Trite but True #3: Read the #%*@&!%$ manual

I have a technical background. I used to write manuals for a living. Yet, even I find most camera and software manuals gobbledygook.Well brothers and sisters, the secret is to just plod on. The first time you read the manual it may seem opaque. The second time, however, you may recognize a few phrases. Soon you’ll be able to identify the names of buttons and switches. As soon as you understand something, try it out. That’ll help you understand more.

Keep going. Turn the manual into a workbook by trying out every option. Once you know the main controls and procedures, think of situations where you can apply them. Take notes.  Create a “cheat sheet” to augment your camera’s manual.

The picture above shows the manual for my Nikon D200. Obviously, I’m not afraid to highlight what’s important to me, rephrase technical statements in practical terms, and even disagree with the author.

While you’re at it, get online copies of the manuals for your camera, lenses, tripod, and other attachments. Store these manuals on your favorite mobile device so you always have it with you.And the next time you feel the urge to buy a new camera, re-read the manual for your current camera to see how many new capabilities you discover. You may find you already have the features you need.

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