Macro, as you probably very well know, stands for close-up photography. Why it’s called macro though, I have no idea. A much better name would be “Micro“, really. Anyhow, shooting macro photos is an amazing thing, because you get to observe all the tiny details of the subject magnified beyond what you human eye can normally see.

A major problem that comes to the surface often when doing macro photography is the sharpness of the photos: the macro shots are often not very sharp. Here we will give a number of tips on improving the sharpness of your macro photos.macro-jewelry

But before moving to the actual tips, let us firs examine closely the definition of macro photography. True macro doesn’t mean just close-up shots. It means more precisely that the object of your photo is magnified by the lens to be the same size as the imaging sensor of your camera. However, the sharpness problem is universal to any type of macro photography.

Here are Four Essential Steps for Taking Sharper Macro Photos

  1. Do not shoot from the minimum focus distance of  your lens. Every lens, even if it’s not a dedicated macro lens, has a minimum focus distance. It is actually the closest distance between the object and the lens, while the object is still being sharp. Move your finger close toward your eyes and you will see this phenomenon at work. At one point your finger won’t be sharp any more. The lens, as well as your eye, are not capable of focusing on objects closer than the minimum focus distance.So, simply don’t approach this distance too much. You are pushing the limits of the focusing capabilities of your lens, and it won’t produce the sharpest picture.Rather, move away from this limit a bit and the resulting photo will be much sharper. Of course, you won’t get as close to the object as before and the it won’t be as large, but the sharpness should be your priority anyway.
  2. Use a Tripod. You are shooting something really small, and because of that any camera shakes can ruin your photo, or at least introduce a significant blurring effect. If you hold your camera and press the shutter button, this action introduces even more shakes. To prevent camera shakes, use a tripod. A good one, if you can afford it and you will notice a dramatic increase in sharpness to your photos.
  3. The wind can ruin you photo as well. Similar to tip number 2, this tip says the same only from the other end. If you have stabilized your camera shakes, make sure the object itself isn’t moving. Because, it will essentially create the same problems.Sharpness problems of this type can occur while shooting flowers. Even a slight wind can make the flower you are shooting to oscillate very fast, and this movement will destroy the sharpness of your photo.
  4. Use a sharper lens. If you’ve exhausted all the other options, and your photos are still not sharp enough, maybe the problem is in your lens. Luckily, both Canon and NIkon offer very good and inexpensive 50mm prime lenses that are sharp even close to their close-up distance. They are a good option to be considered if you want to improve the macro photography on the cheap.

What do you think about taking sharp Macro Photos? How to you do it? Why don’t you share your experience in the comment section below?

Depth of Field is a fancy word that essentially describes how much of your photo is sharp and how much is blurred.

Everybody knows that if you want to control the Depth of Field you should control the aperture values. In general, aperture values below f2.8 should give you shallower depths of filed. However, aperture is not the only parameter that can impact depth of field.

There are several less-known factors that influence the Depth of field, probably as much as the aperture itself.

Focal Length

The first one is the focal length. All other factors being equal, the longer the focal length of the lens the shallower the depth of field.

If you are a beginner in photography, you probably have the 18mm kit lens purchased along with your first DSLR camera. For the reason mentioned above, if you want be a landscape photographer, you should consider buying a real wide-angle lens instead of your kit lens. You will be able get great depth of field for landscape photography.

Distance between the Subject and the Lens

The second important factor is the distance between the subject and the lens. The farther away from the subject you are, the larger the depth of field. If you want shallow depth of field, get closer to the subject.

Macro photography is a nice example of this principle. For close-up shots it is practically impossible not to have shallow depth of field because of the close distance of the lens to the subject. That’s why experienced macro photographers try everything they can to actually increase the depth of field, for example, by having higher aperture values.

Distance between the Subject and the Background

The third factor is the distance from the subject to the background of the photo. The larger the distance, the shallower the depth of field. People who take photos of newborn babies, know what we are talking about. Because newborn babies are always lying down, it is virtually impossible to make some distance between them and their background (the blanket behind their body). As a result, you cannot make the background blurry and you cannot effectively use depth of field.

The Bottom Line

If you are a beginner in photography, the three additional factors we presented in this post can teach you how to use your kit lens to produce blurred photos.

If you are stuck with your kit lens, which by definition doesn’t have a capability of creating shallow depths of field, not everything is lost just as yet. Think about the composition of your photo.

  1. Choose the lowest possible aperture. For this, you can use the Aperture priority mode of your DSLR camera.
  2. Stand closer to the subject.
  3. Increase the distance between the subject and its background.
  4. Zoom in as far as possible.

Here is an example with my Canon 18-55mm IS STM kit lens. Compare the first image (18mm; f3.5) with the second (55mm f5.6). The distance between the subject and the background is the same in both cases. However, at the 18mm end, I wasn’t able to get as close to the subject as I was able to get with the 55mm end. As a consequence, the background is not as blurred as with the 55mm end, although the aperture was 3.5 – larger than at the 55mm end.

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The above technique works well also if you have to work with a point and shoot compact camera and you need to blur out the background.

You have purchased your new Canon DSLR and you have played with the Auto Modes for a while. But if you want to really master your new equipment, sooner or later you will have to switch to the more advanced modes. And once you decide to get off Auto Mode, the most natural way to learn photography is to switch first to Aperture Priority Mode.

Remember that you don’t have to shoot in Manual mode to be using your camera the way it is supposed to. Even professional photographers use Aperture Priority most of the time.

Here is a Summary of What You Will Learn From This Post:

  • what (Av) mode is, a definition
  • what types of situations you would want to use it and why
  • some advantages of (Av) over manual
  • things to look out for

What is Aperture Priority Mode?

  1. Aperture priority:
    (Av on Canon 700d and other Canon models)
    The definition of this mode is quite simple. In this priority mode you are in control of 2 of the 3 exposure controls: aperture and ISO. The camera is in control of the remaining exposure control: the shutter speed. Based on your choice of ISO and aperture, it will select an appropriate shutter speed, so that you will end up with a correct exposure.

Note: the three factors mentioned above are not the only ones that affect the exposure. There is also the question of the Metering Mode and Exposure Compensation.

When Should You Use Aperture Mode?

Short answer: Use Aperture mode whenever you want to have control over the Depth of Field.

I believe that for beginners, controlling the Depth of Field should be the main priority. For example, if you want to do a portrait, people photo, or you just want to blur the background, your Depth of Field should be shallow. Choose large apertures, below f2.8. Or if you want to have a large Depth of Field, i.e., for landscape photography, choose smaller apertures, f11 or smaller.

When You Shouldn’t Use Aperture Mode?

Short answer: Whenever you want to control motion, when using a panning technique, or when doing night photography.

When you want to freeze or blur something, you should choose the Shutter Priority Mode. This is useful, for example, when shooting sports, action, or flowing water. In some cases you would want to go as low as 1/250th or faster, depending on the subject. The fastest shutter speed your Canon 700d can go is up to 1/4000th of a second. And also you would want to switch to Manual Mode when doing night photography.

Things to Keep in Mind

ISO: When you use the Av mode you have to choose ISO by yourself

When using the Aperture priority, don’t forget to set your ISO first. The ISO changes based on the lighting conditions you are shooting in. Outdoors in a bright sunlight, choose 100 or 200. In a shade you can go up to 400. Indoors you should go between 800 and 3200.

Control your shutter speed

Even though you are in Aperture mode and your camera is choosing the shutter speed, it doesn’t mean you will always get a sharp image. You will get the right exposure, that’s for sure, but not necessarily the sharpest image. Keep your eye on the shutter speed and change the readjust the aperture and ISO if needed (higher ISO, and / or larger aperture). A good rule of the thumb for hand holding your camera is to have a minimum shutter speed of 1 over focal length of your lens. For example if you are using a lens of 100mm focal length, your shutter speed should be 1/100th of a second or less. Keep in mind though that on your canon aps-c senson (1.6x crop factor) your lens will be 160mm effectively, so your minimum shutter speed should be somewhere around 1/160th of a second.

Watch for warning notices about exposure

It is possible that your choice of parameters is such that your camera cannot get the correct exposure for you. For example, say you are shooting in a bright sunny day and you set your ISO to 1600 and aperture to f1.8. This effectively means that there is too much light. Your camera will give you a flashing indication on the fastest shutter speed (1/4000 for Canon 700d). This means that you have to decrease ISO and / or aperture and the warning will go away.

The Bottom Line

Steps you can use on your Canon 700d (Rebel T5i):

  1. Select the Av Priority mode                                           aperture-priority
  2. ISO comes first
  3. Set your aperture for the desired results iso
  4. You can use your viewfinder, or alternatively the live preview like in the image below: live-preview-2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           In the live preview number 1 is the shutter speed, number 2 is the aperture, number 3 is the exposure compensation, and number 4 is the ISO. Similarly, you will see this data through your viewfinder.
  5. Keep an eye to the minimum shutter speed
  6. Correct if necessary
  7. Enjoy!