How to Take Sharp, Focused Point-and-Shoot Photographs

Part of the Photography For Dummies Cheat Sheet

If you’re an artiste and a photographer, you may occasionally want a picture to be out of focus, but in everyday photography, a fuzzy photo is a no-no. Symptoms of this common photographic affliction and how to diagnose and cure it appear in the following list:

  • Symptom: Something other than the main subject is sharp — usually the background.

    • Cause: Camera focused on the wrong thing.

    • Solution: Lock the focus on the main subject before shooting.

  • Symptom: Overall unsharpness, often with a glowing quality or a slight halo around light areas of the subject.

    • Cause: Smudge on the lens.

    • Solution: Clean the lens with lens cleaning tissue and solution.

  • Symptom: Overall unsharpness in nonflash pictures, sometimes with visible blur or streakiness.

    • Cause: Involuntary camera shake.

    • Solution: Use a faster film (ISO 400 or 800) or set fill-flash mode to force the flash to fire.

  • *Symptom: The main subject is unsharp, but things right behind it are sharp.

    • Cause: Subject too close.

    • Solution: With autofocus models, make sure that the viewfinder’s focus-OK lamp glows steadily before shooting — and back up a little if it’s blinking. With non-autofocus (focus-free) models, stay at least four feet from the subject.

If none of these solutions helps, the problem may be with your lens or focusing system — and may require repair.

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