I'm asked from time to time why it is that people's photos turn out a little blurry. Without seeing the photos there is no one answer. So I thought I would throw out some tips and perhaps you may find your reason why sometimes your photos aren't as sharp as you would like.
1. My first tip could be a simple fix, I have seen it so many times and it has happened to me a few times. Check the lens of your camera. There could be a fingerprint smudge or even sea spray. If your children handle your camera from time to time, this could happen very easily. This will make your photos look a little out of focus, even foggy. Luckily it is a simple fix, a lens cleaning cloth.
2. My second remedy is how you are holding your camera. Since the introduction of the digital camera with a viewing screen on the back, people now most often take photos with their arms straight out in front of them, so that they can see the image on the back of the camera. See the image samples below. (Thank you Zoe for being my camera model) This makes your camera and final image far more open to movement or camera shake.
Now if you pull the camera too your face or at least closer to your body with your arms tucked into your body, you gain so much more stability. Even holding your breathe while an image is being recorded can make a difference in the clarity. Your images will in turn be sharper and clearer.
With this said, there are some of the smaller digital cameras now being made without a viewfinder at all, but bringing the camera closer to you will make some difference.
3. Make sure your camera is set to record an appropriate file size. Set too low, your photos will print pixilated (blurry looking). I always keep my camera's file size set to high. You never know when you will take that amazing photo that you may want to enlarge. If you have a DSLR you may have the option to set your camera to RAW format, unless you know how to edit this type of file, I would not use that setting. Use the highest non RAW setting available.
4. This is a common mistake we can all make. It is most common when you are taking a photo of 2 people. Most cameras are set to focus in the middle of the frame. When you have two people in a photo that means it is going to focus between them. Depending on what is in between them, the camera will more than likely focus behind them, as in the image below. The camera has focused on the hedge behind them, they have turned out blurry.
Now in order to trick the camera and keep your subjects in focus, you will have to move the middle of your camera's image to one of your subjects. Press the shutter button halfway down and focus...keep holding the shutter button and move back to the middle. Then when you press the shutter button all the way and record your image, it will be in focus.
5. For those of you with a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses, and normally use your camera in the full automatic menus with auto focus, this may have happened to you. There is a switch on the side of each of your lenses, you will see it in the image below "AF-MF" (Auto Focus-Manual Focus).
On occasion this little switch can be knocked into MF without you even noticing. That is until the camera will no longer auto focus. The image through your viewfinder will not change at all, that is unless you focus manually by adjusting the lens yourself.
So if you all of a sudden cannot get your camera to focus, this could be your quick fix.
6. With all of this being said, there are times where there actually is a camera malfunction. Which, more often than not means that your camera will have to be sent away.