It doesn’t matter how good the light is or how expertly you’ve composed your shot; if your photos aren’t sharp, they will be ruined. Unless you are practising intentional camera movement, or have some other creative justification, landscape photographers normally desire everything within the frame – from front to back – to be acceptably sharp.
Extensive sharpness helps provide depth and give photographs a more lifelike appearance. If you wish to print, enlarge or market your images, you need critical sharpness – tack sharp images that do justice to the landscape and your skill. Investing in a good landscape camera and quality optics is a good start, but image sharpness is more dependent on good technique than it is equipment. To help you achieve bitingly sharp landscapes every time, here are my top tips to keep things in focus:
1. Use a Tripod
The most obvious – but important – thing you can do to aid stability and sharpness is use a tripod. They might be fiddly to use, and a pain and weight to lug about, but nothing else will help you achieve consistently sharp landscapes more than a good camera support. Budget, weight, and maximum and minimum height are all things that will help determine your choice.
Feisol, Gitzo, Induro, Manfrotto, 3-Legged Thing, and Really Right Stuff are among the leading brands and each provide a wide choice of designs. Don’t scrimp. Compact and lightweight legs might suffice in good weather, and are ideal when travelling – when weight is a key consideration. However, landscape photographers are often shooting in inclement weather and you need a set of legs capable of withstanding the elements. Manfrotto’s 055 legs are a popular choice. If your budget allows, opt for the carbon version, as carbon fibre tripods are lighter, yet remain just as stable. Make sure that everything is tightened-up properly too – for example, that legs are locked and the head hasn’t loosened.