Here are 8 things you should learn about your camera.
1. Where does unacceptable noise begin on your ISO range?
Your manufacturer says your camera can shoot a wide ISO range, but you won’t always want to do that. As you select a higher ISO setting, your images show more noise – bigger pixels. At what point in your camera does the noise become unacceptable? Take a series of pictures progressing to a higher ISO setting and compare. Find out before it really matters.
2. Where’s the sweet spot on your lens?
Just because the camera says 70 mm – 300 mm doesn’t mean it is sharp for that entire range. That inner limit where your lens performs best is generally referred to as your sweet spot. Do you know what that range is on your favourite lens? The only way to find out is to experiment.
3. What’s the fastest way to change your settings?
In many cameras, there is more than one way to change your metering, focus type, or white balance. If you are shooting and need to make quick adjustments, what’s the fastest way to do it? You never know when you might need to react without thinking, check your user manual.
4. Should you calibrate exposure?
Is your camera consistently shooting over or under exposed? Do you always have to dial in exposure compensation? This might be a good time to grab a grey card, (available from most camera shops) and practice getting your exposure correctly. Your default might be 1/3 stop under or over exposed.
5. How do you adjust your flash?
Yes, sometimes you will actually have to use your flash. With most DSLRs, you can adjust how the flash fires – normal, red eye, or rear curtain – or with what intensity. Do you know where to make those adjustments? It’s possible when you need them, you could be in the dark. Always good to know where to begin fumbling.
6. Do you have a reset routine?
When you finish shooting for the day, do you return the camera to any default settings? Do you check those settings when you pick up your camera for the day? You might come up with your own “start” settings that will work if you ever need to grab and go.
For instance, at the end of a shoot, you might return your camera to ISO 400, Aperture Priority f/9, Evaluative Metering, Exposure Compensation set to 0, and Auto White Balance. If you pick up the camera and run out in a hurry, you’ll be set to get most basic shots. The last thing you want to do is start shooting and find that your camera is still in last night’s extreme set up. Establish your own routine. Is it before the shoot, after, or both? When will you reset and what?
7. What’s your accessories routine?
When do you recharge your batteries? How frequently? What’s the routine for the tripod plate? When do you empty your memory cards? Simple organization routines can help you from ending up on a shoot with a dead battery or full memory card…or worse yet, a tripod with no plate.
8. What’s your workflow system?
What’s your organization system for your pictures?
As you collect more and more pictures, a good tagging and filing system will save hours of searching later. That’s a good mindless exercise for a slow day.
Knowing your tools is often a skill that makes the difference in your photos
Take the time to learn your camera when there is low pressure or expectations, like a weekend or over the holiday break. When you’re shooting high impact events, everything should flow naturally.