Skip to content
How to set up your DSLR

How to set up your DSLR

Just got your hands on your first digital SLR? Here are some tips to help set up your camera. Rather than snapping photos with your DSLR right out of the box, you may want to consider customizing some settings to your liking. This will save you time later and help you get to know your way around the camera.


Set your time and date
Once your battery is fully charged and you turn the DSLR on for the first time, it will prompt you to enter the time and date. It's important to set the time and date accurately, as this information is embedded in the EXIF data of each photo you take. Entering the correct time and date will make it easier to sort and catalog images later on, especially once you import them to your PC or upload them to an online photo-storage site.

Format your memory card in-camera
It's a good idea to format your memory card in-camera as a force of habit, rather than formatting on your computer. This will help the camera set up the proper directory structure for storing photos and videos. Make sure to use the fastest memory card you can afford for the best results. This is especially important is you’re thinking of working with Raw images, burst modes or full HD video recording.


Turn on the optional extras
If your lens has built-in image stabilization like the Nikon NIKKOR Z mount lens from, you’ll most likely want to turn this feature on. There will be a switch on the lens to turn it on and off. Some brands generally have image stabilization built in to the camera body itself, so all lenses will be automatically stabilized. Check that the setting is activated by default in your camera menus.

Change the defaults
Many SLRs will ship with default settings that aren't ideal for most photographers. One such setting is image quality. Depending on your preference, you may want to shoot in JPEG, Raw or both at the same time. For those who want to shoot JPEG, dive into the menu settings to find the image quality option and move it from the default and make sure it's set to fine or highest quality. For the most flexibility, consider shooting in Raw. These files give you the image direct from the camera's sensor, without the compression and processing of a JPEG file. Another default that you may want to change is the AF (autofocus) setting. Often, your camera will ship with the AF set for a single option only. This is fine for portraits or still subjects, but not so great for action photography or fast-moving subjects. Nikon calls this particular focus mode AF-S, while Canon calls it One Shot AF.


Set up your screen
The LCD screen on your DSLR from is a wonderful tool, so it's worth customizing it to your needs. If it has an auto brightness option, consider turning this on so it can automatically adjust brightness to the ambient lighting situation. Otherwise, you can set the brightness level manually to review images more comfortably. Depending on your DSLR, in playback mode, pressing the up arrow on the directional pad will open up a range of display modes. The info, "i" or disp button can also be used to bring up this information, so check your manual for specifics on your particular camera. You can check the histogram, look at the exposure values or metering modes at the touch of a button.


Use these tips to get your new camera up and running in no time
Previous article Find the Perfect Gift for Mother’s Day

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields