Whether you’re a professional photographer or just enjoy photography as a hobby, it can be frustrating when your photos aren’t turning out the way you expected. After all, there are so many settings and options available on most cameras today that it’s easy to get lost in them—and not know where to start when trying to improve your skills.

But don’t worry: I have some tips for getting maximum sharpness every time!

Photo: Canva

Camera Focus Modes

Camera focus modes are an important part of photography and can make a huge difference in the quality of the photos you take. There are several different focus modes available, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Continuous autofocus (AF-C) is great for maintaining focus on constantly moving subjects, such as eyes for portraits, sports, and wildlife. Hybrid autofocus (AF-A/AI Focus AF) is a combination of single and continuous autofocus, allowing the camera to switch between the two as needed. Manual focus is great for pinpointing the focus on a specific area, and is also useful for focus stacking. [1]

Understanding camera focus points is also important. Focus points are the little dots that exist all around the frame, and the camera will focus on the part of the scene that sits under the active focus point. [2] Knowing how to use focus points can help you create more dynamic and interesting photos.

Photo by Boyd Visuals

How to Use Focus Creatively in Photography

Using focus creatively in photography is a great way to add depth and interest to your images. One way to do this is through selective focus, where you intentionally focus on one part of the subject while leaving other parts out of focus. This can create a sense of depth and draw the viewer's attention to the most important part of image. Another technique is to use a shallow depth of field, achieved by using a wide aperture, to blur the background and create a sense of separation between the subject and its surroundings. This can be particularly effective in portraits, where the subject is the main focus of the image.

Another way to use focus creatively is through focus stacking. This technique involves taking multiple images of the same scene, each with a different focus point, and then combining them in post-processing to create an image that is in focus from front to back. This is particularly useful for landscape photography, where you may want to capture a wide scene with everything in focus, but the limitations of your lens and camera may make this difficult to achieve in a single shot. By combining multiple images with different focus points, you can create a final image that is both sharp and visually interesting.

How to Combine Camera Focus Modes with Autofocus Area Modes

Combining CF modes with autofocus area modes is a powerful technique that can help you capture sharp and well-focused images. AFM determine which part of the scene the camera uses to focus on, while focus modes determine how the camera maintains that focus. By using the right combination of these two modes, you can ensure that your camera is focusing on the right part of the scene and maintaining that focus in the way you need it to.

For example, if you are shooting a portrait and want to focus on the subject's eyes, you can use a single autofocus point to select the eye as the focus point, then use continuous autofocus mode to ensure that the camera maintains focus on the eye as the subject moves around. Alternatively, if you are shooting a landscape and want everything from front to back in focus, you can use a wide autofocus area mode to cover the entire scene, then use manual focus to ensure that the focus point is exactly where you want it. Experimenting with different combinations of focus modes and AFM can help you achieve the results you're looking for in your photography.

Overall, combining CF modes with AFMs requires some experimentation and practice, but the results can be well worth it. By understanding how these modes work together, you can take control of your camera's focus and capture images that are sharp, well-composed, and visually engaging.

Photo by: Boyd Visuals

Photo by: Boyd Visuals

Photo by: Boyd Visuals

Focusing in Photography – Manual vs. Autofocus

Focusing in photography is a crucial element that can make or break the quality of your images. There are two main methods of focusing in photography – manual focus and autofocus. Manual focus allows you to manually adjust the focus ring on your lens to achieve sharp focus on your subject. This method can be useful in situations where the autofocus struggles to find the correct focus point, such as in low light or when shooting through obstacles. With manual focus, you have complete control over the focus point, and can adjust it to your exact preference. It requires a bit of practice and skill, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a powerful tool in your photography arsenal.

On the other hand, autofocus is a feature that comes built-in with most cameras and lenses. It uses sensors in the camera to detect the contrast and sharpness in the scene and adjust the focus accordingly. Autofocus is often faster and more accurate than manual focus, making it a popular choice for many photographers. It allows you to focus on your subject quickly and easily, without having to worry about adjusting the focus point manually. However, it can sometimes struggle in low light or when the subject is moving quickly. It's important to understand the different autofocus modes available on your camera and how they work in different shooting situations.

Photo by: Boyd Visuals

Auto Focus Mode in Portrait photography

When it comes to portrait photography, autofocus mode is an important setting to consider. AF area modes help fine-tune how and where the camera seeks to focus within a scene. The most common autofocus modes options are AF-S (single point), AF-C (Continuous) or AF-A (automatic) [3]. Single autofocus (AF-S) is not always the best setting to choose, and continuous autofocus (AF-C) and newer AF technologies such as face detection and eye autofocus are making it easier to keep your subject in focus, particularly when there is movement involved [4].

For portrait photography, the best camera settings are manual mode (M), shutter speed of 1/100 or faster, and an aperture of F/1.8 – F/4 [5]. It is important to choose the right focus point for a given setting and subject in order to get the best results. Choosing the wrong focusing area and points can actually hinder your camera as it will hunt in a very large or small area [6].

Photo by: Boyd Visuals

Photo by: Boyd Visuals

Photo by: Boyd Visuals

Focus Carefully on Your Subject

Portrait photography is all about capturing the essence of your subject. To do this effectively, it's important to focus carefully on your subject. One of the first things to consider is the composition of your shot. Ensure that your subject is positioned correctly within the frame, with their eyes in line with the rule of thirds. This will help to draw the viewer's attention to your subject's face and create a more visually appealing photograph.

