Apparently Nikon has decide to save some trees (and shipping weight) by no longer including user manuals in some of its digital cameras. Since most people likely never touch the manuals anyway, it’s not really a problem, but the company’s draconian stance towards downloadable instruction manuals has some customers grumbling.
Search for a particular camera’s user manual on Nikon’s site, and you’ll be greeted with the message,
To protect against Copyright Infringement, Nikon offers two versions of our current product manuals. A fully printable manual for existing owners (which requires a valid, North American, Nikon camera serial number and registration to download) and a non-printable version for others (no serial number required). [#]
So basically, the company will let you download a manual onto your computer without any hassle, but if you want to print it out, you’ll need to go through a registration process to access a printable version of the file.
Kyle Wagner over at Gizmodo writes,
Nikon does offer a fully printable version of its manuals if you just happen to have your camera’s serial number and registration information on hand, but seriously! How is that necessary? It’s not even the inconvenience of the thing (which does kind of stink). It’s the sheer absurdity of it. What does Nikon possibly stand to lose from users printing out a copy of their manual?
Is Canon’s policy any different? Upon first glance it might appear so, but it actually isn’t. You can download a user manual without any hassle or copyright warnings, but try to print it out and you’ll find that each page has a big fat [COPY] watermark. There also doesn’t appear to be any warning about the watermark, or a link to a non-watermarked version that requires registration. Thus, this isn’t really a Nikon issue, but an issue with the way camera companies deal with downloadable user manuals.
My guess is that the policy is meant to make it more difficult for counterfeit cameras to have legitimate-looking user manuals, but this just means a counterfeit maker can simply pay for a single camera (or borrow a serial number) in exchange for a downloadable manual. At the same time, legitimate camera customers are smacked with a great deal of inconvenience, especially if more and more manufactures decide to start saving trees.