Shayak Raychaudhuri

Gallery of my photography and workshops

Who has time to read the Manual?



“Hi, congrats on the new DSLR !”


“Thanks, was planning it for a long time, finally got it yesterday.”


“So what next, can’t wait to see your shots ”


“Yeah, right, I’m heading to the forest next week, have been waiting to get those wildlife shots, I’m borrowing a telephoto lens too, from my friend.”


“Oh, you’re fast; I didn’t touch my DSLR for two weeks after buying it,”


“Two weeks? What happened ?”


“Nothing , was reading the manual from start to finish, it was quite long, took almost three weeks to complete.”

“Gosh, that’s unreal, how can you not touch your DSLR for two weeks, I mean who has time to read the manual?”


“But how do you even start shooting without reading the manual ?”


“Well, you have the auto modes, I thought the camera is smart enough to give me great images on its own, that’s why I’m paying so much for it, isn’t it ?”


“Well…not quite, if I’m paying a premium for a high quality camera, I expect the best out of it, and the best comes, when I know in-depth about its operations; that’s why the manual is provided.”


“But it’s a boring looking, fat book, which doesn’t even have any interesting images, I guess one learns by using it more and more, and I’m planning to attend a workshop soon”


“That’s great, but even the best trainers would recommend reading the manual and keeping it with you whenever possible. And the manual doesn’t need any attractive images, it’s meant to help you understand your camera, and more importantly, troubleshoot when required.”


“Troubleshoot? Isn’t the service centre supposed to take care of that?”


“No, they are there for repairing your camera in case something goes wrong, of course I’ve got a lot of help from the service centre guys, whenever I’ve faced any problems, but then you can’t call them  all the time, and from everywhere, that’s where the manual comes handy, and believe me, it saves you a lot of frustrating moments.”

“like ?”


“My brother’s camera stopped working suddenly, just like that. He kept on pressing the shutter release button -- nothing, he tried calling the service guys, but somehow couldn’t get through. He had an office party that evening and he had volunteered to cover it, imagine his trauma.”


“Man, that’s serious, what happened?”


“It could’ve gone worse, he consulted a camera service guy who recommended an inspection; he was suspecting a major part replacement. Just before leaving for the inspection, my brother remembered that maybe I could provide some advice.”


“And you solved it ? How ?”


“I asked him to calm down and looked up my camera’s manual for the same issue. Though the models are different, I found that the first things to check when this happens is to check if the camera is in the remote mode, I asked my bro to check it.”


“And ?”


“Bingo! That was it, his kid had fiddled with it and that’s how it happened.”


“Why didn’t he check the manual?”


“Well, that’s the whole point, he never thought it was important, so he couldn’t find it when it mattered.”


“Wow, I’m sure gonna call you in such situations” 


“Most welcome friend, but what if you can’t reach me or anyone else ? it’s always better to carry the manual with you and read the ‘troubleshooting’ section whenever you have time, believe me, that’s what the tech support guys do, they do it faster because they speak from their memory and experience of handling similar cases repeatedly. Some people try the internet as well, but why trust unreliable sources when you have the most authentic one with you?”


“So do I cancel my trip next week and start shooting after finishing the manual?”


“Not at all, If you don’t have time to go through the fat book right now, do that later, maybe one chapter a week, but do start with the Quick start guide which is like a small demo of the camera covering the basics.”


“Yeah I remember, the thinner book, is it good?”


“All that you’ll need the first few times you take the camera out; for finer aspects and detailed explanations, the manual is the best.”


“I got it, any other tips?”


“well, take the camera in your hand and cover one or two chapters at a time, follow the instructions and then repeat it for a week, don’t jump chapters as often a manual has a flow , its like a novel , so better to read it from start to finish without disturbing the flow. And, bookmark the sections you think are most important.”


“Hmm I’ll start with the quick start guide today, and see how it goes, but thanks for the great advice”


“Always there for you friend; one last thing, if you got a CD of the manual, do make a copy of it somewhere. Of course most brands offer downloads from their website, but still this saves you a lot of hassle in case you lose the CD.”


“Man you’re a life saver. Let’s have some coffee.”