Smartphones have really taken over as the convenient camera of choice for most people these days.
The traditional point and shoot camera has experienced something of a decline. No doubt there are a lot of really good point and shoot cameras out there that have been relegated to the drawer, which really is a shame as with a little knowledge they will far outperform the majority of smartphones. If you’ve been tasked with shooting a big event or conference with a point and shoot camera, then here are a few tips that are worth considering.
1. Optical Zoom
The majority of good point and shoot cameras will have an optical as opposed to digital zoom. Optical zoom uses the actual lens elements to get you closer to your subject while still retaining the full sensor size and pixel count, whereas digital zoom uses some in camera processing to get you artificially closer thus losing resolution and increasing the chance of camera shake and blurry images.
Making use of your optical zoom will improve your photography straight away. You can read more about the advantages of using optical zoom.
2. Think Before You Shoot
The next time you are about to take a photo of a friend or loved one try zooming your optical zoom into its tightest frame and physically move back as far as it takes to achieve the same frame size as it did when you were on the wide end of your zoom. You’ll be amazed by the difference it makes. Your subject will appear more prominent in the frame due to the separation achieved by compressing the background and decreasing the depth of field.
A tighter zoom is also more flattering to your subject as there is no lens barrelling or distortion that you get at the wider end. This is also an important point to consider if you are taking a photo of a building and want the horizontal and vertical lines to appear straight as opposed to distorted.
3. Some Simple Lighting Considerations
If you are shooting indoors, always consider where the windows are. If you want some beautiful light on your subject, firstly make sure that it is not direct sunlight coming in the window, then turn off the camera flash and pose your subject with the window to at your back or at a 45-degree angle to your subject. You’ll get beautiful soft flattering light and everyone will think you’re a pro.
If you are outdoors, try and pose your subjects in a shaded area especially under some tree cover. Having shade overhead helps eliminate the top light and allows light to fill the eyes.
4. Camera Shake and Blurry Images
The two main reasons why you get blurry images are from camera shake and from using your camera in low light conditions that force the camera to use a longer shutter speed. The majority of camera shake comes from holding your camera incorrectly. To help eliminate camera shake, hold your camera with both hands and with elbows pointed down and tucked in as close to your body as possible.
If shooting in lower light, try and brace your body against something like a door frame or wall for stability. When you are shooting in really low interior light, make sure your flash is on and up your ISO. If you can control your shutter speed set it to around 1/20sec with your flash on.
The flash will freeze your foreground subject while the camera settings will still let in some of the available light. If you are outdoors in low light conditions there is no substitute for a tripod.
5. The Next Level
If you are choosing a point and shoot camera for the first time there are some key features you should look for that will help bring your photography to the next level. A lot of people get hung up on Megapixel numbers however, most cameras on the market today have 12MP+ which are more than enough for the vast majority of uses.
What is actually more important is the size and type of the camera sensor and how this processes the information that the camera captures. The two main types of sensors are CCD sensors and CMOS sensors. Here’s a really great infographic that will give you info on both.
We’d always recommend going for the camera with the biggest sensor your budget allows. To further help graduate your images to the next level you should also consider the file type your camera will produce. RAW files allow you to make non-destructive shooting decisions such as white balance in post-production. Again if your budget allows, go for a camera that supports RAW.
If you are new to photography or looking at developing your photography skills beyond using a smartphone then a good point and shoot camera is an excellent way to learn. By learning and applying a few basic techniques you’ll see a massive difference in the results.