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Photography tips for point-and-shoot cameras

Updated on January 5, 2012

It is possible to get great photos with cheap compact camera?

I'm sure there is plenty of people who can't afford DSLR cameras and expensive equipment, but still have a passion in photography or just want to have better family photos. Maybe some of you are great cooks and want to photograph the food you make for your very own recipe book, or you are passionate gardener and you want to have quality photos of your plants hanging in your living room. Maybe you are just a beginner, like I once was, and you don't know where to start.

In this lens I will cover digital photography basics, and some tips that will help you get better photos with your compact camera.

I'm one of "wannabe-professional-photographer-but-can't-afford-expensive-camera-at-the-moment" and I'll tell you few things where to begin and how to improve your photography skills.

This is for people who already don't own point-and-shoot camera or considering buying a new one.

The first thing you have to pay attention is the zoom. Choose the camera that has bigger optical zoom. I have 6 years old Canon PowerShot with 10x optical zoom. For all cameras, DSLR and compact, in most cases the bigger is better. This goes for size of sensor and size of photos equally.

So, it is good ideas to check specifications before you buy, like sensor, maximum photo size (in pixels), optical zoom.

It is never good thing to buy a camera based only on appearance, but it is possible to find great looking camera with great perfomance.

What type of camera do you mostly use?

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Some Canon PowerShots on Amazon

This are some cameras that I would love. Out of this three, I would probably choose the Powershot SX130IS. It has a great value for money and it has 12x wide angle zoom with image stabilising. That means that I could zoom more without losing quality or pixelising a photo, and I would get less blur if I don't have a tripod or something where I could put my camera on. This is actually low-end compact camera, but it is just a step behind

DSLR. You can take great photos with it, and if you are thinking of buying a DSLR in the future, this the great camera for practice where you can brush your skills.

And I love the design! I love a bit bulky rough looking camera. What can I say, I'm an oldfashioned girl (when it comes to cameras) .

Canon PowerShot SX130IS 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3.0-Inch LCD (OLD MODEL)
Canon PowerShot SX130IS 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3.0-Inch LCD (OLD MODEL)

This would be my compact camera of choice. I have older version of this camera, and it is equally perfect for beginner and advanced photographers

 

All photos in this lens I took with my old Canon Powershot SX100IS

Know your camera

This is very important. The manual that comes with camera isn't just for decoration, it can actually help you to improve your skills. While for some situations it can be great to shoot in AUTO mode, for some isn't.

If you want to get a close-up of a flower, a butterfly, some great cake you baked or a close up of your son, daughter or grandchildren, and you want the photo to be sharp and good color, you will have to shoot in macro mode (usually marked with a little flower). And it is good idea to shoot in aperture priority mode, so that you can control the depth of field (how blurry will background get) so you can minimize distractions from your main subject.

On my camera, aperture priority mode is marked with AV, and I'm pretty sure that is the same on all Canon models, but on Sony or some other cameras it can be marked slightly different. So check you manual, get to know options and modes, white-balance setting (very important if you are shooting indoors with artificial light). And the practice, take photos with different settings. Believe me I know that all those controls and options can be confusing at the beginning. It took me some time until I got comfortable and now I can almost instantly adjust the setting that is the best for the photo(s) I want to shoot.

Reading all those boring (and sometimes confusing) pages will pay off when you see that your photos are getting better and you get wows from your family and friends.

Some books on Amazon for beginner photographers

These are some books that will help you to brush your skills no matter what camera you own

Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Boxed Set, Volumes 1, 2, and 3
Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Boxed Set, Volumes 1, 2, and 3

This is really comprehensive book, and you will learn a lot. Perfect if you have some time, and you want to turn pro at some point.

 

What brand of camera do you prefer?

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Can I now finally start taking the photos?

Of course you can! The more photos you take, the better you will get, especially if you pay attention on some basic guidelines. Each photo you take you can analize and think of things you could do better.

Here are some basic rules that you should have in mind when photographing:

1. Hold the camera as still as possible, and if you have image stabilisation and vibration reduction on camera, make sure that they are on

2. Avoid shooting in the midday. You will get blown out highlits and sharp shadows. If you don't have a choice take your subject to the shade.

3. Lower the exposure if you shoot on a bright day or in the sun. It is better to shoot slightly under exposed and this is easily fixed in editing programs.

