Camera Manuals? No thanks.

As a young professional photographer, and as someone who tends to be technologically savvy, I often get asked questions by people wondering how to use their cameras. Nine times out of ten, my first line is defense is to ask them, “Have you read the manual yet?”  And nine times out of ten, they say they haven’t.

Ditch the manual

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a new set of toys: a Fujifilm X-T2 mirrorless camera and a slew of lenses. I’ve been a Nikon shooter since 2005, starting on the Nikon N6006 35mm full camera, then the D200, then the D300s, D7000, D3s, D800, and D810. That’s a lot of Nikon, and maybe it explains why I was both excited and a bit nervous to learn not just a new system, but one that was, in a way, fundamentally different from what I had been using for the past twelve years. On the Nikons, all the buttons are more or less in the same spots. The menus are all very similar. They’re all SLR cameras, and the Fuji kit was a whole new animal: mirrorless.


Fuijifilm X-T2

Interested in learning more? Check out renowned photographer and instructor John Greengo as he breaks down this camera in hisFuji X-T2 Fast Start.

 I ended up buying a used X-T2 body, and it didn’t come with the manual. Yes, I found a PDF of it online, but there was one other issue: I was so, so busy. I got the camera, and two weeks later, as I write this on my phone, I’m on an airplane on my way to India and Nepal for a month. In between then and now, I had a week-long photo shoot with immediate turnaround, and a million other things to do. I didn’t have time to read the manual before my trip.

Enter the Fast Start classes here on CreativeLive. If you haven’t heard of these, you’re in for a treat. When I saw the Fast Start class for the Fuji X-T2, I gave it a shot and was not disappointed.


ditch the manual

Instead of spending the time thumbing through the manual to teach myself this new system, all I did was toss up John Greengo’s class on my second monitor as I was editing images from that quick-turnaround shoot. I had the camera in front of me in case I wanted to test something out as he was teaching, and I was surprised how much I learned.

 I don’t know how this guy does it. He knows probably just about every camera model that’s out there, and he goes through every single button, setting, and variation thereof, both in-depth and at a level that beginners will understand. And he does it fluidly, as if the camera was an old friend, and in an almost effortless way, as if he had done it a thousand times before.

Interested in a different camera? Our Fast Start catalogue has over 50 incredible classes that’ll help you ditch the manual, and get shooting faster. Check it out here >

In the first few minutes of the class, Greengo touts that if you were to teach yourself this camera using the manual and spent an average of two minutes per page, at 356 pages, it would take you over eleven hours; this class was only about five hours long, and what you get is almost a personal tutoring session to learn the camera. He doesn’t cover every feature — things like how to do slideshow playbacks or print from the camera are omitted because most people don’t use them — but he does cover just about everything you need to know to actually take pictures, and more.

One of the best parts of the class was that he emphasized any shortcut he knew. Want to access a particular menu item but don’t want to dig through the menu to find it? Press this button twice and it will take you right there. The class may be fifty dollars, but things like that, that sometimes aren’t even in the manual, are priceless.

All in all,  this class saved me invaluable time when learning the Fuji system. From explaining to a novice like me the differences between mechanical and electronic shutter and the nuances of mirrorless technology compared to my “old school” DSLR rigs, to reminding me to update the camera’s (and lenses’!) firmware — which was already out of date — I’ll definitely be returning to his classes if I pick up a new camera that I’m in the dark on. It was time well spent.

Interested in a different camera? Our Fast Start catalogue has over 50 incredible classes that’ll help you ditch the manual, and get shooting faster. Check it out here >


Stephen Ironside FOLLOW >

Stephen Ironside is a commercial and portrait photographer with an outdoor twist born & based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In an effort to work towards his career goal of working for international NGOs and non-profits focusing on environmental and cultural conservation, you can usually find him in the woods, in another country, or stuffing his face at an Indian buffet.