How to Judge the Quality of Your Photo
Photographs are often ruined because they are fuzzy and not clear. This is usually due to one of two things: blur due to camera movement or fuzziness due to the camera not focusing properly. Of course, sometimes the fuzziness is caused by both factors.
While the LCD screen can help, it takes a while to learn how to judge the quality of a photograph. Because the LCD displays a small image, the photo will look much sharper than the picture when it is viewed full size on your computer monitor. Beginning photographers are often surprised when a picture that looked good at the time turns out to be less than sharp when printed or viewed on the computer.
When you are still learning a new camera, you should take test shots of a scene and then carefully review those shots using the zoom feature in the camera's review mode. The zoom feature will blow up a section of the photo to a very large size. While you will not be able to see the entire picture this way, you can judge the sharpness of crucial points, such as a person's face. Yet even this takes some practice to learn. At extreme enlargements, nothing will be completely sharp. At these maximum blow-ups, you are, in a sense, looking at the finest details in your picture with a microscope. If you can see good detail at this point, the picture is as sharp as it can be.
Small pictures always look sharper than larger ones. This is true for images on LCD monitors at the back of digital cameras, LCD viewfinders, and thumbnail pictures viewed on the camera or in an image editing or browsing program. Even small prints generally look sharper than large ones.
If the picture is not sharp, the extreme zoom in review mode will help diagnose the problem. Camera movement or subject movement will cause a streaking as though the details were smeared. If you moved the camera, the entire picture will be smeared; if the subject moved, then just that person will be smeared and the rest of the photo will be sharp. If the problem is due to focus, points of color and light will appear to be growing larger but will not be streaked or smeared.
Camera movement is caused by a number of factors — how you press the shutter button, how steady your entire body is, and the shutter speed you choose. If you cannot find a firm place to plant your feet, for example, select a higher shutter speed to compensate. If you are in a strong wind that is moving the camera, use a higher shutter speed. If you are taking a picture of a still object like a bowl, you might be able to use a slow shutter speed. Set your camera on a table and then carefully press the shutter button.
In addition to camera movement, subject movement can be a problem. When taking pictures of people, movement is always a factor. A good rule of thumb is to shoot at 1/125 or higher when people are involved. With action shots you might start at 1/250 of a second. Use the shutter priority control.