Pre-flight checklist

9 11 2008

Ever been or near the cockpit when a pilot is ready to take off or land? Doesn’t matter whether they are a professional or amateur pilot, they all do the same thing… their pre-takeoff or pre-landing checklist. Doesn’t matter whether they have flown thousands of flights, they still do it to make sure they don’t forget something silly.

So have any of you hot-shots done any of the following by accident?

  • Shot on high ISO
  • Shot JPEG instead of RAW
  • Left your exposure compensation with a bias from your last shoot
  • Left your light metering on the wrong setting (like spot meter)
  • Forgot to clean your lens (and found later a big fingerprint or dirt splodge on it)

Yeah… made all of these mistakes, so I have developed a “pre-flight check” that I now do relegiously at the start of every shoot. I recommend that you do something similar and it will helpfully stop you making silly mistakes. Here’s how my pre-flight check works.

Step 1) Set the camera shooting modes and custom mode first (I have settings for “Normal” and “Landscape Mode”). You must do this first because otherwise all your settings will change if you do it later…. ie. You could do your pre-flight check, and then change your shoot mode and everyhing could be mis-set.

Step 2) I go across the top of my Nikon in sequence

  • Quality = RAW
  • WB = Auto (not that impotant if you are shooting RAW)
  • ISO = 200 (my starting point)
  • Mode = Aperture priority
  • Exposure compensation = 0

Step 3) Then I do the back of my camera

  • Light metering = matrix
  • Focus= centre spot

Step 4) Finally I do the front of my camera

  • Bracketing= off
  • Focus= manual (most of my landscape work is manual focus)
  • Lens = clean and clear of dust.

So I highly recommend that find something that works for you…. and develop your own pre-flight check….I can guarantee that you will have less unpleasant surprises if you make this part of your routine… It only takes 15sec to do.




2 responses

5 09 2010

I think you can also do a settings reset by holding down the QUAL and Expo-Comp buttons at the same time (on a D700). I forget which settings it resets, but I am sure one can look it up. It`s a quick trick if you forget all the items in your detailed list. 🙂


5 09 2010

I wouldn’t recommend doing a reset as that puts your camera back to it’s factory defaults.

I have my camera controls heavily customised, the last thing I would want to do is lose those customisations….. the aim of the pre-flight is just to get the camera in a “consistent known state” before starting to shoot.


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