in BBF. I would place the AF point, hold the BBF, release 2- to 3-frames. I rest my arms for a minute or two and then repeat the process, sometimes also moving the AF point by a position or two and / or change between landscape and portrait orientation to give composition options larger within the resulting images.

5. Single AF point on the statue's eye

Whether an animal or human or statue, a good composition technique is to always place the sharpest focus on the nearest eye of the subject. At f/2.2, the depth of field of this lens is rather narrow. The goal of the composition was to isolate this statue from the details of the background wall.

Panning Technique
Panning Technique...
(Download)

Focus Peeking
Focus Peeking...
(Download)

Testing your lenses
Testing your lenses...
(Download)

Testing your lenses - corner sharpness
Testing your lenses - corner sharpness...
(Download)

Single AF point - Eyes
Single AF point - Eyes...
(Download)

Single AF point - Eyes
Single AF point - Eyes...
(Download)

Reply
Jun 7, 2020 08:21:58   #
Drbobcameraguy Loc: Eaton Ohio
 
CHG_CANON wrote:
Example Images

Each example image, below provided as attached files in the replies below, shows the original crop from the camera, with a 1:1 crop of the details. The images all follow / demonstrate most (or all) 8 of the ideas above. The merged images have been resized to 2048px on the long side, but the 1:1 crop shows the actual details. The images are processed in Lightroom and the merged examples are created in PSE10 from the export files from LR. The square crops are 800x800 of the 1:1 processed details. You'll have to launch the attachment (or download) and zoom to the 100% zoom to see the same level of detail.

1. Panning Technique

The F-86 Sabre shown below was tracked with BBF until the plane reached the almost closed position when I then began capturing frames. The use of the 1.4x extender reduced the maximum aperture of this configuration to f/8. Experience has show the extended lens is a bit sharper around f/11. For the low(er) light on this cloudy day, I picked the slowest shutter I could use to free this fast moving subject (1/800) and balanced the ISO to the aperture. I captured probably 5 to 8 images as the plane passed, picking and keeping only the best of the group.

2. Focus Peeking

The Sony mirrorless a7II provides an invaluable tool for using manual focus lenses: the 10x focus peeking zoom in the Electronic View Finder (EVF). The manual focus / non electronic lens doesn't report the aperture to the camera. I'll guess this example was from an aperture around f/5.6. The shooting technique was to focus specifically on the blossoms and then shoot a burst of 3- to 5-images, allowing for any movement due to the slight breeze. Typically, I focus and shoot and then repeat by refocusing. Over the 10 to 20ish images that might result, usually there will be one if not several that are better focused than the rest. Again, I just find the best one and delete the rest.

3. Testing your lenses

The second of the two images below shows a technique for testing the 'corner sharpness' of your lenses. The first image of the security light shows an extract the 1:1 pixel level sharpness at an aperture between f/5.6 and f/8. The manual focus / non electronic lens doesn't report the aperture to the camera. I likely focused at the base of this multi-story bay window, in the foreground of the image. The extract of the security light shows some of the details of the image.

The second image shows a technique for 'testing the corner sharpness'. Note how the camera is held diagonally. You can do this for landscapes too, having the natural horizon pass through the frame's corner rather than the left- and right-sides of the frame. This technique then gives you 'details' in the corners to access the corner sharpness of the lens for each available aperture. Shoot the same image over and over after different apertures until you can confirm the sharpest results in the corners, when 'corner sharpness' is a desired result in your image. I know from experience this lens (FD 24mm f/1.4L) will need to be at f/11 or smaller to have the sharpest corners along with the point of focus. For this image, the corners are not relevant for this composition.

4. Single AF point on the animal's eye

I came away with probably 30 individual frames of this snowy egret. The bird moved slightly over about a 15-minute period as well as the sun / light changed slightly just before sunset. For Canon EOS bodies, using a single AF point will yields the sharpest results along all the other aspects of good shooting technique. I placed that single AF point the bird's eyes. The camera was in BBF. I would place the AF point, hold the BBF, release 2- to 3-frames. I rest my arms for a minute or two and then repeat the process, sometimes also moving the AF point by a position or two and / or change between landscape and portrait orientation to give composition options larger within the resulting images.

5. Single AF point on the statue's eye

Whether an animal or human or statue, a good composition technique is to always place the sharpest focus on the nearest eye of the subject. At f/2.2, the depth of field of this lens is rather narrow. The goal of the composition was to isolate this statue from the details of the background wall.

