Waiting for that new camera or gear to arrive can be a somewhat anxious time. I don't know about you, but when I finally decide on a product after much research, I want it right away. However, there are some things you can do while you're waiting for that new camera to arrive.
As I write this, I'm anticipating the new Canon EOS R5 that I'm picking up tomorrow. I'm not very patient when it comes to waiting for new gadgets or gear. I'll put off buying it for a while, and then, I go from a procrastinating pessimist to being like a kid on Christmas morning. The excitement of getting more capable technology has been with me since my first VIC-20 computer at age 11.
When you get that new camera, you want to get out and shoot. Don't let oversight or a steep learning curve spoil that initial outing. Whether you're waiting for your gear to be shipped or waiting until your bank account is large enough, there are some things you can do with your time to make that new gear moment even better.
Learn About Your Camera
Knowledge is power. You can spend quite a bit of time looking through the camera menus to find that setting, or you can look it up in the manual index in a few seconds. If you have invested some time familiarizing yourself where some of your favorite settings are, they'll be a lot easier to find once you get that new camera.
Download the Manual
Most manufacturers have PDF versions of their manuals for download. I even have manuals for cameras I don't even own, just to help out friends. Taking the time to learn about that new camera can save you time and hassle when you first go out. I recently had a friend call me when he was out in the field, asking about settings for his new Canon R5. I already had the PDF manual in anticipation of my own purchase. I helped him turn off the continuous focus and let him know the shutter limitations of the electronic shutter mode was the reason he couldn't go longer on the exposure.
You may even prefer the PDF version of the manual. For my Canon 5D Mark IV, the printed manual is black and white, whereas the PDF version is in color, making it much easier to read.
Spend some time at least getting familiar with the controls, especially if the camera system will be new to you. Read the notes and warnings, making a note of things that might be different from what you already have. You won't remember everything, but it might just be enough to jog your memory if you run into an issue.
Watch Some Videos
You've probably already done this, but watch some YouTube videos about your new camera. Manuals can be rather bland and technical, but an experienced photographer telling and showing you things will probably be remembered more than a page in a black and white manual.
In particular, some videos cover specific settings that may be good for the type of shooting you do. Bird and sports photography are good examples of this. Focus and tracking modes are difficult to learn from a manual and are often clarified by an experienced photographer telling you what works for them.
Some of us learn by doing, and some learn better by watching instead of reading. Everyone is different, so do whatever you have to, but try to know a little before your gear arrives.
Consider Third Party Materials
Various content creators make e-books and guides for specific cameras. Steve Perry has some excellent guides on the Nikon system. Art Morris has some great guides on several camera models. I'm sure you have some favorite photographers who sell guides. Show them some love. Not only do you get the technical information you need, but you get years of their knowledge and experience in those guides.
There are even books available that can supplement your camera manual, and they're typically in full color, which makes them a little easier to follow. I've given these as gifts to several friends of mine. These are especially useful if your camera did not come with a printed manual or if you don't want to rough up your manual on that epic road trip.
The more you know about the camera you're getting before it arrives, the more enjoyable your time with it will be. The quicker you become proficient with it, the faster you can capture perfect images.
Make Sure Your Accessories Are up To Speed
One of the drawbacks of getting a new camera is that they sometimes require new accessories. New battery types, new memory card types, different cables, flashes, remote shutter releases, etc. can put quite the strain on your wallet. The expense of just batteries and memory cards add up quickly, but don't let that influence which camera you decide to get.
Ensure that you have everything you need. Accessories are easy to forget about until the time comes to use them. For me, I depend a lot on my L-Bracket. The one I want is on backorder, but luckily, I have a generic one that I can use in the meantime. Out in the field is not the place you want to learn that your new camera doesn't use the same remote shutter release!
If the camera requires a different card reader, you may consider using the USB cable directly to the camera until you decide which new card reader to buy. New lenses may require different sized filters. Filters can be expensive. You may be able to get by with a step-up or step-down ring if the filter size is different.
Don't forget to consider your camera bag and whether it will fit your new camera or gear, especially if this is an addition and not just a replacement.
Even just an afternoon or evening of research can make a significant difference in the experience you have with your new camera. It can transform what could be a frustrating experience into a pleasurable one.