Point and Shoot Possibilities

I get a lot of email from people dissatisfied with their compact point and shoot camera asking if upgrading to a much more expensive DSLR would improve their photographs.

Certainly a camera capable of higher image quality and with more features could be put to use in ways a point and shoot compact could not.  However, it is often the case the person emailing in hasn’t learned to put their current camera to its maximum use.  Often, what they have is perfectly capable of satisfying their photography needs.  In this week's learning section I’ll show some images from various point and shoot compacts I own and discuss where each one was taken, the conditions, and anything different I did to achieve the results.

This image was captured off my balcony this week after a morning rain.  I saw the blue sky, rare for Bangkok, the extremely clear air where you could see all the buildings downtown, and the great light.  My pro gear was already packed in the car for my trip to Kanchanaburi so I reached in my knapsack and pulled out my point and shoot.  The resulting image is tack sharp, has great color and contrast, and provides a great view.

This image was captured off my balcony this week after a morning rain.  I saw the blue sky, rare for Bangkok, the extremely clear air where you could see all the buildings downtown, and the great light.  My pro gear was already packed in the car for my trip to Kanchanaburi so I reached in my knapsack and pulled out my point and shoot.  The resulting image is tack sharp, has great color and contrast, and provides a great view.

Last year we were on a workshop at the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya and because I was instructing the only camera I had on my person was a compact point and shoot.  Carefully framing the image in the LCD and holding the camera very still I captured this highly detailed image.

Last year we were on a workshop at the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya and because I was instructing the only camera I had on my person was a compact point and shoot.  Carefully framing the image in the LCD and holding the camera very still I captured this highly detailed image.  Holding a point and shoot steady is a real challenge.  The natural point and shoot method of holding it out at arm's length where you can see the LCD creates a very poor shooting stance and usually results in blurry pics.  Try bringing your elbows in and bracing them against your ribcage.  This makes it harder to see the LCD, but will help you stead the camera and you’ll find all the sharpness you need in most any point and shoot compact.

A few months later during a different workshop at the Khon Keow Open Zoo I once again found myself with only a point and shoot compact on my person.  Extending the zoom to its maximum range I captured this image.  This is only a very small crop of the entire frame, but perfectly fine for web use!

A few months later during a different workshop at the Khon Keow Open Zoo I once again found myself with only a point and shoot compact on my person.  Extending the zoom to its maximum range I captured this image.  This is only a very small crop of the entire frame, but perfectly fine for web use!

During another workshop at the Grand Palace I took this image of a mural on a wall, under an awning, where it was dark.  I think the scene is represented very well

During another workshop at the Grand Palace I took this image of a mural on a wall, under an awning, where it was dark.  I think the scene is represented very well

Several years ago at the Patpong Night Market I saw these decorations.  I pulled out the compact and was rewarded with this colorful and interesting image.  Have you noticed so far I haven’t used flash in any of these images?  No flash, a steady hand, and proper exposure.  Nothing else is required.

Several years ago at the Patpong Night Market I saw these decorations.  I pulled out the compact and was rewarded with this colorful and interesting image.  Have you noticed so far I haven’t used flash in any of these images?  No flash, a steady hand, and proper exposure.  Nothing else is required.

A friend and I were enjoying a quiet dinner at a river restaurant and I was admiring the bridge.  A party boat came into the frame and resting the camera steadily on the railing (wrist strap on!) I snapped off 3-4 images and this one was perfectly focused and turned out well.

A friend and I were enjoying a quiet dinner at a river restaurant and I was admiring the bridge.  A party boat came into the frame and resting the camera steadily on the railing (wrist strap on!) I snapped off 3-4 images and this one was perfectly focused and turned out well.

This image is hilarious!  Taken in Radio City in Patpong of the Thai Elvis.  Notice the position of the girls hand and that her partner appears to be watching her hand?  In such venues with colored stage lights that rotate colors, you simply time your shot with the right color light and you’ll get the right color balance.  If you’re not sure snap off a few as the lights rotate and you’ll quickly learn when the time is right.

This image is hilarious!  Taken in Radio City in Patpong of the Thai Elvis.  Notice the position of the girls hand and that her partner appears to be watching her hand?  In such venues with colored stage lights that rotate colors, you simply time your shot with the right color light and you’ll get the right color balance.  If you’re not sure snap off a few as the lights rotate and you’ll quickly learn when the time is right.

Late one night in the Thong-lo district friends and I were sitting outside talking and listening to music when I saw this scene.. at first I didn’t include the feet, but then I decided the feet helped set the mood.

Late one night in the Thong-lo district friends and I were sitting outside talking and listening to music when I saw this scene.. at first I didn’t include the feet, but then I decided the feet helped set the mood.

Last year at the Kantoke Theater in Chiang Mai.  Taken with the zoom fully extended and holding it up over my head where I could barely see the LCD.

Last year at the Kantoke Theater in Chiang Mai.  Taken with the zoom fully extended and holding it up over my head where I could barely see the LCD.

None of these images were taken using flash, most all were taken at ISO 1600-3200, and all will make great snapshot sized prints and a few of them will make very large prints.  My point is, I’d guess you would be very happy with your current point and shoot camera if you used it to its maximum potential and pointed it in the right direction.  Keep it with you all the time and experiment with its capabilities.  With a bit of practice (and the flash off) you’ll end up with some great images!