Getting sharp photos of wildlife is a constant battle. With an uncontrollable and constantly moving subject, you usually end up with a lot more blurry shots than sharp ones.
To increase your chances of getting a sharp shot, you can do things like shoot in JPEG to help you take a lot more photos in a burst.
And, if you’re shooting in JPEG, there’s one more setting you should adjust to make your sharp photos even sharper. It won’t do anything for the blurry shots, but it’ll make those good shots even better.
Increase the sharpness on your picture “styles” or “controls”
They’re called picture “styles” on Canon cameras and picture “controls” on Nikons, but they work pretty much the same way: they’re presets for different types of images and usually include settings for contrast, saturation, highlights, shadows, and sharpness.
You can safely adjust these later in post-processing if you’re shooting in RAW, but if you shoot in JPEG, then you need to adjust these on the camera before you snap the photo.
By default, the settings are pretty conservative, so I usually end up setting the sharpness to level 5 on my Canon cameras (the default is 3). I haven’t tried this on a Nikon, but I imagine they also have fairly conservative defaults. Sharpness is the only adjustment I make, I leave the rest at zero.
Shooting in JPEG really only makes sense when you need that fast burst rate, so it’s easy to forget about these picture styles. But, if you perform some tests with your cameras and lenses to find a suitable sharpness level, you can use these styles or controls to get just a little more sharpness 🙂
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About the Author: Steve Berardi is a naturalist, photographer, computer scientist, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of Southern California.