View 157: Manuals…Read Them!

Get a new digital camera for Christmas?  How about a new speedlight (flash) or lens?  I strongly suggest you take the time to read the equipment’s manual like this young women.

A young woman reading her new digital camera's manual.

A young woman reading her new digital camera's manual. Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/50s, f/5.6, ISO 2800, EV 0, 38mm focal length, rear-sync flash at -0.7 power, bounced off ceiling.

Manuals hold the secret to every switch, button, toggle, menu item, range, capacity and dial.  They are not what I would call entertaining works of literature.  Have the equipment with you as you go through it.  Check out the locations on the equipment and any firmware (menus).  Knowing the equipment will help when you are out in the field using it.  In fact, I would carry the manuals with you whenever possible.  Most manuals are available to download from manufacturer’s websites to put on computers and mobile devices.

Like any good tradesman, knowing your equipment, the tools of the trade of photography, the better you can use them.  Take the time now before frustration sets in to learn all about the technological marvel you own to create your vision.

What did you get for Christmas or any other holiday this year?  Did you give yourself a present?

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18 Responses to View 157: Manuals…Read Them!

  1. This is true for non-photography related gifts, too!
    No doubt this post was directed at all the men out there who don’t think they NEED to read the manuals (… or stop and ask for directions) 😉


  2. Oh, I am sure all the women out there have read all their manuals…right? 😉 Directions? That’s what a GPS is for!


  3. yesbuts says:

    Bought a card reader. I think the manual was originally written in Chinese, but the meaning was lost somewhere in translation.

    For first time, please put the reader to the USB port, then choose the driver on CD accordingly.


  4. No digital present this year and yet… my Sony Cyber-shot could need a replacement. On the other hand I got real lovely gifts : books, fabrics, precious handmade gifts, a quilts-diary. I gave myself a nice woollen hat that I fully appreciate during these so cold days (-8, 10°C).


  5. Karma says:

    Amen to that advice! In addition to my nifty fifty that I received a few weeks before Christmas, I was surprised with a $100 B&H gift card from my dad!!! Wahoo! I’m thinking extension tubes.


  6. burstmode says:

    Sometimes Michaela scares me!

    My one-page, 6 language manual has been read.


  7. Gerry says:

    I’m a manual reader, but I find it doesn’t help a lot when the time comes to take a picture, especially when the subject is moving! (Lessee now . . . which menu was that on? Flip, flip, flip – there it is . . . now where did that woodpecker go?) I think I’d like a camera with three big knobs on the top. Sigh.


  8. The manual certainly does help a lot. I got a few things for Christmas nothing camera related though 😦


  9. kanniduba says:

    Santa spoiled me rotten this year…apparently 2010 will go down in history as the year of the High tech gadget in the Zanduba household. Apple and Nikon should send me thank you cards. 🙂
    More on it all later on my blog, but suffice it to say, I have lots of manual reading to do come January. Of course that hasn’t stopped me from trying everything out already! I *think* I will learn to like my flash, but I already love my 35mm f/1.8, even more than my three year old 50.


    • On a cropped body like yours, KD, the 35mm will act like the 50mm does on my D700 full frame camera.

      As for the flash, I have a lot of articles on my Disney blog about how to use one. I also suggest learning how to use it remotely with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS) which is built into your camera and the flash. Check out and Joe McNally’s blog and book on using speedlights once you get the hang of using it on camera. Have fun!


  10. Nye says:

    I wanted the 50mm lens but felt guilty since I just bought a zoom lens. I did get the remote for my camera, and a photography book Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision.

    One of my flaws is to read the manual last, if I read it first then it would save me a lot of headache and frustration.


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