Your Camera Manual Is Your Best Friend

Are you acquainted with your camera’s manual?

Probably not.

And I can’t say that I blame you.

Maybe you picked it up the day you received your camera with great intention. You maybe even started on Page One, then fell asleep before Page Three.

If you know how to use its powers for good, your manual can be your best friend.

What is the best way to get friendly with your camera’s manual?


Do Make It Accessible

Download a copy of your manual to  your iPad, iPhone, or computer. The more accessible it is, the more you will reference it.

The online manual may contain more details than the one you received with your camera. Many manuals also have easy to navigate pdf menus set up. I love Nikon’s manuals for the ease of finding something in the menu and clicking right on over to the correct page.

Do Not Read It From Cover To Cover

Picking it up and attempting to read from front to back can be overwhelming. Begin with the plan to learn your way around your camera:

  • Pick a button.
  • Find the button on the camera example found at the beginning of most manuals.
  • Look the function of that button up in the table of contents or index.
  • Play with the button to see what it will do.
  • Move on to the next button.

Do Explore What You Already Know

Do you already understand white balance or aperture or shutter speed? Look those up even though you know them. Every time I teach a class I ask people to look things up in their manuals. They are always surprised that they learn more about something they already know! As your knowledge grows its fun to see just what you do know in your manual’s pages.

Do Not Use It To Learn How To Take Better Photos

What? Isn’t that the purpose of your manual? Your manual is a bit like a car’s manual. It describes the parts and gives you some trouble shooting advice, but it doesn’t teach you how to drive the car.

Like your car’s manual, the camera manual plays an important role!

Do Start Somewhere

Does an assignment help? It helps to have a place to start. Here are my recommendations:

  1. Focus – how to set your focus point
  2. Aperture – how to change your aperture
  3. White Balance – how to change your white balance settings
  4. Drive Mode/Release Mode – how to take more photos in one burst and use the self timer

Have fun!

Do you use your manual or does the idea frighten you?