Purfylle: How Focus Mode Impacts Image Sharpness

Recent Posts

How Focus Mode Impacts Image Sharpness

wattle bird

Photography Trip

During the holidays, we made a special photography trip without the dogs. I took a lot of photos.

I checked my camera settings with bird action shots in mind, ISO was on auto, TV set to priority, and I even remembered to check my focal point.

It was a bright glarey day and I could barely see my camera LCD screen so I went forth to shoot feathered pretties on faith that they would turn out having confirmed my camera settings were set to what I'd normally use on a bird shoot.

It was a wonderful day of photography full of fantastic subjects to shoot. I was elated, these were going to be some of my most spectacular bird shots to date!

Shoot Review

When we got home I sat down to view and edit my shots.

What a disappointment. Barely 10% turned out and the rest were blurry. What had gone wrong? Is there something wrong with my camera? Normally I would have walked away with more then enough photos from a special photography trip.

Know Your Camera Settings

I complained to my photography mentor, (hubby) and after a bit of investigation into my camera settings he discovered what had gone wrong. The Focus Mode was set to One Shot. Why? I think perhaps some time ago I was trying to get a good still-shot in low-light and he had helped me to switch to this setting to increase my chances of a crisp photo. At the time I had been sure I'd remember we changed the settings and to switch them back but as it was not part of my camera settings-check routine I quite forgot.

Remembering a new camera setting can be a challenge but having an entire batch of photos that you were really excited about turn out blurry does the trick. I'll never forget that setting exists again.

It has also encouraged me to get to know my camera better. I've been lazy about learning more about how to use my DSLR and it's time to make a bit more of an effort.

Focus Mode

My camera has 3 Focus Mode settings:
  1. One Shot: for taking still life shots - careful slow focus
  2. AI Focus: which my hubby calls 'the stupid one' which lets the camera try to figure out which one you want and it could pick the wrong option for any shot
  3. AI Servo: for moving subjects (and moving photographers) - constant focusing
NB: Some cameras also offer manual or name the differently.

Is Focus Mode a camera setting you are familiar with? Is it a part of your camera settings mental checklist before a shoot? It will forever be a part of mine now.
wattle bird
F 5.6 | 1/2000 | ISO 6400
This shot is blury because the Focus Mode is set to One Shot instead of AI Servo 


14 comments:

  1. Hi Stella, I bet that was a disappointment, but like you said it's something you won't forget again. I don't recognize any of your camera settings, but I have started to share responsability for my shots with my camera.... I've been using semi automatic mode more often, where the camera takes charge of either the aperture or the shutter speed and I can mess around with whatever the camera is not taking charge of. I am hoping that it may help the penny to drop, so to speak. When taking a shot of the pets or birds I do put the camera into continuous shot or moving mode to give me a better chance of getting a decent photo. I didn't realise that shot mode effects the sharpness, something else to consider.

    Thank you for sharing this tip and better luck next time.

    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TV or 'time value' is the name for the semi-automatic setting with manual shutter speed and auto-aperture, so you do know one of them. To help get good moving shots I use a nice fast shutter speed of 1/1600 or higher. I take lots of shots too to ensure I get a few winners (but always forget there is a continuous shooting option).

      Delete
  2. I'm sorry you were disappointed with most of your photos, what a shame. I do like this one though despite the little blurriness. I am really bad at checking my camera, I do have trouble getting to grips with it all and often use the pre-set type of setting, i.e. I let the camera do the work. I really must learn more.

    #MySundayPhoto

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never much liked the pre-set options and have always used the Time Value or Aperture priority settings, and then set and forget, much like yourself, letting the camera do the rest of the work. I wrote all about it here: http://www.purfylle.com/2014/12/where-to-start-with-dslr-camera.html

      It's totally worth doing as it really helps to get an understanding of the basics.

      Delete
  3. Very good tips, I like these photos

    Thank you for linking up

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice of you to say so, but I'll be sharing the nice photos this coming Sunday.

      Delete
  4. Top tips, I always find that I end up using just a few settings on cameras, phones, computers or sewing machines

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does keep things simpler when you have a few favourites.

      Delete
  5. I'm sorry about the disappointing shots, but I'm glad you shared your experience. This just helped me out a bunch with my new camera. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought of you and your story about your camera misbehaving.

      Delete
  6. Gorgeous photos I never manage to capture birds this well even when I'm in the right settings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birds can be tricky. Good lighting and fast shutter speed certainly help, but setting my camera to a back button focus certainly helped things too.

      Delete
  7. Stella, the bird doesn't look blurry to me, just the background. Is the bird blurry? ANd my eyes just aren't that sharp anymore? Or are you talking about the blurry background that I CAN see?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're eyes aren't that bad, the birds are okay at this resolution but they aren't crisp. When you zoom in you should be able to see lovely feather and face details and that you do not get. Background blur on the other hand is desirable.

      Delete