Digital Crave

10 Great Digital Camera Tips And Tricks

Digital Crave

View gallery


Nikon Mode Dial

Digital cameras have been around for years yet even those on their first—or fifth—camera will take better photos and videos if they follow these simple pointers.

Check Your Settings Before You Press the Shutter

No matter if you have a basic point-and-shoot like the Canon PowerShot 300 HS or an advanced Nikon D7000 DSLR, the first thing you absolutely must do is check your camera settings right after you press the "on" button. The last time you used it might've been at night or indoors and you left the settings for that type of shot. Or your kids/partner/whomever was using it and fiddled with the buttons and dials. This can ruin your next series of shots if the conditions aren't right, perfect for a Homer Simpson D'oh! moment.

Make sure you start off in Auto/intelligent auto then make the changes you like—if any at all. Many of today's newer cameras have very sophisticated intelligent auto settings. Make sure you use them to avoid "shoulda coulda" moments.

Speed Up Your Camera

One of the biggest camera complaints—especially for affordable compacts—is speed or lack of it. You can't turn a Focus into a Ferrari but you can enhance shot-to-shot time so you aren't twiddling your thumbs waiting for the camera to take another photo.

First find the "burst" or continuous mode in the menu system and engage it so the camera automatically clicks as fast as it can. Then make sure you disable the Review Photo setting which automatically puts your last image on the LCD screen for you to check out. These two changes will make you feel like you have a new camera. And while you're at it, make sure you have a "speed rated" memory card which will also improve response as it takes less time saving images to the card. Since they're so affordable, look for Class 6 or greater SD cards.

Great Portraits—Almost Every Time

View gallery


Flash up with Canon 260 HS

Your camera's built-in flash should be used for more things than indoor birthday parties. The next time you're taking a portrait, make sure the flash is set to "Fill Flash" or "Forced Flash," depending on your specific model. Now the flash will fire when you press the shutter and evenly illuminate the targeted face, eliminating any shadows.

Also use this setting when you're outdoors at the beach or a picnic, especially if there's strong sunshine and harsh shadows. Simple but it works like a charm.

One of the Biggest Things To Avoid

Digital Zoom. Although you can extend your camera's basic zoom using this feature your pictures will look awful. With a digital zoom a center portion of the view screen is enlarged, adding loads of yucky digital artifacts especially at extreme ranges. Make sure it's turned off.

Battery-Saving Tricks

There's nothing worse than a dead battery at the critical moment. Obviously, charge your camera overnight before you hit the streets. However there are ways to squeeze some extra life from your battery if you see a warning. If your camera has Wi-Fi or a built-in GPS, turn them off completely. Also if you have optical image stabilization, turn that off too. You may get a shaky shot but at least you'll have something.

Turn down the brightness of the LCD screen too. Remember that Review Photo setting mentioned earlier? Make sure that's turned off as well. Don't turn your camera on and off in hopes it'll last longer—it won't as you use more juice booting up your camera. Also most cameras have a sleep mode; cut the time to around a minute.

Turn This On

Grid Lines are hidden on many cameras and they're well worth using. Typically when you're framing a shot on the LCD screen, you should keep the horizons straight but it's hard to do properly. With grid lines--typically a white tic-tac-toe pattern overlaying the screen—you can do it easily by lining up the horizons. Landscapes, group shots and vertical images will look much more professional.

Always Shoot Best Quality

You would think manufacturers set cameras at best quality as the default for stills and videos but unfortunately this is not always the case. Make sure image quality (resolution or pixels) is the highest available then check compression, if it's available. Here you might see a number of stars, or words like Good, Better, Best. Always choose the highest level since less compression means fewer digital artifacts--in other words a more accurate image. The same holds true for movies.

Remember it's always better to have a high-quality original and downsize it using your own software after the fact. Social media sites will automatically re-size your shots for quick uploads so quality isn't super critical here but if you want to make big prints for an album or scrapbook, it's important to have as many pixels as possible.

