10 reasons why your photos aren’t sharp (and how to fix them)

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Getting sharp photos is one of the fundamental goals in photography. If your images aren’t as sharp as you’d like, take a look at our ten-point guide to work out where you’re going wrong and how to get it right next time.

Reason No. 1. Your Photos Aren’t Sharp: Shutter speed too low

In the days of film photography there was a general rule that in order to get sharp images from a hand-held camera the shutter speed needed to be at least one second divided by the focal length of the lens.

So if you were shooting with a 100mm optic the shutter speed needed to be at least 1/100sec, which because of the way shutter speed is set usually translates to a setting of 1/125sec or faster.

This rule still holds today, but it is somewhat complicated by the focal length magnification factors of sub-full-frame sensors and image stabilisation systems.

For example, if a 100mm lens is mounted on a Nikon APS-C format DSLR like the D3300, which has a focal length magnification factor of 1.5x, the photographer would need to set a shutter speed of at least 1/150sec.

Canon APS-C format DSLRs like the EOS Rebel T7i / 800D have a 1.6x focal length magnification factor, so the shutter speed would need to be at least 1/160sec.

The image stabilisation systems built into some lenses and cameras have a mechanism to compensate for accidental camera movement and this allows slow shutter speeds to be used when the camera is handheld.

Many lenses now claim a 4 stop compensation – that’s the difference between shooting at 1/125sec and 1/8sec.

Even with image stabilisation some people are better at handholding a camera steady than others. The amount of coffee and alcohol that you’ve drunk can make a difference as well.

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