I used to be a photographer. No, really. I had my own commercial studio and big corporate clients who would send over products to photograph and young models from modeling agencies to hold the products while the art director smiled and I snapped away. A photo agency handled my stock photos. I was put in helicopters and planes and flown about for different assignments and I had to know what I was doing and so did my assistant. Yes, I had an assistant and lights and backgrounds and a darkroom. Yeah, that kind of photographer.

What’s that? Yes, I had a darkroom. That was for when we used film and dismissed digital photography as a tool that would never approach the quality of film. It had enlargers, trays, film washers and smelled of fixer and acetic acid stop bath. I know darkrooms are old school; yes, I realize I was part of the Dark Ages.

Starting in high school I covered the classroom scene for the yearbook. If we had a waterfront, I would have covered that too. In college, I agreed to be the official photographer for the intramural sports department only because they offered me my own on-campus personal darkroom. Somewhere along my erratic career path I was a stringer for a major Alaska newspaper and I actually made a full-time living performing commercial photographic feats for a number of years. So, you may think I know cameras. Apparently, not anymore.

I needed a small shirt-pocket camera to replace my early digital model so I opted for a fancy-schmancy type but without texting and voicemail. Even though smartphones started coming with cameras so easy to use and quality so stunning that it cancelled most people’s desires to own a stand-alone camera, I had to have a separate camera. After all, I’ve never been without.

Whoa. The camera industry has been working very hard to keep ahead of the smartphone companies. Evidently their strategy is to load the camera with features. Or to be exact, to overload it with features. These higher-end pocket cameras are designed with the fringe techno-geek in mind. I may be a techno-geek but I’m relatively mainstream.

The camera came with a four-page getting-started guide: lite instructions to get you going in case you just want to look like a techno-geek to impress the girls or, more likely, other techno-geeks. If you want the 406-page manual, which is considerably larger than the camera, you’d have to download it from the internet.

I downloaded it. And to the worried amazement of my wife, I read it in bed like a romance novel. What is the point of having a sophisticated camera if you aren’t familiar with all the features? But, just like a 406-page romance novel, in the end all I retained were the really juicy parts.

The manual is divided into 15 sections from “Before Use” to “Connecting with Other Devices.” I seem to recall a section about how to send amorous signals via the camera to your mistress but I can’t be sure that wasn’t from a romance novel. Besides being able to connect the camera via Wi-Fi to your smartphone and instantly send photos to social networks, it can walk your dog and represent you in front of the district attorney, I think.

Because I simply can’t remember everything this camera has to offer, I had to save the manual to my new smartphone so that I could have it handy in case I needed to adjust something or find out how to switch the pocket camera on. It’s kind of absurd to be digging through the manual on my phone to look up something about the pocket camera when most of the time I can just take the image with the phone camera which is first-rate. No need to focus, set f-stop and shutter speed. No calculating depth-of-field, factoring in film speed or stabilizing the camera.

There is a point in getting older where you start to see that knowledge you have carefully cultured and accumulated over time is no longer relevant. Ouch. Newspapers don’t have photographers anymore. Photographers don’t use darkrooms. Soon, cameras will not need operators.

But it’s all good. We are now free to concentrate on capturing the image. We are all better photographers.

I have to go. I think the camera signed me up for a Zumba class.