Don't Be So Sensitive

Manufacturers love to brag about the sensitivity of their cameras, claiming they can shoot in very low light. In some cases this is true but in most it's not. Sensitivity is measured by an ISO rating, ranging from 100 to 16,000 or more. When a camera is in Auto, it'll pick the ISO setting and in low light, it will use the highest number. For many models, particularly point-and-shoots, this is a recipe for disaster as digital noise—speckles—are introduced to the image and color shifts so it's barely recognizable.

If your camera has an ISO limit, set it to a maximum of 400 or 800 since your results will be much more pleasing. If you're feeling adventurous, I suggest you do some informal testing of the various ISO settings indoors without the flash. Review them on your monitor and see where the quality falls off. I've used cameras where 400 is the limit, others where 3200 or 6400 is solid.

Hollywood Tips

Hollywood DPs (Directors of Photography) work for years perfecting their craft but you can capture clips that are just fine for YouTube and the family HDTV. First, keep your camera horizontal at all times, set to best quality and with image stabilization engaged (if available). Resist the urge to quickly zoom in and out and do not abruptly move it from side to side. If you want to pan a nice landscape, always move the camera from left to right and do it slowly.

Play Is Good

The beauty of every digital camera is the simple fact you can take hundreds of shots almost instantly. You can press any combination of buttons you want and even if your photos are ready for the Delete pile, just erase them and start all over again. Cameras are very forgiving, even if you think they'll never work properly again.

Press Menu, go into Setup and hit Reset All if you're really lost in the digital woods. Your camera will now have the manufacturer's defaults and you can start all over again. And in the rare instance your camera freezes up, take out the battery, pop it back in again and hit the power button. Things should be as good as new.

Check out the latest tech news and tips at Digital Crave

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Trump used an unusual word in the third debate and now everyone is googling it

      Republican nominee Donald Trump is known for some unusual speech patterns.  During the third...

      Business Insider
    • 'I'm the victim,' Iowa teacher who had sex with student says on 'Dr. Phil'

      DES MOINES — A substitute teacher accused of having sex with a 17-year-old high school student in Cedar Rapids claims the student seduced her. Mary Beth Haglin was charged in July with sexual exploitation by a teacher. On Monday, she appeared on Dr. Phil, accusing the student of seducing her and sharing sexy photos with his friends. “Many people see him as the victim and me as the perpetrator. From a psychological standpoint and from every other standpoint, I feel like I am the victim,” Haglin said on the Dr. Phil show, citing the student's intelligence and “elevated vocabulary” as part of the seduction. Haglin pleaded not guilty to sexual exploitation by a school employee. Her trial is set to

      USA Today q
    • Trump’s ‘bombshell’: Europe’s press reacts to final Clinton-Trump face-off

      As Europe tuned into Wednesday night's presidential debate, many agreed on the defining moment of the night – unfortunately for Donald Trump. q
    • Kourtney Kardashian awkwardly 'blanks' TV hosts who ask about Kim

      Kourtney Kardashian had an awkward on-air moment Thursday morning when hosts of an Australian morning program asked how her sister Kim Kardashian is holding up after her robbery ordeal.   The questions was met with bizarre silence, while the reality TV star sat staring off camera, presumably listening to the panicked advice of her publicists.  SEE ALSO: Khloe Kardashian DGAF about Donald Trump calling her a 'piglet' Making matters worse, the connection was dropped. When producers got Kardashian back on the line post-ad break, she explained "we had a bad connection."   "I think she's totally blanking me on that question," said David Campbell, co-host of Today Extra , adding, "She could just say her sister is fine! I mean I think we just said that you know we're very concerned and we were onside and we hoped that everyone's fine, which I still do." According to The Herald Sun , Kourtney insisted that she be re-connected to the show’s host in order to address the question. Once connected, she discussed how the Kardashian klan was feeling after her sister was held at gunpoint during the Paris robbery.  "I think we're all really still shaken up and I just — you know, I think she has a big supportive family and I know that, like, all of the traumatic things that we've been through, you know, we get through them together as a family and that's what family is all about," she said.  While it might not be the most informative response ever uttered, it may have been worth it as an act of "saving face." What's a potential little white lie about a technical glitch between friends, anyway?   Many of us would love to use the old "we just had a bad connection" excuse to get out of conversations IRL, sometimes.   Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint in Paris

