Photography - work with what you have


posted on 29th of january, 2010

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.

718 downloads till present date, shoot with nikon E8700
261 downloads to present date, shoot with nikon E5700
234 downloads to present date, shoot with minolta Z2
222 downloads to present date, shoot with nikon E5000


Comments (24)

Posted by Joezachs on May 04, 2010
Some useful info from here.
Can eliminate some of the mistakes that I make, especially shooting against the light. (I used to wonder what is this fringing on the edges )
By the way my one and only upload so far (and only sale) was clicked with a compact Camera.
Posted by Scottysally2 on February 28, 2010
I find this blog has excellent advice. I just bought a Canon G11 last year, and still learning some of the features. I have always had a compact camera, and decided if I could learn to use the G11 with manual control, and take good pictures, then later on when I could afford it, I could move up to a DSLR. Thank you for sharing, this has given me more ideas.
Posted by Fzy826 on February 27, 2010
Thank ! learned a lot from here.
Posted by Eclecticelegance on February 19, 2010
These tips will be very useful for getting even more out of my non-SLR camera. :) Thank you!
Posted by Adeliepenguin on February 03, 2010
This is excellent advice! Thank you!! I thought I had figured out all the nuances of working with my compact camera, but you brought up some points I hadn't thought of (like converting to black and white). FYI, I worked with what I had for a long time, before I could afford the SLRs I use today. And working with what I had really taught me a lot about how to take pictures. Now, there are times I just want the convenience of my compact camera. So, to me, understanding the compact camera is not just for novices, but for experienced photographers who want to feel satisfied about the pictures they get from their compact camera. I do strongly recommend watching the histograms, if the compact camera has one. That has made a big difference to me in noise control. I really try to get those pixels as far right as I can in the histogram, without overexposing the highlights. The beauty of my compact camera is that I have a live histogram before I take a picture.
Posted by Maigi on February 02, 2010
Really good advice! You can't excuse your not so good photographer's skills with "having a lousy camera". If you are serious about stock photography you need to improve not only your equipment, but especially your artistic eye and trading knowledge as well. And those last are more important than having a "good camera". DSLR helps a lot, yes, but I don't think I would have such photoshopping skills now, if I wouldn't have to train them to make my PS camera shots less noisy and more perfect. Work with what you have and improve your skills what don't depend on equipment and you can see overall improvement and then afford gradually more and more better equipment as well. I believe thousands of experiences can relate to that. It's a really good advice, and thank you for the article, Nikitu!
Posted by Nikitu on February 02, 2010
Dimol, this article is for photographers who just started and can't afford a DSLR camera, it's not for well established microstock photographers who can afford a camera.
I myself started with a compact camera, as I said numerous times, and the images I made with it helped me buy a DSLR.
I am just talking about a sensible approach and not jumping into buying a DSLR on day one, when you don't even know if you are going to get any money out of it.

Titania, yes, G10 is quite similar to G9 they are both in the high end of compact cameras and they do provide great quality.
Posted by F9photos on February 01, 2010
unfortunately, "work with what you have" - bad advice. Think of thousands of competing photographers with DSLR cameras who don't need to fight noise, artifacts, etc., don't need to overcome the limitations. If stock is just an entertainemt, then yes, you don't have to care, but if you want to earn money, than you have to buy a good camera.
Posted by Titania1980 on February 01, 2010
I've been told that the best light is a cloudy day, sun overexposes images and rainy day gives too dark pictures

Beautful pics, I suppose G10 is similar to G9
Posted by Nikitu on February 01, 2010
Yes, :) I have images with that Canon G10 here are some  Old Olive tree   House   Medal and diploma  Cotton   Beer bottle 

And the images with the medal and diploma and the one with the cotton is made with natural light only :) on a cloudy day.
Posted by Titania1980 on January 31, 2010
My best sellers (67 DL, 35 DL)) are made with my old Canon Powershot A700:

Images 3058235 and 3117552
Posted by Titania1980 on January 31, 2010
My whole portfolio of 1,407 images are made with compact cameras: Canon Powershot A700 and Canon Powershot G9. I sometimes have extra work by cleaning the images of noise and making a pure white background or working on curves and levels to improve illumination, but I'm satisfied with my G9

PS.I've seen that you, Ioana, work with a Canon G10 ;) among other cameras. Do you have pics on your portfolio made with that camera?
Posted by Preckas on January 31, 2010
actually my top 3 best selling images are from my compact camera. (one is my first level 4) . . . a "pro" camera can give you a lot more creative freedom but i think its not the key to good selling images.


PS Don't you hate it when you take good photos people ask do you have a good camera? you wouldn't ask a good cook "do you have a god pot", would you!? :)
Posted by Wildmac on January 30, 2010
Great blog! Thanks for the tips :)
Posted by Creativei on January 29, 2010
Where there is a will there is a way, you don't need the heavy equipment, as Emicristea said, you need good subject, and yeah of course need to know your camera. Thanks for the tips
Posted by Fultonsphoto on January 29, 2010
I have recently submitted a few of my images taken on a compact and they were accepted so guess all in all they can work. Thanks for the tips and advice.
Posted by Nikitu on January 29, 2010
Brad I can understand you, I started with a compact too, hence this blog, I wanted to show people that if you really like it you can do it, even with fewer means.
Posted by Bradcalkins on January 29, 2010
An excellent post about how to best use a compact. My experience with compacts and DSLRs is that my workflow for compact camera images was much more involved (I had to do things like you mention: downsample, watch noise, crop, fix CA, etc.).
Posted by Justmeyo on January 29, 2010
thanks for tips,very useful indeed:)
Posted by Emicristea on January 29, 2010
Snow climber
... look, this is an editor choice image, and is made with a compact camera (Nikon) E8700. Unfortunaly, because the zoom option too limited, i had to crop into a smaller image, to be the best subject.
Posted by Asyan on January 29, 2010
Hehe, my whole portfolio is based on a compact camera, and is also a good way to start in the photographic career, anyway thank you for the tips, great blog!
Posted by Emicristea on January 29, 2010
I also used a compact camera in the past (Nikon E8700) and i had some good sold pictures with that camera. I guess that is more important to choose the best subject. The subject sell the picture.
Posted by Aginger on January 29, 2010
I agree, both of my level2 images are made with compact cam...nice tips, anyway, thank you for sharing!
Posted by Mani33 on January 29, 2010
Welcome back on your first blog of this year :)
Thanks for the tips!



Comments (24)

This article has been read 3599 times. 15 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Serban Enache, Bevd@l, Ioana Grecu, Dreamstime Stock Photography & Video Footage.
 
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