A pin-sharp landscape image is a beautiful thing. But how often do we come back from a day out shooting, download our images, and find that we just don’t quite have everything in the perfect sharp focus that we all desire? It can be disappointing, particularly if you find it happening over and over again.
But fear not, there’s a way to get sharper images in camera. To do that, you need to understand lens diffraction. In this video, Gavin Hardcastle delves deeper into how you can get the most from your camera and lens and take sharp photos every time you go out.
So, to clarify, diffraction is how light gets bent when it moves around an object in its path. In the camera’s case, the object blocking the path is the lens. The amount of diffraction going on depends on the aperture that you’re shooting at.
As Gavin says, this diffraction doesn’t really become obvious unless you’re shooting at the extreme apertures of either end of your lens, say at the widest or narrowest. The smaller the aperture, the more the light has to diffract through the opening of the lens to hit the sensor or film.
That means that if you’re shooting at f/22, the image actually won’t be as sharp as it could be. Generally speaking, shooting in the mid-range of your lens’ aperture range will yield the sharpest images.
Gavin recommends taking several shots of the same image with different apertures. Then in Lightroom or Photoshop, you can compare all the shots. Gavin makes a great argument for compromising a little in favor of maximizing depth of field and creating movement with longer shutter speeds. Sure, your image may not be at its absolute maximum sharpness, but unless you’re printing out the image, it may not matter that much.
In the end, being intentional and working out your priorities is the key here. I’d recommend watching the video because Gavin explains the whole thing in very simple and understandable terms.