Despite point-and-shoot camera manufacturers' best efforts to reduce the effects of hand shake--digitally, optically, and mechanically--as long as you're holding the camera there's a very good chance you'll end up with blurry shots. Add in softening caused by noise reduction at higher ISO sensitivities, and getting a sharp shot of moving subjects or in low-light conditions can be tricky. The disappearance of viewfinders from compact cameras doesn't help things either as it encourages you to extend your arms to use the LCD.
Taking the camera out of your hands and putting it on a tripod or other support is one of the best ways to improve your odds. However, when I suggest this to point-and-shoot users I typically get in response that it's not practical to carry a tripod and it kills the point of having a very portable camera. But the solution is easy: get a very portable mini tripod.
Below are five favorites ranging in size, price, and flexibility, and though they aren't all technically tripods, they'll certainly help keep your pocket camera still whether you're behind or in front of it.
In lieu of buying a support, there are free options for helping control hand shake. Look for a lamp post, wall, tree, or any solid vertical structure you can lean against for support. Don't fully extend your arms, but instead pull them into your body as closely as possible with your elbows tucked into your sides or rest on a ledge or wall. Also, even if your camera has a lot of zoom range and optical image stabilization, it's always better to move yourself closer to a subject if possible than using your zoom. Lastly, if you use a tripod or anything else that's stable to support your camera, be sure to shut off any in-camera image stabilization--in this case, more stabilization is not better. … Read more