How to Take Better Photos: Sharper Images Tip #1: Use a Tripod!

Everyone from casual photographers to pros want their photos to be sharp and in focus.  You’ll even hear people talk of photos—and often the lenses that take them—of being “tack sharp.”  Other than spending lots of money on lenses, how do you get sharper shots?  Here is the first of several tips on improving image sharpness:

Use a Tripod!

The single most important piece of gear you need beyond your camera is a tripod, and shooting on a tripod will make the most dramatic improvement in image sharpness.



In fact, if there’s one thing that separates amateurs from pros it’s that pros shoot on tripods always—even during the day.

Keep the Camera Steady

The simple idea is that tripods keep the camera steady.  Even a small amount of camera shake can affect the sharpness of an image, especially when shooting at slower shutter speeds (e.g., slower than 1/125 second).

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Maintain Focus

But many also forget that the focal point can change if you mistakenly move further away or closer to your subject, and a tripod helps prevent this.  Preventing movements in and out of focus is particularly significant when shooting at low apertures or in macro settings.

Tripod Components

Most entry-level tripods are single-piece units, possibly with a removable “quick release” plate, which allows you to take the camera off of the tripod easily.  But such systems typically are not very sturdy–that’s why they’re cheap!  Higher end systems come with separate tripod legs and a ball head, which allows for greater control of the camera and a much steadier setup.

Which Tripod?

Like many things, you get what you pay for.  You can get a working tripod for less than $50, but don’t expect it to hold up in the wind or to last very long.

The lightweight Canon Deluxe Tripod 300.

Still, such tripods are a great way to get a feel for tripods.  H and B Digital sells the Canon Deluxe Tripod 300 for $39.95.

The excellent and sturdy Giottos MT9250 MT II Classic Aluminum Tripod with the MH-1001-652 ballhead.

But want to get a great tripod that will last for many years?  Consider the Giottos MT9250 MT II Classic Aluminum tripod.  The MT9250 will support equipment up to 11 pounds and folds down to 24 inches.  The MT9250 is available at H and B Digital with the excellent MH1001-652 ballhead (quick release plate included) for $245.99.


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