I am relatively new to DSLR photography and I am mainly learning by taking photos and enjoying doing so. One of the curiosities with my photos are how the level of sharpness varies from photo to photo.
I do understand how Aperture/Exposure/ISO/ShutterSpeed/Focal lengh can affect my image and I aware of this when shooting, but I have yet to find the "Butter Zone" where I know my images will come out sharp.
That is, I will take an shot with settings that have previously yielded sharp results only to find that it is not as sharp as before.
I appreciate that there are compromises to be made and in all honesty most of my pics will print OK on paper, but I have taken very sharp images with the kit I have before and want to build some consistancy in to my photo taking.
I have a D5100 and 55-200mm VR lens (VR is on permanently and I mainly hand hold) I try to shoot at 1/250-400+ @200mm where possible. ISO is usually 100-1600 (although rarely as high as 1600) Aperture I glue to f8 unless I need more light and I shoot in varied conditions.
Are there any rules of thumb that I should consider?