The Camera Lens Sweet Spot

The Camera Lens Sweet Spot

Did you ever wonder why some of your photos sometimes look sharper than other photos even though they are all in focus?

Well, I got the answer. 🙂

The reason why is, that you probably don’t know about. The camera lens sweet spot.


canon 50mm 1.8 sweet spot

In this article, you will learn:

  1. A quick overall explanation.
  2. What is the sweet spot?
  3. How to find the sweet spot to get sharp images all the time.
  4. How to test the sweet spot.
  5. How to take action.
  6. The sharpness checklist
  7. How to use the sweet spot.

I will show everything on the standard 18-55mm kit lens since a lot of people have this lens.

I hate pictures I take that are not 100% sharp.

What a lot of beginners, as well as some professionals, don’t know,

is that your aperture actually has something to do with your overall sharpness.

Some people now say of course you idiot daaa depth of field.

But I am not talking about that.

I’m talking about your camera lens sweet spot.

Let me explain

Your lenses are not uniformly sharp across all focal length.

(means sharpness changes when you zoom in or out)

As well as across all apertures

When your aperture is wide open or all the way closed,

your lens appears to be not as sharp overall as when you work in the middle of your aperture or zoom.

 


What is the Camera Lens Sweet Spot

Camera Lens Sweet Spot
Left: Sweet Spot Right: Aperture very closed

Many people know that with an aperture of f/22 you will get pretty much everything sharp in the picture.

But many people don’t know that a camera lens is not always constantly Absolut sharp.

The sweet spot describes the sharpest setting of a lens.

In most cases, lenses get less sharp when the aperture is too wide open or too far closed (on cheap lenses you will experience this a lot as well as on zoom lenses).

That means that when you shoot on your 18-55mm with f/3.5 will not be as sharp and crisp as when you shoot within the sweet spot.


How to find the sweet spot

The first thing you need to do is look at the top of your lens it will look something like this:

sweet spot canon lenses

 

The 1:3.5-5.6 describes the biggest possible aperture ones zoomed out f/3.5 and

zoomed in f/5.6

The rule of thumb is that if you go up 2 full f stops,(6 stops on your camera wheel) from the widest aperture, (f/3.5) you will get to the sweet spot. (f/7.1 Lens sweet spot chart

When you zoom in up to 55mm your widest aperture will be f/5.6 so again go up 2 full stopsLens sweet spot chart

Ok to make sure you understood it here is another example.

On a 50mm prime lens (no zoom)

with a max aperture of f/1.8it will say 1:1.8 right?

Again 2 full F stops up and you will land at 3.5

It’s a rule of thumb, not a not law

It is not about the exact number you will still be fine from f/7.1 up to f/10 in my opinion.

But if you want to know it a 100% just test it out for yourself and see what you still can work with.


How to test your camera lens sweet spot:

  1. Put your camera on a tripod.
  2. Set the focus on a fixed object.
  3. Turn off the autofocus.
  4. Go into your aperture priority mode (Av or A on a Nikon)
  5. Now just shoot pictures with different apertures
  6. review the photos and zoom in 100% to see the difference.

Take Action

Alright, enough theory takes out your camera and turn it to either AV or M mode.

Now you can take control of your aperture by scrolling the wheel.

Scroll it all the way down to the left.

When you arrived at f/3.5 scroll six times up and you should land at f/7.1

Try to use manual (M) or (AV) aperture priority mode (Av is  A on a Nikon) more often.

This way you have full control over your aperture.

If you don’t feel confident using M yet just start with AV.

It will enable you to still have full control over your aperture, but the camera will choose the right shutter speed for you.

When you now also turn your Iso on auto you don’t have to worry about anything, but your aperture anymore.


A little checklist to make your picture as sharp as possible.

  • Set your camera on a tripod.
  • Use the self-timer or a remote so you can reduce the camera shake.
  • Go to AV mode.
  • Set the aperture on the sweet spot.
  • Focus and shoot.

Conclusion:

Now after reading this article you will probably try to always shoot in the sweet spot to get

the most out of your camera and lens,

but remember nothing in photography is a 100% rule.

It’s still okay to use a f/1.8 when you want an extra nice bokeh or f/22 when you want the

whole image sharp.

It’s all up to you.

Plus it’s not like your image is totally blurred and unusable when you don’t shoot in the sweet spot most people wouldn’t even notice.😊

I really love to use the aperture priority mode and just play around with it.


I hope you found my post about the camera lens sweet spot interesting and somehow informative.

If you have any questions or opinions let me know and I will get back to you in as fast as I can.


Getting your picture always sharp doesn’t stop there maybe you should check out this post to find out how to set your focus point right every time.

 

Cheer Aaron.

8 thoughts on “The Camera Lens Sweet Spot

  1. Doug

    Hi Aaron. I like your way of finding the camera sweet spot. Never thought about analyzing it this way. Zooming in on it this way may get me more well focused shots.
    I am a amateur astronomer. I do some astro imaging. I plan to take picture of the sun on August 21 and plan to use the AV (aperture priority) as the sun changes its brightness. I will be using an 80mm refractor telescope for the lens of the camera.

    1. Aaron

      Hey, Doug. I am glad that you was able to understand my post that means I was not writing to complicated. 🙂 I have never done Astrophotography. Only night sky pictures do they count? 😛 If you want you can e-mail them to me I would love to see your results 🙂 I really like these magical colorful images

  2. Luna Bela Mori

    I haven’t used a camera in a really long time and would like to get back into taking pictures because, frankly, I never take pictures. This was one thing I always had a problem with- getting the camera in the right focus. I was not aware that the problem was more than just the quality of my camera.
    Good read!

    1. Aaron

      Hey, Luna. you should definitely take pictures I like to think of them like my second memory of my life, and you really don’t need an expensive camera to start with it. 🙂

  3. kmv

    I’m excited to try your process out for getting the sharpest possible photos by finding your lens sweet spot. And I love that you included some theory in there as well…always nice to get a refresher.

    I’m most excited to “dial in” my lens and then go take some photos to see how much of a difference I see.
    When doing finding the sweet spot, how much does lighting play a role? Is there an ideal lighting setup to get the best results?

    Thanks again for another insightful post!

    1. Aaron

      Hi, again 🙂 thanks for the great feedback again 🙂 The more light the better of course, but as long as your shutter speed isn’t smaller than your focal length you should be aright. (when you shoot 55mm you should have at least 1/60 of a sec.) I hope that answered your question. 🙂

  4. Atlas

    Hey Aaron,

    Wow I never knew camera lens’ had sweet spots. It makes sense when you think about it. This might be the
    Trick I need with my super zoomed in plant photography. Thanks for the tips on how to find my camera’s sweet spot. I plan on trying this out right away.

    Do you know if individual camera brand and model have sweet spots as well?

    Thanks for the help,
    -Atlas

    1. Aaron

      Hey Aatlas, glad to hear that I told you something new. 🙂 If you ment to ask if all brand have the sweet spot then, yes it’s a physical thing that occurs in every lens. To find it you can either use the sweetspot chart from above or the test with the tripod. I hope I understood your question right and that I anwered it. 🙂

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