Camera manuals and, errm, Donald Rumsfeld / by Nigel Rumsey

a Nikon D700 camera manual With my new camera I received this well thumbed manual. I’m the third owner of my D700, that I’m aware of, so it’s been well used. It’s often said, but truly worth repeating, that even an experienced photographer won’t get the best out of their camera unless they read the manual.

The mistake I’ve made in the past is only using the manual to look up things I don’t know. It pains me to credit Donald Rumsfeld but he summed up the problem in his famous ‘known knowns’ speech.

“The message is that there are no ‘knowns.’ There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know.” Donald Rumsfeld, 6 June 2002.

The things you need to look up in your camera manual are the known unknowns, but there are also the unknown unknowns the things your camera can do but you won’t know about until you read the manual.

My suggestion would be to settle yourself in a comfy chair with a glass of your favourite tipple and read it from cover to cover.

(I’d like to take this opportunity to pledge I’ll never surprise you again with a mention of Donald Rumsfeld.)