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How to Get Sharp Photographs by Finding the ‘Sweet Spot’

I’m talking about your camera lenses sweet spot today. Every lens has got one, all you need is a little understanding of how to find it and prove it. But that’s what iPhotography is here for, acting as the map to super sharp photographs.

Let’s crack out the compass and figure out which way we go.

Now the rule of thumb goes is that your lenses sweet spot will be 2 full F-stops down from your maximum aperture. You’ll need to adapt this for zoom lenses, as some have 2 maximum apertures depending upon the focal length you’re using.

How to Find Your Lenses Sweet Spot for Sharper Photos by iPhotography.com

Get to Know Your Apertures

To find that sweet spot you need to know your aperture range.

Depending upon your background to photography you may not believe in half stops so when we say F/3.5 you’re going to say, ‘that’s not a real F/stop’. Sorry, we didn’t make it up. The camera companies have – we just have to work with what we’ve got!

This is how the aperture range is laid out. I’ll mark up the whole f/stops as well so you can understand our next step better.


f/1        f/1.1      f/1.3      f/1.4     f/1.6     f/1.8     f/2       f/2.2    f/2.5    f/2.8    f/3.2     f/3.5     f/4

f/4.5    f/5       f/5.6    f/6.3     f/7.1     f/8       f/9       f/10      f/11       f/12      f/14      f/16     

f/18      f/20     f/22     f/25     f/29     f/32

*whole stops    /   half stops 

Example of Sweet Spots with Prime Lenses

Instead we’ll start off with an easy one. Take a simple 50mm F/1.8 for example, using our scale, 2 full stops down the scale is F/3.5. Some cameras may even allow you more apertures than what’s in our range.

Sensor technology is developing so quickly it can detect smaller changes in light allowing for more precise aperture points.

You may just need to choose the aperture closest to what you have available, but always remember to stop down not up!

How to Find Your Lenses Sweet Spot for Sharper Photos by iPhotography.com

Example of Sweet Spots with Zoom Lenses

For zoom lenses you’ll find the sweet spot the same way but remember it won’t apply for the full focal lengths.

For example, the sweet spot on an 18-5mm kit lens with maximum apertures of F/3.5-F/5.6 will be F/7.1-F/11. Therefore, if you are shooting around 18mm, the best aperture will be F/7.1 and F/11 when you’re zoomed all the way in.

Hopefully, the process is starting to sink in.

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Do A Sweet Spot Test on your Lens

But you don’t always have to sit down and look at the facts and figures to find your sweet spot. There is another way and that’s simply by running a practical test.

Firstly, set your camera up on a tripod for consistency and enable your aperture priority mode for this test.

Take the same picture at every possible aperture on your camera. Start at the widest right through to the smallest.

Next, you’ll need to upload each other these shots and inspect them all at 100% size. Look at the outlines of objects to see where they are getting sharper.

Depth of Field Doesn’t Equal Sharpness

Don’t confuse your head in thinking that just because smaller apertures have more areas in focus then shooting at F/16 will be best.

Depth of field and sharpness are unrelated. Depth of field relates to how much is of the scene is within the focal plane. Whereas sharpness is the clarity of objects within that focal area.

By thinking this way, you’ll understand that F/16 may not give you the sharpest shot.

Of course, it’s not always going to be possible to shoot at your lenses sweet spot every time given lighting conditions. But if it’s possible to use it by changing ISO or using a flash then we’d recommend it!

It’s also a good test to run to find out how sharp your lens is against other lenses. This is vital to know if you’re thinking about upgrading to a new lens.

What is an F/stop - Aperture and Depth of Field Explained by iPhotography.com

What is a Camera Lenses Sweet Spot: Summary

I really hope this has helped out your photography. Have you managed to locate your lens’ sweet spot and are you enjoying that extra little bit of crisp sharpness to your photos? If so, let us know.

Do you have any other practical tips on how to find your lens’ sweet spot? Drop us a comment and we’ll share the best ones out.


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