If your photos are overexposed and have blown out areas, you loose all the details that can't be recovered with any program.

4. Choose the large format photos on your camera (the ones with biggest resolution). You can always crop or downsize the photo, but it is hard to upsize it if you have a photo with small resolution.

5. Learn the basic rules of composition, like the rule of thirds. This is fairly simple rule and easy to follow, and it can make your photos interesting. You don't have to always follow it, but you can't brake the rule if you don't know it.

6. Learn to use some editing program like Photoshop, Gimp, Picassa or whatever you prefer. Some are free, and some are quite expensive, some have more options than other. But if you want to have quality photographs, at least some basic editing will be necessary: levels, curves, maybe color correction, some noise removal... I've seen very few photos straight out of the camera that wouldn't benefit from some editing. And I'm not talking about retouching, or drastically changing your photo, just giving some depth and making colors more similar to the ones we saw with our eyes. Digital photography is wonderful, and has many benefits, but photos tend to look a bit flat or washed-out, especially if taken in the shade.

7. Try not to use flash, or if you do, be careful about it. Lower its intensity and use it as fill flash if you shoot a person in the shade or if you have sun behind the subject and you don't want dark silhouette.

8. Shoot from different angles, and don't be afraid to experiment. If the photos are bad, you can always delete it

9. Be selective of your work. Discard blurred and out of focus photos, sharpnes of main subject is what makes a good photo.

10. Shoot, shoot, shoot... Take as many photos as you can, whenever you have a chance. You'll see the progress very soon and you'll start to se the world with different eyes, you will start noticing things that you didn't see before and find beauty in ordinary thing. To me, this is the most rewarding thing about photography.

I'd love to know was this text helpful, and would you like to know more. Would you love to read something more in depth like composition, theory, processing....?

Would you like to see more articles that are more in depth about composition, theory, processing...?

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I would love to hear your opinion about this lens, were this photography tips helpful, and any suggestions for future lens related to beginner photography.

Very inspiring music

This song lifts my spirit and gives me energy when I'm shooting :)

Penny for your thoughts

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    • Wayne Rasku profile image

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      I carry my camera everywhere, even if it's just my camera. You never know what photo op will pop up.

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 5 years ago from McLaughlin

      Very good tips--I am so bad at photography --but you make it sound easy! Thanks!

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @Johanna Eisler: Thank you! I'm really glad that you like them. It is always nice to hear that your work is good :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @AnimalHouse: Thank you! I always enjoyed photography, and it became more important when my son was born. I have tons of photos from my childhood that are too dark, or too light, or blurred. :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @Spikey64: I'm glad you liked the lens :) I'm planning on doing an article about basic editing, but it takes time, because I want to provide examples of my own :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @kathysart: Thank you for the blessing :) I'm sure you'll get better, it's not hard. It could be a lot to think about when taking a picture at first, but more you shoot it will become natural to you :)

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      I CONFESS I am the worst photographer ever. I always cut off heads, etc. BUT there are some really great tips here and with some practice I am sure I will be better.. right? LOL. Angel blessed lens!

    • profile image

      Spikey64 5 years ago

      I am just beginning in photography and one thing I have noticed is you do not need to spend a fortune to begin. A camera and a computer and you're away. I hope you make more lenses on photography as I welcome any advice I can get. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 5 years ago

      Very nice lens! Photography is so important when you want to capture important details in a photo and the basic rules you provided are very good.

    • profile image

      alltoglory 5 years ago

      Photography is what I love to do in my spare time. These tips will help me improve my work.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 5 years ago

      These black and white shots are gorgeous. Wonderful contrast of light and dark.

    • LaurenIM profile image

      LaurenIM 5 years ago

      The commentor below confused me a little about shooting in midday. But I noticed that you didn't say that at all. LOL so phew that's a relief. I like the way you presented your info too!

    • PropheticBlogge1 profile image

      PropheticBlogge1 5 years ago

      What a wonderful lens, I love the way you've presented it. The duckling shot was very cute and I've learnt a lot. I never realised it was not good practice to shoot at mid-day but I do now. Thanks for the read.

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @Pam Irie: It can be a bit confusing and overwhelming at the beginning, but soon it will come natural to you :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @NYThroughTheLens: I'm glad you like it! I'm still not earning money with my photos, but I'm just starting to discover sources like stock sites, zazzle...

