Okay, so you've got your new camera and lens, and you're champing at the bit to take a picture. Now, I'm the last guy on Earth who'll tell you not to read the instruction manual; today's cameras have so many sophisticated controls and systems that you'll actually be doing yourself a disfavor if you decide to rely only on what you know about film camera operation. Still, I remember my own excitement when I opened the box of my first Canon DSLR, the D60, and how anxious I was to "lock and load" so I won't yell at you if you just can't wait.
So, for those of you who just can't wait, here are ten simple steps to get your first pictures:
1. Insert the battery. Canon batteries are shipped with a slight charge, which may be enough to get you going, but you should charge the battery to a full charge first. Battery style and type varies between some models, and you need to consult your manual for the proper procedure to maintain the battery in peak performance. Some batteries, like the NP-E3 nickel metal hydride (NiMH), should be charged, refreshed, and recharged several times before actual camera use. This procedure, known as "shaping" or "forming," imprints a kind of behavior pattern on the battery, allowing it to perform as it was designed and at its best.
When you insert a battery into an EOS-1 camera body, you'll feel a slight resistance as you push the battery into the chamber and use the thumb-turn lock to latch it into place. Canon EOS-1 pro bodies have been sealed against mild inclement weather and dust. The resistance you feel is the rubber gasket seal that protects the battery compartment from the elements (FIG 1.21).
Battery Life and Health
Rechargeable batteries will deteriorate over time. After periods of continuous use, they are unable to deliver a full charge, which means that the maximum number of images you may have been used to will decline. For the consumer and prosumer cameras, the batteries are small and relatively inexpensive. Replacing a battery doesn't mean you have to recycle the old one, it just means you have a backup. If you're a casual shooter, it may be years before you notice the loss of power, and you may never have to replace the battery before you replace the camera.
Pro shooters, especially those who work on location and away from AC power should buy at least one backup battery immediately. Many of the cameras at the high end of Canon's camera list, the machines use NiMH batteries, which are also prone to loss of power due to overuse. NiMH chargers come with a "Refresh" button that should be used before the camera is put into use and periodically thereafter. Selecting Refresh will drain the battery to zero charge before charging back to 100%, which guarantees the battery will perform its very best FIG 1.22).
Canon's newest battery, the LP-E4 (lithium-ion) type, is an improvement found on the Mark III. Weighing about a half pound less than its NP-E3 (NiMH) counterpart, it delivers roughly twice the shooting power without the same need for the "shaping" or "forming"that NiMH batteries require for best performance. It's a significant benefit, and signals continued changes as Canon rotates improvements through its product line.
2. Attach the lens. Align the large red dot on the lens with the red dot on the lens mount of the camera body. Insert the lens and turn clockwise until the lens locks into place (about 1/8th of a full turn). If you have an EF-S lens, specifically designed for the recent digital cameras with the APS-C size sensor, you will align the white square on the lens with the white square on the lens mount (FIGS 1.23 and 1.24).
3. Set the Focus Mode switch on the lens to AF (Auto Focus) FIG 1.25).
4. Insert a Compact Flash (CF) or Secure Digital (SD) card. Most Canon cameras only accept the CF card format, although a few will accept one of each. In that case, each card can be used separately or set up for one card to write Raw files while the other writes jpegs (FIG 1.26).
5. Turn the camera's power switch on FIG 1.27).
6. Take a moment and Format your CF or SD card(s). Formatting prepares the card for use in the camera, and you'll risk image loss or corruption if you just pop it in and start shooting. See "Common Ground" on page 65 for more information.
After just a few days with your gear you'll realize that Canon's processors are the best in the business, and even those images made under Full Auto or Program will almost always be printable without additional work in image manipulation software like Photoshop. Once you realize this, you'll be able to resist the urge to "chimp" your shots, automatically looking at the LCD to check it after each shot. "Chimping" is a term, meant only in fun, for digital novices (and pros, too!) who look down at the LCD after each shot and then say "Oooh! Oooh!"as the screen lights up.
Set the Mode Dial to Full Auto (in the Basic Zone) or Program (in the Creative Zone). Doing so will allow the camera to automatically make all choices and decisions regarding focus point, exposure, and white balance.
Frame your image by moving into or out of the frame, or by using a zoom lens to get closer or further away. Depress the shutter halfway down to engage the AF mechanism (FIGS 1.28 and 1.29). Depress the shutter button the rest of the way to take the picture. Review the image on the camera's LCD screen. Although it's not accurate enough for critical assessment, the camera's LCD screen will tell you if you're "in the ballpark" regarding composition and exposure. The image has also been written to the CF or SD card, just waiting for you to download and print (FIG 1.30).
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