Checklist for D-SLR Photography

The following is a checklist to help you remember all the technical aspects of your photography that need to be kept in mind. Your new camera is a highly sophisticated piece of equipment; this list should help you avoid simple mistakes while you become familiar with it.

Have you charged your batteries?

Before every outing, charge your battery. Most digital cameras have rechargeable batteries. In the early days, you will be checking almost every image on the LCD screen on the back of your camera, and this is what runs the camera battery down more than anything else. In fact, to start with, buy a spare battery.

Have you formatted your memory card?

Before every shoot, and after you download or print your pictures, always, always format your memory card. As with all technical equipment, failure is always possible. You can lose pictures. However, you can minimize this risk with good housekeeping. Format your card in the camera’s menu before every use and after you confirm you have downloaded your pictures.

Do you have enough memory in your cards?

One of the plus points of the pre-digital era was the ability to pick up a new roll of film in almost every corner shop. The cards included with most digital cameras today have a very small capacity for pictures. You will inevitably need to purchase additional, more spacious cards. Make sure you buy enough for that trip to the Caribbean or some other exotic location like Alaska where you may not be able to find suitable cards while you’re traveling.

Have you cleaned your image sensor?

If you like to change lenses often, there is a chance that dust attracted to your image sensor will result in black specks or hairs appearing on your image files. This is especially likely if you forget to turn off your camera before changing the lens. If the sensor is not cleaned carefully, it can be damaged. Check the manufacturer’s website to see what they recommend. One way to avoid having to clean the sensor all the time is to keep the lens mount facing down when changing lenses. This way, any airborne debris is less likely to settle on the sensor.

Have you set your sensor sensitivity (ISO)?

It’s best to use as low an ISO as possible because higher ISO settings produce more “noise” (undesirable visible grain). The general rule is: The lower the ISO, the better the quality (if the shooting circumstances permit it).

Have you set your color/white balance?

We will be going into this later in more depth, but at this stage make sure that your camera is set on auto-white balance, as in most cases this will produce an acceptable result.

Have you set the right file type—JPEG, RAW, or TIFF?

We’ll be addressing this subject later on. For now, make sure your camera is set to produce the largest/highest quality JPEG possible. It is absolutely pointless to shoot on smaller JPEG settings since doing so defeats the purpose of using a high-quality camera.

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