A Date With Your Camera
Opening up a brand new camera can be thrilling and exciting. But it can also be very overwhelming and confusing too. Especially if this is your first DSLR. There are a million buttons and hoards of menu options that can seem daunting to have to understand or use. Although it may not seem like it, this is a good thing. You now have a camera that you can grow with as you learn more about photography and your camera.
Once you've opened the box, pulled the camera out, put the lens on and made sure all the contents are present, you're ready to start snappin'. But where do you start? Are you gonna just throw it in auto and fire away?
Well I suggest to take the time to sit down and have a meet and greet with your new camera. Get familiar with it for a second before taking it out for a spin. Snap a few pics of the recently devoured camera box, make sure you know how to focus the lens, view the photos and get used to it for a moment. I'm sure there will be features and buttons that you are not familiar with but I doubt it's the first time you've used a camera so find the features you've used before on other cameras. It sounds obvious but I've ran into many people who've just thrown it in auto from day 1 and haven't really ventured any further than that.
Here is a list of features I would suggest investigating when cracking open a new camera:
1. CONTENTS- Is everything that is supposed to be included present? It's better to find out now rather than later if something is missing. Retailers don't like to hear, "My lens hood wasn't in the box" when you bring your camera in 6 months after you bought it.
2. FOCUS- After putting the battery in, memory card in and the lens on, get familiar with how to focus the lens. Most cameras have different types of focusing points (the little boxes you see looking through the viewfinder) so it is wise to familiarize yourself with them for focus is slightly important in photography. ;)
3. FLASH- Using your flash whether it's the popup flash or an external flash, can be vital in certain situations. You don't want to be attempting to figure out how to turn the flash on just as the moment you want to shoot is happening. TIP: Shooting in P mode (Program) instead of AUTO gives you control over whether the flash is used or not. Simply pop the flash up if you need it and push it down if you don't.
4. CONTINUOUS SHOOTING- I like to call it "rapid fire" but most manufacturers refer to is as Continuous Shooting. Continuous shooting is when you hold the button down and the camera will keep snapping as long as you hold the shutter button down. With digital photography I almost keep my camera in "rapid fire" all the time. If you just want one pic, press the shutter button down and let go real quick. Set your camera to rapid fire so you can take advantage right away.
5. STORAGE- You just got a shiny new camera and want to use the heck out of it. Awesome. But where does it go when you're not using it? Make sure you take care of your camera. Get a camera bag and protect your investment. These suckers aren't cheap. There's close to a million choices when it comes to bags and everyone will have their own preferences but make sure you find something to protect your camera.
6. WARRANTY/REGISTRATION- If your camera came with a warranty and the warranty card is in the box, fill it out and send it in. Most retailers will accept returns on manufacturer defaults within the first year of purchase but if the retailer goes out of business or moves you may have to take up the repair with the manufacturer and it helps to have registered the camera. Another reason it's good to register your camera with the manufacturer is that they will send you notifications if your camera needs a firmware update or needs to be recalled. Many people don't do this and shoot with a recurring problem unaware that the manufacturer knows about it and has sent out a firmware update to fix the problem.
Now that you have some of the basic and maybe even obvious things out of the way, start shooting...a lot. Bring your camera with you as much as possible. The more you use it and pay attention to what is happening, the quicker you'll learn and the more it'll stick. When you run into problems take note of them. What exactly happened? Write it down or record it onto your smartphone. These notes can be vital for finding solutions to problems.
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