Photography - work with what you have
I was watching a make-up artist today telling people how to do the same make-up or even better with what they had at home and not buy ridiculously expensive products just to try and match his work.
Sometimes people ask us, editors, if they should buy a better camera, a "pro", if that will help them take better pictures.
Evidently we can not tell someone to buy a camera or not buy one but here is some insight on how you can have perfectly good images with a simple compact as well as with a good camera.
First let's see the clear differences:
- compacts have a smaller sensor on which many pixels are crowded
- compacts have one lens that is supposedly good for all
- using high ISO when shooting on compacts is murdering your pictures
- they are usually too light and small to feel them stable in your hands
- lower range of capabilities and slower software wise
From the list above you'd say they don't stand a chance in front of mighty DSLR cameras but I would beg to differ.
Now lets see how we can make good pictures with a compact camera.
First and foremost you have to know your camera, so test it in different lights and with different settings. I would recommend a compact that also has a manual mode or at least AV or TV modes.
After you test the camera you can see where most noise happens and most distortions, these are the main issues with compacts and the main reasons of refusal.
To achieve a noiseless image you can overexpose a bit and use a small ISO value, than you will not have to increase the brightness in post processing.
If you can not avoid noise you can downsample your image, this will make the noise appear like grain from film scan, making it more appealing.
To achieve an image without distortions avoid to shoot against light sources, you won't have the dreaded fringing on the edges of things in your images. If you do happen to have fringing you can remove it by turning it black and white or with a software that removes fringing.
Compacts have a built in flash, use it as fill light for images taken outside, it will get you rid of strong shadows produced by an overzealous sun.
Remember that your compact's lens is probably best at an intermediate focal and produces most distortions at the lowest and highest value.
Using a closed aperture, like F7.1 for example, will help you achieve crispier images.
Avoid using filters from image processing programs to make images crispier, and in general, avoid filters, they tend to distort the image.
Shoot RAW if your camera has this capability, your work will be much much easier.
Be creative with lighting, create soft images, with soft light, like covered lamps for example. Keep in mind though, the better the light quality, the better the image will be.
Worst lights I can think of are halogen flood lights, you can only obtain black and white images from them because the yellow tint they give. Even if you try to even out the white balance they still look weird. You'd be better off with two lamps with cold eco lights.
Your best friend is the sun.
Get a small tripod, doesn't have to be expensive, it will help you stabilize the camera when you need to, or when the light is scarce.
Conclusion is, if you use your camera to it's full capabilities you can obtain great images with it. Images that sell.
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