5 Tips for Creating Tack-Sharp Images


As a photographer, you know your clients want to look good! Step one to looking good? Be in focus!⁠

Shoot above f/2.

Yes, apertures above f/2 do exist—and they photograph on film beautifully! The smaller your aperture number, the smaller your depth of field. While shooting at f/2 or f/2.8, your subject’s nose can be tack sharp, but their eyes may 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! 

Fine art film wedding photo of a bride and bridesmaids by Jen Dillender.
Jen Dillender

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! Don’t shoot handheld below 1/60th of a second. Though it may not seem like it at first, cameras get heavy! Avoid camera shake by using a tripod for any shutter speeds slower than 1/60th. Better yet, try a monopod, they are lightweight, easy to use, and often cheaper than a tripod! 

Film photo of Mason Neufeld Photography using a tripod.
Mason Neufeld

Adjust your diopter.

This is a quick and easy step that, if forgotten, can lead to a whole slew of out-of-focus images.⁠ 

Indoor tablescape shot on film by Jeremiah and Rachel Photography Montana’s premiere destination film wedding photographers.
Jeremiah & Rachel Photography

Consider a Macro Filter

Looking to get up close + personal with your clients or detail shots? Consider using a Macro Filter. Hoya Filters are cheaper than a macro lens + allow you to get quite close, 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 (small distance = small DOF). To compensate for this, stop down further than you think. Even f/11 will yield shallow depth of field. 

Macro shot of a ring on film resting on a rose by Brian D Smith Film Photographer.
Brian D Smith

Move yo’ feet!

To keep your clients in focus as they move across your frame, move with them:

✔️ 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, keeping the same distance from them as when you first set your focal point. 

Woman in a white dress jumping in front of a rock ledge. Film phototograph by Erich McVey.
Erich McVey

What are your favorite techniques for capturing tack-sharp images? Tell us below.

Lead image by Callie Manion.

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