Top tips for getting more out of your camera

Point and shoots are sometimes seen as the ‘poor man’s’ alternative to the dSLR.  This isn’t always the case, on our Hampshire based workshops we have people with compact point and shoots that can pretty much match some of the less expensive dSLR’s shot for shot.

A point and shoot can fit into your pocket, has great flexibility and is quick and simple to use.  A dSLR won’t fit into your pocket and requires a little more knowledge to get the most of out of it.

Let’s take the mystery out of your camera functions:  [Click on each image for more details]

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The Scene button

The most useful
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This button is the gateway to a variety of camera modes - where you can let your creativity run wild!
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Portrait mode

Can also look like a woman in a hat
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This can come in various forms inc a 'soft skin' mode and smile detection mode. It keeps your subject in focus and helps to blur the background. Try using it on objects as well as portraits.
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Sports/action mode

Great for capturing fast moving scenes
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Use this mode at sports days, photographing toddlers, fast moving pets or vehicles etc. It increases your camera's shutter speed so it can 'freeze' the action.
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Continuous Shooting mode

Keep your finger on the shutter
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Use this in conjunction with your sports mode to capture exciting sequences of action!
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Landscape or scenery mode

Gives front to back sharpness
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This allows you to have all of your scene in focus - whether it's a landscape or a group of friends.
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Snow scene mode

Keeps your snow shots bright
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Your camera will automatically turn your 'snow' and/or bright scenes into dull grey scenes. Use this button to brighten any scene, not just snow as it will over-expose the photos. Also handy if the sunlight is coming from behind your subject but you don't want to use flash. Sometimes shown as a snowflake.
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Night time portrait

Allows your flash to fire carefully!
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Your camera will fire the flash at half power - enough to illuminate the person you are photographing without 'blowing out' all the background detail. Also handy if the sunlight is coming from behind your subject.
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Macro or close up mode

Helps you to focus in closer
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Open up a whole new world by getting in really close to your subject, especially if you have a zoom lens. Take more abstract shots of objects and people. Capture a baby's delicate details or a ladybird on a leaf. Usually a stand alone button on the camera.
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Flash

Control your flash with this button.
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You can use this to put your flash into auto mode (has an 'A' through it) or turn flash off (has a line through it) Usually a stand alone button on the camera.
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Anti red-eye mode

Stops the dreaded red eye
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When a flash bounces off the eye's retina it picks up the reflection of the blood vessels at the back, hence it looks red. Anti-red eye, fires a small, quick flash just before the main flash to encourage your pupils to shrink, thus reducing the amount of 'red reflection' Use at parties!!
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Self-timer

Great for selfies!
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Set your camera on a stable surface, push the self timer and focus, then run into position! Wait 10 seconds and click selfie taken! Usually a stand alone button on the camera.
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Tungsten white balance setting

Found in White Balance settings
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Normally I don't recommend fiddling with the AWB (auto white balance) settings but sometimes it can put a nice twist onto an image. This setting gives a blue cast to images and can look really effective on water or sky filled photos.

 

There are more and more functions being added to the latest compact cameras and even phones.  Panorama will enable you to take a very wide shot of your surroundings and the fireworks mode (you’ll need a stable surface or tripod) can you help you with any form of ‘light painting’ shots as the shutter is held open for longer periods of time.

I recommend flicking through your camera manual with the ‘modes’ section open and having a play to see what else your camera can do – you may be pleasantly surprised!