Top 5 Things You Need To Do When You Get A New Camera

The season for giving and getting is now over and many of you may have received a fancy new camera as a holiday gift either from a loved one or from yourself. Let's be honest, most people buy their own cameras as, well, they're expensive.

A new camera like most new toys is immediately taken out of the box, filled with a half-charged battery and an old SD card and then loaded up with a bunch of pictures that are either all blurry or too much in focus. Then the taker says something like "huh, well I'll figure it out" and then puts the camera down.

So, here's a quick checklist to help you get up and running with that fancy new camera like it's something you've had for a year.


My step-dad was an engineer and big tech toy guy and he had a saying anytime someone couldn't figure out how to use a new toy... RTFM. Which stands for Read The (use your imagination here) Manual. This is a no-brainer. Even if you're buying in the same family, aka going from Canon to Canon, reading the manual could save you hours of time and headaches. Ever since the original iPhone, technology manufacturers have been struggling to keep up and create a friendly and intuitive interface for people to use and Camera's are often stuck in the past in that department. Finding the settings you want might not be so easy, so... RTFM.


Many new cameras have a very short registration window to make sure your camera is covered under the manufacturer warranty. This is an easy thing to put off that could have huge consequences. Almost all new cameras can be registered online so you don't have to mail in that tiny little card. Remember, even though it's new, it's a piece of technology and even new technology can fail, so, protect yourself. If you have insurance for your fancy items or if photography is your business, add it to your policy.


This one seems silly, but if you have a viewfinder on your camera, you have a diopter. It's the little wheel next to or attached to the viewfinder. If your image is not in focus when you're looking through your viewfinder, turn that little wheel until it looks sharp to you.

Even if you're going from a Nikon to a Nikon, camera manufacturers change things each year and everything might not be where you used to have it. Meaning, you like to do things a certain way and have your ISO limitations, autofocus settings and other things set up how you like it. Take your old camera and hold it up side by side with your new camera and go down and change the settings the way you like them. This could also be hot menu items or other shortcuts that make it easier when you're shooting. The more it feels like your old camera, the more comfortable you're going to be shooting it.


This is the big one. How do you capture images? Raw? Full-sized JPEG? Straight out of the box most new cameras are going to be set to capture low-quality JPEGS. This is a holdover from a time when memory cards were expensive and didn't have a high capacity. As demand went up for SD cards, the cost went down and the performance went up. Memory cards are cheap. I actually fill up a card and then put it away in a drawer when I'm done with it as I don't trust backups and the cloud. This is my way of having a negative so to speak. And at $10 for one thousand high-quality images, I'd say you're already better off than people who used to pay $3 for a roll of 35mm film that might have got you 36 pictures. So, fill up those cards with RAW or High-Quality JPEGs, after all, what's the point of having a fancy camera if you just use it like a smartphone?