Shoot Like a Pro: Get the Most Out of Your Digital Camera.


The current crop of digital cameras puts enormous power in your hands, but you have to know how to use it. Many of these suggestions may involve an additional investment, but you will find yourself amply rewarded.

Read the manual. Your camera is a sophisticated electronic device and may include macro features, various lighting settings, video capabilities and more. You will get the most use out of your camera’s features if you read the manual and learn how to use them. While it is tempting to use your camera’s automatic settings, you may be missing out on a lot of creative potential.

Consider stepping up to a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera (DSLR). These can use interchangeable lenses and generally have larger image sensors than compacts. The camera’s sensor is the electronic device which captures images. Larger sensors, generally speaking, are superior because more light can be stored on them, which produces a sharper image with a less digital “noise“. It is not just the numbers on the imaging chip that is important, but also the size of each pixel. Cameras with larger sensors also generally work better in low light (and higher ISOs).

Get good editing software. Pictures can always be improved after the fact by adjusting for color balance and saturation, composition, contrast, exposure and sharpness.

Take many pictures and use a large memory card, taking care to use the highest quality setting. In difficult lighting situations, experiment by bracketing your exposures.

If your camera allows you to save information in the RAW image format, do so, though this will involve an extra step to convert that image to a JPG in your computer. The purpose of RAW image formats is to preserve the maximum amount of data obtained by the camera’s sensor. RAW files may be substantially larger than JPGs, but allow for greater control over the final image.

Don’t be afraid to use flash in some daylight situations. Try to avoid shooting in harsh sunlight, which often introduces unacceptably high contrast and deep shadows. Unless there is cloud cover, early morning or late afternoon is usually preferable. When you are confronted with a bright mid-day sun, and your subjects are close to the camera, try using your flash to “fill in“ (lighten) the deeper shadows. Consider investing in an external flash for additional power, and an attachment to diffuse (soften) its light.


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