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Monday, January 14, 2013

Time to Click: Getting out of the box

Your the proud owner of a new camera!

Now what? Let's take a moment and talk about what you "should" have received in your box and the first steps to getting you all set up!


Regardless of manufacturer your box contents typically include:
  1. Your Camera
  2. A battery
  3. A charger
  4. Memory card / Internal Memory
  5. US warranty paperwork. 
  6. Manual
  7. Digital Manual/ software/ other disks
  8. Cables
  9. Camera strap  
First things first. Check your warranty paperwork, complete anything you need to do and be sure to make a copy of it and your receipt. Be sure to check the serial number on the paperwork to match what is on your camera! I suggest keeping a digital record of all of this (by taking a photo or scanning) everything as well as the hard copies in your safe or file cabinet.

If you purchased any additional warranty be sure to include this in your files as well! If for any reason serial numbers DON'T match, go back to where you got it RIGHT then! If you don't you are just asking for trouble!

Next, if you haven't already take out the charger and batteries. Unless your camera is working off of AA batteries you should have both.  If you have a AA style... then check the batteries, they typically wont be rechargeable and you typically wont have a charger of any style. So be sure to solve that if your salesperson was slacking by not telling you you will need it! (check out my Batteries post if you have questions)

To get a GOOD charge on new Lithium Ion batteries I always recommend charging overnight. But you can read your manual for the manufacturers recommendation it's typically on the first couple of pages. Your battery wont come fully charged so if your giving it as a gift this is nice to have done prior for your loved one! Just don't forget to pack it all back up in the box... (I like to recommend a note inside so they know they are ready to shoot)

Memory Cards: *sigh*
Seriously, manufactures typically give you SOMETHING... just so you can take a few images and get hooked. Sometimes this means internal memory... which is a joke really... making you copy it to a card or use slow cables to hook up your camera to your computer to download... and deal with software and blah blah blah... and the cards they do give you... well are typically not much better... holding only a few small images. This however is more then you can expect if your getting a DSLR... they don't bother with giving you anything with these... knowing that you will need to buy a card (or several) or that you already have cards if your getting this level of camera. (be sure to read up on the differences from my post if you need to add a card, and here is a reminder about your sizes!)

If you have a card, be sure to load it in your camera. Some camera's will shoot without a card in them and the images don't get saved anywhere, this can be a huge disappointment so be sure to find out if your camera can do that, or if there is a way to command it not to shoot without a card in it. Which most DSLR's will have a function in the menu for.
Note: You can find this information in your camera manual!

Manual: Tuck this into your camera bag (no you didn't get a bag with the box (typically)... YES you need one!)
Manuals are not good light reading material, but they do make a solid reference guide. So if you want to know what this button does, or how to find what menu option... its a good tool to be able to find. It does not typically tell you WHY you want to use it!

Disks: There are several disks that can come with your camera. All depending on manufacture and retailer. Just read over them and see if its anything you "want". Some might be camera software that you don't need if you plan on using a card reader - some may be digital manuals.. I have even seen Photoshop software on occasion!

I would recommend using your computers card reader (I would be shocked to learn you didn't have one for your memory card) but if you don't have one built into your computer you can buy one to read the memory card... a card reader that is... it hooks right up to your USB slot. Then downloading your images is fairly quick and easy without extra software or steps - typically a copy paste system directly into your image files is an easy and organized solution. No extra software, drivers or anything needed. However... keeping any digital manual handy is nice... and sometimes I have seen mini versions of photoshop, and other editing software that is very much worth it to have.... so just check over them before you lose them in the stack of misc that we all have! Be sure to file them away so you can find them again in needed.

Cables: This gets a bit tricky depending on the camera you have. If your like me you have a lot of cables floating around that you don't know what they belong to! I have taken to putting a label on each as I take it out of the box now... just a small return address label with the product it belongs to and what it does folded over itself.... around the cable.

To know what each of your cables are meant for check your manual - it will list each out and show an image usually. Typically you will have 2:

USB: A cable from your camera to your computer to download images (this is crap if you never use internal memory, or use the card reader like you should be doing.) I feel this falls under camera safety...
1. don't use your camera batteries unless you have to... ie don't have your camera on if your not shooting
2. Don't set yourself up for accidents. Having your camera on your computer desk, with a cable running to your computer box is just asking for you to spill coffee on it... or for a kid to come pulling it off your desk... or whatever... just use the card reader... its faster and easier anyway!

Video: A cable to hook your camera up to the TV this is fun for big groups to see images or even video that you have taken... but I have noticed many TV's out that have card readers built in... so check yours first! There are also other devices you can get that hook up via HDMI or video cable so you don't have to use your camera... and again hope not to have an accident with it. If it's something you see yourself using, then please check into those other options rather then using this cable and your camera!

Which brings us to the last... the camera strap.
Now... for the most part I think the "box" contents that manufactures give you are a joke... and while they are functional... I think you can do better with almost every item, by waiting to pick up a replacement option like the better memory card or a card reader. However.... a camera strap, well if you didn't pick up a nice one when you purchased your camera... then BEFORE YOU TAKE A SINGLE IMAGE... put on the manufacture strap. In this case even the sad little hand strap or uncomfortable shoulder strap the manufacturer gives you is going to be better then NOTHING!

IT'S all about SAFETY and protecting your investment! Yes, it might be $100 investment... but if you wanted to spend $200 on a camera you would have done that right? So instead of dropping it today and going out and buying another one tomorrow... let's just use the strap ok!?

I can tell you right now, impact damage was the number 1 thing I saw go wrong with cameras in all of my years in retail camera stores. And inside every box is a way to make sure that doesn't happen right there in your box! In fact, I made a point to always put my clients straps on for them... they can be taken off easily if you want to upgrade at any time... but not to put one on... well thats just silly! I personally think they should come with one of those cards like the WII... that shows you how bad a drop without a strap can be!

So now... with labeled cables, and filed warranties/disks, charged and installed batteries and memory cards you should ready to get going!!!! Get a head start and get some clicks in... start playing with it... and were going to have some fun in the next several posts learning more about what the buttons are, and some other basic digital knowlage!

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