Our collection of top digital camera tips and essential photography advice will have you improving your photos in no time. Culled from experts and photographers who have been taking pictures for quite some time, they all agree that these 44 camera tips are essential knowledge for honing your craft. So feast your eyes below, check out some of our best photography tips on everything from setting up your digital camera to honing your photo composition, and by the end you will learn the secrets and shortcuts to getting high-quality pictures every time.
Digital camera tips: 1. Always reset your camera settings
There are few things worse than taking what you think is a stunning picture, only to find your camera’s ISO and saturation were cranked right up from a previous shoot and you’ve missed the moment. Avoid this by checking – and resetting – all of your settings before moving from one picture-taking opportunity to the next.
Digital camera tips: 2. Format, not erase
Formatting your memory card wipes it clean and rewrites any pertinent camera information. Erasing your images does not. So always format your cards to minimise the risk of any data corruption.
Digital camera tips: 3. Update your firmware
Firmware is the in-camera software used for processing images, setting a whole range of parameters and even controlling what features are available to you. Check your camera manufacturer’s website to ensure your digital camera’s firmware is as up to date as possible.
Digital camera tips: 4. Charge your batteries
Don’t assume your camera’s battery is fully charged – make sure it is. Charge it before you go out so you’re certain there’s enough life in it, and invest in a spare battery if you regularly find yourself shooting beyond its capacity.
Digital camera tips: 5. Set the image size
Most times you’ll be shooting at the highest resolution your camera offers, regardless of what it is you’re photographing. But do you always need to? Sometimes a smaller image size might be all you need, and reducing the resolution not only means more images will fit on a memory card, but you can achieve a faster shooting rate, too. If sports photography is your thing, reducing the resolution will help you avoid delays as your camera clears its buffer.
Digital camera tips: 6. Raw, JPEG or both?
If you intend to do any manipulation or retouching, shooting raw is often the best solution thanks to its increased bit depth.
However, raw files are larger, so take longer for the camera to deal with, and you also need to process them before they can be printed.
JPEG files, on the other hand, are processed in-camera at the time of shooting, so you can print or share them immediately, and you’ll find that you can shoot a much longer burst of consecutive frames at a much quicker rate.
Providing you don’t want to make too many radical changes to an image after you’ve taken it, you may find you can’t tell the difference between a JPEG file and a raw one.
For the ultimate in choice, though, and when speed isn’t important, why not shoot both? Most digital cameras give you this option, and you can then decide what you want to do when you’re back at your computer. Just make sure you pack an extra memory card.
Digital camera tips: 7. Experiment with settings
When they’re not working on an assignment, professional photographers spend a lot of time testing. This could be testing a new lens to determine which aperture or focal length it performs best at; testing the ISO and white balance to see which options give the very best results; or even testing the dynamic range so you know the sensor’s limitations.
You can do exactly the same with your DSLR or mirrorless camera, so you know precisely where its strengths and weaknesses lie. This isn’t about looking for perfect shots – just experimenting with your kit to understand it better, or trying out new techniques that you can employ at a later date.
Digital camera tips: 8. Don’t skimp on a tripod
A good tripod is worth its weight in gold, so don’t be tempted by budget options. Pay £20 / $20 and it won’t last you long, or do its job properly. Dig deep for a decent tripod and it will give you many years of service, making it a sensible long-term investment. And don’t forget to take your tripod with you, either!
Digital camera tips: 9. Hand-held or tripod mounted?
The simple act of setting up your camera on a tripod will slow you down, and this can be enough to make you concentrate a little harder on what it is you’re photographing and what you hope to achieve. At the same time, locking your camera down for every shot you take can reduce your spontaneity, so don’t be afraid to mix it up from time to time. If you religiously use a tripod, set out without it and see what happens, and if you normally travel without one, take it with you to see how slowing yourself down affects the results you get.
Digital camera tips: 10. Impromptu camera supports
You don’t necessarily need a tripod to hold your camera steady – supporting it against a wall or tree will help you avoid camera shake, and a beanbag (or just a bag of rice) can also give you a more stable shooting platform.