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Old Mar 20, 2006, 2:08 PM   #1
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What are some general mistakes or cautions for those entering the amateur area of photography (DSLR)?

Is it common to always keep a lens on when not in use?

Just general should-knows that maybe newbies entering into the market
won't be aware of?
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 2:13 PM   #2
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Leave the lens on when idle. The more you change it, the more chance of the sensor attracting dust. Even leave the camera switched on at all times. It will enter snooze mode saving battery power but you can grab it and start it up at a press of the shutter button. I never switch mine off.

Read, study, learn, practice, post images for criticism, use these forums, keep your gear clean and have fun....

All the best,

Nick
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 2:24 PM   #3
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Here are a few common mistakes/issues and answers:

1) Don't have your camera
The answer is obvious there. But really, this is more a question of if having it all the time matters to you. If it does, then a DSLR might no be for you.

2) Run out of power/leave your battery on the charger
Have a backup battery. If you charge one battery, make sure the other one is with the camera.

3) Not being careful when changing lenses
Be ready with the lens so that you can have the inside of the camera exposed to the elements for as little time as possible. For example, if I'm switching teleconverters on my camera I:
- turn off the camera
- remove the TC from the lens (leave it attached to the camera) and transfer the lens cap from the new TC to the TC on the camera body.
- Put the new TC on the lens (I only do this when the lens is on a tripod and therefor its easy to put it on.)
- I take the lens cap off the new TC and hold it.
- in one (hopefully) smooth motion I take the TC off the camera body and attach the camera body to the TC on the lens.
- transfer the lens cap to the TC I'm putting away.

I don't want to "take the TC off the camera body, take out the new TC, put it on, then remove the old TC from the lens." Not having the TC ready to put on the camera body (acts as a cover it so dust doesn't get in) immedately is bad planning.

While cleaning you sensor is generally not hard, doing it as little as possible reduces the chance you'll damage the sensor. And I like that.

4) Messing up the exposure
Not paying attention to the histogram on the camera is forgoing a great tool to help you get the proper exposure. And getting the right exposure is *critcal* to a good image. This falls directly into the next point:

5) Light is everything.
Bad light will ruin a great shot. Good light will make an ok shot into a great one. Read this very short article and look/mouse over the example image (to see the better one.) This illustrates much better than I can exactly how much power light has to change an image:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/es...0seconds.shtml
Now, it should be said that that isn't my favorite image. But the good one is so much better than the one with bad light it shows my point well.

Another point is about why people photograph near sunrise and sunset. The quality of the light is just better. It's softer, it's warmer. Things just look better. Light has a HUGE impact on the image.

6) Really think before you shoot.
What is it that makes the scene interesting? What drew me to consider taking that picture? How do I maximize that? Are there any distracting elements? How do I minimize them? Thinking about these things will improve your images greatly.

7) editing on the computer is required
Get the absolute best you can in camera. I live by this rule (I don't always succeed, but I live by it') But it's a fact that you'll have to spend some time editing your images afterwards. So get good at it.

7) Have fun - play at photography
The quality of your images will improve greatly as you mess around with the camera. Take the shots that you don't think will work, and then think about why they work or don't. Try taking the same shot with different settings and think about the differences when you view it on the computer. Enjoy yourself.

I hope that helps, feel free to ask follow up question.

Eric
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 6:05 PM   #4
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Good points from eric.
Another common mistake is not spending enough time with the camera's manual. Do lots of experimenting along with reading the manual and you will learn how to use the camera fairly quickly. Then you can pay attention to the more important things like figuring out where to stand when you shoot.
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 9:34 PM   #5
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There's a lot more to remember--and forget--with digital photography, since you're effectively carrying around a miniature darkroom inside the camera.

If your camera is designed well, the most common functions (things like ISO, AF mode, exposure metering, recording mode, WB, exposure mode, exposure compensation) should be accessible in an array of buttons on the back or through the control dial. Learn what they are and develop a routine to check each one whenever picking up your camera. On several occasions I've turned on my camera in the morning and begun taking pictures without realizing that I'd switched to ISO 1600 or a custom WB the night before, and it's still set there, even though I'm now outdoors in bright sunlight .

If you use things like mirror lockup, dark-frame subtraction NR, bracketing, sequential shooting, etc., you may have to go into menus to change them, so don't forget to switch your camera back to defaults after using them. You may later be scratching your head and wondering why your camera is "acting funny."

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Old Mar 22, 2006, 8:22 AM   #6
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As a newbie myself, I've found that keeping a small memo pad in my camera bag allows me to jot down notes as I shoot. It creates a log that I can refer to if/when I'm in the same situation again, and I don't have to remember everything that I learned from the last time that I analyzed my pictures on my computer. I tend not to make the same mistake twice.

FYI- Norm, I sent you a message.
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Old Mar 22, 2006, 10:13 AM   #7
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Thanks for the message, Pete; I appreciate it!

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Old Mar 22, 2006, 11:10 AM   #8
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Eric,



You had some great points, extremely helpful, thanks!




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Old Mar 22, 2006, 1:27 PM   #9
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SuzF,
Glad you found that helpful.

Eric
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Old Mar 22, 2006, 4:44 PM   #10
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a memo pad? never thought of that.......its the simple ones you forget eh?

Petepix wrote:
Quote:
As a newbie myself, I've found that keeping a small memo pad in my camera bag allows me to jot down notes as I shoot. It creates a log that I can refer to if/when I'm in the same situation again, and I don't have to remember everything that I learned from the last time that I analyzed my pictures on my computer. I tend not to make the same mistake twice.

FYI- Norm, I sent you a message.
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