Educational / Photo Chats with Nats

New Camera? Now What?

I got a new camera recently. And in case you haven’t heard me shout about it yet, I have upgraded to a Fujifilm X-T5.

As a Fujifilm brand ambassador, I keep a close eye on new developments and camera releases, and always try to stay current with the gear that I shoot on. 

I had been shooting on an X-T3 for a long time for a number of reasons (which you can read more about in this article). But when the X-T5 was released I grabbed the opportunity by the horns to finally upgrade. Au fait with Fujifilm lingo, specs and menus, I found my way around it very quickly and also knew which new functions to take a closer look at and test.

Have you invested in a camera for the first time or have you changed systems recently? If so, then this experience may be different for you. If you are a beginner or new to a camera brand or system, it is possible that a new camera menu might be very intimidating and time consuming to get to grips with.

Moreover, if you are anything like me, you don’t enjoy reading camera manuals. All you want to do is head out and have some quality time with your new gear. But at the same time, you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment or failure at bagging nice images. So what now?

If this resonates with you, I have a couple of recommendations that will enable you to get great results from your new gear quickly. You will also avoid the frustration that may come with adjusting to new and unfamiliar menus, button and dials on your new camera.

In Episode 4 of my new live broadcast series “Photo Chats with Nats” I shared my thoughts on this – getting started quickly with a new camera – and I invite you to watch the recording of it below:

Here is, kind of, what I spoke about and a recap of the main points:

1 – Get in the Right Mode

First of all, selecting the most suitable camera mode will go a long way to ensuring a positive experience and good results right-off-the-bat. If you are new to photography I recommend that you choose the “Auto” or “P” mode of your camera. Why? Manufacturers produce technically highly-advanced cameras that deliver great results in “auto or program” modes that do the heavy lifting for you. You have no reason to second-guess the dedicated expertise that goes into determining this settings.

In these (pre-programmed) modes, the camera will choose settings that ensure a good exposure for your images so that you can be free to enjoy taking photographs without getting lost in the technical details. With this out of the way and as you use your new gear, you can focus on becoming more familiar with and learning about the other buttons and settings of your camera. You will learn a lot more over a shorter time, while taking pictures.

These images were taken with the Fujifilm X-A7 + XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ or XF23mmF2 R WR

If you are not new to photography or have switched camera systems or upgraded to a camera model that is more advanced than your previous one, you may feel comfortable enough to set your camera in Aperture or Shutter-Speed Priority mode. If you don’t know what those modes are, stick to Auto or Program for now.

I shoot mostly in Aperture Priority mode because I want to enjoy the creative control that comes with being able to choose a specific aperture that controls the depth of field. At the same time, I’m happy for my camera to automatically set a suitable shutter speed and ISO (within the parameters that I set) so that I can capture images quickly and easily. When scenes and subject matters call for it, I change modes to achieve the kind of images I am aiming for. Sometimes that is Shutter-Speed Priority mode, and other times, Manual mode.

If all this “priority mode”-talk went over your head. Don’t worry. You’ll get there in time. 

2 – Sharing is Caring (with Camera Apps)

Secondly, you should install the brand-specific app for your camera or a third-party app of your choice that enables you to download your images directly from your camera to your smartphone. It won’t be long after you have started shooting that you will want to share some of these images with family, friends or whomever you are taking photos of. Being set up and knowing how to work an app goes a long way to ensuring that this process is quick, easy and enjoyable for everyone. 

I use the dedicated Fujifilm app all the time. And, despite that some people report that it is unreliable and clunky, I’ve always been able to make it work for myself, even in work scenarios when it is vital to share images with my clients in real-time. Much to my pleasant surprise, I have found that when using the app with my X-T5, the process seems much faster and smoother than with all of the other cameras I have used it with. 

At the expense of repeating myself, I highly recommend that you install an app that enables you to access the images on your camera. It will be worthwhile, make an important improvement to your workflow and contribute significantly towards your happiness factor. 

3 – Learn by Doing

Thirdly, it’s important that you actually take pictures. Shoot anything and everything under the sun – and under the moonlight – from landscapes, family celebrations, portraits and food in daytime, nighttime, all-times in scenes indoor and outdoor. Just keep shooting.

Photographing different scenes and subjects will give you a better understanding of the various camera settings and the demands or challenges that each of these genres entail. You will also develop a feel for the types of photographs you find most enjoyable. So don’t be surprised if, having invested in a camera because you wanted to document your new born child growing up, you discover that you particularly enjoy photographing landscapes or still life. Either way, you win.

4 – A Bonus Tip

And as an extra point, I recommend (thanks for your suggestion, Robert Breining) that you always take your camera with you wherever you go. You never know what you might encounter that may make for a fantastic learning experience, or an opportunity to capture something interesting. It is an extremely important habit to develop and there are many photographs in my “Favourites Collection” that came about when I least expected to.

Once you are more familiar with your camera, the first wave of giddiness has eased and you have the satisfaction of looking at some of your first photographs, you may feel more settled and open to picking up the camera owner’s manual. However long it takes to get there, don’t skip this step. Get to know your camera’s menu, its functions, buttons and what they do. Learn how and why the various settings affect your images specifically, and how you can use these to get the results that you want.

And to really get the best out of this, yes, I do recommend that you read the manual. However tedious it may seem at the time, doing so will help you grow faster and give you a much better understanding of your gear. That in turn will make you a better photographer. Everything else will come over time.

You are on a wonderful journey. Enjoy every moment – one click at a a time. And never stop learning!

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