07-07-2010, 08:29 AM
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I know a lot more about photography than I do fish keeping, so hopefully I can help out...
A lot also has to do with the type of camera you have. With most point and shoot cameras, there is something called shutter lag. There is a slight delay from the time you press the button to take the photo till when the shutter actually releases and takes the photo. Plus, most point and shoot cameras have very small lenses. Especially in the Canon elph line. This small opening only allows a small amount of light in. So often times, it "darkish" conditions your camera will have trouble focusing. On a lot of cameras you can set the focal point. Most cameras by default have a number of focus points and it will automatically select what it thinks you are trying to focus on. Check your manual and see if there is a way to manually specify the center focus point. If you leave it up the camera to try to guess what you are trying to focus on, it will often focus on a rock, plant or something larger in the tank. Especially with smaller fish like barbs.
Here are a few tips I can share. See if you can find a desk lamp or even a small work light to light the area. Try to angle it in such a way that it lights the tank you are trying to shoot, but doesn't reflect off the glass or cast hard shadows. You may need to use a piece of paper over the light to "soften" the light and shadows. The extra light will help the camera focus a little quicker and provide enough light that you can use a faster shutter speed, which should reduce the likelihood of having blur caused by the fish movement. Also try setting your camera on macro mode if possible. This changes the way the camera focuses and it will be able to focus on smaller objects like a fish.
Most cameras also have a "burst mode" which takes a series of photos in rapid succession. Try turning this on. It's usually located in the same menu where you turn on the self time. It's usually indicated by an icon that looks like three photos placed one on top of the other. Normally when you press the shutter it only takes one photo. When you turn on burst mode, it will keep firing photo after photo. It will stop eventually when the buffer to write to the memory card fills up.
Hope these tips help. I think overall it will be frustrating with a point and shoot camera because of the shutter lag and difficulty focusing that I mentioned earlier. But as you pointed out, it's digital, so shoot away. No harm done. If you get one good shot out of 50, it's all worth it.