Camera handling is related to picture sharpness

making pictures with John Enman - Camera handling is related to picture sharpness

The act of taking pictures and doing photography has become like magic and many of today’s up-and-coming photographers rely entirely and completely on their camera’s tiny computers believing that the automated programs will always deliver wonderful results.

All one has to do is put the digital camera up to the eye, or shakily extend arms, push the shutter release, and count on modern technology to make all the necessary decisions.

Last week a photographer proudly showed me some enlargements and asked how I liked them?

They were reasonable images and the printing was okay, but as I looked at them closely I could see they weren’t very sharp, lacked depth of field, and contained tiny spots in the sky.

If I had been in a classroom environment it would have been a perfect time to break into a discussion on camera handling.

Camera handling techniques include more than just moving a camera body around in front of one’s face and pushing the shutter.

Camera handling means understanding how to use and control a camera in the most effective way.

Carpenters, cabinetmakers, mechanics, quilters, and cake decorators, to name a few professions, would nod their heads knowingly if I mentioned how important it is to learn how to control and use their tools of the trade correctly.

However, when taking photographers and their tools of the trade into consideration, many photographers believe that owning a feature-loaded camera is more than adequate, and if the photos from that camera aren’t great, they think the answer is to buy another camera.

With that in mind, I have a few very basic camera-handling suggestions that would have helped that photographer to produce better pictures than those he showed me.

1. Examine the picture and if there are lots of tiny dark spots, clean the sensor.

Cleaning the sensor is fairly easy and all that is usually required is a few minutes with a rocket air-blower.

2.  Vibration reduction features only helps with shaking hands, not subject movement.

He should practice following subject movement and try to keep the camera as close as  possible to reduce body shake.

3.  When hand holding the camera, faster shutter speeds will produce more “keepers” than slower shutter speeds.

For example, shutter speeds like 1/125th or higher are probably the safest to control both camera shake and subject movement. And follow that old rule to match the shutter speed with the lens focal length.

4.  The current infatuation with wide aperture lenses is great, but the larger the aperture  opening is the less the depth of field will be, and that will mean areas in front of and behind the selected subject will probably be out of focus.

That photographer must understand, the smaller the aperture is, and the more chance the area in front of and behind the subject will be sharp.

5. Using “program” or “auto mode” leaves exposure decisions to in-camera computers and takes creative and intellectual control from the photographer.

Some digicams and all DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras have manual exposure modes.

Experiment and practice to find out when manual mode is most effective.

These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at or Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops.


I sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment. And if you want an experienced photographer please call me at 250-371-3069.