Whether shooting with my primary camera, Canon 7D MkII or my Panasonic DMC-TZ5 point and shoot camera (2007), I try to 'get it right in the camera' to minimize any post shoot work.
With my Canon, my favorite way to shoot is with Live View and manual focus which helps me get pin point sharp focus. (A tripod is a must.) First I compose the image in Live View, then move the focus point over to the primary part and then magnify the image (on Canon, press the 'Magnify' button once to activate, a second time to magnify to 5x and a third time to magnify to 10X.) I manually focus until my primary part is pin point sharp and when everything looks good, I release the shutter using a remote. When my image is magnified, I see exactly what's sharp and what's not.
Try this - Set up your DSLR camera and tripod. Using the viewfinder manually focus on one part at a close distance. When you think you've got it focused, turn on Live View and magnify it. Move the focus point to the same part that should be sharp and see how close your focus was. More often than not, you will get better focus with Live View.
Other advantages of shooting Live View / Manual focus:
- In Live View the mirror is up, so there's no camera slap vibrations - remember to use a remote release
- In Live View, white balance, exposure, brightness can be adjusted before shooting the photo
- Be sure to use your camera's built in 'Guide Lines' to make sure you're shooting level
Here's two versions of a photo I shot in live view. (Yes! These photos are related to model ship building! I'm working on an article about making sails that includes a discussion on various sewing machine feet needed.)
The first photo is the full frame original photo, resized to post. The focus point was the '20' which is 2mm high
The second photo is after I spent less than a minute in Elements to crop, level the colors, resize and another couple of minutes in Picaso to add text.
-Optimum ISO is 400, Maximum 1000 - any higher will increase noise, especially if cropping
-Minimum shutter speed 1/60 - any slower will reduce sharpness
-F Stop - Stop it down as much as possible while staying above 1/60 shutter speed
-Exposure Compensation is your friend - Experiment using in Live View!
-If shooting indoors with artificial light, manually adjust white balance - Again, experiment in Live View!
-Use flash as needed, diffuse the flash with a few layers of 'Bounce' fabric softener sheets
-Shoot in full manual
And that's how I try to 'get it right in the camera'.
PS. I need an editor for my article on making sails! If your machine and hand sewing skills are above average and can edit, please send me a PM. I'm located in the north suburbs of Chicago and we would need to meet face to face a couple of times during this project.