Getting The Most From a Digital Camera

Now that I've had my Pentax K-x DSLR for a few months, I've finally found how to get rid the most from its excellent imaging capabilities. Instead of writing a longwinded treatise, here are a few brief ideas that may help you get the most from your digital camera:

1. Delve into the settings, and tweak everything that affects color accuracy and overall photo quality, like White Balance, Image Mode, Metering Mode, Autofocus Target Select and so on.

2. Shoot in RAW format, DNG type, then import your photographs into Photoshop or another good editing software.

3. Shoot at the lowest ISO setting possible.

4. Support the camera whenever possible, with a tripod, monopod, or up against a wall or other solid surface.

5. Don't shoot auto-everything all the time.

6. Try manual exposure; my Pentax is at its best with manual exposure. Use the camera's exposure histogram instead of the meter or viewfinder LCD to judge when exposure is accurate.

7. Try manual focus and different combinations of shutter speed and aperture for creative effects. Wide apertures let you separate a subject from a cluttered or distracting background. Small apertures throw everything into sharp focus. Slow shutter speeds can create dramatic blurred or flowing motion effects; fast shutter speeds can freeze motion.

8. Use optical filters instead of in-camera digital image filters or software effects. For example, I get the best outdoor color when I set the camera's white balance to Tungsten then place an 85B filter over the lens. This creates a rich, Hollywood Technicolor movie look to photographs.

9. Remember: the more you control, the better the photographs. Don't let the camera be the photographer and you just a "camera-aimer." No camera's automation can be as good as what you can achieve with practice.

10. Take a break from your digital camera and shoot a good film camera to keep your perspective fresh and to give you a good comparison of what you should expect your digital camera to do.