Compact camera tutorial

In this month’s tutorials, we’re exploring what happens when you throw the photography rulebook out and let your instincts guide you to spectacular images. When you shoot more spontaneously it can lead to accidental, beautiful, striking images which perfectly capture a moment or feeling.

One of the great things about compact cameras is their immediacy and portability. PowerShot and IXUS cameras are created to be easy to use and to deliver the highest image quality so they’re perfect for putting in your pocket and using to shoot from the hip on your everyday adventures.

Tip: Check your settings so your camera is optimised and ready to shoot whenever you see something you want to capture.

  • Turning the automatic flash off
  • Shoot in black and white
  • Single AF point
  • Use the GPS track log

Turning the automatic flash off

One of the most important things to know is how - and when - to turn the automatic flash off. Using the flash can disrupt the ambience of your photo meaning you won’t capture the genuine atmosphere of your shot. It’s also worth remembering that your flash won’t reach very far at night, so you may prefer to turn it off. If the flash is turned off, the camera is ready to take pictures faster since there is no waiting for the flash to charge.

However, in some darker conditions, indoors or for close-up portraits, you may need to know how to turn the flash back on. Find the flash icon - usually this is on one of the buttons on the rear of the camera, press it once to switch the automatic flash off and press it again to switch the flash on. Some cameras have a flash off mode on the mode dial or selectable from the scene modes.

Ludo, Almost Wired
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Shoot in black and white

Reducing your vibrant colourful scene to a mix of tones might seem counter intuitive, but it also helps you to see graphic compositions in a way that is unique and different. Select black and white from the My Colors menu and you’ll also see a preview of the scene in black and white on the camera LCD. If your instincts tell you a scene may look better in black and white, go with them.

Single AF point

The AF (autofocus) systems in most compact cameras are highly developed for simple photography needs, but sometimes you need to follow your intuition and take control. Adjusting the AF point allows you to pick the area to be in focus. Change your focus using a single square at the centre of the frame and shoot. Don’t be afraid to try something new as some of the most striking images come from experimenting. Sometimes it’s good to try not to think too much. Just shoot.

Wesley Eller, Look Up, Look Down
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Did you know? You can use the “focus lock and recompose” technique with PowerShot and IXUS cameras. Squeeze the shutter halfway and the camera will focus and measure the exposure. Keep your finger on the shutter and recompose the frame. Squeeze the shutter button down fully to take the picture and see the results you get by ‘tricking’ your camera into shooting at different exposures and focal lengths. By using this technique you can achieve eye-catching, creative images where your subject is positioned off-centre while still looking sharp and in focus. 

Use the GPS track log

Several cameras include a GPS module, which can be configured to store location information for each picture. When you are exploring the wonders of a new location, switching to the tracking log makes the camera keep a record of all the locations you visit during the shoot. Use the Canon Map Utility on your computer to see the route you took and to revisit places again.

The Canon Camera Connect app available for Android and iOS devices also enables almost all Wi-Fi enabled compact Canon cameras to perform GPS tagging.

If you’ve felt inspired to use your instincts to capture remarkable images, why not share your images with the world. Upload them to The Gallery.