Proper Equipment = Enhanced Experience

24 Sep

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned my Gorillapod, which is an actual piece of camera-related equipment I use. Today, I have to mention another handy piece of “equipment” I own, a Canon Digital Rebel XT Magic Lantern Guide (MLG). (The same publisher produces camera-specific guides for a variety of different camera manufacturers and models.)

What this book is: a very detailed owner’s manual.

What this book is NOT: a how-to photography book that explains stuff like making teeth look whiter, sunsets clearer, yourself magically thinner, etc.

It is an in-depth owner’s manual. It is basically the same manual you get for FREE with your camera, except this is the expanded version.

In my opinion, Canon actually does a pretty good job with its manual. Especially considering the manual’s size. It does explain the technicalities of using your camera. What it doesn’t do is explain what those technicalities mean to you.

For example, let’s say you want to know about the camera’s dioptric adjustment. In layman’s terms, that means you want to know how to adjust the focus of the viewfinder. If you wear glasses, what the camera thinks is in focus and what YOU think is in focus could be two different things.

If you are relying on the manual alone, the info is there. It just isn’t nearly as clear. If you experience blurriness in your viewfinder, I’d guess your first thought would be to look under “viewfinder” in the manual’s index. “Viewfinder” is in there, but it refers to a nomenclature page FULL of viewfinder information except, of course, dioptric adjustment.

The MLG’s index lists “viewfinder” AND goes even further to reference viewfinder adjustment. On the very first page I turn to, there’s a sub-head for Viewfinder Adjustment. The very first sentence under that subhead says the camera “…features a built-in diopter (a supplementary lens that allows for sharper viewing. The diopter will help you get a sharp view of the focusing screen so you can be sure you are getting the correct sharpness as you shoot.”

Quick and easy, right?

In Canon’s instruction manual, I had to page through 24 pages of the “Getting Started” section before I found what I needed. It explained the basics of dioptric adjustment like “turn the knob to the left or right until the AF points in the viewfinder look sharp.” Still not clear? The manual recommends purchasing a Diopter Adjustment Lens (wonder how much that would cost!).

Canon’s manual is missing a very important bit of emphasis. The MLG says, “You should not look at the subject that the camera is focused on, but at the actual points on the viewfinder screen.”

That’s just one example. And it is appropriate, too. You see, I thought I was having camera issues. My images never seemed to be focused on what I thought I’d focused on. Turns out, my diopter just needed adjusting.

Now all my stuff should be focused properly. I hope. Of course, proper focus is a bit subjective.

In this example, the top half of the frog is in focus while his knees and feet are blurry. That’s what I wanted. Had I not adjusted my diopter, his knees would have been in focus and the rest of him would’ve been blurry. Which would just look, um, dumb.

For all my not-into-photography fans, sorry! My next post will be more fun. I promise…

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