Will these techniques rundown my battery?

In a word: No

Your camera, specifically the DSRL, and camera battery are optimized for shooting. The main drain on your camera's battery beyond the basic operation of capturing and storing images is the display playback and / or shooting in live view. Running the AF and IS has no material difference on battery life. Chimping your images, culling in the field and / or shooting in Live View is what burns your battery life.
b Example Images /b br br Each example image, b... (show quote)


Excellent post. I'm a pixel peeping sharpness freak and use all your suggestions. They work!!!! Now if I could just make my next breakthrough in composition. Lol. It will come just as sharpness did. More reading and applying. Will do the trick. Thank you

Reply
 
 
Jun 7, 2020 08:28:37   #
Country Boy Loc: Beckley, WV
 
Thank you, this is one really great post and will make many of us rethink our process. I appreciate the time you spent doing it.

Nolan

Reply
Jun 7, 2020 08:39:33   #
bkwaters
 
CHG_CANON wrote:
When you look at the 1:1 pixels, are you disappointed by lack of sharp details? If yes, what are you doing about it? Most every day here at UHH, some aspect of the solution is presented. I've had success with the following tips:

1. Place a single AF point (or group / zone) specifically over the subject of the image. Do not focus someplace else in the frame and expect the exact subject to be in focus by repositioning the camera after focusing someplace else in the frame.

2. Use the camera's AI Servo (Canon) / Continuous-servo AF (Nikon) focus setting always, without regard to whether the subject is moving or stationary. See BBF (Back Button Focus) below.

3. Shoot in short bursts of 2- to 5-images.

Some commentary before continuing. Idea 1 rejects focus and recompose via the center AF point. Idea 2 leverages the advanced capabilities of your advanced camera body and the system's electronic auto focus. Idea 3 is clearly spray and pray to most. If you care more about old school technique over new school results, fine. It's your camera producing your results.

Now for the rest of us, consider these additional ideas for sharply focused images:

4. Investigate the sharpest apertures for each of your lenses.

5. Keep IS / VR active 100% on your lenses, except if / when this technology is known to be an issue with your specific lens model.

6. Hold your camera properly and / or shoot from a tripod.

7. Configure your camera for Back Button Focus (BBF) to enhance the idea #2 for using AI Servo / Continuous-servo configuration.

8. When you can, shoot at your camera's base ISO, or at the lowest ISO possible for the situation.

Each example image, below provided as attached files in the replies below, shows the original crop from the camera, with a 1:1 crop of the details. The images all follow / demonstrate most (or all) 8 of the ideas above.

Regarding Spray and Pray

You might ask, "what do I need 5 images for?" You're right, you don't. You need only 1 sharp image, pick that 1 and delete the rest: they're digital, they're free except for the time needed to consider the individuals within the group and discard those unneeded.

Remember, we measure the results in photography, not the effort. So, if you go 0 for 1 in sharp focus, you are what your records says you are. When you present only your sharply focused images, it doesn't matter if these results are 1 for 10, 3 in 100, etc. Your record is undefeated at 1 for 1 or 3 for 3, and so forth. We all know: 1 is better than none when it comes to sharply focus images.

Investigate the sharpest apertures for each of your lenses

If you've read any lens reviews, you've probably seen some form of "sharpness improves in the corners at f/x". Different lenses and different reviewers have slightly different forms of this comment. Some lenses need to be stepped down just 1-stop. Some lenses are as sharp wide open as any smaller aperture. Many zoom lenses are significantly different at different apertures across the entire zoom range.

If you go through a testing exercise 'looking at the corners', the technique I want to mention is shooting your subject at a 45-degree angle. The example below takes a crop of the corner of an earlier image to show the difference as compared to where the lens was specifically focused. As a manual focus lens, the digital Sony didn't receive the aperture value from the lens. The lens was probably f/5.6, maybe f/8. The lens was not set to f/11 that is likely to produce 'sharp in the corners' result. The composition wasn't intended for 'sharp in the corners'. Rather, this composition was a more natural view where the image is sharp where your eyes are meant to fall in the frame and a natural softening away from that sharp point of interest.

