Photography Cheat Sheet: Ensuring Sharp Focus for Close-Up Photos

Achieving sharp focus is crucial to showcasing the details of your macro shots. This photography cheat sheet will make sure your close-ups are always tack sharp and on point.

Find yourself struggling to get sharply focused macro shots? It’s especially frustrating when you had a great macro shoot outdoors only to later find that your favorites aren’t as sharp as they should be. With some pro tips from today’s photography cheat sheet by Digital Camera World you’ll be able to shoot with the right techniques for getting super crisp close-ups.

In their photography flowchart below, Digital Camera World recommends shooting with manual focus and using your camera’s Live View when shooting macro photography. This will help you achieve precise focus at close distances. So, to begin, check your lens barrel and set the slider on manual focus mode (A to M or AF to MF), or switch the focus mode to M.

When composing your shot using Live View, move the camera so you see (on the screen) the part of the scene you want in focus. Magnify this area by pressing the zoom or magnification button of your camera. Rotate the focus ring until the magnified image looks sharp. Press the magnification button again to zoom out and view the image as normal.

You can still shoot and compose your image from the viewfinder to see if it works for you. Manually focus your lens until your image appears sharply focused. The LED light at the bottom of your viewfinder should light up once your camera detects that the subject is sharp based on the information it gathers through the active focus point.

Whichever way you decide to compose your shot, if you can’t seem to get the subject in focus, you may be too close. Check the minimum focus distance of your lens to determine the closest at which it can focus. The longer the lens, the further away you have to be from your subject.

One more important tip to note when shooting extreme close-ups like flowers and insects: the magnification of your subject depends on the focusing distance of your lens. So, it’s recommended to gently move the camera backward or forward to fine-tune the sharpness of your subject instead of using the focus ring.

Confused? See everything in action in the video below by Ray Scott of Visual Art Photography Tutorials.

For more useful tips and tricks like this, make sure to check out our collection of photography cheat sheets so far!


Screenshot image from the video by Visual Art Photography Tutorials