If you're looking to take better digital photos without upgrading to an expensive camera, continue reading below. These tips are aimed at users of point-and-shoot digital cameras, and others who are beginners in photography or looking to improve their skills and know-how when it comes to using inexpensive digital cameras.
- Get in close and keep it simple. You can almost always improve your digital photos by getting in closer (or zooming in closer) and getting the clutter out of the frame before you shoot. Take note of things in the background that could be distracting before you click the shutter.
- Pre-focus for faster and sharper images. If you experience a delay (also known as shutter lag) when snapping your photos, it's happening because you have not told the camera what to focus on before taking the image. This is a very important step with point-and-shoot digital cameras. Press and hold the shutter button half-way down when you're preparing to take a photo, and then press the button all the way down the take the image. Your camera should take the photo much quicker, because the lens has already focused on the subject and, depending on the model of the camera, chosen the exposure settings to use for the image.
- Turn off the digital zoom on your camera. You might have heard this tip before, but it's an important one. By turning off the digital zoom on your camera, your images will be higher in quality because they are not being degraded by processing in the camera. Digital zoom is NOT the same as optical zoom. Digital zoom is done by the camera's CPU and will always look poor, compared to sticking with the optical zoom. Ignore the digital zoom specification when purchasing a digital camera — it's basically worthless.
- Turn on Image Stabilization or Vibration Reduction if your camera has it. Most decent digital cameras over $200 sold in the last year have IS (Image Stabilization) or VR (Vibration Reduction) built into the camera. IS/VR is especially useful when shooting indoors, or under low-light conditions, and also when zooming on stationary objects. It will enable the camera to take a sharper image at a slower shutter speed without blur in the image from the camera shaking while the photo is being taken.
- If at first you don't succeed — try, try again. Using digital cameras is a learning process, so don't become discouraged if the shot doesn't come out right on the first try. Sometimes the camera can be at fault for the making the image too bright with overexposure. If the focus is off, try prefocusing again. If the color in your shot is muddy or too highly contrasted, try to adjust the saturation/enhancement settings in the camera, or adjust the white balance to fix the color. It may help you to know that professional photographers shoot tens or hundreds of images, and only a small portion of the images are just right, and only a few will be the best shots.
Hopefully after using some of these tips you'll be on your way to taking better digital photos. Consumer Reports and Popular Photography magazine are good places to start when looking for photography tips and when researching different cameras.