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The rising cost of camera instruction manuals?

The digital age has led to many improvements, especially in the camera world. Inventions such as compact digital cameras, memory cards and the development of applications on devices such as mobile phones has now meant that it is even easier to take photos and even shoot video on the move.

Gone are the days of sending the film to a camera shop to be developed and being disappointed when that one picture you were hoping turned out just right ended up with the blurred image of your thumb in the way. Nowadays, we can instantly see a digital version of the photograph on a tiny screen and determine within milliseconds whether we want to keep it or use the delete button.

It also means that, due to memory cards as mentioned above, we can take as many pictures as we want with our cameras, because with ever increasing memory capacities, we can store as many photos as we like. Even better we can share those images with any of our friends or family around the world, within the blink of an eye.

However, there is one area of technology that has inadvertently had a negative effect for the camera industry, and is one that has frequently frustrated me over the last few years. Although designed to make life easier and help to bring down the cost of low end cameras, which on the whole are quite easy to master, electronic camera instruction manuals are actually proving to be a bit of a nuisance for owners of more sophisticated cameras - and the trend is that cameras are, without a doubt, becoming more sophisticated.

Sometimes the manual comes on a disc with the actual camera in its box, though more often than not, thanks to the advent of more affordable netbooks that have no CD drive, you are simply given a long winded web address where you can download the PDF. Now call me old fashioned but I much prefer to have a physical booklet, made from real paper, to be able to flick through at my leisure, usually when I am out and about with my actual camera ie on holiday or a day trip. I would rather not have to come back after taking a memory cards worth of pictures to find that I could have used a few simple buttons to improve my images dramatically.

The other issue I have is that when I read the instruction manual on the computer screen I find it much harder to keep my attention and the screen resolution can quickly give me a headache. Well you might ask why don’t I stop being an old fuddy duddy and print the manual off, so that I can carry it around with me? That brings me onto my next point.

When I bought my first digital camera a few years ago the instruction manual which came on the accompanying disc was about 50 pages long. By being able to cut some of the intro pages out and only print the ones that I really needed I was able to cut it down to about 30. This was still not ideal as I had to do it on A4 paper, rather than have a more compact manual like days gone by (how ironic that as my camera got smaller, the manual got bigger!). Nevertheless the job was done for a modest price, especially as the printers we had back then were a lot simpler and didn’t use much ink.

Recently I purchased a new Canon digital camera and of course the camera manual was in PDF form. To my horror, partly because as I mentioned above cameras have become a lot more sophisticated, but also because my hobby has grown, I had treated myself to a better camera anyway and the manual was a whopping 300 pages long! To print such a manual myself, particularly because it requires the printing of pictures not just text which uses up even more toner, I would have to re-mortgage my house when I buy new ink cartridges.

Okay, so I may be exaggerating slightly, but ink cartridges are expensive nowadays so I either had to spend a fortune printing out the booklet or find a solution fast. Well, I had a feeling that writing endless letters to the camera manufacturers asking them to change their ways and start including paper versions of the camera instruction manuals would get me nowhere, as they weren’t about to change their ways for an old whiner like me, so there had to be another way.

Well, the great news is I found one. I did a quick search on the internet and found that you can actually buy a printed version of your camera manual for a fraction of the cost of printing it yourself and you usually receive it in the post within 1 working day. Not only that, but if you have an older camera which you have lost the instruction manual to, then one camera instruction manuals website has a copy of virtually every camera ever made. So even if you want to sell, what would now be classed as an ‘antique’ camera that takes film, you could go onto this site, purchase the manual and add a few extra quid to the selling price.

The name of the site is Oldtimercameras.com and it is well worth a look. As mentioned they don’t just cater for the top selling brands like Canon, Olympus and Nikon, but cover virtually every manufacturer that has ever been. I know one thing for sure – they have a welcome place in my ‘bookmarks’ menu.