Tips for Tack-Sharp Images

Tips for Tack-Sharp Images

Shoot Above f/2.

Yes, apertures above f/2 and f/2.8 do exist—and they photograph on film beautifully!

The smaller your aperture number, the smaller your depth of field. When shooting at f/2 or f/2.8, your depth of field is quite shallow. As such, while your subject's nose might be tack sharp, their eyes will likely fall out of focus. To get a larger depth of field (and see both eyes and nose) try stopping down to f/4 or f/5.6. We promise you will still see beautiful bokeh!

Pro Tip: Shooting a large group? Consider stopping down to f/8 for even more depth of field, so all those happy faces will be in focus.

Bride with bridesmaids.

Jen Dillender / Fuji400H / Contax645

Use a Tripod or Monopod.

We know you are a strong, independent, photographer who don't need no tripod—oh wait, scratch that, tripods are handy!

The best photographers know when they need to use tools, of any kind, and use them. Just like some middle schoolers forgo coats in the dead of winter to appear “cool,” we know some photographers shy away from a tripod or monopod—worried these tools will cramp their style or hinder their connection with clients. In reality, it's quite the opposite!

Very few photographers (read: cyborgs) can shoot handheld below a 1/60 shutter speed and still achieve a crisp image. Though it may not seem like it at first, cameras get heavy! And blurry images do not happy clients make.

Trust us—tripods, coupled with a quick-release L-Bracket, will not hamper your shooting style or your connection with clients. Rather, they'll allow you to shoot at slow shutter speeds long after the sun has set or capture darker scenes indoors crisply, using only window light.

Monopods are a sweet deal, too, because they are relatively inexpensive and extremely lightweight. It's super easy to clip them to your bag and haul them onsite.

Pro Tip: You can even find tripods with a built-in monopod (!) where one of the legs can detach.

Both tripods and monopods can be the determining factor in reducing camera shake, avoiding blurry images and nailing your focus. So wear your coat and tell the other kids to buzz off. You'll be cool because you're prepared—for all lighting conditions—with your tripod or monopod.


Mason Neufeld loves her tripod.

Adjust Your Diopter.

This is a quick and easy step that, if forgotten, can lead to a slew of blurry images. You can learn how to adjust your camera's diopter by reading your camera manual.

Table settings.

Jeremiah & Rachel Photography

Consider Using a Macro Filter.

Looking to get up close and personal with your clients or detail shots? Try using a macro filter. Hoya makes great macro filters and they are far cheaper than buying a dedicated macro lens. Macro filters allow you to get quite close to your subject, all while maintaining focus!

Pro Tip: It is important to stop down when shooting macro work. The closer you are to your subject, the narrower your depth of field will be (smaller distance = smaller DOF). To compensate for this, stop down further than you think. Even f/11 will still yield a shallow depth of field and a beautiful bokeh.


Move Your Feet!

To keep active clients in focus as they move across your frame, move with them at their speed! Here's how:

  • Start by focusing on your subjects before they start moving.
  • Next, ask your client to do their movement at “half speed,” whether that is walking, running or dancing!
  • Move with your clients, at their speed, keeping yourself the same distance away from them as when you first set your focal point. Presto! Crisp, action imagery.
Woman running by rocks.
    • Related Articles

    • Reference Images

      Reference Images The Basics Reference images are 3-5 frames that exemplify your style in terms of: Skin tones Contrast Density (e.g. brightness) Saturation Our color technicians reference your reference images as they scan and color-check your film, ...
    • Tips for Consistent Metering

      With so many sources of varying information out there, how do you decipher what the best metering technique is? After hundreds of thousands of rolls, we have learned that keeping it simple is your best bet for consistent, accurate exposures: Use a ...
    • Single Use Cameras

      There's something so nostalgic about the images you get from a single use (disposable) camera. Here are our top tips for getting the most out of these easy-to-use camera bodies: Get Close! While we're suckers for a good environmental shot, single use ...
    • Base Fog

      What is Base Fog? OK, don’t freak out—all film has base fog. What?! Yep, it is called “film base plus fog” or “FB+F.” “Base” is the density of an unexposed, processed area of film. It is a section of the film that has been developed, yet never ...
    • Traveling with Film - CT Scanners

      CT Scanners Can Ruin Unprocessed Film Some U.S. airports have new X-ray scanners at security check points called CT scanners. They're different from previous X-ray security scanners and you really need to avoid sending your film through them. CT ...