Whether unwrapped as a surprise under the Christmas tree, or purchased with gift cards to take advantage of the great seasonal pricing on all sorts of photo-related gear and gadgetry this time of year, it’s a known fact that many photographers will be finding themselves the proud owners of new lenses, cameras, bags and accessories right around now. And whatever piece of new gear it is, it’s always important to check it out and run it through its paces before heading out to make a once-in-a-lifetime photo, to make sure you, the proud new owner, are both familiar with the gear, and ensure everything is working as it should.
This is the time of year for gifts of brand new photo gear!
In case you didn’t know, before joining Sigma, I tested all sorts of gear for several very popular photography magazines and websites (Here’s my backstory, if you’re interested). We’re talking benchmark testing of DSLRs and compacts, field tests of lenses, attempting to destroy overloaded camera bags and more. I’ve read more compact camera manuals cover to cover than I care to remember. I’ve worked in Betas (and even Alphas) of experimental processing software. I’ve learned a lot of things along the way, and here’s some of my best advice for quickly getting to know your new camera gear.
Let’s Start with Lenses
Unboxing and checking AF
Unboxing a brand-new lens is quite a thrill. The new glass can offer a new way to see photographically, whether it’s a wider angle, a longer telephoto, or your first 1:1 macro lens, the acquisition of a new lens can lead to an explosion of visual creativity.
First, make sure all zoom and focus rings move smoothly. Check all switches for proper operation. Make sure the lens hood slides on easily and locks in place.
Check all switches and zoom/focus rings are operating correctly on your new lens.
Mount it to you camera and ensure autofocus is engaged–both on-lens and on-camera–and test that autofocus operates in bright conditions with a high-contrast target/subject in single-shot mode and locks onto you subject, and that the resulting image is sharp and in-focus exactly where you’ve intended it to be.
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