Four things to do straight away with your new camera

Congratulations! You've made the exciting leap from smartphone camera to a fully-fledged machine that allows you take much more control over your picture-taking activity. But with so much more now at your fingertips: more capability, more options, more buttons, where should you start? These are the four vital points you should read, do, or understand to help you get started. It's the first step in our series 'I have a shiny new camera! Now what?' The next installments will take you through the basics of putting together great photos.

Read the manual

It's oh-so-obvious and oh-so-important. Read your camera's manual so that you know precisely what each knob, dial, and lever does. It doesn't matter if you're not quite up to putting all its capability to use yet, but having an understanding of what your camera can do is an important step in learning to exploit it. And you need to know where to find the controls for the actions that you do understand!

It might seem boring, but it is useful
It might seem boring, but it is useful

Understand the mode wheel

You've made the step up to a camera that affords you more control than your smartphone or point-and-shoot, now you have to use it. That means shunning auto-mode and the plethora of scene modes that are built into your camera and doing it yourself. Nothing less than P (Programme), A or Av (Aperture Priority); S or Tv (Shutter Priority), or M (Manual) mode will do.


We've broken down exactly how each of these modes works and how you can start to use them in this article.

Know your auto-focusing options

Auto-focus is a superb tool and the auto-focusing options on your bigger, brighter new camera offer you extensive control over what and how you shoot. Have a read of our auto-focusing modes primer to give yourself a handle on sharp subjects in your photos.

What you looking at?
What you looking at?

Switch from JPEG to Raw

Now that you have the means to take complete control of your camera and produce the images that you want to make, not what your camera thinks is appropriate, it's time to grasp that with both hands and make the switch from JPEG to Raw. When you shoot in JPEG, your camera processes the image, adjusting white balance, contrast, sharpening, and whole host of other variables according to what it believes is preferable. With Raw format, the camera saves what's effectively a digital negative, leaving you free to make all of those adjustments yourself.

You're better off baking your own photos
You're better off baking your own photos

You'll need to invest in a photo editing suite that can handle the Raw format, but it'll be worth it. Once you've switched to Raw, there's no going back. We explain why Raw is superor to JPEG it in even more detail here.

Now, go forth and enjoy your new camera.

I have a shiny new camera! Now what? >> Exposure explained