Tips for using digital point-and-shoot

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Tips for using digital point-and-shoot

Just scanning the forum, it seems you all are really into photography and editing. One day, I'd like to get a real nice camera, but for now, what I have is a Samsung S760 point-and-shoot and my iPhone 4. I'm on a Mac with iPhoto. What are some tips for getting really great shots when this is all you're working with?

I have found that the biggest challenge with using a digital point-and-shoot is the lag from the time you click the shutter until it actually releases -- which results in missing the shot, which is why made the plunge to getting a DSLR. My kiddo was a toddler and it made me sick to miss all those great shots. The initial investment made me flinch but I have never regretted it. The only tip I have is to click the shutter button sooner rather than later and save up for a DSLR! smiley

Thanks for the input! I will probably eventually get a nice camera, but I can't really justify the expense right now. What I have done is to look around online for photography and editing tips. My point-and-shoot has a manual mode that I never bothered with before, so I've now begun playing with it and editing. Hopefully this will result in better pictures.

I know the nice DSLR are worth the cost - but I have gone from a large camera back to a point and shoot - I can not hold the large cameras and the new Sony's give me stability mode (shakiness) that helps me capture what I need.
I agree they are nice - but I will live with my little point and shoot for now.

@Diann -- I know what you are saying, the size/bulk of a DSLR is definitely the downside, especially when you are travelling, or hiking, as we like to do. I often don't want to lug it. They say the best camera is the one you have with you!

I love the look of the DSLR but I don't have the patience to try and figure out all the gadgets and gizmo's! So I have to say I just stick with the point and shoot, but sorry to say I have no great input on tips. My husband loves to take pictures and we have gotten a lot of great pictures that way.

I actually have both a DSLR and a point and shoot. Believe it or not my little point and shoot (Canon ELPH 520) does some pretty good shooting and is very comparable to the Canon Rebel T4i that I just got (previously a Canon Rebel XSI). My ELPH was more expensive than some point and shoots but the pics from it are really good! I carry my point and shoot in my purse at all times so that I don't miss a good memory when I don't have my "big" camera with me!

I have a Nikon Coolpix L120 and it's great - it's a superzoom lense and you can adjust the iso's if you like. I keep it on Auto most of the time, but it's a great camera. Has even survived a fall!

You asked for tips for a point and shoot. My good camera is a DSLR, but I keep a point and shoot in my purse, so I won’t miss anything, and I just got another point and shoot that I can take to the beach and snorkel with and not worry about the weather. Yes a lot can be done to rescue a photo, but if you have a good photo to begin with, then it will save you lots of time, so here is my list.

1. People pictures: Frame your photo and then before you take your shot, take another step closer to your subject. I’ve used this trick for decades now, so I don’t remember where I heard it, but it can make the difference between a good photo and a great photo.

2. Full sun makes harsh shadows on faces, so figure out how to use your “fill flash.” That means learn how to make your flash fire even when the camera thinks that there is plenty of light. It will lighten up those harsh shadows and rescue a photo where the subject was backlit.

3. You don’t want to shoot into the sun, because your subject will be too dark, but you don’t want your subjects squinting either, so
find a place with open shade, and use a “fill flash.”

4. Focus: Press your camera button down half way and give your camera time to focus then press the button completely. This will result in more photos in focus than if you always just pushed the button quickly.

5. Hold your camera with both hands and lock your elbows next to your body to give the camera more support. You’ll be less likely to get out of focus and crooked photos that way. If you’re really zoomed in or if it is a low light situation, you may want to lean against something for stability.

6. Most cameras have a digital zoom in addition to the optical zoom. Don’t use it. Only use the optical zoom. The quality goes down on the digital zoom. You’re better off cropping the photo after the fact.

7. Notice what is behind your subject. If there is a wall behind your subject have them step away from it. It will still be a good background but keep it from looking like a mug shot with bad shadows on the wall.

8. With children and pets make sure you get some shots from their level, too.

9. With tall people don’t shoot up their noses. That may mean finding something for you to stand on, or for them to sit down. The
camera being higher makes a double chin not so prominent, and it opens up people’s eyes. Your friends will appreciate it.

10. Digital photos are free. It isn’t like the days when I had a row of film with only of 24 or 36 photos and developing was expensive, so I had to make each shot count. Therefore take lots of back up shots. If you think you have it, take a safety shot just to be sure.

