You have just taken the first step in becoming a photographer, you just got yourself a new camera. No, it doesn’t have to be a fancy DSLR, absolutely any camera will do.
I remember my first camera and the feeling that came with it. It is one of the special feeling that you get to feel only once in your life, so savor it well. Okay now let’s get cracking and do a few things that would right off the bat make your one-eyed life peaceful and beautiful.
Attach your Hand Strap.
Your new camera is an electronic device and like all electronic devices it doesn’t like shocks and bumps. Point and shoot these days are really small and especially slippery and slick. You slip it out of your hand once and that camera would not look good when you pick it up from the floor.
Attach the string/strap that came with your new camera at once. This would prevent accidental mishaps and let your camera be on your hand and not on the floor. This step is very essential even later on in your journey as a photographer; since you will always have to let your friends or other people carry your camera to look at images. These people may not be very accustomed to holding a camera in the right way and that can lead to disaster. I have been to many places where after taking a group photograph people have literally pounced on me to have a look at the photo and ensure that they look good. In case they don’t they would make me take another photo. Its easy for things to go wrong then.
Wear the strap whenever you are taking photographs or are carrying your camera. If possible also make other people wear the strap before you hand over your camera. Your camera will bless you for it.
Buy a Screen Protector:
If you have a point and shoot, you may buy those large screen protectors made for notepads or larger smartphones. Failing which you can always buy laptop screen protectors which will be of ample size for you to cut to size of your LCD screen. A word of caution though always buy a good quality screen protector, which would not leave any sticky residue on your screen in case you have to change it down the line.
I don’t know what happened to Nikon but when I bought my first DSLR which was a Nikon D7000; it came with a hard plastic screen protector. These days however I have never seen a new camera come with one. Nevertheless invest in a good quality hard plastic screen protector if you have a DSLR. This will save the screen form innumerable scratches and hence your camera LCD will always give you a good representation of the photo you just took. A good plastic protector will last you the entire life of the camera itself. This is probably the best 500 bucks you will ever spend on your camera.
A Lens UV Filter:
Yes I know UV filters are a joke as modern digital cameras do not get influenced by ultraviolet rays like old film cameras did. I am not asking you to get a UV filter to save your camera from UV rays. I am simply asking you to get a neutral density UV filter that would just act like a piece of extra glass in front of the costly lens that you have.
If you are not very careful with the camera lens cap; taking it off or putting it on, not having a filter will only invite the damage. Since the front lens element would be exposed and might get scratched while you are busy tucking your new camera in your bag or something.
You can always find the thread size of your specific lens written on the front element of the lens itself or on the inside of the lens cap. It should be in millimeter (mm).
Camera Cleaning Kit:
If you take out your new camera outside to shoot; it is BOUND to get dirty. A dirty camera means dust spots, reduced performance and dull-looking photographs. To avoid all that; it is very important to clean your camera on a regular basis. Camera cleaning kit are pretty cheap these days and they can be bought from any camera store.
However take good notice of what you are actually buying. Specially keep an eye on the cleaning liquid that comes with the pack. That solution needs to be specifically designed to clean lenses and the camera; if that isn’t right you might as well clean your camera with a microfiber cloth and Colin.
While cleaning your camera do not forget your viewfinder and the back of the lens since those are the spots that most people miss.
A Sturdy New Camera Bag:
If you are planning to go on a photography trip or on a vacation; a good camera bag is absolutely essential. A good bag is like shoes that you wear. You wouldn’t notice them if they are good but you would DEFINITELY them notice if they are bad.
Camera gear, lenses, tripod stands, filters will add up to quite a substantial weight. A good camera bag will help you carry these essential equipments wherever you want with ease. You don not want to end up with a sore shoulder at the end of the day…do you?
A good camera bag is also necessary for protecting your costly camera gear from accidents. It should be able to withstand accidental falls from a good height, should be water resistant and also should have a lock for some extra security. Invest in a good bag and that will pay for itself in the first year. There are a variety of good bags these days, choose one that matches your style.
Prevention is better than cure, remember this always. I don’t care if you have a camera that says that it could be submerged in icy cold water and it would still come out unscathed, PLEASE DO NOT try that. It really is not worth the time should something go wrong. If the situation is absolutely unforgiving and getting the camera wet cannot be avoided at any cost; maybe then and ONLY then is it okay. I cannot myself think of any such situation where the conditions would be so bad; unless you are dumped offshore naked into the ocean, probably this will never happen to you. Carry a plastic bag in your camera bag always and that should more than enough.
Try and follow the five steps above and you will be good for a long time.