Digital cameras are amazing machines, but they have their limits. Here are 10 ways to freak out your digital camera.
1. Magenta, Red and Green, Oh my! - Digital cameras hate red. It totally makes them crazy in the pixels. Throw in magenta and green and your camera’s auto white balance will have no idea what color to make anything. (Here’s a tip: when photographing large amounts of red/magenta, underexpose your image a bit.)
2. Fluorescent Light – Ever heard of “The Strobe Effect” from fluorescent lighting? Fluorescent lights flash through a range of colors at a very high rate that can’t be seen by the naked eye. In your camera’s terms, the rate is at multiples of 1/60th of a second for one full cycle (this rate can differ for bulbs in different parts of the world). If you shoot at, say, 1/40th of a second under fluorescent light, your camera will only capture part of the color cycle and can give your images weird color gradients or color casts. To combat this problem, shoot at multiples of 1/60th of a second (1/30th, 1/15th, 1/10th, 1/5th, etc, also work because they divide evenly into 60).
3. Incorrect Flash Sync Speed – Your camera has a maximum shutter speed that it can shoot at to coordinate photographing with your flash. This is called your max sync speed. For many cameras this speed is 1/200th or 1/250th of a second (check your manual). If you shoot with flash at a shutter speed faster than your camera’s max sync speed, your flash will either not register on your subject or you’ll experience flash falloff (a dark line across part of your frame).
4. High ISO In Bright Sunlight – If you shoot at high ISO (eg: 1600 or above) in bright sunlight, your images will be soft and fuzzy from all the noise that shooting at high ISO produces in many cameras. Check that ISO when you go from inside in low light to outside in bright light!
5. Shooting In JPEG Mode – Your camera wants you to shoot in RAW. That way it doesn’t have to decide which information to keep and which to throw away. How does it even know anyway!? JPEG mode might allow you to get more images on your memory cards, but you sacrifice quality for quantity.
6. Changing Lenses With Your Camera On – If you change lenses with your camera still turned on, the static charge that your camera produces can attract dust, which can get on your sensor and muck up your images. Turn off your camera when you change lenses. (Another tip: face your camera down, not up, when your lens is off and your camera body is open and exposed.)
7. Letting Your Cat Sleep On Your Camera Or In Your Camera Bag- Camera gear + kitty hair = one hot mess.
8. Extreme Temperature And/Or Air Conditioning Changes – Be careful when going outside into summer humidity and heat immediately after shooting indoors in air conditioning. The sudden change in temperature and humidity can cause your camera and lenses to fog up. This will go away once everything equalizes, but you could miss an important shot.
9. Gear In A Hot Car - Leaving gear in a hot car in the summer can cause problems ranging from batteries overheating and failing to LCD screen and sensor malfunction.
10. Keeping Your Camera On The Beer Pong Table – Cameras are like gremlins: bad things happen when they get wet.