6 things you forgot to do when you first got your new dSLR

Picture by Gone-Walkabout


You just got your brand new dSLR camera, you can’t wait to unpack it and start shooting with it. 

Here are a few things you will most probably forget to do before you snap your first picture.

  1. Charge the battery overnight: If am guilty of one that would be it. I can never wait long enough, I usually charge the battery a few minutes (30 min or so) before I start playing around. But, seriously, with the new battery technology is it really still important to charge the battery for 6 hours+ the first time?
  2. Set the date and time: This is crucial info for you and your pictures and, still, I see many cameras with dates way off. I have to admit that it is much more common to adjust the time after daylight saving changes occur.
  3. Dioptric adjustments: You know that small knob next to your viewfinder? I have seen people owning they cameras for months/years not even knowing it was there. Hold the camera to your eyes and turn it up/down till you can see the text in the viewfinder clearly.
  4. Reset the numbering: I can’t remember how many times I have read in forums people saying that their newly bought camera was not new because the first image number was xxx. Obviously they had just used a memory card from their old camera and the new one is just picking up with the numbering. I got used to format all my cards before inserting them in the new cam. This will not allow me to know if it is really new or not, not that I am worried about it, but rather to keep track of how many picture I am taking with my camera & assigning a unique reference number to each.
  5. Read the manual: Yea right! Now, honestly, who does? It doesn’t matter if you are a first time dSLR user or you’ve been shooting for a couple of years, if you bought a new camera chances are it is for its new features, so spend some time reading the manual and getting familiar with it while the battery is charging.
  6. Do not get obsessive testing it: I learned this the hard way. When I first got the Canon 30D I spent so many hours testing the focus that I sent it 3 times to canon for calibration and yet I was not happy with it. When I finally gave up testing and started shooting my pictures were getting better and sharper with time. Yea cameras have their own learning curve too so instead of doing useless tests enjoy it & take some pictures. Your warranty is for 1 year and it is plenty of time to discover all the defect your camera might have.
  7. Set the owner information: This should have been in the list from the start, I just forgot about adding it. Thanks to John he kindly reminded me in the comment. So yes do not forget to add your name in the camera so that it will also appear in the EXIF. In Canon this is done by the EOS Utility software. I have got the chance to use my 30D last week, that I sold more than 1 year ago to a friend, and noticed it still had my name registered.

Got anything to add to this list? Maybe a personal experience? Feel free to drop a comment.

  • Putting a clear filter on the lens to protect it. Very easy to forget to buy the shiny new filter when you buy a shiny new lens/camera.

    • @Joanne, Thanks Joanne.

      This will lead us to another discussion, to add a UV filter or not in front of a lens!

  • Good list. The problem with charging batteries was the old NiCD types. If you didn’t charge them completely they could have a memory. You charge 70%, drain it, and then you could charge it again and the highest they would go was 70%. Even though newer batteries don’t have this memory, it’s still a good practice. In addition to subjecting the batteries to as little stress as possible (I like to think charging to 100% and then discharging to near 0% is what they’re made for and thus the easiest on them) using a 100% charged battery for the first time will help you understand how long / how many images your camera can take on one charge.

    I pass away the time waiting for the new camera to arrive by downloading the manual in PDF and reading that. Usually by the time I open the box I’m already familiar with where the settings are and what I want to change first.

    Also, at least for Canon cameras, make sure you load the software and set your name in the camera!!! Not only does this tie the camera to you in case you have a problem with a theft or lost camera, but the camera will insert your name in the EXIF data of every photo you take.

    Lastly, Joanna states a clear filter. This should go into a list of ‘Things you forgot to do when you first got your new lens.’ There’s a fine line between photographers who fall for the filter and don’t. Unfortunately it started as a sales tactic for camera shops to tack on a high priced filter to a low priced camera and now people swear by them. The fact is that the filter adds two more glass surfaces to your lens and usually that filter is of a much lower quality glass than your lens uses. This can lead to image degradation and flare.

    If you’re starting out, have a low to mid-quality lens – go ahead and get a UV filter to put on the end of your lens if it makes you feel better. Usually though, I recommend that people just make sure they put the lens cap back on the lens when you remove the camera from your eye. Invest in a blower, lens brush and good cleaning supplies instead.

    Lastly, most professionals and advanced hobbyists get insurance on their gear. I have a LOT of gear insured and only pay a couple hundred dollars a year. It’s not an excuse to treat my gear badly, but it’s great to know that if something does happen, I have coverage. It’s certainly a game and there’s no one right answer. I would rather shoot tack-sharp, quality images and put my lens cap back on my lens when I have a break in shooting. I make sure my gear is always well packed, thoroughly cleaned and nicely taken care of, but that lens will never take that spectacular shot sitting in the bottom of the camera bag wrapped in a diaper.

    • @John Milleker, What a great comment John & darn for the owner information I knew I had forgot something!!! It was in my notes I forgot to write it down.

      Thanks the post have been updated

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  • How about taking a picture of it and recording the SN?

    For those of us who have our equipment insured that is an important way to prove physical ownership.

  • I think you forgot one very important point:

    wait in anxiety until the postman finally rings the doorbell to hand over the package. 🙂

    Now serious: depending on the test situation it might be good to at least try some shots at home to make sure everything works the way it should.

    Another thing that I learned from Scott Kelby: apparantly Nikons have a setting automatically turned off to disallow taking pictures without a memory card inside the camera. I believe Canon also has this setting, but it’s turned on automatically, so another thing you might want to check.

    • @libeco, Turning off the option “Allow shooting without a Card” is very good to add to the list !


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  • Very good post and I think that modern cameras are just a little bit too complicated for common user. There are so many things to do before we can take pictures. I don’t mean hardware that is used by professionals but this is something completely else. I remember times where a camera was something that had everything to take a picture by yourself. Everything could be changed manually and the pictures were something that you had to develop. Now everything changed and I can’t say is it good or bad…

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  • C Yip

    I’d add two more:

    1) I always ask my dependable camera shop sales person to apply film protector to the LCD screen as he got a pair of more steady hands ;).
    2) File the warranty card (complete & mail to the authorised local agent if necessary) together with the offical sales receipt (from the authorised dealer plus their official stamp as appropriate).

  • Thanks for your info.

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  • Wow!Well things here that we ignore many times.