    • profile image

      NYThroughTheLens 5 years ago

      Awesome lens! I started out with nothing but a point and shoot and some of my early point and shoot images have been used commercially. I tell everyone that fact when they distress over gear when starting out with photography. I am bookmarking this and will recommend it to a few people!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Lots of good advice. Hopefully I can employ some of these tips to take better pictures. :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: Thank you so much for blessing this lens, and I'm really glad that my lens are helpful :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @TonyPayne: Those Powershots are amazing, aren't they? :) I love mine, and I was amazed what it can do. I used to think that you have to buy expensive camera to get great photos

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Great lens, good advice, I learnt quiet a bit from reading it. Enjoy taking photos, but they do not always turn out as I would like them. Thanks for sharing. Blessed

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I would like to get more into photography and will keep your tips in mind, thank you and very nicely done!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I love to take photographs and use many on my web sites, lenses and also to create Zazzle products. My trusty Canon Powershot does the trick. Good information.

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @artbyrodriguez: I'm happy that you find it useful :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @SwoopDigital: Thank you so much, I'm really glad you like it :)

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      This lens covered all the basics and was very informative.

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @JoshK47: Thank you so much for the blessing :) I'm glad you like it

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @ajgodinho: Thank you :) You should carry your camera with you all the time. This way you'll be prepared if you see something interesting, and you'll be photographing more. Compact cameras are perfect for that :)

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Photography is a great hobby and I hope to devout more time to explore it. Nice close-up pictures!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Quite beautiful pictures - great work on this lens, as well! Blessed by a SquidAngel. :)

    • profile image

      SwoopDigital 5 years ago

      This is a really helpful lens. Straight to the point and very well stated. *thumbs up.

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @LeopoldBlatt: Thank you , I'm glad it was helpful :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @thesuccess2: I will expand this lens, adding more stuff :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @Lee Hansen: Thank you :) Where I live, during summer the best time is early morning 7-8 am, and during winter 3-5 pm. It really depends on the weather and location

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @nbrandt123: When I started photography, article like this would save me a lot of time. On the internet are mostly tutorials and articles for DSLRs

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @artbyrodriguez: Thank you :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @ZenandChic: Thank you so much for the blessing :) Canon is great choice for compact camera, they have good features

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @yourselfempowered: There is no harm to try, and it is great satisfaction when you see how your photos are getting better with every shot, and after a while you start to look at the world differently, noticing small beautiful detaild all around you :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @yourselfempowered: There is no harm to try, and it is great satisfaction when you see how your photos are getting better with every shot, and after a while you start to look at the world differently, noticing small beautiful detaild all around you :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @albadvert: Thank you :) these are my first lenses, and still kind of work in progress

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @tbandy7749: Thank you :) you've got some interesting lenses :)

    • profile image

      tbandy7749 5 years ago

      Very nice, I too am new to squidoo and am getting some great ideas on how to set up my lenses. I learned something new in the process. Keep up the great work :)

    • albadvert profile image

      albadvert 5 years ago

      Nice lens with a nice design

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 5 years ago from Gloucester

      Wow! How exquisite is that photo of the rose bud! This is great information - I've never really been that in to photography and only take a few photos on my phone for memories... but I have to admit that reading through this page has inspired me to maybe start taking pictures for beauty instead of just recording purposes! :)

    • LeopoldBlatt profile image

      LeopoldBlatt 5 years ago

      Quite beautiful work and images in this lens. I liked it and learned a lot.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 5 years ago

      Great tips! My point and shoot is a Canon sx something. Blessing this lens!

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      Informative lens and beautiful photos!

    • nbrandt123 profile image

      nbrandt123 5 years ago

      Thanks for the heads up. Good that those concerns were brought up since not all can afford to buy DSLR camera. awesome lens!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 5 years ago from Vermont

      Excellent tips for taking point-and-shoot digital pix. I use these little tricks all the time, especially the one about not shooting at mid day. Afternoon sun is my favorite - before sunset, between 3 and 5pm.

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 5 years ago

      Keeping the lense clean tips would be useful

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Brilliant photogenic start at Squidoo! Wish you much success! :)

    • Leilani-m profile image
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      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      @sukkran trichy: Thank you for visiting :) Stick around, I will have more lenses on this subject, but more in depth soon

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      thanks for the useful info about p&s cameras. nicely done