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Friday, May 29, 2009


© 2009 Simon Hucko

If you're like me, the first thing you do when you get a new camera (or other gadget) is to pull it out of the box and start playing with it. However, fairly soon afterward (usually that night before bed) I'll get out the manual and read it cover to cover. Having spent some time with my new camera, the references to buttons and dials and menus will make some sense, and I'm likely to have a list of "how do I...?" questions stored up that will be answered as I read. (If you don't do this, you are seriously missing out, and likely have spent way too much time scratching your head or settling for mediocre results.)

At this point, most people toss the manual back into the box or into the junk drawer and forget about it. If you do, you're throwing away a great opportunity to really get the most out of your gear. I keep my camera manual in my camera bag, so it's always there if I need to look something up. There will come a time when you're shooting and part of your brain goes "hm, I remember that there's a setting for ________, but darned if I know how to find it and change it." Manual to the rescue!

I also advise that you re-visit the manual after you've shot with your camera for a while and are comfortable using it. You can skim through most of the basic information, but there are likely to be a few features in there that you forgot about, or that didn't make sense the first time through. Learning a new shortcut can make the difference between capturing a moment and missing it because you're diving through menus. Knowing how to finely adjust parameters in camera can help cut down on post processing time, especially when shooting .jpg.

Camera manuals tend to be surprisingly well written, and will help you fully utilize the tool that you plunked down your hard earned cash for. If you haven't ever read your manual, read it! If you have, pick it up again and take a look through - you will probably go "ohhhhh! so that's what that setting means" at least once. Either way, find a spot for it in your camera bag and always have it available for reference. It might save your butt some day.


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