They Say Pocket Digital Cameras Are No Good For Stock

posted on 11th of february, 2010

I've seen a post or two from people saying how difficult it is to get images accepted with low end cameras. Your ability with what you can do may be limited, but the truth is, low-end cameras take excellent pictures. There are a few of you out there where photography is in your blood, you're always out taking pictures, but you just don't have the means to purchase a good SLR. You've tried submitting images but keep getting rejections for quality issues. It could be that you've just never learned one little trick that I've learned.

All the images in my portfolio were taken with a Nikon D100. That is, all but one. That one image was taken with a pocket digital camera that I purchased in 2004. You don't need to be a technology guru to know a low-end digital camera from 2004 is like rubbing two sticks together to start a fire. If that's the case, then how did the image get accepted and become one of my better selling images in my small-but-growing portfolio?

As I used the camera, I noticed a lot of the images were always a little blurry or seemed a bit out of focus. At the same time, other pictures came out clear and sharp. If I could get good images, then why wasn't I always getting good images?

It finally dawned on me one day when I was taking some snapshots. A pocket camera is small and light; any movement of your hand while taking a picture can cause blurring. It's a natural reflex to move your whole hand when pushing the shutter button. I began to be conscious of what I was doing and would hold the camera as steady as possible and moving the finger only when I pressed the button. As a result, I had a lot less problems with image quality.

When I get rejections they generally are canned messages; most points of the message don't make sense and/or do not apply but one of the statements will be the most likely reason for the rejection. I'm betting that those who have been using pocket cameras and get rejections for noise or focus, it's not because of those reasons, it's because the camera was slightly shaken or moving when the image was taken. A very slight blur from movement can be mistaken for noise or focus.

Just learning to hold the camera steady when taking the picture will solve the problem if the real issue is camera movement. You can also shop around for table-top tripods and monopods that will cost $10-$20.

You're still going to get noisy images if you use the optical zoom. You will be limited with light issues. Your hands are tied in many different ways when it comes to taking stock images with a pocket camera. But that shouldn't stop those who are new and starting from scratch in photography from getting into the stock game because pocket digital cameras do take wonderful images. Many times the trick is merely to squeeze the shutter button while holding the camera still instead of pushing the entire camera along with the button. It doesn't take much movement to make an image that looks fine unsuitable for stock.

The image shown here is the picture in my portfolio taken with a pocket camera. It recently had a nice TIFF sale which makes it one of my best images in my portfolio in terms of revenue. Like I said, those low-end cameras do take wonderful pictures. But I started getting nice results only after I realized I was the main reason for poor image quality. The problem wasn't the camera!

Comments (21)

Posted by Xiaofeng123 on March 10, 2010
I can not agree more.I think the people's brain is the most important.Not the camera.
Posted by Jayv on March 07, 2010
you are right its techniques that prevails over technology.
Posted by Tan510jomast on March 07, 2010
aside from the sensor, and the ease to upsize for any clients who require billboard size images, i have seen some images taken with PnS that will knock the socks of many who have taken with top of the line DSLR.
i suppose like many things, the results within limits depend on the workman not the tools. we "pros" used top of the line pro cameras only because of the mileage we put on our cameras; not because we "can only make pro pictures with pro cameras".. as one jolly camera commission salesman used to preach, lol.
then too, there are times you won't want to bring your top of the line camera .
eg. when i was in Tunisia riding on a drumadery through the sahara where sand sweep your face like breeze in the mountains, i had then a consumer DSLR with me. i worry then having to shoot with one hand thinking if i fall, it won't be just my camera who would be broken.
i will return to the sahara again one day, hopefully, InchAllah (God willing) as the tunisiennes say. when i do,...(More)
Posted by Scottysally2 on February 25, 2010
I found this article very interesting, as I have a Canon G11, I usually have it set at ISO 100, and also have a problem with movement unless I use a tripod. Must try ISO 80 for less noise. Thank you for sharing.
Posted by Eclecticelegance on February 19, 2010
All my photos are taken with a Sony Cybershot 7.0 megapixel digital pocket camera from 2007. :) It is possible!!
Posted by Afagundes on February 18, 2010
Another reason for camera shake in point and shoot cameras is that it takes a while to take the picture unlike the DSLRS wich are almost instantly doing it.
Many people simply dont wait and start moving before the camera took the picture, therefore, shaky pictures.
Posted by Rennaesp on February 15, 2010
well said! thanks for the tip, my best selling image is also with a pocket camera, it took great pictures under the right conditions and settings
Posted by Calyx22 on February 14, 2010
I agree about pocket cameras taking commercially viable pictures. Many of the photos in my portfolio were taken with a Nikon Coolpix P2, including my best selling image to date. You do have to be aware of the limitations of the camera, and I cannot use the optical zoom at ALL. What a great article!
Posted by Vclements on February 13, 2010
" I realized I was the main reason for poor image quality. The problem wasn't the camera'
A real photographer can create images with a $50 camera just the same as a $30,000 camera. The camera is just a tool.
Posted by Countedsorrow2 on February 13, 2010
I have a fabulous Film SLR but can't afford a good DSLR just yet.
(Plus i still love film too much)

All my dreamstime pics are taken on my 4 year old kodak pocket didgital camera.

