Ten reasons why your images are out of focus
Despite your best efforts sometimes sharp focus can be a nightmare to achieve. I bet there are images you have captured that you can’t wait to have a proper look at on your computer only to find that when you look at them on your monitor they are soft! I have been there many times believe me. And I don’t expect there will ever come a day when every image I take is sharp. However, there are ways of troubleshooting your focus issues and I have taken the time to outline the ten reasons why your images are out of focus in Episode 11 of the podcast. I hope it helps!
Below is a summary of what I talk about in this podcast episode. However, there is a lot more content in the audio so listening is highly recommended!
Over the course of the last ten episodes I have given you lots of advice which should help you to achieve a sharp image. However, sharp focus will still elude you from time to time. Here are some of the things that can lead to a softer image than you would have liked;
1. Is your aperture too wide?
In episode 3 we discussed the importance of using the correct aperture. Remember, the wider your aperture is, the less depth of focus you are going to have in your scene. If something or someone is outwith that depth of field they will be soft.
2. Is your shutter speed too slow?
In episode 4 we discussed making sure your shutter speed is faster than anything that is moving in your scene and indeed, yourself if you are handholding your camera. If it is not, you will have motion blur in your image.
3. Do you need to increase your ISO?
In episode 5 I encouraged you to increase your ISO to allow you to have a faster shutter speed. Fast shutter speeds = sharp images.
4. Are you in full control of your settings?
In episode 7 we delved into the world of manual mode and how you can take control of your own settings. If you are in full control of these you can make sure your shutter speed is fast enough and you can ensure you are using the best autofocus settings for your subject.
5. Are you using the correct autofocus mode?
Episode 9 was devoted to explaining what all the autofocus modes do and which you should be using in certain circumstances. For example, if you have a moving subject that you want to be sharp then you need to make sure you are in continuous autofocus mode.
6. Are you selecting your focus point?
In Episode 10 I explained to you that for absolute accuracy in focusing I believe you should learn to move your focal point around your frame rather than focusing-and-recomposing.
But what if you are on top of all of this and your lens just wont focus? It might be due to one of the reasons below;
7. Is your lens switched to manual focus?
On many lenses there is a switch at the side which allows you to toggle between manual and autofocus. I meet MANY people who have had their lenses switched to manual focus without realising. If you want your lens to autofocus (and I suggest that you do) you need to switch it to ‘A’.
8. Is your lens compatible with your camera?
Some lenses will not autofocus on certain camera bodies. A good example of this is the Nikon 50mm 1.8D. Read more about this in my eBook.
9. Can your camera detect what you want to focus on?
For your lens to autofocus it needs contrast. This contrast could be in colour or shadows but without any contrast how is it supposed to know what to focus on? When there is no contrast detected your lens will ‘hunt for focus’ and will not be able to settle on a sharp image. This can happen when you try to focus on a plain wall or something plain and evenly lit. It can also happen when you try to focus in the dark, in very hazy sunshine or in fog. You can usually sort this pretty quickly by moving your focus point to some contrast. If there is very little contrast you may need to switch to manual focus. Want to know more about how to do that? Read here.
10. Are you too close to your subject?
Your lens will also ‘hunt for focus’ when you are too close to your subject. Lenses have a minimum focus distance. So sometimes just stepping back a little will allow you to focus. If you need to be really close to your subject (e.g. you enjoy taking close-ups of flowers and insects etc) then you need a macro lens. Macro lenses have much shorter minimum focus distances.
Next time on the podcast we will be diving into ‘White Balance’ and I will be helping you create images with true-to-life, beautiful colours. Until then I would really love to hear from you on Twitter or in the Facebook Group – What specific challenges are you having with focus?