Much of this comes mostly from the current issue of Shutterbug, which has an article with a similar title (March 2004, pg 124, Steve Bedell). But I have modified and added to it according to my own experiances with macro film photography, digital photography, and digital imaging. So here it goes: Many of these tips, viewed alone, will make little or no difference in the end result. They make itsy bitsy and teeny weeny differences. So, why bother? Well, when you add up all the itsy bitsies, and all the teeny weenies, in the end they do make a difference. Some of these tips may make all the difference in the world. Following as many of the tips as practical should help contribute to a fantastic digital photograph. Most of these tips will require reference to your camera's manual. ~A. Buy More Memory ~ Some of the following tips will eat away at the memory in your camera. Buying the biggest chip your camera will hold and/or a spare will keep you from short cutting yourself out a of a winning photo. Bare minimum? Depends on you resolution (MegaPixels), filetypes and usage. You need more for on location like vacation and proto shots. Less for shooting your own layout and trains and running back and forth to the PC. My gut says you should have 128 MB per 2 or 3 MegaPix before leaving the home! I use a 256 MB in my 3.3 and get a couple a hundred shots following these tips. I will need to double that capacity for a 10 day overseas excursion! ~1 File Format ~ If you have a newer high end camera, it may have a "raw" file format available. It is the best way to save the image in the camera as far as image quality, but it's the worst as far as user friendlyness and memory usage. This is one tip you may opt to skip most of the time, but keep in mind it can be best for very high quality photo's and certain high contrast situations. You have to convert the raw image to another format before using it on your PC or printing. If you don't have a "raw" option, and many very good cameras don't, always use the largest, lowest compression jpeg. This may be called quality instead of compression, in which case you should choose "high" or "fine." If you have other options, the manual should explain,and you should choose the best quality, preferably non-lossy format. ~2 Watch Exposure Rule of thumb for color negative film was to over expose a little, or a lot, depending who you ask. I routinely left my exposure compensation dial on +1 for normal shooting. Overexposure in digital land is evil. Much like color slides, proper exposure or slight underexposure is best. Over exposure washes out the highlights and they are gone forever! However, with underexposure, you canusually bring the details out of the shadows with software later, although it's best to avoid doing so. ~2a. Know Thy Meter~ If you have a built in spot meter, it's usually best. If not, a grey card works wonders (A few dollars at the photo shop) and has it's own instructions. Either way, just knowing what your meter is looking at will help you get the exposure you expect. The LCD display is not a good indication of exposure. If you attempt to "calibrate" it, and are sucessful in doing so, it will only be calibrated for the lighting you calibrated it in. It gets really dark in sunlight! ~3 Don't Digital Zoom!~ They should re-lable the digital zoom button as the Megapixel Reducer! If your camera allows, disable digital zoom and forget you have it! Instead, get closer to the subject and use the optical zoom if needed. Try to fill the frame close to what you want the final photo to look like, as cropping it later has the same effect of digital zoom. ~4 Adjust White Balance ~ The auto setting will work fine for many settings, but if the colors are off, set it manually for the lighting you are using. If your camera allows and the presets don't seem to work, calibrate it to white paper. I dug out my kodak grey cards for this purpose. ~5 Use the Lowest ISO Setting~ Just like film. Higher iso = more noise, much like the grain on film. ~6 Watch You Apature~ Stop down for depth of field in macro and model photography. overed in Shamus's how-to's, but in a nutshell, set to the highest number it will go to for a deeper focus area and better overall focus. ~7 Use Your Tripod~ for all model photography. Stopping down calls for slower shutter speeds. I use a "quick shoe" tripod, so I am not forever screwing it on/off, I just flip a lever. ~8 Shoot Like You Can't Fix it Later!~ Don't let photoshop or the GIMP or whatever software turn you into a bad photographer. You will eat up more itsy bitsies and teeny weenies after the shoot than before if you have to do a lot of corrections and cropping. Try to stick to minor cropping and color/exposure compensation. ~~~After the Photoshoot~~~ ~9 Look Sharp!~ Do sharpen your photo's for posting or printing. Check with your photolab or experiment if you use a self serve machine for prints. Sharpening sharpened images is not good. ~10 Don't Repeatedly Save jpegs~ jpegs are "lossy" and there is deterioration with each save, even if uncompressed. Avoid "Open, Save, Close, Open, Save, Close" sequences. Save, save, save only deteriorates once, as the image is saved from "the screen" (memory) and you are not recompressing/converting. But once you close the image and open it again, a new save is a repeat. Best is to either keep a copy of the original (that's what I do) and work on a renamed copy. Or rename it and convert to a tiff or other nonlossy format. Once you have it how you like it, convert to jpg for web use or to save space. The tiffs can be opened and saved as often as you like. If your camera has a tiff option (I think a lot of Kodaks and Canons might), start with a tiff right away, as implied in step 1. ~Finally~ As with film, clean your stuff. You can safely keep one end of the lense clean with a proper cleaning kit, but you probably should have an authorized shop clean the inside. The inside? Yup, even new it may be dirty in there (that should be a warranty issue). Internal cleanliness can be tested by shooting a photo of a clear blue or solid overcast sky at highest size, quality and F stop (stop it down), then view it on a quality high res monitor at 100% or better. You look for spots. I'm scared to try it! ~Conclusion~ Some of the benifits of these tips, and the tips posted by others, may not outweigh the effort. I think for normal photography, saving the raw images, for example, will not be worth the conversion effort. On the other hand, if your intent is to publish them, enlarge them, or it's your daughter's wedding, by all means use raw mode. Questions, comments, opinions and additions are most welcome! Happy shooting!