So, you got yourself a brand new camera. Congratulations! I’m sure you’re anxious to go out and shoot with it, but there are some things you should do first, in order to make the best out of your new toy. Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter gives you a list of ten things he does before shooting with a new camera, and they’ll help you make all future shoots successful and more efficient.
1. Get the user manual
I don’t know many people who like reading manuals (myself included). Especially those camera manuals, which are longer than an average novel. But still, take the manual you got with the camera, or go to the manufacturer’s website and download the PDF version. Read it carefully, because it will help you learn more about your new piece of gear. And this leads us to the next point:
2. Run through the menu items
Run through every single menu item on your new camera. It may seem tedious, and it sure is. But it will help you discover so many cool features you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
Get to know your camera’s menu. If you stumble upon a feature and you don’t know what it does, that’s where the manual jumps in. It’s good to have the PDF version, because you can just press Ctrl + F and instantly find he feature you want to learn more about.
3. Customize settings and buttons
Now that you got acquainted with your new camera, it’s time to customize it for your needs. You can customize plenty of menu items, and of course, the buttons and the dials. Here and here are some tips how to do it on a Nikon DSLR. And the above-mentioned user manual will help you do it no matter which camera brand you own.
4. Double check SD cards
Before you go out and start shooting, double check your memory cards to make sure everything’s working properly. Just like Manny Ortiz mentioned in the video we recently featured, it’s clever to invest some cash in fast SD cards, especially if you’re shooting video.
5. Run an ISO test
As Caleb admits, this sounds really nerdy, but you’ll find it useful. Sit in front of your camera and film yourself at different ISO values. Wear something white, black, gray and colored, and it’s not bad to have a color chart too.
In post, zoom in on the white and black objects, look at the colors. You’ll look for the noise, but that’s not the only thing to pay attention to. Look at color shifts – at very high ISO, the black can start shifting to other colors. After this test, you’ll know the maximum ISO you can shoot at to have usable shots.
6. Test picture profiles
Test out all picture profiles on your camera before you start shooting with them. Also, you can research a bit and see what other users recommend.
7. Get accessories
Since Caleb shoots videos, he suggests getting a camera cage. But also, buy some extra batteries and a screen protector before you go out and shoot.
8. Calibrate the camera monitor
Another thing to do is calibrate the camera monitor so you get the accurate colors and brightness while shooting. Caleb also suggests turning off auto-brightness feature because it can mess you up when it comes to exposure.
9. Test the exposure
Your exposure will change depending on the picture profile you shoot with and the shooting conditions. So, before you go out and take photos or video, check the exposure, look at the skin tones and set everything right.
10. Run a mock shoot
If you shoot photos or video for a living, you don’t just wanna grab the brand new camera and start shooting. Set up a scenario like you would for a paid gig and run a test shoot. Check the battery life, color, sound, whether there are some overheating problems… And if everything works in a mockup environment, you’re good to go for the paid shoot.
I remember the last time I bought a new DSLR: I took the user manual, sat on the floor and read it like a book for ages. It’s boring as hell, but it helped me get to know my camera better (and there were still some things I only learned later). What are the things you do first before you start shooting with your new camera? Do you follow the same steps as Caleb, or you skip some of them? Or perhaps you have something to add? In each case, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
[10 Things To Do When You Get A New Camera |DSLR Video Shooter]