Monday, April 7, 2008

:ARTICLE: How to Get the Most Out of Your Point and Shoot Camera

My first article was published in the International Scrapbooking Association April Newsletter that went out the other day. It was pretty exciting for me to see it in print so I thought that I would share it here as well.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Point and Shoot Camera

I use a point-and-shoot camera. There…I said it. I’m not ashamed. I’ve gotten some darn good pictures out of my Canon S3IS over the past couple of years if I do say so myself (and, obviously, I do). Not to say that I’ll never upgrade to a DSLR (I’m actually saving my pennies now…), but if there is one thing I have learned about
photography in the last 6 years of scrapbooking, it’s that creating great photos has much more to do with technique then equipment.

In this article, I plan to share 6 tips to help you get the most out of your point and shoot camera.
#1 – Read the Manual
Not the most engaging reading, I know. But honestly, you’ll never know how much your little point and shoot can really do if you don’t read the manual.

#2 – Nix the Date Stamp
This is the first thing you should learn how to do from that manual! There is nothing that can ruin a great shot faster than a glaring orange (or whatever color it might be) date stamp in the corner. The information is still stored in the EXIF data, so it is not lost. Also, most processors include that information on the back of you printed

#3 – Optical Zoom Good…Digital Zoom BAD
The next thing you should learn how to do is make sure that the optical zoom is turned on and the digital zoom is turned OFF. Optical zoom uses the lens of the camera to bring your subject closer, which is what you want. On the other hand, digital zoom causes the camera to ‘crop’ your image inside the camera, which decreases image quality and is NOT what you want.

#4 - Bigger is Better…
…with image file size, that is. Although it will mean that you will be able to fit fewer photos on your memory card, it is always best to set your camera for the highest possible resolution (usually termed as ‘L’ or ‘Large’) and lowest compression (usually termed as ‘Fine’ or ‘Superfine’). This will give you the highest quality image possible for your camera and allow you the more
post-processing freedom.
#5 - Lock the Focus
This may seem basic, but I’ve been surprised how many people have no idea what I’m even talking about and it can make a world of difference in your photos. Basically, most cameras now have the ability to depress the shoot button half way without taking a picture to allow the cameras auto focus feature time to find and lock the focus. Once it’s locked, snap your picture and you’re much more likely to have a focused image.
#6 - Use the Preset Modes
It’s not cheating…really, it’s not. That’s why the camera manufacturers put them there. Not all of us have the time (or desire) to learn every nook and cranny of manual photography, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have great pictures anyway!! Most cameras these days come with at least the basics such as action, landscape, macro, night, and portrait and generally they work wonders. My camera also has a fireworks mode which I used for this picture that I can guarantee you I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this result in manual.

I hope you will now take some time to get to know your camera a little better and unlock its potential. Please stay tuned for more great tips in our next newsletter when we take a look at how to improve your photos through composition techniques.

5 Great Books to Help You Enhance Your Skills:
1) Complete Digital Photography, Fourth Edition
Get the Most from Your Digital Camera
The Digital Photography Book
The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2
The Betterphoto Guide to Digital Photography
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