Point and Shoot Camera Hacks (How to take better pics)

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I have often come across reviews of point and shoot cameras where users have been complaining that their P&S camera is a piece of junk as it only takes blurry and out of focus pictures. While this may be true for one or two cases (faulty equipment), more often than not its the user and not the camera which is at fault. Here are few dos and don’ts based on my experiences which you should keep in mind while shooting with a P&S camera and it might increase your chances of taking that perfect shot you always wanted. Many of these tips might be useful for SLRs as well.

Dos

  • Even though most modern P&S cameras are very user friendly, it highly recommended that you spend some time with the user manual of your camera, this is very very important. Knowing your camera lets you be ready with correct settings that a particular snap demands. Remember snapping every shot in auto mode doesn’t guarantee you the perfect picture. You ought to use appropriate mode for the situation, e.g. a portrait mode for taking pics of individuals, macro for taking close up objects etc.
  • Always use tripod while shooting in low light. It is highly recommended that you use tripods while taking macro pics as well. Else you might end up with blurry pics.
    • While using tripod, take pics using self timer mode if possible to avoid camera shake due to pushing of the shutter release button. With self-timer mode the camera won’t shake when it takes the pic.
  • Taking indoor pics with P&S cameras is a challenge because there is never enough light indoors. During day time opening blinds/curtains would certainly help.
  • Always use flash while shooting portrait pics when Sun is overhead. Flash thus used is called “fill flash” and it helps lessen the hard shadows due to overhead Sun.
  • Shoot at right time. Early morning (before 7-8 am depending on the latitude of your place) and late evening (5-6 pm again based on your local latitude) is the best time to take photograph outdoors because the light is more diffused and brings out the highlights very well. Partially cloudy days (Sun behind clouds) are also very good for outdoor photography.
  • Some cameras have different modes for flash, select wisely for best results:
    • Front curtain flash (for regular day to day usage).
    • Flash with Red Eye Reduction: Use this while taking pics of people, would help reduce red eye.
    • Rear curtain flash: use it if you are taking a night time portrait with a low/dimly lit background. Rear curtain flash means that the flash would fire at the end of the shot (just before the simulated shutter closes), this allows for capture of your surroundings in ambient light and then flash fires to illuminate the subject.

Don’ts

  • Don’t use auto ISO (sensitivity to light) mode on your camera if you can. Most P&S cameras gives very noisy image beyond ISO setting of 400. If light is good keep the ISO value to as low  as possible and never let it go beyond 400.
  • If you have a SUPER ZOOM camera (12x to 20x), don’t use the telephoto end (max zoom) without a tripod except for bright sunny conditions, you might get a blurry image, if light is not adequate. The rule of thumb is that for a given focal length say x in mm, shutter speed for taking a sharp hand held pic is 1/x seconds. So, if you are at 300mm you need at least  1/300th of a second to take a reasonably sharp hand held pic.

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About the Author

has written 346 posts on this blog.

Meditating towards his "nerdvana", lifehacker is a teacher by the day and a nerdy blogger by the night. He lives to learn and yearns to learn living.

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