This article contains a few tips for making the most of your digital camera. This page doesn’t provide advice on how to take better pictures (there are plenty of sites for that), but rather how to use features common to most digital cameras. I do not intend to provide user manuals for all digital cameras…so please don’t expect a long list with camera manufacturer and camera types. I am describing tips that would apply to all (almost) digital cameras. These tips are simplistic in nature but very useful.
STEP 1: Read your manual.
Duh! Don’t expect to go around this one. If you don’t read your manual you’re going to use the factory default settings and even though you might have bought a great camera you’ll be using it most likely as a really cheap camera because you won’t use any of the special features.
STEP 2: Set your camera’s date and time.
I can’t emphasize this enough. Most of the times, the camera you buy has the wrong time zone set and probably the wrong time also…with most cameras being made in China, who knows what time zone you have by default? So, make sure you read your manual and set your camera’s date and time now. If you have one of those cameras that reset the date and time whenever you replace the batteries, then set the time as soon as you put new batteries in.
STEP 3: Set the resolution and compression levels.
The picture resolution gives you the picture size (usually in pixels). For example you can have: 1600×1200, or 1024×768…obviously this depends on your camera. The picture compression has to do with how much space on the memory card each picture takes. Depending what compression rate you’re choosing you can fit more pictures on your memory card. Most cameras have preset level of compression, something like: Very Fine, Fine, Normal, Low. A picture size of 1.5 to 2.0 Mb should provide great quality and space saving for most users. Obviously if you’re taking professional pictures and you want to print large prints you would have to use your camera at the highest resolution and no compression (RAW).
STEP 4: Learn how to turn your display off and on.
You will need to know this because inevitably you will get close to running out of batteries at the worst time. Turning off your display will give you a lot more pictures on the same dying batteries. This assumes that your camera has the ability to turn the display on/off.
STEP 5: Learn how to turn your flash off and on.
This is also very important many times. When you’re trying to get a close up of your subject and you’re coming very close, the flash is useless and will distort your picture. Also, when your subject is in the shade and you’re in the light (assuming you’re close enough) forcing your flash to go off will make your subject appear great instead of being in the shade.
Essentials for organizing your digital photosOver the years I have come to rely on only a few products for managing and backing up my large media collection. These are my essential products and services I have been using for many years to keep things organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.
I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has excellent photo editing capabilities. Yes, Lightroom has a steeper learning curve as you have to learn to keep your catalogs in sync with your hard drive. However, Adobe Lightroom makes most sense especially when you do lots of image editing.
If you don't like the subscription, you can get also download the last standalone Adobe Lightroom 6 for Mac or Windows (while it is still available). However, the product is no longer maintained by Adobe.
Excellent Lightroom and Picasa alternative. If you're looking for a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac or ACDSee Pro for Windows is my preferred solution for organizing your media on your computer. It has a very fast browser, beautiful image editing capabilities and you don't work with catalogs at all.
In addition, make sure you have an inexpensive and reliable external hard drive for backing everything up. It is absolutely essential for backing up your media regularly.
If you're looking for a reliable unlimited cloud backup service, I recommend Backblaze Cloud Backup. I have used Backblaze for my online backup for more than 3 years now. All my files are safe and secure and I have never had any problems with them.