Once you have the composition right, it's time to focus on your subject's face. Use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field, which will blur out the background and make your subject stand out. Then, use your camera's autofocus function to focus on your subject's eyes. This will help to create a sharp, clear image that draws the viewer's attention to your subject's face.

In addition to technical considerations, it's important to connect with your subject on a personal level. Make them feel comfortable and at ease by chatting with them and getting to know them a little before you start shooting. This will help to create a more natural, relaxed expression and will result in a more genuine portrait.

By focusing carefully on your subject, both technically and emotionally, you can create stunning portrait photographs that capture the essence of your subject and tell a story.

Photo: Canva

Pick a Fast Enough Shutter Speed

When it comes to capturing sharp and crisp images, choosing the right shutter speed is essential. A faster shutter speed is the key to reducing camera shake and ensuring that your photos are sharp and in focus. Camera shake can occur when the shutter speed is too slow, causing the camera to capture any movement or shaking that occurs while taking the photo. This can result in blurry images that lack clarity and detail. By picking a fast enough shutter speed, you can avoid camera shake and capture sharper images.

The ideal shutter speed will depend on the lighting conditions and the subject you are photographing. In general, a rule of thumb is to use a shutter speed that is at least as fast as the focal length of your lens. The perfect shutter speed of 1/100th of a second is recommended for standard portraits in well-lit conditions. However, if you are photographing a moving subject, you may need to use a faster shutter speed to freeze the action and avoid motion blur. With the right shutter speed, you can capture sharp and stunning images that are sure to impress.

Photo: Canva

Press the Shutter Button Halfway Down or Use Back Button Focus

When it comes to capturing sharp photos, getting the focus right is crucial. One of the most common ways to focus your camera is by pressing the shutter button halfway down. However, this technique can be unreliable, especially when shooting in challenging lighting conditions or with moving subjects. An alternative method that has gained popularity in recent years is back button focus, which separates the focus points from the shutter button.

By using BBF, you can assign the focus function to a separate button on the back of your camera. This enables you to lock focus on your subject using a single FP, ensuring that your images are sharp and in focus. Additionally, it allows you to maintain focus on your subject while recomposing your shot without the camera refocusing. This technique is especially useful when tracking moving subjects, as it allows you to maintain focus on the subject while adjusting the composition of the shot. Ultimately, whether you choose to use the shutter button or BBF, taking the time to ensure that your focus points are correct is essential for capturing sharp, high-quality photos.

Zoom in in the Live View mode to check if your focus is correct

When using Live View mode to capture images, it can be challenging to gauge the focus of your shot accurately. One of the best ways to check if your focus is correct is to zoom in on your subject using the camera's zoom function in Live View. This technique enables you to check the focus and sharpness of your image, ensuring that you capture the highest quality images possible.

By zooming in on your image in Live View, you can examine the details of the shot closely, ensuring that the focus is sharp and accurate. This technique is especially useful in situations where you are shooting in low light or with a shallow depth of field, as even a slight misfocus can result in blurred or soft images. Zooming in also allows you to see any imperfections or flaws in your image, such as noise or distortion, which can be corrected before you take the final shot. Ultimately, by taking the time to zoom in and check your focus in Live View, you can ensure that you capture sharp images every time.

Know the Autofocus Limits of Your Camera

When it comes to capturing sharp photos, understanding the autofocus limits of your camera is crucial. Every camera has a camera sensor that is responsible for detecting the focus of the lens. Understanding how the sensor works and how to use it to your advantage is key to capturing crisp, clear images.

One important feature to know is your camera's continuous focus mode. This mode is particularly useful when photographing moving subjects, such as a child or a pet. It allows the camera to constantly adjust focus as the subject moves, ensuring that your photos remain sharp and in focus. However, it's important to note that continuous focus mode can drain your camera's battery quickly. So, be sure to use it sparingly and turn it off when you don't need it.

Another factor to consider is the lighting conditions. In low light conditions, your camera's autofocus may struggle to find and maintain focus. In such cases, you may need to switch to manual focus or use a focus assist light. This can help to create sharper photos even in low light conditions.

Finally, it's important to keep in mind that the autofocus system is not foolproof. Sometimes, it may fail to focus on your subject properly, resulting in blurry photos. In these cases, it may be necessary to switch to manual focus or try a different autofocus point.


In conclusion, understanding the autofocus limits of your camera is key to capturing sharp, clear photos. Factors such as lighting conditions and continuous focus mode can all impact the effectiveness of your autofocus system. By familiarizing yourself with these features and learning how to use them to your advantage, you can create stunning photos that truly capture the essence of your subject.

In conclusion, getting sharper photos in 2023 requires a good understanding of the essential camera settings that can impact the quality of your images. By mastering features such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, autofocus and continuous focus mode, you can take full control of your camera and create stunning, sharp photos that truly capture the essence of your subject.

It's important to remember that getting sharp photos is not just about the technical aspects of your camera settings. It's also about understanding your subject and creating a connection with them to bring out their personality and emotions. By combining technical expertise with a personal touch, you can create images that tell a story and evoke a powerful emotional response from your viewers.

As we continue in 2023 and beyond, advances in camera technology will continue to provide photographers with new tools and features to help them capture sharper, more impactful images. However, at the end of the day, it's the photographer's skill and creativity that truly make a photograph stand out. By mastering the essential camera settings and developing your own unique style, you can create images that are truly unforgettable.