As you test / consider your own equipment, consider this 45-degree framing to give yourself details in the corners of the image to consider, whether testing with building or landscapes. Your 'kit lens' is likely everywhere as sharp as any of the examples presented in the replies in this thread, your lens just has to be shot at an aperture that best demonstrates that sharpness. Use a tripod (or handheld with the VR / IS active) and create a series of test images to confirm which aperture(s) to use. View those images at the 100% zoom on your computer. Look at the details and make notes. Then, investigate and utilize the 7 other ideas presented above.

Regarding Back Button Focus (BBF)

For the BBF, you have to reprogram a button on the camera. On more advanced models, almost every button on the camera body can be set to something else via the camera's menu options. For the entry-level models, such as the EOS Rebel line, the options to change the functionality of the external buttons are limited to “custom functions”. Consult your camera model or u-tube for your specific model for the reconfiguration / customization process. If you have the focus ‘beep’ active on your camera, you’ll likely need to disable this feature.

After configuring your camera for BBF, you'll grab the camera and use your thumb to enable focus by pressing and holding the a button on the back the camera with AI Servo. You release the shutter with your index finder as normal.

This is BBF. You begin to use your camera as follows:

a. Grab camera.
b. As you raise the camera your eye, enable focusing with your thumb pressing the BBF button.
c. Frame / zoom and release the shutter with your index finger. Keep pressing the BBF button the entire time.
d. Release your thumb when you lower the camera from your eye.

Keep in mind your eyes operate in continuous (AI Servo) focus, whether you're following a moving subject or look at a static subject. You're updating your camera to operate in the same manner so where the AF point / zone is positioned, the camera is continuously focusing there.

No one needs to update to BBF. The key point is updating the camera to the 'continuous' focus mode, whether you use your thumb or index finger to focus.

Will these techniques rundown my battery?

In a word: No

Your camera, specifically the DSRL, and camera battery are optimized for shooting. The main drain on your camera's battery beyond the basic operation of capturing and storing images is the display playback and / or shooting in live view. Running the AF and IS has no material difference on battery life. Chimping your images, culling in the field and / or shooting in Live View is what burns your battery life.
When you look at the 1:1 pixels, are you disappoin... (show quote)


Thanks for the fantastic tips.

Reply
Jun 7, 2020 08:41:49   #
mizzee Loc: Boston,Ma
 
Thank you so much for this!

Reply
Jun 7, 2020 08:44:12   #
jaymatt Loc: Alexandria, Indiana
 

Reply
 
 
Jun 7, 2020 08:46:10   #
olemikey Loc: 6 mile creek, Spacecoast Florida
 
CHG_CANON wrote:
Example Images

Each example image, below provided as attached files in the replies below, shows the original crop from the camera, with a 1:1 crop of the details. The images all follow / demonstrate most (or all) 8 of the ideas above. The merged images have been resized to 2048px on the long side, but the 1:1 crop shows the actual details. The images are processed in Lightroom and the merged examples are created in PSE10 from the export files from LR. The square crops are 800x800 of the 1:1 processed details. You'll have to launch the attachment (or download) and zoom to the 100% zoom to see the same level of detail.

1. Panning Technique

The F-86 Sabre shown below was tracked with BBF until the plane reached the almost closed position when I then began capturing frames. The use of the 1.4x extender reduced the maximum aperture of this configuration to f/8. Experience has show the extended lens is a bit sharper around f/11. For the low(er) light on this cloudy day, I picked the slowest shutter I could use to free this fast moving subject (1/800) and balanced the ISO to the aperture. I captured probably 5 to 8 images as the plane passed, picking and keeping only the best of the group.

2. Focus Peeking

The Sony mirrorless a7II provides an invaluable tool for using manual focus lenses: the 10x focus peeking zoom in the Electronic View Finder (EVF). The manual focus / non electronic lens doesn't report the aperture to the camera. I'll guess this example was from an aperture around f/5.6. The shooting technique was to focus specifically on the blossoms and then shoot a burst of 3- to 5-images, allowing for any movement due to the slight breeze. Typically, I focus and shoot and then repeat by refocusing. Over the 10 to 20ish images that might result, usually there will be one if not several that are better focused than the rest. Again, I just find the best one and delete the rest.

3. Testing your lenses

The second of the two images below shows a technique for testing the 'corner sharpness' of your lenses. The first image of the security light shows an extract the 1:1 pixel level sharpness at an aperture between f/5.6 and f/8. The manual focus / non electronic lens doesn't report the aperture to the camera. I likely focused at the base of this multi-story bay window, in the foreground of the image. The extract of the security light shows some of the details of the image.

