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Sharpness - Relative vs Absolute

by Steve Berardi

The more I photograph nature, the less I’ve been concerned about sharpness. It’s not out of laziness, but from the realization that relative sharpness is much more important than absolute sharpness.

Absolute sharpness is about making your subject as sharp as possible, within the limits of your camera and lens.

On the other hand, relative sharpness is about making your subject as sharp as possible relative to other elements in that image.

This also applies to depth of field, and in this article when I mention sharpness I also mean depth of field/focus.

For example, here’s a photo with a lot of absolute sharpness:


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About the Editor

Steve Berardi is a nature photographer, software engineer, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of California. His photographs have been used by Nature Photographer Magazine, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club. He’s also written numerous articles for the Digital Photography School and PhotoYou Magazine.

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