I have an old camera, Canon PowerShot SD 630 Digital Elph from 2006! I thought is was on its last leg (which I could probably still use a new one), but I realized my camera settings were all jacked up and I have learned a few tricks regarding exposure (how light or dark an image will appear when captured) that have greatly improved the quality of my pictures (even with an ancient camera) from Cambridge in Colour and Darren Rowse online!
Also, Camera Phone users: most smart phones, like my Verizon Samsung Galaxy Droid, have the ability to adjust the expose when taking a picture. On my phone specifically, do they following:
-view the left side bar of options on the screen
-select the 2nd button from the bottom (the box with the +/- symbol) and adjust the exposure value accordingly!!
UNDERSTANDING EXPOSURE–by Cambridge in Colour: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-exposure.htm
Achieving the correct exposure is a lot like collecting rain in a bucket. While the rate of rainfall is uncontrollable, three factors remain under your control: the bucket’s width, the duration you leave it in the rain, and the quantity of rain you want to collect. You just need to ensure you don’t collect too little (“underexposed”), but that you also don’t collect too much (“overexposed”). The key is that there are many different combinations of width, time and quantity that will achieve this.
In photography, the exposure settings of aperture, shutter speed and ISO speed are analogous to the width, time and quantity discussed above. Furthermore, just as the rate of rainfall was beyond your control above, so too is natural light for a photographer.
1) Aperture: controls the area over which light can enter your camera (affects depth of field)
2) Shutter speed: controls the duration of the exposure (affects motion blur). A camera’s shutter determines when the camera sensor will be open or closed to incoming light from the camera lens. The shutter speed specifically refers to how long this light is permitted to enter the camera. “Shutter speed” and “exposure time” refer to the same concept, where a faster shutter speed means a shorter exposure time.
3) ISO speed: measures the sensitivity of the image sensor (affects image grain/noise). The lower the number, the less sensitive your camera is to light and the FINER the grain. Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker situations to get faster shutter speeds (for example an indoor sports event when you want to freeze the action in lower light) – however the cost is noisier shots. Primary source by Darren Rowse: http://digital-photography-school.com/iso-settings
Left: 100 Right: 3200–pics by Darren Rowse
When choosing ISO, consider the following:
Light – Is the subject well lit?
Grain – Do I want a grainy shot or one without noise?
Tripod – Am I using a tripod?
Moving Subject – Is my subject moving or stationary?
If you have plenty of light and have a stationary object and/or using a tripod, generally go with a lower ISO rating
On the other hand, if you have a dark setting or moving object, you purposefully want noise/grain and should increase you ISO setting to shoot with a faster shutter speed.
The following is a great link for anybody else who has a Canon Powershot SD 630! http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd630-review/
I hope what I have found helps you