11. The more people in a photo, the more shots you have to take to make sure that someone doesn’t have their mouths open or their eyes shut. I use this rule of thumb for group shots: I shoot as many shots as there are people in the photo.

12. In group shots, it is best to have as few rows of people as possible, so that the faces are closer to the same size.

13. If you’re indoors, turn on as many lights as you can, it will help reduce red eye, make it easier and faster for your camera to auto focus, and let your camera choose a lower ISO, so the photo won’t be grainy. Also zoom all the way out, it lets in more light, and work close to your subject, so that the little light there is won't have to travel as far. Try to get the showt with and without flash.

14. Know the maximum range for your flash, and stay within that range when you’re using flash.

15. My latest point and shoot focuses best and fastest in the center of the photo. I focus on the subject, push the shutter button halfway down, move the camera to make a better composition, then finish pushing the shutter button. I do the same if there is a lot of bright sky, bright sand, or snow in the photo so that the exposure is right.

16. Figure out how to use your macro (close up) setting quickly, because a close up of the sand at the beach, a leaf, a flower, grass, bark of a tree, and such, make great backgrounds when your scrapbooking your pages later. The colors should complement your photos since they were taken at the same time in the same location. I’ve even done a close up of the subject’s dress, or the terry cloth of their beach towel and used it as a background.

17. Most camera manufactures have the camera manual in pdf form on their website. I download it and put it on my Kindle, so I have it with me.

18. Here is a new trick I just used. Many point and shoots have a delayed shutter release. Usually used for a self-portrait. I was where there were some great stars and a dark sky. I set the camera on self-portrait and a high ISO speed, zoomed all the way out, laid the camera facing up on top of a blanket, pushed the shutter button, let go, and waited for the camera to do its thing. Because of the delayed shutter release, I didn’t have to worry about the vibration of me pushing the button. The stars made a nice photo background for scrapbooking, also.

19. There is a time of the day when the sun is setting that all the colors look wonderful and people’s skin just seems to glow. If you find yourself out and about during that time, use it as an excuse to take lots of photos, but work fast because it doesn’t last long. And you can still use your fill flash to make it last a little longer.

20. Don’t make the mistake of dumping the shots where your teen is acting surly or your toddler is crying. While not appreciated now, those are photos you’ll be glad you kept.

21. If you only do two things on this list, do the first one and this last one. Hand you camera to someone and get in the photo, too. Please go through your family photos now. My guess is that if you're the typical person behind the camera, that there very few photos of you to be found. Embrace who you are, and GET IN THE PICTURE.

Hope that helps,

@Engela Thank you so much for your tips! This year I am trying to work on expanding my photography skills - already took a hands on class on manual shooting! Also will be working to learn Photoshop. I have saved your tips in Word with plans to go over (again and again) during my quiet times for learning. Appreciate the time you took to put this together. Thanks again!

Engela thank you so much for all this info, these are valuable lessons

Engela, thank you so much! These are some great tips. I had started doing a couple of these things, but your list is near exhaustive! Thanks again for taking the time to share your knowledge. smiley

I have an older Canon p&s and it works fine, but I really would like one of the newer DSLR's that also take hidef video. One of the things I've figured out to get clearer photos is when pushing down the button when taking the photo is to not move or release the button until after the camera has finished. I was finding I was getting a lot of blurred pictures until I realized that letting go of the button was happening when the camera was taking the picture. Another tip to help reduce blurring I read was just before you snap the picture, take a breath and hold it until you release the button. This has also helped me reduce blurring. Now I just need to work more on composition. smiley

I thought of another tip that is good for ALL digital cameras. Take a photo of a piece of paper where you've written your name, address, phone number, email address, or however you'd like people to contact you if they were to find your memory card. Make that the first photo and always leave that photo on the card. Then throw the ID paper you made into your camera bag just to be safe.

That's a pretty smart idea. I guess it would also be a good idea to do that with your phone. Or maybe not, depending on the character of the person finding the camera...

Awesome advice, I will try that. Thanks

Engela that is a great list for anyone, not just point and shoot. I just bought a DSLR (yesterday) so I am still more familiar with a point and shoot. As far as editing goes PSE Actions are the best way to get the job done in a fast manner. There are a lot that you can get for free (Pioneer Woman has some great ones). Just a click a way and your point and shoot photos can look like pro photos. I was a little intimidated at first with PSE but once you get the hang of it you will never want to be without it.

