african painted dog turning head staring

How to get sharp images.

  1. Hold Your Camera steady

A lot of blur in the photos is a result of camera shake (the movement of your camera for that split second when your shutter is open). While the best way to tackle camera shake is to use a Tripod (see below) there are many times when using one is impractical and you’ll need to shoot while holding your camera. use both hands, keep the camera close to your body, support yourself with a wall, tree or some other solid object etc.


lion keeping an eye
pin sharp blog image
  1. Tripods or alternatives

While not always practical, the result you’ll get when you do go to the effort of carrying one around can be well worth it.Use a Car Door Camera Mount or Bean – Bag for Wildlife Photography in Game Reserves.Purchase a sturdy mount to prevent vibration of the car.A Bean-Bag has been proven very productive, this can be bought or home-made, the only drawback it has is that you are not able to pan, or follow movement.

  1. Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is a key factor to improve image quality. The faster your shutter speed the less impact camera shake will have and the more you’ll freeze any movement in your pictures. As a result you reduce the problem of subject movement and camera movement.

  1. Aperture

Aperture impacts the depth of field in your images. Decreasing your aperture (increasing the number – say up to f/20) will increase the depth of field meaning that the zone that is in focus will include both close and distant objects. Do the opposite (for example moving to f/4) and the foreground and background of your images will be more out of focus and you’ll need to be more exact with what you focus your camera upon. Keep in mind that the smaller your aperture the longer your shutter speed will need to be – which of course makes moving subjects more difficult to keep sharp.

buffalo cow
buffalo attentive
  1. ISO

The third element of the exposure triangle is ISO which has a direct impact upon the noisiness of your shots. Choose a larger ISO and you’ll be able to use faster shutter speed and smaller aperture. But be careful not to increase it too much otherwise your image will be too “noisy”.

high resolution cameras do struggle with noise at high ISOs above 3200 when compared to lower-resolution sensors.

6. Image Stabilisation

Many cameras and lenses are now being released with different forms of image stabilisation  which won’t eliminate camera shake – but can definitely help reduce its impact. I find that using IS or VR lenses will give me an extra two or three stops when hand holding my camera.

 7. Focus

Perhaps the most obvious technique to work on when aiming for sharp lenses is focussing. Most of us use ‘Auto Focussing’ with our cameras but don’t assume that the camera will always get it right. Always visually check what part of the image is in focus before hitting the shutter and if it’s not right try again or switch to manual focus mode. This is particularly important if you’re shooting with a large aperture where even being slightly out can result in your subject being noticeably out of focus.

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