How to set up a camera for the first time: 11 things you need to do first

How to set up a camera for the first time: 11 settings to get you started right

If you’re new to photography or just bought a new camera, you may need a few tips on how to set up a camera for the first time. Our head of testing Angela Nicholson is on hand with all the information you need.

How to set up a camera for the first time: 11 settings to get you started right

SEE MORE: First camera crash course – simple solutions for mastering your new DSLR

How to set up a camera: 01 Charge the battery

Unless your camera takes AA batteries, the first thing you’ll have to do after opening the box is charge the battery.

Common photography questions: do I need to charge my battery?

In some cases there will be a battery charger supplied, which needs to have the battery inserted and then be connected to the mains, but some batteries are charged inside the camera via a USB connection.

All the necessary cables should be in the box with your camera.

SEE MORE: 4 ways to extend the battery life of your camera

How to set up a camera: 02 Format the card

Once the camera battery is charged and inserted, pop the memory card in its port. Then turn the camera on, press the menu button and search for the Format option.

SEE MORE: Best memory cards for cameras – 9 top options tested and rated

49 photography tips and time savers: format your memory card

When you format a card it deletes all existing images and prepares the card for use by the camera.

If you have used the card before, make sure that you have downloaded and saved any images that you want to keep before formatting it.

How to set up a camera: 03 Image Quality and size – Extra Fine (or Highest JPEG) and Large

How to set image size and quality: step 2

You want to get the best images you can from your new camera so set the image size to Large to get the full benefit of all those pixels.

Then set the image quality to the best available option, it’s often called Highest JPEG, Fine JPEG or Extra Fine JPEG.

If your camera also offers the ability to shoot raw files you might want to shoot these at the same time as JPEGs because they contain the most image data.

However, the downside of raw files is that you have to process them and convert them to a universal file format such as TIFF or JPEG before you can share them with friends and family.

SEE MORE: The honest truth on what raw files can do for your photography

Your camera should come with some raw processing software in the box.

If you’re new to photography don’t shoot raw files by themselves because you’ve got enough to deal with, but you may still want to shoot them simultaneously with JPEGs so that you have them when you are a bit more experienced.

How to set up a camera: 01 Charge the battery
How to set up a camera: 02 Format the card
How to set up a camera: 03 Image Quality and size – Extra Fine (or Highest JPEG) and Large
How to set up a camera: 04 White balance – Auto
How to set up a camera: 05 Metering – Evaluative, Matrix or Multi-segment
How to set up a camera: 06 Focus – Auto-AF or Single-AF
How to set up a camera: 07 AF Point selection – Auto
How to set up a camera: 08 Drive Mode – Single
How to set up a camera: 09 Image stabilisation – On
How to set up a camera: 10 Colourspace – Adobe RGB
How to set up a camera: 11 Picture Style or Picture Control – Standard

READ MORE

10 common camera mistakes every photographer makes
How to use a camera: exposure modes made simple
99 common photography problems (and how to solve them)

15 common photography questions from beginners (and how to solve them)