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Three errors that destroy image quality (and how to avoid them)

The message Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How To They Them) first appeared on Digital Photography School. It is written by Adam Welch.

We all want to take photos of the highest quality that we can, right? Hopefully you just gave a very slow but very serious nod in accordance with that statement.

There are many factors that influence the final quality of your digital images. Even the expression "image quality" seems to be the best way to summarize all the pieces that need to come together to find our high-quality photos. Sharpness, composition, color balance and contrast are some variables that come to mind, along with a large number of others that we can and cannot control.

image quality errors

In this article we are going to look at three mistakes that you could very well make with your photography that could sabotage your image quality before they ever leave your camera. Fortunately, all these errors are easily corrected as soon as you realize that they exist. Let's start.

Always "wide open" photography

Make no mistake, from the lens point of view we live in an extraordinary time. Lens manufacturers have evolved to the point where we currently see extremely well-constructed optics with nice sharpness that is capable of photographing with relatively huge apertures.

Less than ten years ago you could hardly find a "fast zoom lens" with a maximum aperture larger than F / 4 for less than $ 1,000 US – at least I never did that.

Now it has become blissful to buy an excellent F / 2.8 or wider lens without taking out a second mortgage on your house.

image quality errors

However, this new era of lens evolution has some reservations. The fact that your lens is a beast in low light that can photograph with F / 1.4, does not mean that this is an ideal aperture for every situation. You see, lenses have certain "optimum aperture apertures" that offer the sharpest results for that specific lens.

In most cases, the largest aperture of your lens, while offering the best light collection and perhaps the best bokeh, is usually the worst optical setting for your lens. The widest aperture setting of your lens often makes annoying small image problems clearer. Chromatic aberrations, edge softening and vignetting all become more pronounced when you photograph wide open.

The solution:

Put your lens down, even if only after a stop or two. You lose some light, but you will probably also see a clearly visible increase in image sharpness and overall quality. Although it is true that not all lenses are made in the same way (some lenses give shockingly fantastic performance even at their largest aperture), the result will probably only get better if you stop.

Three errors that destroy image quality (and how to avoid them)

A good F / 1.4 lens will be great at F / 2.8 and probably excellent at F / 4. If you're worried about losing that "creamy" bokeh, you might be surprised to see how little background blur you lose with a few stops at the wide end of your aperture. It depends as much on the relative distance of objects in the scene as on the aperture.

So if you suffer from a lack of sharpness and heavy vignetting, stop using that lens and view your results.

Bad body mechanics

Regardless of your equipment, circumstances or subject, if your camera moves unintentionally, your photos will probably never be as technically qualitative as they could be. Camera movement robs sharpness and can render an otherwise strong image unusable.

Some of us can naturally keep our cameras ' s more stable than others. Image stabilization in the camera or in the lens can help, and of course a trusted tripod is always a good companion.

Aside from all those things, simply being aware of your body mechanics can go a long way in improving the quality of your photos. At the same time, poor grip on the camera and poor body position can cost you a photo.

The solution:

When shooting from the hand, pay attention to how your hands grasp the camera and the position of your arms and legs. Keep a flat foot with your legs shoulder-width apart. If you use a digital single-lens reflex camera or other interchangeable lens camera, hold the camera body firmly with your right hand and support your left hand with the lens. Also apply slight counter pressure (push with the right, pull with the left). Put your arms close to your body for maximum stability.

This will help to keep your photo stable. Along the same lines, gently press the shutter button instead of pressing down sharply, which can cause camera shake.

image quality errors

Elbows tucked away, firm grip and lens support.

Bonus tip:

Note a handy little formula called the "Mutual Rule". This rule helps you estimate the slowest shutter speed based on your focal length to prevent moderate camera shake. The reciprocal rule is incredibly simple:

Three errors that destroy image quality (and how to avoid them)

So if you shoot with a 50 mm lens, the slowest shutter speed you should use is 1/50 of a second. Shooting at 100 mm? Your slowest shutter speed must be 1/100 second and so on. This is not an iron rule but it is a very practical one.

For more ways to get sharper images, read my other article. 4 Simple ways to get sharper photos

Neglect your settings

As simple as it sounds, not being aware of the settings of your camera is one of the most frustrating preventable image quality killings you will ever encounter. Consistently blurry images? Check if your diopter viewfinder is adjusted to your eyesight – especially if you wear corrective lenses. Have your photos suddenly been pixelated with a high magnification? Make sure you have not accidentally changed the resolution of your camera (happens more than you might think) to a lower number of megapixels.

Three errors that destroy image quality (and how to avoid them)

These are just a few points for attention, but there are many more. Basically, if you are not constantly aware of what your equipment is doing, you are not only a sloppy photographer, but you are also limiting yourself and your work for no reason.

The solution:

Brace yourself for a big surprise! Just kidding.

The easiest way to resolve a neglected mindset for your recordings is to force yourself to remain vigilant. This means a constant check of your deep camera settings such as image and video resolution / format, camera firmware and micro AF lens adjustments. Of course, keeping track of all these things is not a compelling fun experience, but they are not bad photos either.

Do yourself and your photos a favor and never fall into the trap of complacency when it comes to the settings of your camera.

Sum up…

We can all be better at doing the things we love. Each of us, no matter how experienced or accomplished, will always make mistakes with our photography. The only way we can prevent these image quality errors from constantly occurring and improve the quality of our photos is to ensure that we are aware that something is wrong at all. If you do not see the quality of the images you want, the first step to find out the problem is to realize that there is one. From there, it's just a matter of solving the problem until you solve it or mediate considerably.

Put the tips we have mentioned here to work, and your image quality will improve immediately.

Oh and don't forget, we are all in this together! Feel free to share other tips for sharpness, or if you have a small problem with your image quality, let us know in the comments section and hopefully the community can help!

image quality errors

The message Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How To They Them) first appeared on Digital Photography School. It is written by Adam Welch.

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