Take Sharper Photographs

Every lens has got a perfect setting (or sweet spot), all you need is a little understanding on 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.

Get to Know Your Apertures

Now the rule of thumb goes is that your lens’ sweet spot will be 2 full 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.

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To find that sweet spot for super sharp photographs, 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’. However, 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. We’ll mark up the whole f/stops as well as the halves so you can understand our next step better.

aperture scale diagram sharp photographs
scale diagram sharp photographs aperture

Prime Lenses

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 they 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!

lens cap prime canon sweet spot
zoom lens fuji camera sharp photographs

Zoom Lenses

For zoom lenses you’ll find the lens 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’re 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 for sharp photographs is starting to sink in.

Zoom Lenses

For zoom lenses you’ll find the lens 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 your 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.

zoom lens fuji camera

See It With Your Own Eyes

But you don’t always have to sit down and look at the facts and figures to achieve sharp photographs. 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.

view of camera screen on tripod red strap sharp photographs

Depth of Field Doesn’t Equal Sharp Photographs

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 sharp photographs.

Of course, it’s not always going to be possible to shoot at your lens’ 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 your thinking about upgrading to a new lens.



Achievement Unlocked: Sharp Photographs!

We really hope this has helped out your photography. Have you managed to locate your lens’ sweet spot and 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 achieve sharp photographs? Drop us a comment and we’ll share the best ones out.

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Learn camera basics and composition tips right through to creative light tricks, building a portrait business as well as Photoshop and Lightroom.

We’ve got everything a hungry and passionate photographer could ever need – and we’re adding more content every week, so keep in touch for more info.

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