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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review - Digital SLR Settings & Shortcuts for Dummies

by Doug Sahlin. For Dummies - A Branded Imprint of Wiley.

This is a most unique photography book. While most books will address either photography as a whole, or some major aspect of it such as lighting or exposure, this book takes an entirely different approach to the teaching of photography. That approach is basically a shortcut type of method.

The Dummies series, in general, is a wonderful concept. If the reader can get past the name without feeling like a shot is being taken at his or her ego, there is a wealth of information in each title published. And the information is not dummy-fied. It is every bit as advanced in nature as other publications, it just is not as jargon-laden without explaining what the jargon means. Additionally, the Dummies series, in the digital photography and imaging topics anyway, seem to be going to a full-color layout for the books. This makes the reading and learning experience that much more meaningful and enjoyable.

This particular title is exactly what it says it is: Settings and shortcuts. The book is divided into broad category parts, having chapters within that break the broader category into more specific subcategories. For example, Part IV is People. Covered within People are a number of chapters that cover everything from children playing, to parades, and portraits in almost every kind of setting and lighting imaginable.

Each chapter is uniformly set up with an introduction to the shooting subject, and the sections Setting the Camera, Taking the Picture, and Troubleshooting. There is also a shortcut box on the first page of each chapter that gives the suggested camera settings for each kind of shooting.

Not every photographer is going to agree with these suggested settings in every case, however, it does give the rank amateur a good starting point for an extremely wide range of photographic styles and subjects.

An appendix entitled Beyond Point and Shoot Photography provides brief discussions on several aspects of DSLR photography and photography in general. These include composition, depth of field, histograms, and several other need-to-understand topics.

This book is well written, easy understand, well organized and chock-full of useful information and relevant images. It is a wonderful resource for a novice photographer tackling the challenges of his or her first DSLR. But in addition to that, a more experienced photographer will find useful information that can be quickly referenced for embarking on shooting subjects that may be new or less familar.

Review written by Melanie Beus

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