TUTORIAL: Seven Settings You Need to Know on Your Point-and-Shoot Camera

22 days ago

Do you have a point-and-shoot camera that isn’t taking the kinds of pictures you want? Are you stuck shooting in your camera’s out-of-the-box settings, too afraid or too busy to learn how to do anything else?

If this sounds like you, then keep reading. There is hope, yet, with your point-and-shoot. Yes, without having to spend hundreds or even thousands more on a new DSLR camera, you can take amazing pictures with your camera.

Image: Jessica Hinton

“How do I do that?” you ask. Well, with a point-and-shoot camera, as with any other camera, the key, really, is learning how to use your camera to maximize its strengths and downplay its weakness. From capturing better light to getting better close ups, in this post I’m sharing the information you need to use your camera’s settings to take amazing pictures. So, if you’re ready to start shooting great shots, check out these seven tips. (Note: The point-and-shoot camera used in this post is a Panasonic Lumix.)


Image: Jessica Hinton

Capture movement by shooting in continuous shooting mode. Hands down, the continuous shooting mode (sometimes called “Burst Mode") is the first setting you should change if you’re taking pictures of anything that moves, i.e. kids, fireworks, pets, etc. You can find it in your camera’s menu. When shooting in this mode, you will be able to take multiple frames of a scene and will, thus, be able to capture more movement with less blur. When shooting in your camera’s Sport, Pet, or Baby mode, it’s this setting that is allowing you to take pictures in rapid succession.


Turn off your camera’s flash to take in more light. Instead of the flash, shoot in areas where natural light is most abundant. And, if your camera allows, find the white balance and ISO settings in the menu to make even better use of the natural light available for your shots. (Note: A higher ISO should be used for less light and a lower ISO should be used when there’s more light available.)

Image: Jessica Hinton


Image: Jessica Hinton

Get clear shots using your camera’s auto focus (AF) setting. Most point-and-shoot cameras (and smartphones) give users the ability to auto focus on subjects when you press your camera’s shutter button halfway. This will activate a box that, when green, will enable you to get an automatically focused shot. AF can usually be accessed via your camera’s menu, or your camera may have a button for the setting.


Image: Jessica Hinton

Shoot in macro mode to get great close-ups. Usually denoted with a flower in your camera’s menu, macro mode is perfect for stunning close-ups in which detail matters. When shooting in this mode, most cameras will not allow you to zoom, so you’ll be shooting at your camera’s widest angle view. Since you won’t be using the zoom, you can get in really close to your subject. “How close?” you ask? Well, this will depend on your camera. Some point-and-shoot cameras on the market today allow you to get within a centimeter of your subject. For the minimum distance of your camera, check your manual. For your shot, get in as close as possible, press the shutter button half way to activate AF. Once focused, shoot!


Image: Jessica Hinton

Maximize the quality of your shots by shooting in the highest quality JPEG and image size your camera allows. Shooting in RAW is not an option with a point-and-shoot, so to get great quality images that are print ready you’ll want to make use of a setting on your camera called "image quality" and/or "image size." When shooting with printing in mind, always use the largest size for these settings to ensure that your pictures look their best.


Image: Jessica Hinton

Use your camera’s preset modes wisely. Sure, with a point-and-shoot camera, you won’t always have the ability to control things like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. You can, however, and should use the modes on your camera for more control over your shots. The most common modes on point-and-shoots are: Sport, Night, Snow, Beach, and Party. The Sport setting features a faster shutter speed, allowing for you to better freeze motion in your shots. This setting is not only good for shooting your kids at soccer, but also for capturing your toddling toddler. Night and Party are both great for shooting in low lighting conditions or with indoor lighting. Beach and Snow are both great for shooting bright backgrounds.


Image: Jessica Hinton

Use exposure compensation to properly expose your shots each time. Exposure compensation (otherwise known as EV compensation) is a nifty setting on your point-and-shoot that allows you to quickly and easily over or under-expose your shots. This setting comes in handy when shooting dark subjects against light backgrounds or vice versa. It can be found in your camera’s menu or via a button on your camera that’s denoted with a + and – sign.

What are some of your favorite settings on your point-and-shoot camera?

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