I always think about four different things or scenarios to set up my shots. The first two of those are settings, shutter speed, and focus. The other two things are whether the subject is moving or still. When you consider these four things and apply the rules that accompany each, the image will be sharp. These four things will begin to be your foundation for creating strong images.
So, thinking about the scenarios, is your subject moving or still?
Let’s look at the still subjects first. If you’re shooting architecture, landscape, still life, or anything where the subjects don’t move, I use the following as a rule of thumb. I try to get between one to three times your focal length for the shutter speed. For example, you’re shooting a landscape image. You are shooting with a 16mm lens or the 35-millimeter equivalent you want to be shooting at 1/15th of a second when you are shooting at 200mm and you’re shooting landscapes. You want to make sure that the multiplier is higher. In this case, you might want to go up to three x multiplier, so if you’re shooting at 200 millimeters, you might want to start at 1/600 of a second regarding your shutter speed. You want this kind of shutter speed setting to combat the camera shake.
If you’re on a tripod, these rules don’t apply, but one to three times your focal length is a great place to start if you’re shooting handheld. When it comes to focusing, things are straightforward. I use autofocus, single-point autofocus mode, or I use manual. Your subject or the distance to your subject isn’t going to change. You can lock in that focus, and you’re all set.
When it comes to moving subjects, it’s a bit different. If you’re shooting portraits, street photography, or sport, you’ll be looking for a shutter speed that will allow you to freeze the action. I feel like a great place to start is 1/400th of a second. If the subject moves quickly, you generally want an even faster shutter speed, like 1/1000 and above. For example, in sports, you will be shooting well over 1/1000 of a second because people will be moving fast, and the humans in those frames will be pretty lively. They’re going to take up a large portion of the frame. There’s a lot of movement in the camera and a lot of action on the subject, so you need a high shutter speed to offset the movement. When focusing, you want to use a continuous autofocus mode. Autofocus mode allows the camera to track the subject to make sure that it’s constantly in focus. This is really important, especially for things like portraits where getting the eye in focus is critical, and that’s it.
It is that simple. There are just four things to consider.
1. Is the subject moving
2. Is the subject Still
3. What is the shutter speed
4. Which focus mode settings correspond to those things?
This is the secret of sharp shots. It’s it. If you get either of those two settings wrong for the given scenarios, then there is no way to sharpen the photo in the post.