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08-03-2012, 05:08 PM   #1
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Recommendations for good Digital Photography Book

I would like to purchase a book about Digital Photography. I have a fairly good understanding and background in photography and have a good grasp of ISO, Aperture, Shutter speed, etc.
However, my background is film photography. My new K-5 seems to be an entirely new beast. So much more to consider. I have heard the books by Scott Kelby are highly regarded and am considering purchasing one. I see there are 4 versions now. Should I just start with the 1st in the series (2006 version) or buy the latest which is Volume 4. Or should I be considering something entirely different. Thanks for any advice! I love this forum!

08-03-2012, 05:21 PM   #2
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Honestly if you know enough that you wouldn't gain much from a pre digital photography book, you may not need a book at all.

I think I can sum it up by saying, expose for the highlights and recover the shadows in photoshop (opposite of film). And watch the lighting range, you have a smaller dynamic range with digital than with film and highlights don't compress at all, so things like to go black or white ALOT.
A good book on photoshop would be more useful really.

Otherwise anything else tends to be camera specific and the manual covers that pretty well.

I recently bought a book on HDR but that's a more specific topic.
08-03-2012, 05:40 PM   #3
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I agree with pppppp452 assessment. I came to digital (K20D) from decades using film and for me the big change was camera raw. And although not the latest photoshop--I used/really liked (late) Bruce Fraser "Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2" I looked at later revisions to this by Schewe, and I really liked the one for CS2 best. Anyway I believe using camera raw is the important step and thus learning how to use it.
08-03-2012, 06:23 PM   #4
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I have a couple of Scott Kelby books and he is pretty good at a step-by-step process. You might not like it if you want more of a comprehensive, overall view. Kelby will usually describe how to do something with Nikon and Canon, but I doubt anyone else will mention Pentax specifically. Tech has moved pretty fast; 2006 might be too old.

08-03-2012, 06:38 PM   #5
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The biggest change going to digital is not basic photography, that is essentially the same. What has changed is how we develop the files, store, index and retrieve them. If you understand photography you have a good start. But you do need to learn good RAW development skills and DAM skills (Digital Asset Management).

Scott's series 1 through 4 is good, but it is not the same book with 4 versions, but rather 4 different volumes that cover completely different subjects. And if I remember correctly most of it was tips on general photography not specifically digital.

I have a book called "Complete Digital Photography" 5th edition by Ben Long which I think does a fair job of explaining the differences between film and digital. Most books seem to assume you already are digitally oriented and ignore the difficulties of a film photographer trying to adjust. This book at least tries to explain things.

You should also consider what program you are going to use for your workflow, Lightroom, aperture or something else. Much of what you need to learn will be more specific to the software involved.

If you have questions about the k-5 in particular, there is really no specific book for the k-5 although there is a Magic Lantern book for the k-7 which I understand is helpful . However, the best resource is this forum, just ask either in the beginners forum or the k-5 forum. You might get told to read the manual, but generally they are polite about it. And if you have not read the manual, well that is a good starting place. Unlike a film camera, you really need the manual to figure everything out.
08-04-2012, 01:54 AM   #6
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To reiterate what was said above, Kelby's books are NOT simply 4 newer versions of the same thing but rather volumes 1 through 4 and cover different material, each volume starting where the last left off. Some folks may not like his style, which is simply to introduce different shooting situations and tell you what steps to follow to "get the shot." He doesn't go into a lot of theory, just tells you how to achieve good shots in various situations. Each "lesson" is no more than one page. The other thing that may put some people off is his particular sense of humor, which runs all through the books. You either like it or hate it. I kind of like it so enjoyed the books. Others may not.
08-04-2012, 07:22 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I could actually see that method working well for a book since applied photography is WAY easier to learn than a wad of theoretical photography and its better to learn when to use something than to just learn how to do many things.

Like I said, I just went shooting at first and took the manual in chunks as I needed it, a straight read through on that pig would be useless for retention. I'm not sure I have actually read all of it yet. I tend to ignore the in camera white balance since I shoot JPEG+RAW (dng format) to explain more on that the camera raw file is literally a record of what it sees in photons, not even an image yet, the JPEG is a somewhat compressed file that all the color and other attributes you select (or the camera selects) are applied to, so basically all the white balance and whatnot presets that are applied to the JPEG as it is created in camera are like film types, I leave mine on auto white balance.

