We've taken a look at some of the most common problems when it comes to taking good snaps with digital cameras and show you how to overcome them.

High ISO photos without the noise

I have heard about photographers taking pictures with extremely high ISOs and the results are not grainy. How do they do this? If I shoot anything much over 100 on my Olympus C-8080 it begins to look quite grainy.

The high-ISO, low-noise photo can seem as elusive as Bigfoot, especially if you have an older camera or a point and shoot. Your Olympus C-8080 was a superb camera when it was released in 2004, but even so, it's six years old, which is a long time in the technology world. Newer cameras have somewhat better noise handling at high ISO. And no point-and-shoot model will be able to keep noise under control like a digital SLR - point-and-shoot cameras have relatively tiny sensors that tend to express a lot more noise than SLRs.

So, while you'll get the best high-ISO performance from a digital SLR, there are things you can do with your Olympus C-8080. Be sure the camera's high-ISO noise reduction feature is turned on. And you might also want to investigate a noise reduction program like Noise Ninja, $70 (£45) or Noiseware $80 (£50) - although both offer a free trial . These programs do a superb job of reducing noise in photos after you've gotten them onto your PC.

Capture more realistic colours

The autumn colours are gorgeous right now, but no matter what I do I can't seem to capture the colours I'm seeing with the naked eye. Any tricks I should try?

There are two important components to reproducing the colours you see with your eyes in your photos: white balance and saturation.

I'd start with white balance. Try adjusting the white balance setting on your camera. You can either choose a preset that matches your shooting conditions (daylight, cloudy, and so on) or manually adjust the white balance while focusing on a white piece of paper held in front of the camera. You might need to check your camera's user manual for details on how to do this, but it'll give you the most accurate results. Most people rely on the camera's ability to automatically detect white balance, but the reality is that the camera gets it wrong most of the time, which leads to photos that look just a little off.

Once you've got the white balance under control, consider increasing the saturation a little. Your camera probably has a saturation (or 'vivid') setting buried deep in a menu, and you can increase the intensity a bit. Or bring the photo into your image editor, where you have more control, and try using the saturation slider.

NEXT PAGE: Recovering lost images

  1. High ISO photos without noise
  2. Recovering lost images
  3. Duplicate file names when formatting memory cards

We've taken a look at some of the most common problems when it comes to taking good snaps with digital cameras and shown you how to overcome them.

Recovering lost images

Does Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows 7 have a way to recover lost images on a Secure Digital card? Recently, when I removed the SD card from my camera and inserted it into the computer, I received a message that the card needed to be formatted, and there are no photos to download. One thing that could have caused the problem is that the camera was on when the card was removed. What can I do?

I recommend that you always be sure your camera is turned off before you insert or remove a memory card. If your camera is using the card when you remove it, there's a really good chance your photos will be damaged.

But now that your card has been compromised, you do indeed have some options. There's nothing built into Windows to help recover photos from a damaged card, but free and commercial options abound.

Most free photo recovery tools won't work on corrupted cards, which it sounds like you have, so I suggest CnW Recovery Software. You can try this program in demo mode for free to see if it can find your lost photos, then get a 30-day licence for $20 (£12.65), which is handy for a one-time emergency like you are experiencing now.

Action photography at night

I have a Canon XSi with a 55-250 mm zoom lens (f/4 - 5.6 IS), which I have used to get some great action shots in sports mode. But now that it's getting darker, my photos are getting blurry. How can I get good action shots when it's darker outside?

You're bumping up against the laws of physics. Cameras crave light - a lot of it - and freezing action means using a fast shutter speed, which severely restricts the amount of light you can work with. There are two ways to fix this problem: Bumping up the ISO or using a faster lens.

You can definitely make some improvements by going down the ISO route. Crank your camera's ISO to its highest value. That will increase the sensor's sensitivity to light, allowing you to shoot at a faster shutter speed in low light.

If that's not enough, you might also consider purchasing a 'faster' lens. Photographers talk about lenses being fast or slow depending upon their maximum aperture. A lens that can reach f/2 admits a lot more light than a lens that can only muster f/5.6, and so the f/2 lens is a faster lens - mainly because you can use a faster shutter speed in the same lighting, which is exactly what you need in this situation.

That's the great thing about having a digital SLR - you can switch lenses without replacing the entire camera. I am guessing that you're probably working near the extreme telephoto end of your zoom range. Out there, at 200mm or 250mm, your current lens can only muster f/5.6, which is pretty slow (it doesn't admit much light). When you combine a slow f/5.6 aperture with low light, the resulting shutter speed will be sluggish, resulting in blurry action.

Consider investing in a prime telephoto lens - a lens that isn't a zoom, but is fixed at, say, 250mm. Fast prime lenses are a lot more affordable than fast zoom lenses, so you might be able to shoot several stops faster. Combined with a higher ISO, you'll be much better poised to capture action shots at night.

NEXT PAGE: Duplicate file names when formatting memory cards

  1. High ISO photos without noise
  2. Recovering lost images
  3. Duplicate file names when formatting memory cards

We've taken a look at some of the most common problems when it comes to taking good snaps with digital cameras and shown you how to overcome them.

Duplicate file names when formatting memory cards

I followed a suggestion to format a memory card occasionally in the camera. As a result, I now find my photos with duplicate file names when I download them into my computer. Can you help with this problem?

When you format your camera's memory card, depending upon your model, the file names might reset every time. As a general rule, this is a problem only if you are storing all of your photos in a single folder - which is not a good idea. It's a much better bet to import each new batch of photos into their own unique subfolder within your Pictures folder. If you do this, duplicate file names will never be a concern. Either way, you'll eventually have to contend with this duplicate problem when you buy a new memory card.

See also: The 5 most common digital photo issues solved

  1. High ISO photos without noise
  2. Recovering lost images
  3. Duplicate file names when formatting memory cards