Hurrah, you have a brand new shiny camera! How exciting! Where should you start? Fear not, Auntie Hales is here to guide you through it all!
First off, I would take care to not damage any of the packaging. At some point you might want to upgrade your camera and being able to sell it all boxed up beautifully on eBay is a plus for a buyer. Start by charging up the battery. Most have a little charge in them if you REALLY can’t wait but this is an obvious place to start and the battery charger is probably the accessory you’ll use most. While the battery’s charging, I’d attach the neck strap (safety first!) and the lens by lining up the dots on your lens and camera and gently turning until you hear a click. Once you’re charged and ready to go, I’d start by setting up a few menu items. First of all the date and time and there’s an option to set your camera to only shoot with a card in it. This is so handy! It’s so much easier to retrieve the images and of course, you have a lot more memory space too! When I am using a new memory card for the first time or if I’m swapping it from one device to another, I format it first. DO NOT do this if there are unsaved photos or video on there because it will erase them. Formatting your card wipes any fragmented data so that it works more efficiently. When you delete an image from a card, although that free space is now available some data is left behind and so it can take longer to write new data. That’s why you should format, especially if you’re going to be shooting video.
I always adjust the eyepiece or the diopter (I know, I’m so fancy) to my liking by switching the lens to infinity and then turning the wheel until everything is focused the way I like it and check by taking a couple of photos. I find that when I switch between glasses and contact lenses I need to change it .
Next I’d set some menu items so I’m ready to shoot, I usually leave my white balance in auto and I set the image size to large or RAW (you only need RAW if you’re planning to process your images afterwards). When I worked at Jessops there would often be someone who had set the image size to small so they could fit more on their SD card, only to find that the images were so small that they couldn’t print from them. Bigger is better, especially if you want to print your photos. You can always reduce the size to view online later.
What is One Shot, Al Servo, AF-C, AF-S? If you have a Canon, you have a menu option for One Shot and Al Servo (or on a Nikon AF-S and AF-C) which is a focusing method for your camera (you can’t adjust this if you’re shooting on the auto setting). Which is the best to use? If you are using a flash, photographing something stationary, one shot or AF-S is the way to go and when you half press the shutter button, the camera will beep to let you know you’re good to go (I prefer to disable the beep – blows my photo taking ninja cover). Al Servo or AF-C is great for moving subjects (like kids!). It tracks focus as long as you’re holding the button. Newer Canons also have an Al Focus setting which is a combination of the two and a sort of auto setting. I don’t think it does as good a job though, for me Al Servo is the better choice.
As for the rest, I’ve never ever used the TV cables that come with, maybe I should aim to this year? And it’s worth reading the manual too to familiarise yourself with what button is where. I know a couple of people who take their manual with them when they travel incase something happens and they are without wi-fi, I think this is such a good idea! Some cameras have the manual on a CD too and it’s worth taking a look at that CD. Most come with software to help your computer recognise the image files and some even include editing software too so it’s a pretty nifty extra to have.
Hopefully this has proved to be helpful! If you have any suggestions or questions for us, we’d love to hear from you. The next Photo Clinic post will be over on Emily’s blog next month and is all about navigating your camera’s menu so let us know if there’s anything you need to know about that. As always, we are here and happy to help!