Image quality - You can achieve it if you try

Image quality is rather hard to define. It means different things to different people. So much depends upon a photographer's personal standards, his or her expectation based on experience and the purpose for which a picture is taken. Quality that may seem excellent to the average hobbyist may fall far short of the mark for a professional photographers dealing with a national advertising campaign. However, the following points cover the most important aspects of image quality for anyone. If they are constantly kept in mind and improved upon, quality will automatically get better. Below is some tips of controlling the camera lenses, sharpness, exposure, ligthing and composition.

  • Sharpness - Unless a blurred effect is wanted for some reason, a photograph should be sharp, clear and full of detail. A number of factors must be properly coordinated to achieve this kind of quality, the most obvious of which is accurate focus. This factor may depend in part on having a lens that is clean and free from dust and greasy smudges and a viewfinder that is equally clean. If you can't see your subject clearly, you can't focus accurately. Then, too, the camera and lens must be held motionless during the exposure, and the shutter speeds should be high enough to stop any possible movement in the subject.

  • Exposure - Incorrect exposure can do almost as much to undermine image quality as lack of sharpness. With the excellent auto exposure system built into today's cameras, there wouldn't seem to be a problem getting accurate exposures. But for these devices to work properly, you must be sure that the camera battery is good, the correct shutter speed and the manual override feature (if any) is properly set, and the exposure control is turned to automatic. If you are using flash, be certain the shutter is set to the right speed for synchronization.

  • Composition - To be of high quality, a picture should be composed in a pleasing or attention-getting manner. First, make the subject large enough within the frame. This involves camera to subject distance, the proper focal length lens, or both. In addition, the subject should relate to its surroundings in an effective way. Here we are concerned with camera angle, distance, and perspective. Experiment with these various factors until the image looks best to you. Another important point is to try to eliminate anything in the scene that does not directly contribute to a picture's effectiveness.

  • Lighting - Although not an optical or mechanical consideration, lighting is an important picture element in both quantity and quality. Harsh, contrasty lighting may be all right for a few subjects, but completely unsuitable for others. The same reservations apply to soft, shadowless lighting. Furthermore, any subject los different when the direction of the light is changed - from the front to the side, for example or from a high angle to a low one. Always try for the type of lighting that best serves your subject.

  • Freedom from defects - Even if careful attention is given to all of the above points, image quality will still be poor if careless defects are allowed to creep into the picture. Dust spots, scratches and chemical stains will spoil otherwise excellent pictures unless care and cleanliness are part of every picture making step.

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