Engela thanks for all the tips.

Engela, Thanks for all the photo advice.

You're welcome. And thank you guys. You make me feel good that I could contribute something. Makes me want to come up with another tip, so here goes.

Excessive zooming in and out wastes your battery, use your feet and walk closer of further from your subject when it makes sense to do so.

Having an extra battery is a good idea, having an extra rechargeable battery is a great idea. Even if your camera uses standard double AA batteries, purchasing a battery charger and rechargeable batteries is much cheaper in the long run, in addition to being better for the environment. When you are buying rechargeable AA batteries, look for ones with higher Mah ratings, because they store more energy, thus last longer and also charge your flash faster, so that you are ready for the next flash shot sooner. Since they are rechargeable, you don't fill bad replacing them with fresh batteries before they are completely discharged.

Set your camera at the highest resolution and least compression jpg your camera has to offer. You can always make the photo smaller later. I changed my new camera to 16 x 9 ratio since I was usually cropping to those dimension anyway. I didn't find out until too late that the camera was saving them at a higher compression ratio, so I've lost details in the photo.

In addition to getting your photos off your memory card and onto your computer as soon as possible, also store them on line at full resolution. Also copy them to a CD, DVD, or external hard drive or memory card, and send them to your most organized friend or relative to keep for you, and you do the same for them. Or store them at your spouse's office. That protects you in case of flood, fire, or theft. Mark your media "Property of 'your name'" and include your contact info so that you'll get it back if something were to happen to your friend. You may just want to do this with your favorites if you take a lot of photos. If you're storing on line, give a trusted relative or friend the password and location.

Don't let the fact that you have lots of photos that you haven't done anything with, discourage you from taking more photos.

Love reading your tips!
Hopefully this weekend the sun will be shining a little bit, so I can go out with my camera.

Engela - I love your idea for the contact details on the film card. I will definitely do that!!

I just bought a point and shoot (we had a DSLR which is nice, but I wanted something more portable for the everyday shots where a dslr seems excessive, lol)...these are all great tips for me, so thank you everyone for sharing smiley

One tip I've learned is to shoot your kids and pets in burst mode (if your camera has it) - it takes several shots all at once so it increases the likelihood of capturing the moment.

I was also going to say burst mode, I have a advanced point and shoot fujifilm camera and love it.

Engela love the tips thanks so much for taking the time!!!

Engela- Awesome tips! A lot of them I know, but need to be reminded of, and definitely some good ones I don't usually think about. I have a DSLR (Nikon D60 - it's an older one but I love it), 2 point and shoots, 2 waterproof point and shoots, and a iPhone 4s. The quality of the 4s is surprisingly nice, but I do have issues with weird blurring in the corners when I use the flash. The folks at the phone store have never been able to explain why this happens to me. I just make sure to use it only when I don't need the flash. It's a backup anyway...because I usually have at least 2 other camera with me. I have an old Fuji point and shoot that I love because it responds quickly and takes really nice pics, but the optical zoom is only 3x so it's limited. I have a Nikon Coolpix (don't remember the model) that has a 15x zoom, but is slower to respond and freaks out when trying to focus sometimes. So I actually usually carry both! My family teases me, but what the heck...I'm capturing moments! lol

@Engela - Thanks so much for the tips..they are awesome!!

Thanks for all the great tips!

Great tips, Engela, no matter what kind of camera we're using!

I'll add two tips to this post:

1. Use burst mode when shooting portraits of more than one person. You'll have a better chance of catching everyone with their eyes open.

2. Start paying attention to your angles and framing. Try shooting down low, up high, from the side at a diagonal. These are the things that make for interesting shots. Now is a great time to learn what angles you like best, when you can focus on framing without worrying about setting the exposure.

If you handed Ansel Adams a disposable camera, he'd still shoot an amazing photograph. It's not the tool so much as the person using it!

Engela, These are some great tips and thanks so much for taking the time to write it all out for us. I am not a professional but these are great points for all and I will save them to refer back to them till they stick in my head. Great tips from all the rest of you too and Thanks too for sharing those tips.

Wow those are some great tips!!!!!!!!!!