Your pocket-sized point-and-shoot may not be as robust as a DSLR, but that doesn't mean you can't create some amazing photos with it. Of course, if you leave your camera on auto mode all the time, then your photos aren't going to look much different from others. To switch to manual settings is to really have control over your photography. A professional photographer would chose a cheap camera with manual controls over a super high-tech camera with only auto mode any day. So if you're looking to get the most out of your point-and-shoot camera, follow these tips:
Manually Select the White Balance
The auto mode on modern-day point-and-shoots typically does a fairly good job, but they can't predict the right settings for every scene. White balance in particular is tricky for cameras to determine, and a photo with the wrong white balance is a key sign of an beginning photographer. Try taking a photo of your living room or kitchen with the white balance on different settings. You'll be amazed at the difference.
Avoid Flash When it is Unnecessary
Flashes on P&S cameras can be useful in darker settings such as parties or dim restaurants, but they will often go off when they're not needed. These flashes also have little power meaning they have a quick fall off which makes the subjects in your foreground very bright and your background very dark. Since the flash is built-in to the camera, it also provides a directional flash that is unflattering for most subjects, especially people. Instead of using the flash, try bumping up the ISO or using a slower shutter speed.
Don't Forget About Scene Modes
Most every point-and-shoot camera has special scene modes. Think of these as customized auto modes. Although you don't have manual control over most of the settings, the camera limits the parameters of the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture based on the scene mode you pick. Some cameras have very specific scenes to choose from such as museum and party modes, but most camera will include things like macro, landscape, portrait, nighttime, snow, etc. These modes can usually be selected with a dial on top of the camera, but you may have to search through the menu on some models.
Be Mindful of Framing
It's easy to want to center your subject in the frame when you pick up your P&S for a quick shot, but this doesn't always provide the best look. In fact, centering all of your subjects will make your shots become boring very quickly. Be sure to add some variety in your compositions; position your subject off to the side of the frame or step back and include more of the background in the shot.
Take Advantage of the Versatility
Though P&S cameras may not have the image quality, low-light performance, or resolution of a bridge camera or DSLR, they do have versatility. With a point-and-shoot you are able to zoom out to a wide angle or zoom in to a telephoto angle without changing or buying expensive lenses. They also have a very close focusing distance which enables you to do all kinds of macro photography. Perhaps best of all is their size. You don't have to worry about lugging around an eight pound camera, and it can fit in your pocket, so you can carry it everywhere you go.
Written by Spencer Seastrom