The second image shows a technique for 'testing the corner sharpness'. Note how the camera is held diagonally. You can do this for landscapes too, having the natural horizon pass through the frame's corner rather than the left- and right-sides of the frame. This technique then gives you 'details' in the corners to access the corner sharpness of the lens for each available aperture. Shoot the same image over and over after different apertures until you can confirm the sharpest results in the corners, when 'corner sharpness' is a desired result in your image. I know from experience this lens (FD 24mm f/1.4L) will need to be at f/11 or smaller to have the sharpest corners along with the point of focus. For this image, the corners are not relevant for this composition.

4. Single AF point on the animal's eye

I came away with probably 30 individual frames of this snowy egret. The bird moved slightly over about a 15-minute period as well as the sun / light changed slightly just before sunset. For Canon EOS bodies, using a single AF point will yields the sharpest results along all the other aspects of good shooting technique. I placed that single AF point the bird's eyes. The camera was in BBF. I would place the AF point, hold the BBF, release 2- to 3-frames. I rest my arms for a minute or two and then repeat the process, sometimes also moving the AF point by a position or two and / or change between landscape and portrait orientation to give composition options larger within the resulting images.

5. Single AF point on the statue's eye

Whether an animal or human or statue, a good composition technique is to always place the sharpest focus on the nearest eye of the subject. At f/2.2, the depth of field of this lens is rather narrow. The goal of the composition was to isolate this statue from the details of the background wall.
b Example Images /b br br Each example image, b... (show quote)


Good job CHG_CANON..... surely this will help many who struggle.

Reply
Jun 7, 2020 08:47:12   #
machia Loc: NJ
 
Best post on digital photography tips I’ve seen since joining the ‘Hog 5 years ago. Thanks!

Reply
Jun 7, 2020 08:54:29   #
47greyfox Loc: on the edge of the Colorado front range
 
I’m one of those fools who tell people that yeah, yeah, I know and use all this stuff. Thankfully, on occasion, there are people like you, Paul, who remind that I don’t. Thanks for sharing this “bookmark.”

Reply
Jun 7, 2020 09:03:22   #
a6k Loc: Detroit & Sanibel
 
For Sony menu, what is their terminology for BBF when using Custom-shoot to program a button?
Thanks.

Reply
 
 
Jun 7, 2020 09:08:49   #
vlhoch Loc: Idaho
 
CHG_CANON wrote:
When you look at the 1:1 pixels, are you disappointed by lack of sharp details? If yes, what are you doing about it? Most every day here at UHH, some aspect of the solution is presented. I've had success with the following tips:

1. Place a single AF point (or group / zone) specifically over the subject of the image. Do not focus someplace else in the frame and expect the exact subject to be in focus by repositioning the camera after focusing someplace else in the frame.

2. Use the camera's AI Servo (Canon) / Continuous-servo AF (Nikon) focus setting always, without regard to whether the subject is moving or stationary. See BBF (Back Button Focus) below.

3. Shoot in short bursts of 2- to 5-images.

Some commentary before continuing. Idea 1 rejects focus and recompose via the center AF point. Idea 2 leverages the advanced capabilities of your advanced camera body and the system's electronic auto focus. Idea 3 is clearly spray and pray to most. If you care more about old school technique over new school results, fine. It's your camera producing your results.

Now for the rest of us, consider these additional ideas for sharply focused images:

4. Investigate the sharpest apertures for each of your lenses.

5. Keep IS / VR active 100% on your lenses, except if / when this technology is known to be an issue with your specific lens model.

6. Hold your camera properly and / or shoot from a tripod.

7. Configure your camera for Back Button Focus (BBF) to enhance the idea #2 for using AI Servo / Continuous-servo configuration.

8. When you can, shoot at your camera's base ISO, or at the lowest ISO possible for the situation.

Each example image, below provided as attached files in the replies below, shows the original crop from the camera, with a 1:1 crop of the details. The images all follow / demonstrate most (or all) 8 of the ideas above.

Regarding Spray and Pray

You might ask, "what do I need 5 images for?" You're right, you don't. You need only 1 sharp image, pick that 1 and delete the rest: they're digital, they're free except for the time needed to consider the individuals within the group and discard those unneeded.

