By Derek Doeffinger
December 18, 2008
Although I can't sing, my camera has a wonderful voice. When it's been fine-tuned, its voice results in expressive photos.
Your camera is a complex electro-mechanical-optical device with hundreds of settings and controls. To achieve peak performance it needs a little camera housekeeping.
A dirty sensor can later waste valuable time as you try to repair a "damaged" image.
As mundane as it may be, your camera has a few critical care needs to avoid your pictures showing distracting flaws. The lens: Check it regularly and remove dust and smudges. Same goes for the sensor. Periodically shoot a full frame of a white card and check for dust spots. Clean according to your manual—greatly simplified if you have a self-cleaning sensor.
By knowing how to use the spot meter you can achieve good exposures that possibly even Camera RAW couldn't save if taken in a matrix or averaging meter mode.
Equally importantly, prep your camera for optimum performance. Grab your manual and do these things, usually found in the menus. Set it for optimum jpeg quality, for Adobe RGB (not sRGB), and turn on the histogram overexposure indicator (histogram highlights flash).
Learn how to make these settings which you may want to use for some shots:
• 14-bit mode (not on all cameras) for very contrast scenes
• extended highlight recovery (not on all cameras)
• custom white balance
• rapid fire mode
• spot exposure metering
Now you have a camera with a clean sensor, a clean lens, and the settings in place for superior shooting.