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Learn Photography

Photo Tips > Camera Checklist Habit

Make it a habit to check the following five settings when you pick up your camera, especially after not using it for awhile.

Otherwise, you may find that you've taken many photographs at the wrong setting.

For example, let's say you're photographing the lobby of the El Tovar lodge at Yellowstone National Park.

You set the white balance to tungsten, because the space is lighted by light bulbs in chandeliers.

Then, the next day, you photograph the sunrise over the Grand Canyon.

If you don't have the habit of checking the settings, you may discover you've used indoor settings for outdoor photography.

A sunrise doesn't look good when the orange is taken out by using a tungsten white balance setting.

Check:

• ISO

• White balance

• Exposure compensation is at 0.0.

A +/- icon will appear on the LCD screen if the exposure compensation is not set to 0.0.

• File format (JPEG and/or raw) and the JPEG

The location of the focus are setting can be changed inadvertently

• Location of focus area

On many cameras, the area that is to be used for focusing can be selected.

On some cameras, the area can be changed inadvertently.

If your camera has buttons dedicated to these settings, all you have to do is press the buttons while looking at the top LCD screen.

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By taking a few seconds to check—you won't have to say "oops" or worse.