While the instant feedback gives the impression that digital photography is easy, here are some very common beginner mistakes:
1. Not reading the owners’ manual
Admittedly, this isn’t easy to do. The writing in most electronic manuals is very dry and not very user-friendly.
2. Thinking the only way to get a certain picture is to buy special equipment
Your tool should fit the job you’re doing. If you’re just looking to put something on eBay, you don’t need a DSLR unless you need extreme closeups like jewelry. Most of the time, those point and shoots should work.
3. Relying on the LCD or preview screen
In case you haven’t been burned by this, just know everything looks sharp when it’s viewed on a tiny LCD monitor on the back of your camera. To be sure, always open up the image on your computer using a graphics program or Photoshop and view it at 100 percent.
4. Not opening a picture on a computer and viewing it at 100 percent
Resist the urge to edit your images on your camera. Sure, there are instances when it’s obvious when you’ve accidentally taken a picture of the ground or something. But if you have enough memory cards, you should never delete until you get back to you computer.
5. Shooting everything in Program or Auto Exposure mode
When you’re learning, the best you can do is to learn to adjust the settings on manual. That way you can figure out what you did wrong. Shooting on auto will not tell you much when you’re trying to troubleshoot.
6. Buying too much camera for your level of experience
Most folks know don’t realize that digital cameras have a lot of artificial intelligence in them. So it takes quite a bit of reading before you can learn the ins and outs of the camera. If you don’t plan to invest the time and take a class or buy a book, then stick with simple point and shoot cameras. Too many folks see that the price of DSLRs are becoming so close to point and shoot models that they assume the learning curve will be similar.
7. Not backing up pictures before deleting images on memory card
Always back up images before deleting. This might be obvious, but too many people don’t realize that once erased, the images are often gone. Though there are file recovery programs that might salvage pictures, they’re not reliable.
8. Not buying enough memory cards
Memory cards used to be so expensive but no longer. The more you have the better. Having a good supply of these cards mean you can always shoot at your camera’s highest resolution that will guarantee you will have the best results even if you have to crop.
9. Not buying enough batteries
Without power, your camera is just a paperweight. Some paperweights are heavier than others, of course. Proprietary batteries are okay but make sure to have enough for a spare. Always use a card reader to transfer your images instead of connecting the camera to the computer. Doing so conserves your battery life.
10. Not researching computers to determine post production capability
Before you purchase a camera, always check and see if your computer will run the software you will use to edit your images. In the long run, you will be saving yourself a ton of grief. Each year as more cameras shoot with higher megapixels, your computer’s CPU will be taxed more and more, all things being equal. That’s why you’ll see a drastic slow down if you use an old computer. It may be able to do the work, but it will crawl along.
About the Author:
Peter Phun is an adjunct photography instructor at Riverside City College (http://www.peterphun.com). He is a freelance photographer, web designer, and stay at home dad. He previously worked as a staff photographer for 18 years at The Press-Enterprise, SoCal’s fourth largest daily newspaper. Peter is the webmaster for the Mac group in the Inland Empire.
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