Digital photography is a complex business, as DSLR cameras require a certain amount of technological know-how. Fortunately, you can make using your DSLR easier by learning a set of essential tips. Read on for the best camera tips for learning how to set your DSLR up and how to make shooting quicker and smoother.
- Format Your Card. Don't just erase your images, as traces of data can be left behind, potentially causing corruption. Go into your camera's menus and re-format your card each time after you've uploaded images to your computer.
- Check Your Batteries. Make sure your batteries are fully charged before you leave the house ... and always make sure that you have a spare! Few things are as frustrating as missing a great photo because your battery didn't last.
- Changing Lenses? Turn the Camera Off! By powering down your DSLR camera each time you change the lens, you'll reduce the static charge from the sensor, which helps to prevent dust being attracted to it.
- Reset Your Camera. Get into the habit of resetting your DSLR to your usual settings at the end of the day. For instance, I nearly always shoot in RAW at ISO 100, with evaluative metering and no picture settings. So, I always make sure that the camera is reset to these settings after a shoot. Otherwise, I could run the risk of having used an odd setting -- such as ISO 800 -- and then forgetting that the camera was set on that, which could ruin the next photography session!
- Check Your Kit. This is an obvious tip, but, if you're going away from home, make sure you check that you have everything you need in your camera bag. I have a rule that all of my equipment is always returned to the right bag and is always in the same place, so that I can always pick up complete kits quickly and easily, just in case I'm in a hurry to a photo shoot.
- AF Points. Depending on how modern your DSLR camera is, it could have anything from 9 to 51 AF points! However, as an easy default option, leave your camera on the single center AF point setting. Nine times out of 10, that's where you'll end up focusing, so it's a good starting point each time you start a photo shoot!
- RAW Isn't Always Essential. RAW files take up a huge amount of space on a memory card, and they require processing on your computer before the files can be read. If you're only going to produce prints, or if you want to e-mail images quickly, why not shoot JPEG? Unless you want to make significant editing changes to your image, JPEG is usually more than adequate. With modern DSLRs, you'd be hard pressed to notice the RAW vs. JPEG difference at print sizes up to around A3.
- Keep Your Firmware Updated. Firmware is the camera's software, and it controls pretty much everything on a DSLR. Make sure your firmware is kept up to date, and check your camera manufacturer's website frequently for any new releases.