Why Are Digital Cameras So Complicated?

05/06/2014

I take most of my pictures with my iPhone, and I have to admit, I don’t know how to use its camera very well. I’ve never found good documentation, and I’m only now starting to figure out some of its features. Heck, I only learned a few months ago that I could force the camera to focus by tapping on the display.

But digital cameras are worse. I have a good compact camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 (what an easy to remember model number…). I bought it about a year and a half ago for a few reasons: I wanted a camera with GPS, with an optical zoom, and with good image stabilization. I’ve used it for basic photos, but never looked into how it really works. So I’ve recently tried to make some sense of it.

Unfortunately, the manual for this camera, at nearly 200 pages, is daunting. I’m not a photo neophyte; I know how to shoot with SLRs, adjusting apertures and f-stops, since I had many film SLRs back in the day of analog photography. I’d probably find it much easier to work a DSLR, but I don’t want something that bulky, and don’t need to spend that much on a camera, given how few photos I shoot.

I want to take pictures, and I want to know which features will help me. But the manual is far too long, and written as many technical manuals are. Yet a text on the title page suggests that I can do without it:

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Heck, I don’t need the advanced features; so show me the manual for the basic features… Oh, there isn’t any.

And, anyway, a bit lower on the page, the manual tells me:

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I’m doomed…