The problems I encounteer is noise at high ISO and camera shake. So you just work within the limitations of your camera and you can take as sharp an image as the next gal! (or guy) :)

PS This camera has taken quite a beating - it was once accidentally rolled up in a picnic blanket, when we shook the blanket out the camera came flying out, bounced down our cement driveway and across onto the tar road and the back came off.

I picked up the pieces, screwed it back together, and it still works a dream!
I don't think my SLR could take that... :) (I don't recommend it though)

Cheers, Kristy
Posted by iportret on February 12, 2010
Excellent post!
Posted by Adeliepenguin on February 12, 2010
I agree, camera shake is a big problem. My point and shoot allows me to adjust the shutter speed, so I always make it as fast as the light will allow, if I am not on a tripod. Or, another alternative, for cameras that have a setting for sports, use the sports setting when possible. (Sports settings should incorporate a faster shutter speed.) Another tip...some point and shoot cameras are great for macros. My mom's point and shoot can focus at 2 inches at the macro setting, which offers amazing wider angle possibilities than my macro lens on my SLR.
Posted by Thefinalmiracle on February 12, 2010
You are right about the drawbacks of a pocket camera, but it has one damn advantage. It fits in your pocket. My best selling images are not studio shots taken with / without slr, but shots taken from my pocket camera when I possibly wouldn't have a SLR with me!
Posted by Studioportosabbia on February 12, 2010
Great blog! When I bought my second digital compact I discoverd the world of microstock so I started this "career" with a Canon Ixus. Some sites accepted those images, others didn't. I still have them online and they are still selling. After quality it's also the composition that counts and I've seen many compact photographers taking excellent pictures with compacts.
Posted by Marekuliasz on February 12, 2010
You can try to use a 2 second self timer to avoid shaking the camera when pressing a shutter button. Of course, supporting camera against anything solid would help too.

I am using compact waterproof Pentax Optio Wxx cameras for paddling. I have a few pictures from them in my stock photo. However, in my case, a noise is a major problem. These cameras are waterproof, but not the best P&S available.

Some time ago I wrote "10 Tips How to Avoid Blurry Pictures when Shooting from a Kayak" in my Paddling with a Camera blog.
Posted by Asyan on February 12, 2010
For me, the biggest problem that I had with my compact camera was removing the lens fringing effect (due to poor quality lens), off course, setting my camera to a lower ISO (I use ISO 80) is a must, but I don't always use a tripod...anyway is a useful article and a nice image, thanks for sharing!
Posted by Mani33 on February 12, 2010
I don't know if that will help me much as the reason of my rejections usually the week lens! I will try not shaking the cam... thanks for sharing!
Your image is great! :)
Posted by Cristalloid on February 12, 2010
I agree with wisconsinart. In my opinion there is another point that may be important. Digital compact camera have smaller sensors than DSLRs, therefor images made with them have more noise, especially with higher ISOs. With my Canon powershot G10 I only shoot in ISO 80 or ISO 100 to get not to noisy pictures. For me that does work because I only use this cam on outdoor tours when the light is clear and bright.
Posted by Keki on February 12, 2010
so very true! thanks for the reminder! :)
Posted by Frantab01 on February 12, 2010
fantastic, great blog - i've got a few images taken with my pocket camera accepted - will def take note of what you've said when i next use it - thanks alot :)
Posted by Wildmac on February 12, 2010
Excellent article! Cheers Carol :)

Comments (21)

This article has been read 2779 times. 7 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Wisconsinart.

About me

My greatest passion is landscape and fine art photography. However, stock does provide a challenge in itself. I enjoy coming up with new ideas and concepts and learning new techniques. In the end, each compliments the other. The things you learn from one can apply for another and you grow with the craft. I have over 30 years experience with different kinds of art and freelance endeavors and have yet to become tired or bored with finding new ways to exercise the creative side of me. Thank you for visiting my profile and I hope your time here will be a reward in itself. I am located in Wisconsin... [Read more]

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