Understanding Your new camera.

If you received a beautiful new camera for Christmas congratulation!  Here is the first in a series of posts that you may find helpful in understanding all the modes, functions, and buttons.

  • Take time to read the manual!  Learn what all the buttons and the menu choices are now and keep the manual with you, I have the manual for my camera in my bag even though I know it really well.  There still might be a time when I need to access the information in the field or on photography workshop.  No matter what you feel your current level of competency is with your new camera now you should aim to know all the different controls in the same way you know the controls of your car.  If you think you are not capable of that then remember your first ever time driving a car and how difficult that felt!  How does it feel now?  Easy right!
  • Set your camera to shoot in RAW instead of jpeg if you have the option.  What’s the difference?  With a Jpeg file the processor on the camera does all of the work in camera, it “cooks” the file in the camera so that later the options to tweak it or change are very limited.  RAW on the other hand means the camera processor does no processing and saves the file to the memory card leaving all of the processing decisions, the creative decisions, to you to decide later so you are the master of your own photography.
  • Choose the right colour space.  Most camera’s that have a choice give you two options for the colour space: sRGB and Adobe RGB.  Which one is best?  Well sRGB is a colour space that is designed to be a universal colour space for all computer monitors, web browsers etc.  Adobe RGB has a wider colour range or gamut designed to be printed on inkjet printers.  So if you think you might print your images then I recommend Adobe RGB.  If you are going to publish them on the internet they can be converted to sRGB later.
  • Other camera Settings:  There are a few settings that I am now in the habit of choosing in the menu straight away.  I set my Histogram display to show brightness rather than RGB because when I am judging my exposure I want to know if the image is under, over or correctly exposed.  We will look at the histogram in a later post.  Setting it to RGB I get three separate histograms for each colour channel which is too much information for my small brain!
  • I also enable the highlight alert in the menu which will show me if an area of the image is over exposed by flashing in that area.  It’s like instant feedback that allows you to adjust your exposure quickly.  When you over expose a digital file you lose all the information in the area that is overexposed and you don’t want to do that!
  • Another setting I always change is the Release shutter without card.  This can arrive enabled and I always disable it or turn it off.  I have seen the tragedy of watching someone shoot an entire dawn session with this enabled and no card in the camera.  It’s not a pretty sight later when they try to download their images from the morning shoot.

In the next post we will look at the different shooting modes and other strange camera jargon like HDR, ISO, aperture and more.  In the meantime if you have any specific questions then contact me here:

About briancooney123

HOW I GOT HERE Of course, I wasn’t always a full time photographer. I spent a lot of time in the corporate world. I had a job which paid well, but just didn’t excite me. I remember the day when I had had enough. Enough of selling myself short, enough of dreaming too small, enough of doing what others expected of me. I had put away my dreams and told myself I would get back to them later, but somehow there always seemed to be something else that had to get done first. A friend of mine had recommended I take the NLP Business Practitioners course, and although I was really busy, I decided to do it. During that time, I began to imagine the different paths my life could take from here. While I had a hazy picture of what this other life might look like, I had a clear picture of where my current life was going if I didn’t change. It was a scary moment, a bit like standing on the edge of a cliff deciding whether to jump into the great unknown or stay on the cliff, safe but trapped. I jumped. The transition to the life I wanted was challenging The transition to the life I wanted was challenging but I would never go back. After that day I resolved to do what I love, to follow my bliss.  Picking up a camera after several years away, I found that many things had changed, the digital age had arrived. In the intervening years, I was too busy to pay any attention to my photography, and occasionally when I took something I really liked, I would think “how do some photographs seem so captivating and others leave me completely cold?” I knew this is what I was meant to do Somehow though, I knew this is what I was meant to do. I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about being a photographer. I took many, many courses and I read every book I could get my hands on, I still do. Since then, I have dedicated myself to helping other creative photographers achieve the results they want. And what a journey it has been. Last year I qualified as a coach. My main area of interest is creativity and helping others to express their vision. WHAT I BELIEVE Along the way, I’ve learnt that there are no rules. Experiment, explore, play. My advice is to make your art from your heart, not for the praise or the money.  Lighten up. It’s important to take your photography seriously, but it's a mistake to take yourself too seriously. Finally, you get what you want when you never, ever give up so enjoy every minute of it and just do it!
This entry was posted in Everything you need to know about your new camera, Tips and Technique and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Understanding Your new camera.

  1. ehpem says:

    Good advice. Many cameras don’t come with a printed manual any more (like the Canon G15 we bought last Christmas), and printing one from the pdf on regular paper does not result in a portable document. I suppose those can be downloaded onto a smartphone or similar, if you have one.

    Release shutter without card setting – that is one I learned the hard way!

  2. wise words.
    I have a caveat about colour space – and that’s make sure your monitor is capable of supporting the colour space you’re working in.
    (I would also recommend that if you feel the techie stuff is getting in the way, simply set the camera on Auto everything and get back to enjoying your photography – creativity and expertise can come a little later)

  3. nicolearanci says:

    I just got a new Nikon D5000. The maximum amount I can leave the shutter open for is 30 seconds and it refuses to take pictures of the stars. I guess this isn’t a long enough time to capture them? What are your camera settings when you take star or moon pictures? Thanks!

    • You need to select Bulb mode on your camera. You will also need a cable release. Bulb mode allows you to decide how long the shutter stays open for so you depress the button on the cable release and there is usually a lock position so effectively you lock it open for as long as you want then unlock it when you’re done.
      I would shoot some test shots. Fix your aperture fairly wide, as wide as you can go. Then up your ISO fairly high. Do a test shot. Say your at ISO 10,000. F 2.8. Say you shoot for 5 mins. You check your histogram and your exposure is ok – exposed to the right. Now you know you can drop the ISO to 5000 to reduce noise but you need to increase the time to 10mins. For shooting star trails you need a tripod and a fully charged battery. Good luck!

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