Dirt on camera sensor and lenses could adversely affect the performance of your camera by making focusing difficult, regularly clean both the front and back elements of your lenses and also make sure there is no dust on your sensor for best performance. Cheap low quality filters could reduce the sharpness of your lens, what’s the logic of putting a 10$ filter in front of a 1000$ lens, you will end up with image quality equivalent of a 10$ lens.
Ever wondered why there are so many squares and rectangles in the viewfinder well they are all focus points and they are not all the same. Rectangle Focus Points – focus points represented by both horizontal and vertical rectangles are single plane focus points.
Square Focus Points – focus points represented by a square are Cross points and they are superior to single points which are represented by rectangles because they work either way (can focus on both vertical and horizontal lines).
Use this information to align your subject with the right type of focus point to get fast and accurate focus. Yes I know it does not make sense, if the camera has 64 focus points why not use them all, will it not help make focusing faster?
For example imagine you are trying to shoot a scene with 5 different elements in it; in all point focus mode the camera does not know which one is important to you and will generally focus on the element that is closest to the camera. Each person’s eye sight is different and so camera manufactures have provided a way to adjust the focus of your cameras eyepiece to match that of your eyesight. Another focusing technique is to manually focus the lens in the general direction so as to get the subject in acceptably sharp and then take auto focus do the precision fine tuning. If manual focusing is not to your liking there is one tip that could help you auto focus better. Irrespective of the depth of field in an image there is only one point of focus, you can only marginally improve the feel of sharpness by increasing depth of field but it could never substitute good focus. Camera shake is one other factor that could lead to loss of image sharpness, when shooting stationary subjects the general rule for handholding is to use a shutter speed that is 1 over the focal length of the lens used. If you are using a lens that has image stabilization feature (IS on Canon or VR on Nikon) turning it on could help you get sharper pictures while shooting handheld. Focus and sharpness are two entirely different things, it should be understood that you can have a perfectly sharp out of focus picture. Sometimes your equipment could be the real culprit; a particular lens might be consistently focusing a few millimeters in front or behind the intended focus area. A simple home experiment could tell you whether or not your lens is focusing at the right point or is it off.
Cameras auto focus needs light to work properly and often its lack of enough light that causes issues.
Sharpness of an image is determined by a line of contrast; so if your picture is underexposed or have dull lighting, an image will not appear sharp even if the focus and everything else is right.

Always check your images for sharpness by zooming in to 100% on your LCD screen; if there is any blur at all it will be visible when zoomed in 100% so you could immediately re-shoot the picture. Focus and Image Sharpness are two of the most important technical aspects in photography which sets apart great photography from mediocre work. And near about 100% of those who have these issues attribute it to fault in their equipment. Even good quality filters deteriorate over time so make sure the filters you mount on your lens are high quality filters in perfect condition else remove the filter from the lens. Most cameras have 9 – 11 focus points but recent models are featuring 64 +, the general rule is the more the better. Also keep in mind the actual sensor area covered by a focus point is at least twice as large as the size of the rectangle shown in the viewfinder. The answer is both yes and no, if your intention is to attain focus fast then using all focusing points will certainly help you achieve that.
Without a properly calibrated diopter you will not be able to judge whether you subject is in focus or not.
You will get both visual and audio confirmation on when focus is locked (depending on camera settings), the shutter will not fire if the camera is unable to achieve focus.
This happens because the lens stars to hunt for focus from one end (near or far) and need to travel all the way to the other to actually find the subject. Instead of pressing down the shutter button and keeping it pressed till the lens acquires focus, make it a two stage process, first half click to focus the lens in the general direction, release shutter button and half click again to fine tune and lock focus. However bear in mind that if not used correctly this could cause focus errors due to lens movement (the arc angle) causing the camera to subject distance to shift slightly. This will not be necessary in most cases however you should be aware of this and double check your focus after recomposing.
But many photographers especially the ones who picked up photography in the digital age are very skeptical about this, they will shoot in manual mode if need be but does not entertain the idea of focusing manually. But most photographers are put off from using one due to the extra effort of carrying it with them all the time and the time and effort needed to set up your shot. In such cases most modern cameras have the ability to make an adjustment in the camera to fix the issue. Set camera on a tripod, use the widest aperture allowed by your lens and take a picture of a ruler places at an angle of 45 degrees to the camera.
If your camera has an AF assist beam do enable it, similarly most branded external flash units have an infra red focus assist beam to make focusing easier, so even if you are not using flash you could use it to make focusing easier (turn of flash firing in flash menu). Although in some instances they are right and the equipment is indeed the culprit; but in majority of the cases it is not the equipment but lack of understanding or improper shooting technique that are causing issues.

Remember not all of the focus points could be selected for focusing as some of them function only as assist points.
So horizontal rectangles are to be used for focusing on vertical subjects and vertical rectangles are to be used to focus on horizontal subjects. But if your intention is to focus on the right part of the scene then its better you shift to center focus point only and use the focus point to focus precisely where you want.
To make things easier some lenses have a function called focus limiter that allows you to limit the area that the lens need to look for this could speed up things quite a bit. This technique works because it helps minimize problems caused by inertia or slops in mechanics which cause the lens to overshoot the point of focus.
This issue is most obvious when shooting macro and for macro photography I suggest you focus manually rather than depending on the cameras auto focus mechanism.
But this is not applicable when shooting moving subjects, to capture moving subjects sharp one should either use fast shutter speeds capable of completely freezing the movement or use flash to freeze it. However remember to turn it off when shooting on a tripod else it will influence the picture quality adversely.
The camera allows you to enter lens correction data for up to 20 different lenses (depending upon camera model) and when the camera identifies a lens for which the correction data is entered is mounted it sets the focus accordingly so as to get accurate focus. Alternatively a torch or a head lamp or virtually any light source could be used to throw light on to your subject to focus. Modern DSLR cameras have both RGB and Luminescence histogram to help photographers with exposure decisions. In this article we will discuss some basic facts and certain shooting techniques that every DSLR user should be aware of which will help them get the best out of their equipment in terms of Focus and Sharpness. Center focus point is the most powerful and fastest focus point in any camera; it is also a cross type focus point. The live view function coupled with the ability to zoom the view to say 5x or even 10x makes focusing manually much easier and precise. Alternatively you could employ panning technique to capture movement in the background while keeping your subject sharp.

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