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Digital Camera Tutorial: Spring Tips

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Despite all evidence to the contrary, it's apparently Spring at last (at least for us Northern hemisphere types), and with the improving weather come more opportunities to use your camera. With this in mind, here in no particular order are some tips to help you take better photos this year.

1. Know your camera.
Even the simplest pocket compact has a number of options to help you take better photos in different circumstances, so take the time to read the manual and learn how to use them, particularly with a new camera. Exposure compensation, ISO control, white balance and the ability to turn off the flash are especially useful. Find out what scene modes your camera has, and use them, they really will produce better results. Try out other functions such as the self-timer, so it doesn't take you by surprise when you come to use it. Take a lot of practice shots using different settings, to see the effect they have. You can always delete these shots afterwards.
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2. Care and maintenance.
A digital camera is a complex and delicate piece of machinery and needs proper care if it is to continue operating properly. Keep your camera clean and dry, protect it from dust, moisture and heat, and don't subject it to rough handling. Even so-called shockproof cameras aren't indestructible.

Check that the lens is clean, and if necessary clean it using a soft brush and a soft clean cloth (not paper). Keep your lens clean at all times, and check it frequently, especially if you have one of those compacts with the lens in the top corner of the body. Refer to my tutorial here for tips on camera cleaning. Keep a lens cloth in your pocket or camera case.
If you haven't used your camera since Christmas check the battery, because it will probably need charging.
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3. Thanks for the memory.
Flash memory cards are so cheap these days it's stupid. You can get top quality 2GB SD cards for under £20 almost anywhere, so there's absolutely no excuse for running out of storage, and also no excuse for using anything less than the best picture quality setting on your camera. Seriously, I don't even know why cameras have lower quality settings anymore.
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