As a professional photographer, I use a lot of different cameras. At any given time, I can use really expensive full-frame cameras combined with the best glass money can buy, to mid-range cameras with kit lenses, all the way down to even compact cameras that fit in my pocket.
I need all these tools to get my job done, and they all have a place in my bag, regardless of the price bracket they fall into.
However, no matter what camera I use, no matter what type of photography I’m doing, there are certain rules and principles that stay the same — it’s the same approach every time. It’s in following these rules that I can make sure that every image I take is super sharp, every time, with any camera.
The way I think about it, regardless of the camera that I’m using at the time, is to consider four different factors: the first two of those are settings — namely shutter speed and focus. The other two are compositional situations — whether your subjects are moving or if they are still.
Whether your subject is moving or is still will determine what shutter speed and focus settings you need at any given time. And it’s these four things that — when combined together — form the foundation and the basis of whether or not your image will be sharp and what potential for sharpness it might have.
There aren’t any exceptions to this. If you mess up your shutter speed or focus settings on either one of those scenarios, your image won’t be as sharp as it could be, and there’s no way to actually post-process your way back to a sharp shot.
Of course, there are other supplementary factors that can influence how much sharper (or not) your image will end up being, things like the right gear, the relationship that aperture and ISO have, your export settings depending on the platform, etc.
In the video above, I detail everything you need to know in the relevant scenarios, giving you a great baseline to start from; settings that I’ve used throughout my entire career. From there, I also give suggestions on which other supplementary factors you can tweak to make sure every single image is crispy, detailed, and sharp.
About the author: Pat Kay is an award-winning travel photographer and multi-disciplinary content creator based in Sydney, Australia. With a passion for travel and adventure, Kay specializes in exploring the contrast between nature and urban, through landscape, cityscape, aerial, lifestyle, and street photography. He has worked with many of the world’s top brands such as Sony, Adobe, Microsoft, Samsung, Nike, Adidas, Ford, Toyota, Lexus, DJI, Razer, Instagram, and more. For more from Kay, follow him on Instagram and subscribe to his YouTube Channel.