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One of Canon's most popular wide-angle lenses ...

One of Canon's most popular lenses, the 17-40 mm f/4 L retrofocus zoom lens.

One of the things you should have been learning this week shooting at home is how to use your camera.  I can’t help you with that — I know how to use my camera, not yours.  But don’t worry, all cameras come with a user’s guide.  So if all else fails, read the instructions.  I know you’ve heard that so often it’s not funny anymore, but it is still true.  Read them and practice using the different features on your camera.  The more you practice, the better photographer you’ll become.

Photo Tip:  Put your camera’s instructions in your camera bag, so if you run into a problem while you’re shooting, you’ll have expert advice right at your fingertips.

Some of the things you should know and be able to do quickly are:

Not all cameras have all the above mentioned features.  But you should know which of those features your camera does have and how and when to use/change them.  In Beginning Photography at Utah State University, we were told to secure (beg, borrow, or steal buy) a camera that can shoot in manual mode.  It’s okay if it was an automatic camera, but the course required it to also have a manual mode.  And surprisingly,  it didn’t need all the bells and whistles that new cameras have.  It just needed to be a camera the photographer could control.  Know your camera.  Does it have a manual mode?

The only other requirement was that the camera must have interchangeable lenses.  Sometimes you need a long lens, other subjects require a wide angle lens.  Beginning Photography was just the right place to learn which focal length was best for the subject.

I was asked in Starting Here, Starting Now,   “I have an old (digital) camera. Probably 3 or 4 years old. Should I buy a new one?”  I answered, “You only need a new digital camera if you want to do more than your old digital camera can do. For example, if your old digital camera had a fixed lens and you’d like to use multiple lenses, then it’s time to buy a new one. But if you don’t even know what I’m talking about, then the camera you have is still good for you.”  I think that’s still good advice here.  Just like your shoes, you don’t need a new camera until you’ve outgrown your old one — or it is worn out.

Just something to think about on a Saturday in September.