Do you want sharp images?
If you want your landscape images to look like Ansel Adams' – everything sharp from foreground to background – you really need to master two skills.
- Hyperfocal focusing – look at my article here and,
- Avoid camera shake.
Hyperfocal focusing is really concerned with the proper aperture, and the correct focus point.
Many don't understand this concept and no how much they avoid camera shake, their images will never be sharp.
Avoid Camera Shake in Your Landscape Images
The second part of the “sharp image” equation, is to avoid camera shake.
Here's how to do that:
- Ensure you're stabilization system – tripod, L bracket and ball head are solid (see my article on camera stabilization systems here).
- Verticle shots where the camera is flopped to the side (instead of using an L bracket) or where the tripod is short with a long center column, do not produce a solid enough connection.
- Ultralight tripods also, do not produce a solid enough connection especially when outside influences are at play – like wind or even your movement around the camera.
- Don't allow for items, like camera straps and tethered lens caps, to hang in the wind and create camera shake.
- Wind is your worse enemy and with landscape photography, it is almost always present.
- Consider using ballast, by, for example, attaching your camera bag to the center of the tripod, to stabilize the tripod and reduce any movement.
- Reduce camera shake around tripping the shutter by either
- using the camera's built-in self-timer feature or,
- investing in a remote shutter release like the RNF-4s for Nikon or RF-911 for Canon. Both work perfectly and are inexpensive to boot. Unfortunately, they do not currently make any remote releases for Sony but Sony does offer a wired release. Additionally, you could invest in a wired remote shutter for both the Nikon and the Canon but the price is essentially the same and the remote shutter release is more functional.
- Granted, you can save a little weight and cost by using the built-in self-timer feature, and most of landscapes don't move, so a built-in timer often works fine. Certain shots, for example, water and surf shots, often do require timing and using the self-timer can be frustrating, to say the least.
- Consider using you Mirror Lockup setting to avoid any vibration.
- With live-view, the mirror lockup is already activated, which reduces any vibration due to the mirror slamming shut.
Again, sharp landscape images are really the result of hyperfocal focus and techniques to avoid camera shake.
One without the other is ineffective.
Be sure you practice both skills to produce the best images.