One of the common mistakes of point and shoot camera owners is that they rely on the built-in flash. While this is acceptable sometimes, it is normally used in a wrong situation. If you use your built-in flash to illuminate a dark room, you will find that your photos will normally look whitewashed on sides and overexposed on the center or the focus. What you can do to avoid this is to move your subjects around to find good lighting and adjust your ISO settings. The higher the number, the brighter (and grainier, so be careful) the picture will be. Experiment on a couple of shots until you get the one that pleases you the most. If you can’t not use the flash, try to diffuse it by using the old technique of taping tissue paper over it so the light will be softer.
There is a simple rule in creating good composition in photography where all other rules revolve around – the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds means that you have to divide your screen into three equal horizontal and vertical portions by using grids (this is commonly available as a preset function in most cameras) and capturing subjects that fall within the intersection lines. Photographers regard these lines as the most suitable areas for a subject because the eyes naturally gravitate to them. Instead of doing a boring center image of a flower, for instance, move it a bit to the left or right and it automatically creates a more dramatic effect.
Your preset modes are not as useless as you think. In fact, using your preset modes will definitely earn you better pictures if you know how to use them. For instance, if you are taking photos of smaller objects like insects or flowers, the macro mode (the one with the tulip) will help tremendously. The macro mode captures smaller objects in more details but remember that this mode is only effective if the subject is within 5 to 20 cm from the lens.
No, tripods and lamps are not limited to professional camera users. If you want to get a clear shot of anything, you should either have a good non-shaky hand or use a tripod. The good thing about point and shoot cameras is that you do not have to worry about the weight as even the smallest tripods will be able to bear it. Mount your camera and find your subject in a good composition and lighting, turn the self timer on, and wait. Because a point and shoot is a lot smaller than a professional camera, self-timer prevents movements when you click the shutter button so you can be sure that you still have the precise subject in view.