Do you own a point and shoot camera and feel you don’t have the best pictures? Well in this tutorial I am going to show you a few features that are on most point and shoot cameras that will help you gain more control over the pictures you take. Below is a Nikon Coolpix L830 point and shoot camera of which Sarah from Body, Mind & Spirit Massage Therapy allowed me to borrow for this tutorial.
One of the most important things besides lighting when it comes to photography is focus. Most point and shoot cameras are set up with auto focus of some kind. This can be nice when not having time to set your focus on fast moving objects. But what if your camera keeps focusing on something in the background or if you want to get creative when doing macro (close up) shots. Under the menu options there usually is a setting for AF (auto focus). If you select manual mode you will be able to select the focus area. No matter what kind of AF mode you have selected always remember to press the shutter-release button half way to allow the camera to lock the focus and exposure before pressing down all the way to take the picture.
These are examples of using manual mode. As you can see the (top image) I chose the minecraft guy to focus on which then allowed my depth of field to blur out the background. Then changed the focus to be on the horse (bottom image). – images are taken with Nikon Coolpix L830
I have the focus on the #6 (top image) and then I have changed the focus on Netflix (bottom image). – images are taken with Nikon Coolpix L830
You will also find a few quick button options such as Macro (the flower symbol) and the Exposure (the +/- symbol) seen in the image below.
With the macro setting it allows you to get more details when you are up close to your subject. You can see a huge difference in the sharpness of the focus with having the macro turned on (top image) vs. when it is off (bottom image). – images are taken with Nikon Coolpix L830
With the Exposure (+/-) you can adjust the brightness and darkness of your image. To brighten the image set a positive (+) value, to darken the image set a negative (-) value. The camera usually has a harder time setting the correct exposure when having a wide range of contrasting light. For example when you are taking a picture of your subject with the sun directly behind them, your camera will tend to adjust for the brightness which makes your subject become a silhouette. To fix this issue you can compensate the exposure settings to brighten the subject.
In this case the camera over exposed the original (bottom image). I chose to darken the exposure to -1.0 (top image) to get the desired exposure I wanted. – images are taken with Nikon Coolpix L830
Do you ever get images that are too blue or too yellow? That is due to the white balance being incorrect. In most cases you camera will probably do a good job at selecting the correct white balance. But if your images start looking too cool (blue) or too warm (yellow) then you can change the white balance to correct the coloring.
In the image below you can see that the auto white balance was too cool (right side). Being that we were in the shade, to warm the image up I chose to change the white balance to cloudy (left side). – images are taken with Nikon Coolpix L830
Do you have a fast subject such as children or pets? You can select a continuous shoot mode that will take multiple pictures with holding down the shutter-release button. This is a great way to capture action shots. You will want to be in good lighting to take pictures of any type of fast moving subjects, to avoid blurry or grainy images.
With the Continuous H mode you will be able to capture 5 images when holding down the shutter-release button, with about 6.7 fps (frames per second). Shown below I picked 3 images of the series that I wanted to keep. I felt that 3 images was enough to show the action and the other two I didn’t care for the expressions captured on my subject’s face. The nice thing about shooting in a continuous mode is that you can keep the best one image or all if you’d like. – images are taken with Nikon Coolpix L830
There are a numerous amount of camera settings that I could talk about, but then I would just be writing a book. Besides that is what your user manual is for, right!?! I suggest you play around with different settings to get use to your camera. The better you know your camera, the more control you have over the end results of the images you take. Feel free to leave a comment below with any questions you may have, I will do my best to answer and help you get the most out of your cameras capabilities.
A big thanks to Sarah from Body, Mind and Spirit Massage Therapy for requesting this tutorial and trusting me to borrow her camera. If you have a suggestion on a photography related tutorial please let me know by leaving a comment below or emailing me at email@example.com.
Be sure to check out my Phone Camera Tutorial as well.