Photo Basics: Understanding Image Sharpness and How to Use It for Better Photographs (VIDEO)

Image sharpness is a critical concern for most photographers, whether they’re shopping for a new lens or shooting photos in the field. In the revealing video below, Leica photographer Thorsten Overgaard answers the question “What is sharpness in photography,” and explains techniques for achieving optimal results.

Based in Denmark, Overgaard is renowned for his beautiful editorial and portrait photography, and he’s also an internationally acclaimed instructor. In just about eight minutes he demonstrates why there’s a lot more to image sharpness than the sensor size of a camera and the resolution of a lens.

Overgaard begins the tutorial by displaying a striking portrait he made of Swedish diplomat Hans Blix. While the incredibly sharp image looks like it may have been captured with a high-solution medium format camera, Overgaard reveals it was made with the compact 5-megapixel Leica D-Lux 2, introduced way back in 2004,

The point here is that sharpness is a somewhat subjective concept, involving far more than megapixels and how a lens performs on the optical bench. That’s why we often refer to “apparent sharpness” when examining an image, and why factors like light quality, contrast and the dynamic range of a scene are important considerations.

So watch the video, pick up some sage advice, and head over to Overgaard’s website to see more of his impressive work. And be sure to look at a Lightroom tutorial we posted recently with some great tips for improving unsharp photos.

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