What to do with your new digital camera

By any chance, did your holiday gifts include a digital camera?  Or did you get a step-up model?  If either answer is “yes”, this blog is for you, especially if you find your camera a bit intimidating.

The first thing to master is setting the date and time. Once that is done you’ll always have a record of when a picture is taken. That information can be found anytime by looking at the picture “Properties”.

Your camera has an optical plus a digital zoom.  An advantage of using the optical zoom is that you can get good close-up photos from a distance.

I was a good distance away from these ladies when I took their picture.  The second photo shows how zooming can help by eliminating distracting elements.  It also shows why it’s smart to take at least several different shots, as their expressions in the first picture leave a lot to be desired.

Avoid using the digital zoom, as it only takes out pixels and will result in a lower quality of photo.

Until you get more comfortable with your new camera, I’d suggest using the Automatic mode (This icon might be in green) so that you can concentrate more on composition. The first shot of a church in Tallinn, Estonia has too much distracting detail and needs straightening.

By cropping and changing to a vertical the second photo directs our attention to the church itself.

Try to be aware of your background because our eyes will miss distractions that the camera sees and records.  These two sculptures are almost lost because of the distracting background.

But things got better when I shot a different sculpture low and against the sky instead of against the trees.

There’s much more I’d like to add, but I’ll close with a couple of suggestions:

1.  Don’t do your editing (cropping, sharpening, enhancing, whatever) on the original print, but on a copy you have made in the computer.  You can think of the original print as the “negative”. Shoot lots of pictures, as memory cards cost so little.

2.  Take one new step at a time and repeat it until you get comfortable.

3.    Have your instruction book become your best new friend.  Take it with you when you
know you will have to be waiting for someone or something.

As you read and re-read the instructions, and as you take more and more photos, you will want to move on and explore the many options your camera gives you.  You can move from the Auto mode to the Program mode where you get to make some decisions rather than having the camera make all the choices.  You can pick the Portrait mode so that backgrounds become “soft” or you can pick the Landscape mode for sharp distance focus.  And, check out Macro mode for close-ups.  This way, you will become more and more in control of what is sure to become some great photographs.

Your intimidation will turn to excitement as you master each feature of your new camera.


  1. says

    Earl, I have a question about working on a copy, rather than the original file.
    Do you mean that before you do any adjustments, FIRST you must make a copy?
    If I work on the original, but save the adjusted file as SAVE AS, not a replacement of the original, is the original file still damaged just by having worked on it?
    I always keep save that way, but want to know if I am degrading my original by doing so.
    Thank you so much for your informative article. Great advice!

  2. says

    I agree with your suggestion about keeping your camera’s manual with you. I carry mine in my camera case. I take it out and re-read about the different features that my camera offers all the time. In addition, I agree take learning about your camera and what it can do step by step. Let all the camera do the work for you and you will slowly start using the special features as your photography grows and your interest in subjects changes. Great article!

  3. Tiffany M says

    Great article and tips. Love your photos too! I’ve had a new camera since last July and I still dint get off of auto too often. I need to try a few new things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *