Start Here: Don’t Drop Things
*Quick list of camera safety and common-sense-but-needs-to-be-said advice.
- Do not move your feet while looking through the viewfinder. Your field of view is different, the top of those stairs may be closer than they appear.
- Do not fiddle with the battery/SD Card doors when out and about.
- Do not toss your camera onto a couch cushion like your old phone.
- Ports (USB/Charging cable, HDMI cable, etc) are not like straps, they are not secure points of contact, and should not be treated as such. Don’t hold, move, or pick up a camera by a connection cable.
- Store your camera in an appropriately safe, padded, and secure area. They make bags just for cameras, they're great. Probably better than your current bag, tbh.
- Do not look directly into the sun.
🌞 Do not look directly into the sun with or without a camera lens. But especially don’t magnify the suns’ light rays at your retina via a device explicitly designed to magnify light rays at things.
- Do not constantly remove and replace your lens cap while shooting. Just leave it in your pocket, it's fine.
- Do not leave your lens pointed at the sun (upright on a sunny day). It's a magnifying glass, and the expensive part of your cameras is a poor ant. This is when you use the lens cap.
- Default to using a Haze or UV filter on the front of your lens. It's like a clear lens cap. What a concept!
- A little bit of dust on the front of the lens is fine. It's fine! Perfect optical clarity should not be a priority concern while you are photographing. It's probably so out of focus, it's not there, just keep an eye on lens flares.
- Clean your lens when you have time and space and a table and are not at the beach surrounded by sand. If you have no table, use your bag as a make-shift safety zone. Don’t rest your equipment on concrete or in dirt.
- Only clean your lens with an appropriate microfiber cloth, and do not blow disgusting bacteria-filled moist lung-air on your image sensor for the love of all things decent. Use a cheap blower.
- Never directly touch the electrical contacts with your gross oily skin. That’s the shiny gold bits on the lens, the camera’s lens mount, the battery, and – the easiest to mess up - on SD cards. If you do, it's very easy to clean with some isopropyl alcohol and a q-tip.
- Use your camera strap.
- I'm serious. Actually use it. I find neck straps uncomfortable, and have recommendations for other kinds of straps. Find one you like and will actually use.
- Test that your camera strap is secured properly before gravity tests it for you.
- Never leave your strap hanging over the edge of a table. A very expensive cat toy.
- Don't let your camera swing about. Keep a steady hand on it. Hold it if you're running. Wait, I mean don't run with a camera.
- Don't walk around with your camera on a tripod slung over your shoulder. At least also hold the strap, please.
- Tripod leg pivots should be tight enough that the legs don't swing inward freely. If the tripod tips forward, and the raised leg swings inward, it can prevent the tripod from regaining it's balance.
- When panning tripod, always loosen the panning lock, and don't accidentally loosen/unscrew the tripod from the plate. The cameras orientation as attached to the plate should not be adjustable with your hand - that's just a loose camera.
- On uneven terrain, aim to make your center-column vertical by shortening one of the tripod legs.
- Stand between two of the legs. Don't straddle a tripod leg.
- This positions the lens over the third leg. The cameras center-of-balance is generally a bit forward (because of the lens). Stick a tripod leg under the center of balance, and make it difficult to accidentally bump the tripod when you move around.
- Loosen only one adjustment knob at a time.
- Give the camera and tripod a little sturdy wiggle check.
- Don't leave it unattended. Even if you've done everything right, some idiot tourist with a big backpack is going to turn and knock it over for you. This is not a hypothetical, but an allusion to an anecdote I would rather not think about.
- Memorize which knobs loosen and tighten what.
- You can trust a bubble level.