    • RZA Responds After Azealia Banks-Russell Crowe Incident, Says Singer Threatened and Attacked a Guest

      The Wu-Tang Clan rapper has a very different account from Banks' about how the altercation went down.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Michelle Obama’s State-Dinner Dresses (12 photos)

      By Erika Harwood. Photos via Getty Images. As the Obamas’ time in the White House draws to a close, the president and First Lady are hosting their last state dinner for the prime minster of Italy and his wife. Over the past eight years, Michelle Obama has worn some of the most iconic looks ever seen on a First Lady. Take a look back at the gorgeous gowns Obama has worn for every U.S. state dinner. This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair . More from Vanity Fair: Jackie Kennedy and Michelle Obama: The White House Wardrobes __ What Will Michelle Obama Do After the White House? Film's Sexiest Little Black Dresses Kate Middleton's Best Looks of 2016 Brad Pitt Through the Years The Kardashians' Obsession with Nude

      Vanity Fair
    • Warriors: Surprise choice for final spot on roster

      The Warriors made their latest and last cuts of the preseason on Thursday morning, waiving Phil Pressey, Cameron Jones and Elliot Williams. Notably missing: JaVale McGee, the popular, athletic and occasionally goofy reserve center who, apparently, has captured the final spot on the Warriors regular season roster. After two straight seasons of both injuries and ineffectiveness, McGee received only a non-guaranteed training camp invite from Golden State this summer. He needed to impress in the preseason. McGee has. On the first day of camp, Kevin Durant told reporters of an impressive chasedown swat from McGee. Asked about it, McGee couldn’t remember. “I blocked like six shots today,” he said. q
    • How one simple mistake led to one of the most brutal knockouts of all time

      It’s Thursday, which means it’s time to throw it back. This time we’re transporting to the far-away year of 2009, when English welterweight Rickie Hatton was one of the best boxers on the planet. He had lost to Floyd Mayweather two years earlier but recovered with impressive wins over Juan Lazcano and Paulie Malignaggi, the latter under the guidance of Floyd Mayweather Sr., Floyd’s father, who helped Hatton re-tool his technique to make him more mobile and better defensively. So when Hatton fought Manny Pacquiao in May of 2009 it was billed as the most-high profile and exciting fight of the year. And it was, but not for the reasons Hatton would’ve wanted. Pacquiao, to be fair, was brilliant.

      For The Win q
    • An 'Iron Man' Cover Is The Latest Example Of Why Pinup Artists Shouldn't Draw Teenagers

      Midtown Comics has pulled the Invincible Iron Man #1 variant cover by J. Scott Williams of Riri Williams out of her Ironheart armor. A quick peek at Midtown Comics site show the variant with a bold “DO NOT USE (Item Canceled)” declaration. Marvel representatives confirmed to me the choice to pull the cover was a joint decision from Marvel and Midtown Comics.

    • People are raving about the Fox News anchor who moderated the last presidential debate

      Fox News' Chris Wallace emerged as one of the likely winners of the final presidential debate...

      Business Insider
    • WikiLeaks emails part curtain on a nearly elected Obama considering White House staff

      The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks on Thursday released a handful of Barack Obama’s emails from a period immediately before he was elected in 2008, including several that revealed names of people Obama was considering for senior roles and one that reflected care in avoiding a transition conflict with President George W. Bush. The emails span a period from Oct. 6, 2008, until Election Day that year, Nov. 4, and several include comments from “Barack,” who used the email address: In one email, John Podesta, the veteran political operative who would go on to serve as Obama’s counselor, sent Obama contact information for Erskine Bowles, a North Carolina Democrat who had served once as White House chief of staff, and for Leon Panetta, the former California legislator whom Obama would appoint as CIA director.

