I use a nikon coolpix P100 ("bridge" camera). It has been great for general purpose, ebay etc. and manual mode is there if you want to get more serious about aperture settings and shutter speeds.
The 30 times zoom is a bit of a gimick though, I never really use it, and the results are pretty poor when I do. so i would avoid those gimicky mega zooms on bridge cameras if you can.
I agree with the previous posts about light. In the right conditions even cheaper cameras will get good results.
Ideally I take all my photos outside and on an overcast/cloudy day. Natural daylight, but without any harsh shadows or harsh light from the sun. In these conditions you dont need a tripod, hand-held works fine.
Last edited by TheEvilForcesOfSkeletor; 1st February 2013 at 08:30 PM.
Right, well, cheers for the advice and tips, all taken on board.
Got myself a Samsung bridge camera this morning, so no excuses there. Already seeing an improvement, mainly in that it's easier to take better pics in less favourable circumstances, although as has been said, perfectly possible to take good pics with the compact in good conditions.
Even in fully auto mode, the Samsung takes decent pics indoors with no flash, something which was nearly impossible with the compact.
I've already got a tripod, and will get hold of some lights and a backdrop cloth when time permits.
A mate of mine has recently started auditioning for voiceovers. He's had some pro pics taken for his web page. It's the lighting, mainly, that makes those pics stand head and shoulders (sorry!) above the shit ones he/his wife took. Some of the difference was in the composition of the photo's, too..
Eighty percent of your photo's aesthetic is lighting and composition. Just getting more light on the subject in an interesting/creative way will improve things immensely.
I read that you bought a camera with better light gathering capability. That will be a major jump as built in flash from cameras cannot be bounced or directed and create nasty hotspots and shadows. I was going to suggest a large reflector to increase the light available. A reflector will also provide some control for your lighting. They can be bought for under a tenner on Ebay and are excellent.