It’s always fun to open a new camera box, lens box, etc. But that’s just the beginning. You want to make sure you get the most out of this new gear you have been lusting after. So how do you do that?

Step one may surprise you. Put it back in the box! Yep – put the camera down! (substitute lens or tripod or whatever for camera.) Instead, pick up the manual and read it. I know, that’s shocking advice, but it’s good advice. There’s a wealth of information in that manual. Just read it. Really.

Then, make sure your new gear is ready to use. Save ALL packing materials. You may need to return the product if it is defective and if you decide to resell it later, all these materials make the product worth more used. Also save all receipts, manuals, cables, etc. Start with the obvious like charging the batteries, etc. If you received a new lens or camera, wipe off the mount area where there may be some minute particles or metal shavings.

Install straps (if you use them) and make sure everything is in order. Immediately shoot some test shots and make sure everything works to spec. If not, return the gear for a refund or replacement.  Send in warranty cards, etc., only AFTER taking the test shots.

The next thing to know is that using this new gear on an important job may be a big mistake. Chances are you’re familiar with your old gear. If you jump in with both feet and have a serious shoot where the results really matter, then it might be better to use the old gear until you’ve practiced with the new stuff.

Once you’re settled in with your new gear, check out a few of the owners’ forums for that brand. You can keep track of firmware upgrades, recalls, tutorials, etc. by registering your new gear with the manufacturer, joining their e-mail lists, and reading the forums.

New gear is good – new vision is better. My last piece of advice is to not rely on this new gear causing your photography to improve. That’s usually a matter of heart, vision, passion, desire, drive, practice, patience and sometimes a little luck. Good gear can help.

Enjoy.

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