Camera manuals, dumbed down for us Ameicans?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Alan Meyer, Oct 30, 2004.

  1. Alan Meyer

    Alan Meyer Guest

    Having looked at a number of manuals for "point and shoot"
    digital cameras, I see that the manufacturers give only
    the bare minimum of information about their equipment.
    Even so, there are so many features that the manuals
    often run 150 pages.

    One of my favorites is the explanation of the "Food"
    picture mode in the Pentax Optio 750Z manual. It says
    that it makes the food look more "appetizing".

    It would be more helpful to me if it said that this setting
    boosts the color saturation or the contrast, or changes
    the white balance for incandescent light, or whatever
    it actually does.

    The manual on my Canon camera isn't really any better.

    Are all the manuals like this? Surely the "professional"
    level cameras do a better job. Do they?

    I fear that the real problem is with the buyers rather than
    the sellers. Perhaps the manufacturers can't sell cameras
    if the public perceives them as too difficult to use, and
    a 500 page manual that told how the camera really worked
    might just scare off a consumer who can't figure out how
    to program his VCR.

    Wouldn't it be nice though if the manufactures included
    a short, dumbed down, printed manual in the box, and
    gave a URL for a serious technical manual that could
    be downloaded off the web.

    Do any manufacturers do anything like that?

    Any other comments?
     
    Alan Meyer, Oct 30, 2004
    #1
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  2. Alan Meyer

    Robert Barr Guest

    I think manuals in general have been dumbed down (and outsourced, based
    on the butchered grammar & sentence structure).

    Remember back when Epson made good dot-matrix printers? The manuals
    were nice spiral bound books and very thorough. Today, you'll get those
    single fold-out posters that show you, in pictures, how to set up the
    printer, plug it in and go.

    The list is endless. Recall the quality of the Lotus manual set, for
    1-2-3? Top notch. Anything Microsoft these days rarely comes with a
    manual at all.

    Alan Meyer wrote:

    > Having looked at a number of manuals for "point and shoot"
    > digital cameras, I see that the manufacturers give only
    > the bare minimum of information about their equipment.
    > Even so, there are so many features that the manuals
    > often run 150 pages.
    >
     
    Robert Barr, Oct 30, 2004
    #2
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  3. Alan Meyer

    Ron Recer Guest

    >From: "Alan Meyer"
    >Date: 10/30/2004 1:43 PM Central Standard Time


    >Having looked at a number of manuals for "point and shoot"
    >digital cameras, I see that the manufacturers give only
    >the bare minimum of information about their equipment.
    >Even so, there are so many features that the manuals
    >often run 150 pages.


    >One of my favorites is the explanation of the "Food"
    >picture mode in the Pentax Optio 750Z manual. It says
    >that it makes the food look more "appetizing".


    >It would be more helpful to me if it said that this setting
    >boosts the color saturation or the contrast, or changes
    >the white balance for incandescent light, or whatever
    >it actually does.


    >The manual on my Canon camera isn't really any better.


    >Are all the manuals like this? Surely the "professional"
    >level cameras do a better job. Do they?


    Settings like "Food", "Landscape", etc. aren't meant for "professionals", they
    are there for those that need the "dumbed down" manuals.

    <snip>

    >Wouldn't it be nice though if the manufactures included
    >a short, dumbed down, printed manual in the box, and
    >gave a URL for a serious technical manual that could
    >be downloaded off the web.
    >
    >Do any manufacturers do anything like that?
    >
    >Any other comments?
    >

    From many of the questions I see in photo forums, many digital camera owners
    don't look at the manual.

    Ron
     
    Ron Recer, Oct 30, 2004
    #3
  4. Alan Meyer

    PhotoMan Guest

    Alan Meyer wrote:

    > Wouldn't it be nice though if the manufactures included
    > a short, dumbed down, printed manual in the box, and
    > gave a URL for a serious technical manual that could
    > be downloaded off the web.
    >
    > Do any manufacturers do anything like that?
    >
    > Any other comments?


    I think it depends a bit on the anticipated skill level of the target
    market. Here's a link provided by Canon for its pro level DSLR's :

