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5 Reasons Your Train Photos Are Not Sharp

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5 Reasons Your Train Photos Are Not Sharp

After taking some train photos, today we nearly all go back home to view them on are computer.

How do you feel when you notice some of the photos are out of focus? I personally feel dammed annoyed about it!

If you want to try and find out what the problem is then read the following reasons why your photographs may be out of focus or not as sharp as you wish.

You are not holding the camera steady enough 

If your camera shakes while taking a photograph, then this is the number one cause of a non sharp photo. You may think you are holding the camera still, but just the slightest movement can cause a problem.

You can place your camera on a tripod if you feel happy with it. To be honest, during the day when photographing trains, a tripod is never really used. But, if you have a health problem that makes your body shake, then it could be worth trying out. What I tend to do is make sure that both hands are holding the camera. If available, I also tend to lean on something, a fence or wall etc.

The shutter speed is too slow

Did you use the right shutter speed? Maybe not if the photo is out of focus. The correct shutter speed is very important for your photographs.

If you’re shooting a moving train, you will need a fast shutter speed. For a moving train photo on the mainline you should use a minimum 1/1000 shutter speed. A train photo will need a shorter shutter speed. I tend to use between 200 to 400, depending on the weather. 

Have a read about Shutter Speed for Moving Train Photos to learn more info.

You could be using the wrong focus mode

Most cameras today will give you three focus modes to choose from. If you used the wrong one, then this could be the non sharp photo problem. The three focus modes are Single shot, Continuous focus and Automatic autofocus.

For a moving train photograph you need to use the Continuous focus mode. On my Canon camera this mode is called Al Servo. It is designed to keep a moving item in focus. Once this mode is set, press the shutter button halfway down and it will focus the train and detect its movement. This focus mode is a very good option for railway photography.

If you are photographing a stationary train, then you need to use the Single shot mode. When you press the shutter button halfway down it will focus on what part of the train you want in focus.

Autofocus points are wrong

Nearly all cameras will let you select autofocus points. On the camera viewfinder, you will see that the autofocus points are little squares. The AF points will light up when you press the shutter halfway down. This will be the points the camera is focusing on.

However, this may be the wrong AF point you are using. If your camera is set as normal, it will probably focus on the middle of the photo. If the train is on the left side, you will need to manually change the focus point to the correct position.

You are using the wrong aperture

Using the wrong aperture could also be a reason for a non sharp photo. A wide aperture (Small F-Number) gives a narrow depth of field and a fast shutter speed. A small aperture (High F-Number) gives a wide depth of field and a slow shutter speed.

If the train is stationary, then use the Small F-Number. If you are photographing a moving train, then you need to use the High F-Number.


If you have the above problems or any others, I suggest that you do research on the internet to learn more about it.

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