Tips for getting to know a new camera

'Footpath' sign shot with Pentax645Z

'Footpath' sign shot with Pentax645Z

So, you find me in an ever-so-excited meets totally-bricking-it frame of mind. On Monday I head to New York with my first husband, Iain and our 18 year old daughter Holly. That in itself is mind-blowingly awesome (soz if you are one of those people who abhor the word awesome but it was the only one I think could accurately describe the gravity of the situation).

So it goes without saying that I'll be sharing photos from our trip on Instagram whilst I'm away and here on my blog when I return. As some slightly annoying people would say, 'obvs'. 

The ever-so-excited meets totally-bricking-it frame of mind relates not to the trip but to the camera that I'm taking. I've been loaned a Pentax 645z kit from Calumet Photographic's Rental Department for the trip. Costing around the £7.5k mark to buy, this is not a camera that I will be in a position to buy for a very long time so it's a thrill to be able to try it out on this trip. I'll go into the whole 'Why you might want to rent a camera, in another post, for now let's concentrate on the task at hand - How do I get to know a completely new camera?

It took me a good 6 months to feel confident and get to grips with my day to day camera, a Fujifilm XT1000 and mainly it's XF 55-200mm lens, so getting to know the Pentax over the weekend is going to involve some time and experimenting. To help myself, I asked some photographers I respect and love for their advice and input and then set out to put it to the test. So here, in case it's of help to anyone else are tips for getting to  know a new camera. 

I've also peppered the post with my first Pentax images shot today whilst out and about familiarizing myself with the camera.

Footpath Sign

Footpath Sign

Advice from Tom Arber:

 If the camera is crap on auto, it's a crap camera. I would go out today with it on auto and just get a feel for it and the lenses.  After that I find AV mode will prob give you the most control straight away.  
With it being a HUGE sensor (medium format) camera, resoultion will be amazing!  So you'll get REALLY shallow depth of field in portraits (if you want it) and incredible detail in landscapes... could even do those gritty show every wrinkle portraits if you use F16 or something with some tasty window light.  

However, in a very boring way, this will tell you all you need to know about the camera... and he's am amazing photographer.

Not sure if it'll be a default setting, but I would also set ISO to auto, max at about 6400 or 12800... then just forget it and go shoot!

New Forest Heather

New Forest Heather

Sunflowers & Blackberries

Sunflowers & Blackberries

Advice from Lucy, Capture by Lucy

READ THE MANUAL!
How often when you get a new camera do we all just race to get it out of the box and start playing?! I am exactly the same. I have learnt my canon 6d by practise and time and probably don't use even half of what it is capable of. So i would recommend trying to switch off auto and flip to aperture priority, that's our style of photography, playing with depth of field and when you have that control over the settings you'll be amazed at the difference!

Gravestone with ivy

Gravestone with ivy

Creepy window, Bealieu

Creepy window, Bealieu

Advice from Em from Snowing Indoors:

Play with it and use it until you can feel where the buttons are without having to take it away from your eye. That's always the mark of comfort for me with a new camera.

Telegraph post

Telegraph post

Stone seat, Beaulieu

Stone seat, Beaulieu

Advice from Kirsty from My Two Mums:

Practice in all settings, lights off, lights on, outside, moving objects, shiny objects just to get the main settings figured out.

Churchyard

Churchyard

Ferns

Ferns

Advice from Hayley from Shutterflies:

First I set it all up how I like it with the eye piece and that. If you figure out where the settings you use most are so you can switch them easily and aren't stood about fiddling with it. 

Winking

Winking

Not very happy

Not very happy

Run Forest Run!

Run Forest Run!

Any more advice gratefully received, if you have any pop it below in the comments - and thank you to Tom, Lucy, Em, Hayley and Kirsty for letting me pick their brains!