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So you want a New Camera

October 15 , 2011 10:58 AM
Camera Manual

Certainly you are taking the time to research and decide on a camera that will meet your photographic needs for a long time. I mean, we are not getting a new camera every week. Are we?
Here is my suggested check list when buying a digital camera:
  • Research a model that meets your needs and that you can grow with. If you have lenses and other accessories, make sure you can use them with the new camera
  • Buy from a reputable place (online or otherwise) where you can return or exchange if defective. Some places might even let you return it for store credit and get a different camera model
  • Save receipts and print their return policy. If possible, scan the receipts and any E-mails confirming any agreements. If a salesperson promises or 'gives you his word', ask him to write it down. If not, send him an E-mail asking for confirmation and save the E-mail
  • Download the manual and any additional materials from the manufacturer's website
  • Make sure your photo editing software (Photoshop or other) will support your camera or download additional files from Adobe or the Manufacturer
  • Research specific testing tasks for your camera model
  • Upon arrival, let the package acclimate before opening to avoid drastic temperature change and condensation (hey, in Texas is hot outside and cold inside)
  • Since you read the materials online, by now you should know what to expect in the box. If not, look for the quick start guide or the manual which will list the package contents
  • Charge the battery
  • While the battery charges, READ THE MANUAL
  • Install the battery (after fully charged)
  • Set the date and time (I use This way multiple cameras, computers, laptops and other devices are all synchronized which is good shooting weddings
  • Set picture quality to highest; if the files are too large you can save 'down' later but you can never 'add' what was not there to begin with
  • Configure the camera 'Shoot without CF' to Off. I wonder the engineer's reasoning but most cameras, by default, will allow you to take pictures even if there is no card inserted
  • Insert the card (CF, SD, etc) and format it using the camera itself and never the computer
  • Install the strap
  • Make sure all your existing accessories (flash, lens, cables, etc) are compatible, will not void the warranty or damage the camera
  • Take some shots in full automatic, then P-Mode, AV, TV and Manual. Make sure you can take pictures in every single shooting mode and test all the dials, knobs, buttons, etc
  • Register the camera to enjoy whatever the manufacturer has to offer and to ensure you got the full warranty (serial numbers are unique, otherwise the someone is lying and need to clarify this while you can still return the item)
The most challenging part is to learn the camera settings, what they mean and how to modify them. The more you know your camera, the more comfortable you will be using it and the quality of your photography will definitively improve. So, my best advice is to have fun and take a Digital Photography Workshop :)