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When printing a camera instruction manual, itís not just the cost that will pick your pocket sized

Recently I bought a new camera. For a camera enthusiast it was rather a modest camera, but nevertheless a decent one and something I noticed, which is a growing trend for most modern appliances, is that the camera did not come with a physical copy of the instruction manual.

Now this might be fine for a toaster or a microwave as generally speaking we donít plan on taking these on holiday with us and there really is only a few familiar buttons to get to grips with, but for a modern digital camera this is not the case. We donít often take many pictures of the inside of our home so it stands to reason that we will be taking the camera with us on many field trips and this is where it gets tricky not having an instruction manual to hand.

You see, many modern digital cameras are getting more complicated year on year, with ever increasing features, which also means the manuals are getting bigger too. The camera that I bought, a Panasonic DMC-FZ38, has a virtual on screen manual that when wishing to print out is nearly 220 pages long. Even if you take away the non essential pages with the basic set up I worked out it would be at least 180/190 pages.

This got me thinking about how much it would actually cost to print the manual using my home printer, so I did just that. This was not before I had done some research on the internet first though to see if there was a cheaper or more convenient alternative. Now it turns out that getting a free version of my instruction manual is actually really easy on the internet Ė there is a catch though. They may be free but they are just the same as the one I have already, in other words downloadable files which you can only view on the computer screen.

Iím sure you will agree this was not much good to me as I had this already (though I know where to go if I ever do forget how my toaster works!). What I needed was somewhere that printed and bound a camera instruction manual, at a size more appropriate than the A4 I would have to use. Thankfully there is such a site on the internet that not only does printed versions of my Panasonic camera but as I delved deeper found that they do instruction manuals for virtually ever camera ever made, new and old.

So, the transaction was done. I ordered a pocket sized A6 manual for the princely sum of £12.95 + 95p for the postage, then diverted my attention towards my trusty printer. Now although printing 219 pages for a modern printer is not a marathon effort by any stretch of the imagination, it does use up a lot of toner ink, so to be sure to conduct my experiment accurately I took a reading of how much black toner I had left (because of course the manual would be in black and white). Luckily I had recently just put in a new black ink cartridge so it was almost at 100% so, with a newly acquired ream of freshly glistening paper I set off printing.

Now I know from doing further research that a normal page of standard printed text has an ink coverage area on the page of about 5-8%. With this manual, because of the diagrams involved, and in particular the front cover, we would be looking at coverage of anything up to 33% on some pages Ė This is nearly one third of the entire page covered in toner.

The toner that I have in my printer costs £50 for a pack of 6, which equates to just over £8 per cartridge. Okay I know there are cheaper versions of toner out there, but I find a lot of the time they do not print properly and as I often print out a lot of important documents for the various projects I work on, I need to ensure I have the best possible supplies. Worst of all, after 178 pages the toner actually ran out and I had to replace it with a new one to finish the job. To me that was outstanding, as I knew it would use a lot of ink but I at least thought 1 cartridge would finish the job.

Below I have outlined the overall estimated cost of printing out the instruction manual at home.

Cost of Paper - £2.50

Cost of Ink - £10

Ringbinder - £0.80p

Total cost of home printing = £13.30

Total cost of ordering the pocket sized manual = £13.90

Admittedly you could halve the cost of the paper if you were inclined enough to sit there for 219 pages of printing and turn each page over (this would also mean pausing or printing each page individually) but is the saving really worth it in the overall scheme of things.There really is no difference in the cost. Even with cheaper ink you are not going to save too much more and if you throw in the time, effort and wear on the printer then in my opinion that negates any saving anyway.

So, you can either go for a home printed, A4 sized ring binder heavily filled with paper, or a light, convenient, pocket sized A6 version that easily slips into the side of your camera bag Ė ultimately the decision lies with you and how you plan to use your camera, but I know which one Iíll be taking with me on my next holiday.

And just in case you are not quite convinced yet, have a look at the photo of the 2 instruction manuals I took below; using my nice new camera, of course.

Camera Instruction Manuals from Oldtimer Cameras (OTC)