    http://www.photoworkshop.com/canon/EOS_Digital.pdf

    Joe Arnold
     
    PhotoMan, Oct 30, 2004
    #4
  5. Alan Meyer

    Ed Mullikin Guest

    The manual for my Sony Flash (HVL-F32X) is poor. It gives no hint
    whatsoever of what the advantages of some of the settings are and when it
    might be advantageous to use it and the manual for the camera is lacking
    some details but it's already at 160 pages.
    "Alan Meyer" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Having looked at a number of manuals for "point and shoot"
    > digital cameras, I see that the manufacturers give only
    > the bare minimum of information about their equipment.
    > Even so, there are so many features that the manuals
    > often run 150 pages.
    >
    > One of my favorites is the explanation of the "Food"
    > picture mode in the Pentax Optio 750Z manual. It says
    > that it makes the food look more "appetizing".
    >
    > It would be more helpful to me if it said that this setting
    > boosts the color saturation or the contrast, or changes
    > the white balance for incandescent light, or whatever
    > it actually does.
    >
    > The manual on my Canon camera isn't really any better.
    >
    > Are all the manuals like this? Surely the "professional"
    > level cameras do a better job. Do they?
    >
    > I fear that the real problem is with the buyers rather than
    > the sellers. Perhaps the manufacturers can't sell cameras
    > if the public perceives them as too difficult to use, and
    > a 500 page manual that told how the camera really worked
    > might just scare off a consumer who can't figure out how
    > to program his VCR.
    >
    > Wouldn't it be nice though if the manufactures included
    > a short, dumbed down, printed manual in the box, and
    > gave a URL for a serious technical manual that could
    > be downloaded off the web.
    >
    > Do any manufacturers do anything like that?
    >
    > Any other comments?
    >
    >
     
    Ed Mullikin, Oct 30, 2004
    #5
  6. Alan Meyer

    Alan Meyer Guest

    "PhotoMan" <> wrote in message
    news:WzSgd.3177$...
    >
    > I think it depends a bit on the anticipated skill level of the target
    > market. Here's a link provided by Canon for its pro level DSLR's :
    >
    > http://www.photoworkshop.com/canon/EOS_Digital.pdf
    >
    > Joe Arnold


    Ah yes, a much better piece of technical writing.

    I'm sure the manufacturers are right not to give the average
    a manual that he won't read. But I suspect that among the
    tens or hundreds of millions of point and shoot cameras
    sold, there are still hundreds of thousands, if not millions,
    of buyers who would read the technical details if they appeared
    on the manufacturer websites.

    I myself bought in the past a "prosumer" camera, and
    plan to buy another one. I can't justify $1,000 for an
    interchangeable lens camera + another $1,000 for lenses,
    and don't need it for the amateur photography I do. But
    I would like to get the most out of the camera I buy by
    understanding its operation as well as I can.

    Alan
     
    Alan Meyer, Oct 30, 2004
    #6
  7. Alan Meyer

    Matt Ion Guest

    Alan Meyer wrote:

    > Any other comments?


    My manual for the Canadian version of the Optio 750Z is a good 400+
    pages with very few pictures.

    Of course, the small type makes it harder to read by candle-light, but
    the extra pages are handy as tinder for the woodstove, especially now
    that winter is here and the newspaper delivery boy's dogsled is in the
    shop...
     
    Matt Ion, Oct 31, 2004
    #7
  8. Alan Meyer

    MB Guest

    Re: Camera manuals, dumbed down for us Ameicans?: Nikon manual

    Nikon's manual for the D70 ( I have the German version):

    "When you are adjusting the diopter and are looking through the viewer, be
    careful not to poke your finger or fingernail in your eye."
     
    MB, Oct 31, 2004
    #8
  9. Re: Camera manuals, dumbed down for us Ameicans?: Nikon manual

    MB wrote:
    > Nikon's manual for the D70 ( I have the German version):
    >
    > "When you are adjusting the diopter and are looking through the
    > viewer, be careful not to poke your finger or fingernail in your eye."


    =)))

    Alas, pretty much /anything/ you buy in the US these days comes with at
    least three pages of dire warnings about the myriad ways you can kill or
    maim yourself while using the product - we're not talking firearms or
    kit-built airplanes here, rather I see this in simple toys, cameras,
    plastic model kits, paper napkins... The one method of mayhem not
    covered in the warnings will be the one someone figures out; their
    next-of-kin will sue the bejeebers out of the manufacturer and anything
    and anyone even remotely (or not at all) related to it.

    Someone once said "No matter how well you idiot-proof your design, they
    will just improve the idiot..."

    Could I get you folks to use a larger font in your posts here for a bit?
    I seem to have somehow poked myself in the eye...

    Bob ^,,^
     
    Bob Harrington, Oct 31, 2004
    #9
  10. Re: Camera manuals, dumbed down for us Ameicans?: Nikon manual

    MB wrote:
    > Nikon's manual for the D70 ( I have the German version):
    >
    > "When you are adjusting the diopter and are looking through the
    > viewer, be careful not to poke your finger or fingernail in your eye."


    Same for the English Coolpix 8400.

    Unfortunately, the cameras are now sufficiently complex that it becomes
    difficult to explain things (e.g. contrast = alters the gamma term when
    converting the 12-bit data from the sensor into 8-bit JPEG images...). I
    would welcome better manuals, though.

    Example: on both the Panasonic FZ20 and Coolpix 8400 there is a
    "snow/beach" scene mode. Now I would expect that these worked as follows:
    "Tweak the exposure down a little as there will be a lot of white in the
    picture and your metering may be misleading". Does it do that? I can't
    really tell from the descriptions offered!

    Talking of snow, would Miss Smilla know?

    Cheers,
    David
     
    David J Taylor, Oct 31, 2004
    #10
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