The digital camera you're using plays a role, too. Different cameras have different strengths and weaknesses, resulting in varying image quality. However, you can change some of the settings on your camera to improve image quality. Try these tips for making your digital camera perform as strongly as possible, and for avoiding camera image quality problems.
- Shoot at a high resolution whenever possible. By using more resolution in your photos, you should see improved image quality more regularly. You'll have to check the resolution level for your images through the menu structure on your camera. Keep in mind that some cameras automatically reduce the resolution when you're shooting at a particular ratio (such as 16:9 or 4:3) or when you're using a continuous shot mode. Using a high resolution doesn't guarantee high image quality, as many other factors contribute to the quality of a photo, such as external lighting and avoiding camera shake. But a high resolution can help improve the quality of some photos.
- If you have to shoot in low light, be sure to make use of any image stabilization technology built into the camera, especially optical image stabilization (optical IS). If you have the option of activating optical IS through your camera's menu, use it in low light situations. (Some cameras automatically determine whether to use optical IS, preventing any manual control.)
- In the absence of optical IS in your camera, just try to hold the camera as steady as possible when shooting in low light. The camera must use a longer shutter speed in low light, which can lead to blurry photos from camera shake (where the photographer slightly moves involuntarily while the shutter is open). Use a tripod or lean against a doorframe or wall while shooting to help steady the shot.
- When shooting in high contrast lighting -- which usually occurs with harsh sunlight -- you can end up with "washed out" areas in your photos. Most cameras will automatically turn off the flash unit in bright sunlight, but you can change the settings on your camera to turn on the flash even with the harsh sunlight, essentially using some "fill" flash in the photo. This technique only works when you're fairly close to the subject, though. If your camera has a contrast control, select a lower contrast setting in harsh sunlight, too.
- Many inexpensive digital cameras have weak built-in flash units. If your camera's flash range isn't where it needs to be for a particular shot, try increasing the ISO setting through your camera's menu. Going from an ISO 100 setting to an ISO 400 setting, for example, should give you another few feet of flash range. However, the trade off is that higher ISO settings result in grainier photos. (Some cameras do not allow ISO settings to be manually changed.)