I recently started getting into stock photography and submitted some images to Shutterstock. I was rejected for various issues like noise and focus. I was surprised at how high their standards were but I chose new images and tried again. More images passed than the first time, but some of them are still being rejected for being too soft.

The images I submitted are here: http://adobe.ly/1xmFbD8

Although I'm slightly perplexed as to how most of the images are too soft to be used (especially the pelicans), what I really want to know is:

What could I have done to get these images sharper? Do I need a better camera/lens, or is there something I am doing wrong? I'm using a Canon 60D and the 24-105mm f/4L.

The images that were rejected for softness are the flowers, take the blame, sand, pelicans, and the mountain meadow. The one with my shadow was rejected for other reasons, and the rest were accepted. I included them all for completeness.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have the EXIF's ? Also, in one image we can see your shadow and you might not be holding the camera exactly right -- arm detached from body = maybe not enough stability. Overall, the biggest problem might still be misfocus as chuqui pointed out. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23, 2015 at 13:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point about holding the camera, I'll keep that in mind. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 24, 2015 at 5:19

1 Answer 1


Image sharpness is more a function of the lens than the body. The Canon 60d and the 24-105L F/4L are both capable of shooting stock-acceptable imagery. I used the 24-105 as my wide angle lens for a while and I really like it a lot.

In the case of the pelican image, the focus seems to be on the wall between the two pelicans on the right, not on the pelicans, and the two on the left are clearly soft, but not so soft that it's clearly done by choice. So I'd say the focus on that image is off.

Take the blame -- the word take is clearly soft, but again, not done in a way that seems to be on purpose. I'd say if you're trying for a blurring effect that I think you're trying for, you probably need a lens more like a 50 1.4 to achieve it. If the entire text was intended to be sharp, it's off.

The others are similar -- there seem to be mistakes in technique in taking them, and I think the post processing in sharpening could be improved. Stock is a tough industry with lots of people trying to sell into it, so the standards are really tight.

I don't see anything particularly wrong here, definitely not in the equipment. I'd suggest taking lots of photos, practicing composition, studying the results and studying others doing that kind of work to see the quality standard to aspire to, and practice, practice practice, both with learning how to get the camera to give you the picture you want (and not the picture it feels like giving you) and in improving your post processing technique.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback! Good to know that my equipment is fine. Looking at the pelican image again, it was at f/4.0 and 1/2000. I probably should've used a much slower shutter speed and higher aperture. I guess I was too focused on the pelicans not flying away. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 24, 2015 at 5:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for smaller aperture. At f/4, don't expect to have a huge DoF, especially at longer focal lengths. Small focusing mistakes will immediately show. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 24, 2015 at 8:15

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