Remember, we measure the results in photography, not the effort. So, if you go 0 for 1 in sharp focus, you are what your records says you are. When you present only your sharply focused images, it doesn't matter if these results are 1 for 10, 3 in 100, etc. Your record is undefeated at 1 for 1 or 3 for 3, and so forth. We all know: 1 is better than none when it comes to sharply focus images.

Investigate the sharpest apertures for each of your lenses

If you've read any lens reviews, you've probably seen some form of "sharpness improves in the corners at f/x". Different lenses and different reviewers have slightly different forms of this comment. Some lenses need to be stepped down just 1-stop. Some lenses are as sharp wide open as any smaller aperture. Many zoom lenses are significantly different at different apertures across the entire zoom range.

If you go through a testing exercise 'looking at the corners', the technique I want to mention is shooting your subject at a 45-degree angle. The example below takes a crop of the corner of an earlier image to show the difference as compared to where the lens was specifically focused. As a manual focus lens, the digital Sony didn't receive the aperture value from the lens. The lens was probably f/5.6, maybe f/8. The lens was not set to f/11 that is likely to produce 'sharp in the corners' result. The composition wasn't intended for 'sharp in the corners'. Rather, this composition was a more natural view where the image is sharp where your eyes are meant to fall in the frame and a natural softening away from that sharp point of interest.

As you test / consider your own equipment, consider this 45-degree framing to give yourself details in the corners of the image to consider, whether testing with building or landscapes. Your 'kit lens' is likely everywhere as sharp as any of the examples presented in the replies in this thread, your lens just has to be shot at an aperture that best demonstrates that sharpness. Use a tripod (or handheld with the VR / IS active) and create a series of test images to confirm which aperture(s) to use. View those images at the 100% zoom on your computer. Look at the details and make notes. Then, investigate and utilize the 7 other ideas presented above.

Regarding Back Button Focus (BBF)

For the BBF, you have to reprogram a button on the camera. On more advanced models, almost every button on the camera body can be set to something else via the camera's menu options. For the entry-level models, such as the EOS Rebel line, the options to change the functionality of the external buttons are limited to “custom functions”. Consult your camera model or u-tube for your specific model for the reconfiguration / customization process. If you have the focus ‘beep’ active on your camera, you’ll likely need to disable this feature.

After configuring your camera for BBF, you'll grab the camera and use your thumb to enable focus by pressing and holding the a button on the back the camera with AI Servo. You release the shutter with your index finder as normal.

This is BBF. You begin to use your camera as follows:

a. Grab camera.
b. As you raise the camera your eye, enable focusing with your thumb pressing the BBF button.
c. Frame / zoom and release the shutter with your index finger. Keep pressing the BBF button the entire time.
d. Release your thumb when you lower the camera from your eye.

Keep in mind your eyes operate in continuous (AI Servo) focus, whether you're following a moving subject or look at a static subject. You're updating your camera to operate in the same manner so where the AF point / zone is positioned, the camera is continuously focusing there.

No one needs to update to BBF. The key point is updating the camera to the 'continuous' focus mode, whether you use your thumb or index finger to focus.

Will these techniques rundown my battery?

In a word: No

Your camera, specifically the DSRL, and camera battery are optimized for shooting. The main drain on your camera's battery beyond the basic operation of capturing and storing images is the display playback and / or shooting in live view. Running the AF and IS has no material difference on battery life. Chimping your images, culling in the field and / or shooting in Live View is what burns your battery life.
When you look at the 1:1 pixels, are you disappoin... (show quote)


This post is exactly why I read this blog daily. Very valuable.

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Jun 7, 2020 09:12:33   #
Petunia in NY Loc: Queens, NYC
 
Thank you so much for these lessons and how to employ them. The accompanying photos are a huge help.

I wonder if it can be "pinned" to the top for newcomers to see.

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Jun 7, 2020 09:17:54   #
john451 Loc: Lady's Island, SC/Columbia, SC
 
Thanks for the tips. When, or would you ever, recommend using "exposure delay" to avoid mirror slap for us users of cameras that still have mirrors?

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Jun 7, 2020 09:47:50   #
CHG_CANON Loc: the Windy City
 
a6k wrote:
For Sony menu, what is their terminology for BBF when using Custom-shoot to program a button?
Thanks.


Just to clarify, 'back button focus' is not described in any camera manual of any make / model of camera. Look for 'custom' functions or 'programming' of external controls within the manual. Or, use google for your camera model, most every type of camera will have a u-tube demonstration of the configuration process.

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