Since 2002 camera manufacturer Nikon has been offering training courses on using its cameras, at a dedicated facility in Kingston, Surrey. The courses run the gamut from very basic introductions to zooming in on subjects as niche as "Equestrian Event Photography".
Pocket-lint went down to the "Introduction to Digital SLR Photography" course to check out what the standard of training was like, and whether or not the residents of Kingston minded being photographed as they went about their everyday lives.
First things first, you probably ought to own a Nikon camera. While the trainers don't seem to frown on bringing other companies' equipment along - one gentleman brought a Lumix at our session - everything is taught in reference to the features and menus of Nikon cameras. If you've got one, you'll have a much easier time of things.
The course we attended was pitched quite low, assuming pretty much no prior knowledge other than how to remove the lens cap and press the shutter button. Content jumped around quite a lot, but only because the trainer, one Dennis Nicholl, was happy to deal with questions as they arose.
A broad overview of the functions of a DSLR was core to the training, with special focus on how to balance ISO, shutter speed, aperture size, exposure compensation and the available light to get the best possible picture in a range of circumstances.
As well as that, practical tips for maintaining the camera were offered. Did you know that pressing the two buttons marked with a green dot down for two seconds will reset the most commonly used settings to their factory defaults? We didn't.
There was plenty of talk about file-formats, with the difference between RAW and JPEG clearly explained, but there was also plenty of opportunity to try things out in a more practical setting too - a brief trip down to the Thames was a lovely half-hour break, full of snaps of ducks and trees.
Tips for more specialist photography were given, like how to capture a moving target still, with a blurred background (long shutter speed, pan the camera), and how to take photos with very short focal range (larger aperture, quick shutter speed).
If you've got a Nikon camera, but are a bit baffled by all the buttons, then popping down to one of Nikon's centres in Kingston, Bristol, Cambridge, Coventry, Edinburgh, Leeds, or Manchester could be a wise move.
The Introduction to DSLR course costs £150, lasts a day (from 10am to 4.30pm) and takes place approximately monthly, depending on the venue. Full details can be found on Nikon's training website, link below.