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Here’s two things I do to lower the chances of getting dust  on my sensor chip when changing lenses. First, do it quickly to minimize the time the camera body is exposed to the open air without a lens. In preparation, I try to have the end cap removed from the lens I’m changing to before I remove the lens from the camera. That way, I’m not fumbling around and exposing the chip to dust longer than necessary. Second, and more important, I also turn the camera body so the lens points straight down. I keep the camera body oriented this way as I change lenses. Doing this prevents gravity from helping dust particles fall into the opening.

Using this two-step method has kept my sensors relatively free of airborne dust particles during the many, many lens changes I’ve made since switching to digital. Of course, if your surroundings are very dusty (like when covering rodeos, motocross races, etc.) it’s a good idea to keep lens changes to a minimum or to make the swaps in a more dust-free environment. To recap: point the camera down, change lenses quickly.

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There are countless articles, blogs and even books devoted to the digital photo workflow. Most deal only with what to do from capture to downloading your images to the computer and then from the computer to the printer. While that workflow is important, it’ll also leave you with a full memory card and a camera set for your LAST assignment, not the next assignment. Since I like to start an assignment with my camera set the same way every time (partly due to latent OCD on my part), I follow this post-assignment workflow:

  1. After making sure the images on your memory card have been safely copied to your hard drive and your backup drive, format your memory card in the camera, not in your card reader.
  2. Charge your camera battery and your backup battery. Might as well charge your flash batteries now while you’re in the mood.
  3. Set your ISO to 200, or whatever ISO setting gives the best quality. For my EOS 1D MkII, it’s 200.
  4. Set exposure compensation to zero. I often set this to a couple stops underexposure if I’m shooting with flash, so it’s important to change it back.
  5. White balance to auto white balance mode (AWB).
  6. Motor drive mode (if you have one) set to continuous. (because I shoot a lot of action)
  7. Exposure mode set to aperture preferred. (because I like to choose my own f-stop, thank you)

While you’ll probably want to modify this list to suit your own gear, the general concept remains the same. Going through this post-shoot routine allows me to start my next assignment confident in knowing my camera has a blank memory card, fresh batteries and is set to my baseline settings — leaving everything ready to go for the next assignment.

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