Quick Compact Camera Tips

I'm really enjoying using my new Canon powershot SX110 compact "superzoom" camera. The image quality is nowhere near as good as the Rebel T1i, but it's a great portable camera that I can take with me everywhere for any photographic opportunity that may pop up. Like the title of one of my favorite photography books says, the best camera is the one you have with you.

I have my compact camera settings dialed in so I can quickly pull out the camera and shoot at a moment's notice. I'm not afraid to dive into all the camera's options because I'm used to dealing with all the settings on the T1i. I'm also an engineer and a nerd, so complicated electronics don't scare me. But most people just aren't like that and usually use their camera on fully automatic because it takes too long to change camera settings. Even then, compact cameras can be slow to use.

If you'd like to speed up the operation of your compact camera, the following hints might help. I've found using these particular settings really speeds up my compact camera and chances are they'll speed up yours too.

1. Turn off picture review. When the camera shows the picture you just took on the LCD screen for review, the camera slows down because the camera is busy displaying the picture. Turning off picture review ensures the camera will be ready to take another picture immediately after you lift your finger off the shutter button. When you want to see the pictures you took, use the play button instead, which most cameras have.

2. Turn off any start up pictures. When you turn your camera on, it usually shows some kind of image on the LCD screen (usually the manufacturer's logo or name). Go into your camera's menus and turn this image off. When you turn on your camera, it will be ready to take a picture sooner than if it had to show the start up image.

3. Turn off all sound effects. Playing sound effects uses processor power, which can theoretically slow down your camera. Turning off all the sound effects ensures the processor doesn't waste any time accessing the sound files required for the sound effects. And a side benefit of turning off the sounds effects is that you can more easily take pictures of people without them knowing it (unless the flash fires).

4. Turn off the flash whenever you can. It takes time for the camera to recharge the flash, sometimes a long time if the flash fires at full brightness. If there's enough light in your environment, turn off the flash.

5. Use continuous shooting (or burst) mode whenever you can. If you're trying to photograph a pet, a kid, or a sports event, set your camera to the sports/action preset, then set the camera to continue shooting when the shutter button is held down. Your camera will operate at its top speed.

6. Lastly, have fun experimenting. There's really no better way to learn to use your camera quickly than by experimenting.

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