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Maximize your digital camera

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Now that you’ve got a digital camera, why not learn how to get the most out of it? Here are some tips that you’ll use for a lifetime. We’ll give you a short course on the basics: using and preserving batteries, choosing memory cards, and so on. And then we’ll show you how to improve your camera’s performance and extend its life with proper care and a few well-chosen accessories.

Battery basics

Digital cameras eat batteries very fast, and that’s costly. So forget run-of-the-mill alkaline batteries and consider using popular, rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. They’re inexpensive and environmentally friendly. Plus, they give you more pictures per charge and can be recharged hundreds of times. Pretty impressive!

To keep NiMH batteries in peak condition, remember not to recharge them until they are completely depleted (which can be accomplished by placing the batteries in a flashlight until the light goes out). Also, consider investing in two sets of rechargeable batteries so you’ll always have spares.

Here are some other ways to save the juice and avoid running out of power:

• Limit the use of LCD and use the viewfinder whenever possible to frame a picture. And check the picture in the LCD only when there is a question of whether or not you got the shot.
• Turn off the camera before auto shutoff when you’re finished taking a picture. That means OFF: “sleep mode” doesn’t count. You’ll save a significant amount of battery power.
• Use an AC adapter so you can stop worrying about battery consumption. You can power the camera from a wall socket to transfer your images to your computer without draining your batteries. This is especially useful when you’re downloading photos or viewing them on your camera’s screen, both of which require plenty of power.

Memory and storage basics

A digital camera’s storage capacity is finite. Once you’ve filled it, you have to transfer your images to a computer before you can start taking pictures again. Even though your camera probably came with a memory card, it’s a good idea to invest in additional, higher-capacity memory cartridges. This will allow you to shoot more pictures before you have to transfer images to your computer, and you can take pictures of higher quality.

Archiving photos on dvd

Each picture you transfer to your computer takes up space on the hard drive, and over time it will fill up. This means you’ll have to buy and install a new drive; and if it crashes, all of your photo memories could be lost forever.

Instead of filling up your hard drive, try saving your pictures to a rewriteable DVD. DVDs can hold up to seven times more than a CD, and each one can hold about 15,000 photo-quality pictures. Plus, they’re easy to store and share.

Caring for your digital camera

Digital cameras can be very susceptible to dirt, dust and debris: gunk that can eventually degrade image quality and performance. Clean your gear periodically, especially when you’ve been shooting in an environment with more than its share of dirt or sand. Keep a non-scratching lens-cleaning cloth or tissue handy, as well as a small can of compressed air. An occasional cleaning will keep your camera clicking happily for years to come. Find out more about keeping your camera in tip-top shape in digital camera care (link to new article).

Weatherproofing ideas

Your camera prefers the same kind of weather that most people do: not too hot, not too cold. So keep it covered under a towel when you’re sunning at the beach. And snuggle it under your jacket when shooting photos on the slopes. To protect it from water, use a plain old plastic bag. Just make a hole for the lens to poke out from, and use a rubber band to fasten the bag tightly over the lens. Presto: a miniature rain jacket! And always, always, always cover the lens with a cap to protect it when you’re not using your camera.

Updating camera driver software

A driver is a piece of software that communicates with a peripheral. There are drivers for printers, cameras, scanners, etc. If your drivers aren’t updated, you may get a lot of error messages. HP regularly updates drivers and offers new versions that can significantly improve performance.
accessories you’ll want to check out

A digital camera is capable of capturing great photos. Combine it with one of these accessories and it is capable of so much more.

• photo printer – What good is taking great digital photos if you can’t print and share them? A color inkjet printer and specially formulated photo paper can deliver near-professional quality. And a photo inkjet optimized for printing digital pictures can give you even more than quality: Special features let you create frame-ready prints, wallet-sized miniatures, 4 x 6 snapshots, and much more. HP even makes portable printers for printing photos on the go!
• photo-editing software – HP often bundles basic photo-editing software with its products, so you’re all ready for editing. You can rotate, resize and crop your photos, and make changes to the brightness and contrast, etc. But if you really want to play with those pixels, a more advanced software (like Adobe’s Photoshop and the more affordable Photoshop Elements) are the standards among graphic artists.
• carrying case – Not only do cases protect a camera, but they often have built-in pockets for batteries and memory cards. It’s a nice way to both protect your camera and keep all your gear together
• tripod – No matter how steady your hands are, a tripod will help you to get clearer, more consistent shots every time. Plus, it will help expand your picture-taking opportunities. Close-ups, night photography … it’s all easier with a tripod!

Visit the HP Digital Photography Centre