The most expensive lenses won't guarantee perfect pictures if they're not used properly. Here are some simple tips to help you achieve the best camera lens performance.
- Find the Sweet Spot. Nearly all lenses fail to give their sharpest results when using a wide open aperture. Stopping down two or three spots usually gives you the "sweet spot," where the lens is at its best. For instance, if you're using a lens with a maximum aperture of f2.8, the sweet spot will be around f5.6 or f8. Bear in mind that, with zoom lenses, the sweet spot may vary at different focal lengths. To find the sweet spot, take a series of test shots with each lens at each aperture, and you should find the appropriate spot easily!
- Fit a Lens Hood. Intense light within the field of view often causes flare or ghosting on an image. The easiest way to reduce these problems is to use a lens hood, which cuts out light falling onto the lens. In conjunction with this, make sure your lens is clean, allowing it perform to its full potential.
- Avoid Camera Shake. Many debates exist about how slow a shutter speed you can use to avoid camera shake, but the accepted minimum with any lens is 1/60th of a second. With heavier telephoto lenses, it's a good to follow the rule of setting a shutter speed equivalent to the focal length (for example, 1/200th of a second for a 200mm lens). The simple truth is that some people have shakier hands than others! If you're one of these people, consider investing in a tripod for maximum stability. Alternatively, invest in a lens with some form of built-in image stabilization.
- Focus Accurately. Even the best lens can't make a soft photo sharp! For the best accuracy in images, manually chose your AF point, so that it's positioned over your subject, and so the camera knows where it's focusing. Remember that auto-focus can struggle in low light, so manual focus is sometimes the better option for a sharp photo.