This year, thousands of people will have recieved a new Digital Camera for Christmas. It's important that it's set up correctly to get the best from it. It will probably come in a box similar to the one on the left. Some cameras come on a plastic covered card. Open the box, or use a pair of scissors to cut the plastic open (parents will need to cut this if the camera is for a child). There will normally be a camera and several  plastic bags: one containing leads, usually one with CD's (though some manufacturers put the software in the cameras internal memory), one with paperwork, and one with batteries (and possibly a battery charger).  You might get a printed manual, but this is usually found on the CD. There will usually be a quick start guide amongst the paperwork. It is important that you read this as it tells you how to set up the camera. Each camera will have a slightly different set up, though it is often similar for modern cameras.
The quick start guide is commonly found in the same bag as the paperwork. It will look similar to the one one the right,, or it may be a fold out multi language sheet. If you're lucky enough to get a proper printed manual then the quick start guide will be in the manual itself, usually after about 15 pages of safety information required by law. It is important that you read it fully and follow it. It will have a diagram pointing out what each button or part does, and a list of all items included in the box. Don't open any polythene bags until you've checked everything is in the box. Some shops can be fussy about returns for technology products unless they're faulty, and if things haven't been unpacked it's easier for the consumer to show that the product's unused. Familiarise yourself with the location of everything in the diagram.

The first step is inserting the batteries. Read the guide to find out where the battery compartment is and how to open it. For most compacts, there's an arrow indicating the direction  you slide it in to open. Some bridge and high end compact cameras have a switch you have to slide to enable the cover to open. The memory card slot is usually behind this door. If you have bought a card, insert it now. Simply push the card down in the slot till it clicks. If you haven't, the camera will usually have some internal memory, but todays cameras have such a high megapixel count that you'll only get two or three images at full resolution. The guide will tell you which way to insert both the card and batteries. This will also be shown in the compartment (usually with an etching in the plastic or a sticker inside). If the camera takes 4 AA cells, be extra careful to fitt them in the right order because it's easy to get it wrong. If you have a rechargeable battery, this will need to be charged up before the camera can be used. If it takes AA's then you will get a set of alkaline batteries in the box. Remember you can't use ordinary nickel batteries as they don't have enough power, but alkaline or lithium batteries are fine. It's best to buy a set of rechargeable batteries and a charger as Digicams can get through a lot of alkalines, especially if you use the flash a lot.
Next switch the camera on. Upon inserting batteries for the first time (or if the camera's been left without batteries, or with dead battries, for a while), you usually get a date/time screen like the one shown on the left. It's important that you set this, as the camera puts this information into each file and Windows and many editing programmes  use this information for dating and storing your images. You use the up/down button's on the cameras Direction pad to change the value of the highlighted option, and use the left/right buttons to move between the different options such as Date and Month. Don't press OK until you've set all three values as this sets all three at once. You might also be able to specify the date format as well, but some just defualt to US settings. Some cameras also ask you to set the country and default language. Most default to English, so if english isn't your preferred language you'll have to set the date and use the cameras menu button to change the language after set up has completed. 
If your computer or laptop has a memory card reader built in, and you have a memory card, you have completed setup. To transfer images to your computer, simply remove the card from the camera and insert it into the card reader in the computer/laptop just like you did in the camera. The sticker should face upwards. Windows XP to Windows 8 should automatically detect the card, and a pop up box appears. Unless you have a programme already on your computer, select the option to let Windows or Windows Live Photo Gallery import the images. See the page Transferring Pictures To Your Computer for a detailed tutorial on how to do this. If you haven't got a memory card, you'll need to either install the software provided with the camera or connect your camera to the computer via the USB port as in the pictures on the right. The procedure is outlined in the next step.
If you want to use the software the manufacturer provided, you'll have install it from the disc provided. Ensure the computer is connected to the internet, as even if you have a CD disc, the software might require you to download it from the manufacturers website. If your camera came with a CD disc, insert the disc into the CD drive and close it. An autoplay menu should appear. It might take a while. Choose the 'Setup' option and click it.. If it doesn't appear, you need to click the file manager icon on the taskbar (a brown folder) and browse to your CD drive. Look for a for a file called 'Setup' (or setup.exe) and double click it to run the software installation.Follow the instructions. Only connect the camera to the computer when prompted, and ensure the camera is switched off when you connect. Unless you are told to by the software, power the camera on after you connect it to the computer. The computer should recognise that a camera has been added, and you should see the 'New Hardware Found Box' on screen. It should automatically search the disc for a driver.  Occasionally, Windows may need to go online to search for the driver, or after it has been installed, the software might ask to go online to see if an updated driver is available on the manufacturers website.
As you have seen, it's a simple task to set up your new camera. The process should take no more than 30 minutes (including software installation).  To set up your cameras settings for image size, quality and other things, check the 'Using Your Camera' section, in particular the Camera Modes page. Your new camera should be up and running no time.
If the software is within the cameras memory, you will need to connect the camera to your computer to install the software. Before connecting, ensure the computer is connected to the internet as some cameras actually download the necessary software from the internet. Ensure the cameras power is off, connect it to the computer and then switch the camera on. You will get an autoplay pop up similar to the one you see when you insert a software CD or a memory card. Select the 'Setup' option. If setup is not listed, the camera will be described as a removeable drive, and you should select the 'View Files Using Windows Explorer' option, and look for a 'Setup' file. Double click it and follow the prompts. You should follow the prompts onscreen to complete installation. The last step in the process is registration. Most software instalations offer you the chance to register your new camera at this point. You will have the chance to do it later if you wish, but the software automatically takes you to the correct page. It will typically take 5 - 10 minutes to complete. Be careful to ensure that the tick boxes for sharing details with third parties is unchecked. There will usually be a tickbox for a newsletter, or offers from the camera maker, so if you don't want these untick them as well.
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