While the instant feedback gives the impression that digital photography is easy, here are some very common beginner mistakes:
- Not reading the owners’ manual
- Thinking the only way to get a certain picture is to buy special equipment
- Not opening a picture on a computer and viewing it at 100%
- Deleting pictures based on LCD monitor on back of camera
- Shooting everything in Program or Auto Exposure mode
- Buying too much camera for your level of experience
- Not backing up pictures before deleting images on memory card
- Not buying enough memory cards
- Not buying enough batteries
- Not researching computer to determine post production capability
Admittedly, this isn’t easy to do. The writing on most electronic manuals are very dry and not very user-friendly. Not surprisingly there are so many authors who write manuals on how to use these cameras
Your tool should fit the job you are doing. If you’re just looking to put something on eBay, you don’t need a digital SLR unless you need extreme closeups like jewelry. Most of the time, those point and shoots should work.
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 graphic program or photoshop and view it at 100%
Don’t Edit on your camera
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.
Use Manual 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. Programs that can read exif information which record shutter speed, ISO, aperture, White Balance are revealed when a picture is taken on Manual Mode but not so in Auto.
Buying a camera that’s too complicated
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 digital SLRs are becoming so close to point and shoot models that they assume the learning curve will be similar.
Always backup 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, those are not reliable.
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.
Not Buying Enough Batteries
Without power, your camera is just a paper weight. Some paperweights are heavier than others of course. You should try to get models that allow you to use AA batteries. 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.
Researching your hardware
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 a computer that is old. 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 4th largest daily newspaper. Peter is the webmaster for the Mac group in the Inland Empire.
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