So what can you do to get great shots with sub-standard gear?
You can use the same elements in photography as you would be when shooting with a DSLR.
No matter what camera you are using, if your composition is bad, there won’t be a good picture. Good composition will be one of the defining points in your picture, therefore plan your composition properly.
There are several composition rules that you can study, and luckily there is no composition rule that is limited by gear. In fact the same rules apply for classical drawing too, therefore you can learn about them even without using a camera.
As a part of the composition process, you should be aware of your framing as well. For example, you should never cut out any joint of the human body when it comes to portraiture, instead, the cut should be always somewhere in the middle of the hands/legs when you are cropping them out with the frame.
Photo by Kenta Mabuchi
The method of framing is important as well, so make sure that the story of the photo is in sync with the way it's framed. For example, tree branches are a natural and common way to frame natural scenes such as landscapes.
No light means no photograph. Bad light, usually means a bad photograph. Being aware of the amount and the quality of the light when you are photographing a subject is imperative for a good result. Use everything at your disposal, modify the light to perfection, and the photographs will be looking good as well.
Photo by Z S
If you aren’t sure what kind of light is best for your idea, research similar photographs of the same genre, and study the way the scene is lit (Flickr advanced search is great for this). Start by replicating and simulating what you see, until you begin to understand the physics behind the light.
Once you realize how the light diffuses through certain materials, the way it reflects, the way it casts shadows and shapes the object, there will be no stopping you in shooting a great photo.
Understanding color and color palettes is imperative to your photography. This applies to every single picture you take. Proper color combinations, whether it is complementary or contrasting colors , the proper combination can make or break an image. Make sure you consider the color correlations and combinations in order to make the photos appealing to the eye. This will significantly improve the amount of attention a photograph will attract.
Light is directly related to color and vice versa. Since there won’t be any color without light, and the light will adopt the color of the object upon reflection, you need to be able to effectively combine both into a compelling image.
Photo by See-ming Lee
So too, framing is directly related to composition, therefore you can’t achieve a good composition without proper framing and vice versa. Thus when you are thinking of how to frame and compose the shot, have both in mind at the same time. Thinking you'll crop it later in post often works, but it's far better to make sure you get everything right in the camera.
A great picture is rarely limited by the equipment. Rather the only limit is the resourcefulness and creativity of the photographer. When you realize that the camera is just a medium, and that every picture you make is actually a reflection of your ideas and your skill in photographic execution, you’ll break the equipment barrier and you’ll go out and start considering how to shoot ever more difficult shots, pushing yourself and your skills. Whether it is a point and shoot camera, old analog film camera, a smartphone, a tablet or a fancy DSLR, at the end of the day if you learn the elements that can improve a shot, you will not be as limited with your gear.