      McClatchy Washington Bureau q
    • The internet is enamored with George H.W. Bush's 1993 letter to Bill Clinton

      In the midst of the chaotic lead-up to November's election, a 1993 letter from outgoing President George H.W. Bush to incoming President Bill Clinton has the internet nostalgic for political seasons past. Bush penned the letter on Jan. 20, 1993, the day of Clinton's first inauguration. The previous November, he'd failed to secure a second term in office. SEE ALSO: So that's 3 presidential debates, 0 climate change questions Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton posted the letter to Instagram in June: You may have noticed a letter that went viral on the internet this week. The letter is from George H.W. Bush’s presidential library. I hadn’t read it in a long time, until yesterday. It moved me to tears, just like it did all those years ago. It’s the letter that President Bush left in the Oval Office for my husband, back in January of 1993. They had just fought a fierce campaign. Bill won, President Bush lost. In a democracy, that’s how it goes. But when Bill walked into that office for the very first time as President, that note was waiting for him. It had some good advice about staying focused on what mattered, despite the critics. It wished him happiness. And it concluded with these words: “You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success is now our country’s success. And I am rooting hard for you. George.” That’s the America we love. That is what we cherish and expect. A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on Jun 14, 2016 at 4:25pm PDT After wishing Bill "great happiness" in the White House, Bush writes: "Your success is now our country's success. And I am rooting hard for you." Those sharing the 1993 letter invoke Bush's words as an example of losing with dignity.  In contrast, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made headlines during Wednesday's debate when he declared that he may not accept the results of November's election should Clinton win. In a speech on Thursday, he followed up on that statement: He will accept the results of the election if he's the winner . The internet's response: A perfect night to re-read this letter from President George H. W. Bush to President Bill Clinton. — Chris Sacca (@sacca) October 20, 2016 George Bush to Bill Clinton, having lost the election. Compare and contrast to the toxic orange warthog who leads the Republicans today. — Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) October 20, 2016 George Herbert Walker Bush defined presidential. In light of #Trump's aversion to democracy, this letter Bush left for Clinton is #mustread — Charles Adler (@charlesadler) October 20, 2016 Forget politics. This letter from Bush #1 to Clinton is filled with a grace and elegance Trump is incapable of understanding. — Richard Marx (@richardmarx) October 20, 2016 George Bush, Sr.'s great outgoing letter to Bill Clinton. The problem is, it's impossible to imagine Trump being man enough to write this... — Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) October 20, 2016

    • Evacuations lifted after 3 crashes on I-95, multiple deaths reported

      An evacuation order was lifted early Thursday morning after a fatal fiery crash involving hazardous materials on Interstate 95 forced some Johnston County residents out of the area. Northbound lanes of I-95 have reopened, while southbound lanes remain closed.

      WTVD – Raleigh/Durham
    • Maddox Jolie-Pitt Refused to Attend ‘Emotional’ Reunion With Dad Brad Pitt

      When Brad Pitt reunited with the kids he shares with estranged wife Angelina Jolie, his eldest son, Maddox, was a no-show — Us reveals why he bailed

      Us Weekly
    • The Latest: Police probing mentor texts in sex assault case

      MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Latest on sexual assault charges filed against a Milwaukee police officer who fatally shot a black man in August (all times local):

      Associated Press
    • Redskins players and coaches react to 'disrespectful,' 'out of line' Stephen A. Smith

      As he's known to do, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith ranted about the Redskins, calling the team losers. The fuss started in the immediate moments after the Redskins beat the Eagles last Sunday. Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Franois celebrated the win in the tunnel with cameras rolling, and Smith eventually watched the video.

      CSN Mid-Atlantic q
    • Mom Packs Extra Lunch for Son's Needy Classmate After He Was Seen Eating Only a Fruit Cup

      When 14-year-old Dylan found out his classmate didn't have enough lunch money, his mother packed him lunch for three months.

      Inside Edition
    • Stephen Colbert rips apart Donald Trump for his most shocking answer at the presidential debate

      Stephen Colbert started his live broadcast of CBS's "The Late Show" on Wednesday night with what...

      Business Insider
    • Duterte aligns Philippines with China, says U.S. has lost

      By Ben Blanchard BEIJING (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from the United States on Thursday, declaring he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks. Duterte made his comments in Beijing, where he is visiting with at least 200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally Washington deteriorate. "In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States," Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people, to applause, at a forum in the Great Hall of the People attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.