Always shoot in RAW
I hear this one all the time. “You should never shoot in jpeg mode.” The tone this is said in usually makes one think that jpeg mode is some dirty mode better left for use by those producing porn or some such thing.
The truth is jpeg mode is just fine. If you understand your camera, how to control your camera and get proper exposure and color balance jpeg will deliver great images for you. In a rough kind of way I equate jpeg mode to color slides and RAW to color negative from the old film days. Back then, in the days of film, people considered chromes, color slide film, to be the film of pros. It was a VERY unforgiving media. In color slides you either had the correct exposure or you had crap. You had to understand light and color temperature. You had to understand which filters corrected for color in different lights like tungsten or the old green florescent lights. Color negative was one of the most forgiving films ever made. Miss the exposure, no big deal. Screw up and not filter your lens for ugly light, no big deal. Most of your sins could be fixed in printing. With digital the same is true with jpeg and RAW. In jpeg you are best to get the exposure and color right. In RAW one can fix a host of errors.
Of course in RAW you get more data to play with, you can go back and change many things and do have a wider range of bit depth, but for what most people do with images jpeg is just fine.
There are times for each and one should always consider final use and other aspects to determine which is best.
Always shoot in manual mode
This is one I have heard time and time again and have actually had someone tell me that I am not a “real” photographer because I often shoot in aperture mode.
Well the truth is, if you understand how to control your camera and how to get it to predictably give you the results you want then it does not matter which mode you choose.
I do often tell people who want to truly learn the craft of photography to shoot in manual mode AND to pay attention to the meter in the camera and to see how different situations effect the meter. The reason for this is so that they can learn how backlight, black or white subjects can make their meter lie to them. If one is always shooting in program mode then they never notice such things.
However; once one learns when and how a camera meter can lie, and how to make the meter read properly, any mode will work. I prefer aperture mode for much of my shooting. I do use the exposure compensation dial often. There are times I use shutter priority and also times I use manual. One should always select which works best for the situation one is in.
Always use spot metering
HA!!! This one really makes me laugh. Unless one REALLY understands reflectivity and pays very close attention to exactly where the spot is placed then one should STAY AWAY from spot metering! Different subjects reflect very differently and this must be taken into consideration when using a spot meter. While I am not a huge fan of the zone system one really needs to have an understanding of it and how different zones are metered and how the camera meter pulls everything to a zone 5 grey to accurately use a spot meter. Lost in all this technical jargon? Then do not use your spot meter.
On today’s cameras the metering systems are so good the full screen metering is usually just fine. There are times when spot metering is necessary, I use it maybe once or twice a year, but in general the full screen evaluative is just fine.
There are no hard and fast rules in photography…except, maybe, that there are no rules. Each setting on your camera has a purpose and one should learn the craft of photography well enough to understand when to use each. Simply doing something because someone somewhere said “You should always” do this or that is not a good excuse. Learn WHY to use the various settings and you WILL be a better photographer.