Compact cameras (the point and shoot kind that fit in your pocket and have one fixed lens) are budget friendly and easy to travel with. Generally speaking, you just set it to auto, point it at something and press the big button right? But some times you want that extra bit of clarity in your pictures – a bit more quality or deeper colours. Here are a few easy tips to get the best out of even the most basic cameras!

Check the image quality settings

First it’s a good idea to check if the camera’s settings are optimal. Go to the camera’s menu (on most cameras there is a button on the back marked ‘menu’ but if not, check your manual). Look for an option to change the picture size or quality. This might be given in dimensions (e.g. 4000×3000) or mega-pixels/MP. Set it to the largest available option. You can see the difference this makes in the two photos below.

There is usually also a setting for image quality. This will have options like normal, fine, super fine, or N, F, SF. Again, you want the highest – fine or super fine.

Check the ISO settings

Have a look for an option called ISO. This is how much the camera amplifies the light that hits the sensor. For point and shoot use, this is often best set on automatic. However if time is on your side, you may want to have a go at setting it yourself. The higher the ISO number, the more the camera amplifies the light. So when you are taking photos indoors or somewhere dim, you should try a higher number. Outdoors on a bright sunny day you should use a lower number like 100. When using a larger number, the camera sensor is more sensitive, meaning is is more likely to make little mistakes, resulting in grainy dots called “noise”. Therefore it’s best to use the lowest ISO number you can get away with.

Use a tripod


OK, so you might not have one of these to hand. BUT, have a look at your surroundings. is there something you can rest the camera on? If the light is dim where you are taking the photo, the camera’s shutter has to stay open longer to take in more light. It may feel like your holding it really still but even the slightest movement will make your photo appear less sharp. put your camera down on a wall or something while you take the shot. Even better, you can use the camera’s timer function so that you can let go before the shutter opens!

Position the light

Always shoot with the light to your back if possible. This will mean that the subject is well lit and avoid glare on the camera lens.

If a subject is lit from behind, it will become silhouetted. This can of course be used as an artistic affect, but unless that’s the aim, having the light behind the camera is normally best.

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