I would say that 90% of emails that I get where people are unhappy with their cameras, have to do with not understanding the basics of exposure metering. This also means they don't quite understand how shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings inter-relate.
"What general words of advice do you have for new photographers ?"
The first steps in getting to understand photography would be:
Know how to use your camera's light-meter more effectively.
Your camera's meter is accurate, but do need to be interpreted some times.
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