It's always the same when you get a new gadget: you unpack it, perhaps check the quick start guide, and then begin playing with it without giving a second thought to the manual. In the case of a camera — especially anything more complex than a point-and-shoot phone model — that's often a foolish mistake.
Photography (and Photoshop) guru Helen Bradley runs down a list of features that your camera might support but which you'll likely neglect to look into if you haven't spent some time reading the manual, ranging from basics like setting the best image format and quality to more complex settings like white balance. Reading the manual is never top of most people's minds — I've been carrying the manual for my EOS around for the better part of a year and only referred to it twice, but I'm almost feeling guilty enough now to check it out again. For some non-camera-specific ways of improving your photography, check out how to use natural light to best effect and take better holiday photos.
Is your camera manual a door stop or a useful reference? [Project Woman]