Get Better Photos with Your Point and Shoot Camera

DSLR cameras are becoming increasingly popular but they can be pricey, have a steep learning curve, and are bulky. Despite having gone out of style, a good point and shoot can be an asset to getting some great shots. In addition, a point and shoot has a much smaller footprint than a DSLR making it the perfect companion on trips and hikes. However, if you choose to go with a point and shoot you should learn a few tricks to help you get the best shots from your camera.


  1. Get to know your camera

Your point and shoot probably has a lot of functions and menus. To help you use them wisely and understand which ones are worth using and which ones are simply gimmicky, it’s important to get to know your camera. Getting to know your camera will also help you understand how to navigate your menus efficiently to ensure that you can find what you need without missing a key moment.

To get to know your camera, start by reading the manual and going through the functions and menus as you go. Next, go out and practice shooting using all of the functions you find worthwhile.


  1. Learn to use your camera’s shooting presets

Modern point and shoots have a variety of presets. While you can get by using the automatic setting, it won’t give you the best shots under every circumstance. In fact, the only time I would use it is when someone who’s not familiar with your camera is taking the picture.

While you’ll need to consult your manual to learn the specifics of your shooting presets, there are a few basic modes you should explore. The first is the portrait preset, which will optimize your shot for faces by narrowing the depth of field to focus on your subject. Landscape mode will have the opposite effect, keeping the entire picture in focus. The macro preset will let you get very close to your subject, which is great for taking pictures of small subject like flowers. The sport preset will speed up your shutter speed to help you take pictures of fast-moving options.


  1. Use your flash sparingly and in the right conditions

Because a point and shoot is so small, the flash and lens tend to be in very close proximity. The downside of this is that using the flash often results in overexposed photos that lack detail and depth. While this shouldn’t discourage you from getting those evening shots, try to avoid using the flash whenever possible. If you’re in a pinch, try to diffuse the light a bit by placing some tissue in front of the flash. That should cut down the harshness of the light.

While the flash on a point and shoot can be harsh, it’s not useless. When you’re in conditions where the foreground is dim while the background is bright, using the flash will help to balance the light. For example, if you’re taking a photo of someone in front of a window the flash will help ensure his or her face doesn’t appear too dark compared to the background.


  1. The rule of thirds

Composition is important regardless of the camera you’re using and the rule of thirds will help you get great shots every time. According to the rule of thirds, you should divide your viewfinder into nine equal sections and place interesting things at the intersection points of the grid. Using this rule will help you avoid taking boring straight on photos.

  1. Experiment with angles

Angles are another useful tool to help you avoid boring photos. Experiment by photographing your subjects by shooting up, down, or from the side. Shooting people from a few feet above their faces results in flattering photos. Getting low to the ground will help you get fun shots of your pets and kids.


With these tips, you can leave your bulky DSLR at home on your next family hike or vacation and get some fantastic shots with a small point and shoot. The key to getting the best shots is experimenting with your camera and learning how to take advantage of its modes and presets.

Happy shooting!

By Mike Agerbo

May 19, 2015