Or put even dumber:
RAW=undeveloped film with only ISO and exposure already locked in place (could be any film type of that ISO though since that's not applied yet)
JPEG=developed film of specific type

So having a raw file is like being able to magically retake the exact same photo over and over again with different film types (not film speeds and obviously not exposure)
You would be amazed how much image these things can pull out of shadows that look near black, its like compressed shadows rather than compressed highlights. There are fancy tools in photoshop that intelligently boost the dark spots without messing up the highlights, or just the opposite too, I believe its shadow and highlight recovery (but I'm poor so I don't use photoshop, just paint.net which doesn't have that)

O and coming from film you will absolutely freaking love changing the ISO on the fly, SO handy. You will however be willing to murder someone if you take your film lenses and put them on the digital as with the crop sensor all the angles are screwed up and nothing is as wide as you are expecting it to be. Your fast 50 walk around prime is now known as an FA 35 F2.0, and you will eventually want at least one lens that dips into the teens for focal length.
If you do use any old lenses check the appropriate posts on how to make them work right and the obstacles (like pre FA zooms and shake reduction).

God I ramble incoherently when I get going.
08-05-2012, 05:20 AM   #8
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mcook-- lots of choices when comes to books. Here are 2 suggestions for books that had the right mix of content/application for me. Both very well written.

1, Exposure Photo Workshop (second edition) - by Jeff Wignall If you look it up on Amazon you can get a "Look Inside" to see TOC and some content.
2. Digital Expose Handbook by Ross Hoddinbott-- Also well done -- Be aware that this book uses a smaller print size.

It is really important to invest in a book on the PP software you use. Have fun!


Last edited by jcp5; 08-05-2012 at 10:08 AM.
08-09-2012, 03:50 PM   #9
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My problem with Kelby's books is they often are so situation specific and so process oriented that I don't ever feel like he covers a lot of why. I think his books are good in combination with others rather than on their own IF you are looking for for explanation type items.

In generally, I haven't really found too many books useful in the long term especially for the aspect you are looking for. Most digital photography books are geared towards new photographers and tend to emphasize exposure and other topics that really apply to all photography. They take aspects specific to digital photography for granted in the aspect that you don't necessarily see how things are compared to how they were (with film). I had used film a lot in the past and was in a similar situation as you. I got frustrated and mostly just started using the local library when a couple of purchases didn't help me much. I think it took a combination of a half dozen books to fill in the gaps that I needed and my relatively decent understanding of photography beforehand made the change in concepts relatively easy.

I think the most overwhelming thing in digital photography is the freedom it offers, which all users quickly discover (flexible ISO, instant viewability, white balance, unlimited "film").

Last, as others mentioned, the computer and processing aspects are probably the biggest challenge in the digital world especially with those who are comfortable with the darkroom and want to have that same comfort at the computer. DAM is under-emphasized in many texts (although Lightroom oriented books are decent) and photoshop and Lightroom books are going to teach you how to make the most of your digital images since your film experience probably has you already 90% of the way to managing your camera.
08-10-2012, 07:09 AM   #10
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Good Digital Camera Book

Thank you so much for all of your suggestions on books. I checked out a few of the Scott Kelby books from our local library. Lots of good bits and pieces on info, but very specific in regards to shooting in certain situations. I guess I'm just the type that wants to understand the entire "process", and It looks like I will be learning as I go!
Working in the Darkroom with film I felt I controlled much about the image I was creating. I completely understood that process. Digital gives me much control but in an entirely different way. It will just take time to understand how it all works and what is available to me to get the best out of my images. For now I have purchased the Complete Digital Darkroom by Ben Long and am waiting for it to arrive, along with referring to my camera manual. I am a Graphic Designer by trade so have a decent knowledge of Photoshop although I know nothing about working with "RAW" images and am anxious to start experimenting with that. I can see that devising a system to really manage my images is going to be a real necessity and one I need to get started on right away. Thanks again for all your help. I'm sure I will be needing much more advice!
08-13-2012, 10:07 PM - 1 Like   #11
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I think the most enjoyable book I've read in photography is this one Amazon.com: Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera (9780817439392): Bryan Peterson: Books. It is a work of art and very inspiring. The technical details of photography as well as the artistic are presented in a manner that is very interesting (at least for a beginner like me).

In years past and present, I've tried many photography book and just found them boring. The Scott Kelby books are not that boring, but it doesn't inspire me to take pictures. With the help of Understanding Exposure, I feel like I've moved up from beginner level quite a bit.
08-14-2012, 10:03 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by eachaglimpse Quote
I think the most enjoyable book I've read in photography is this one Amazon.com: Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera (9780817439392): Bryan Peterson: Books. It is a work of art and very inspiring. The technical details of photography as well as the artistic are presented in a manner that is very interesting (at least for a beginner like me).

In years past and present, I've tried many photography book and just found them boring. The Scott Kelby books are not that boring, but it doesn't inspire me to take pictures. With the help of Understanding Exposure, I feel like I've moved up from beginner level quite a bit.
Understanding Exposure is a good book (as is Understanding Flash, which helped me immensely). I didn't suggest it to the OP since it seemed he had that aspect of photography well in order.
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