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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 27, 2009
This is one of the best non-fiction titles I have ever read. It's well-written, well-organized, well-planned, accurate, and useful. The authors were thorough and thoughtful. The book delivers on the promise of its title and subtitle, 100%. Seldom do all of those come together in one work, but they come together in this one.

The book flows in the order needed to provide the novice to intermediate photographer with a solid foundation for getting the most from digital photography. That is, it starts at the beginning and guides you along the same path that you need to take.

The more I look at this book, the more impressed I am with it. Let's keep in mind I used to be a magazine editor. That background has led me to be an unforgiving, sometimes unkind, book reviewer. And a real nitpicker.

Summary

I can gush about what a great book this is all day long, and that won't help you decide if it's for you. I could also list all the things I like about it, but that's really not necessary. I'll sum it up thusly:

If you have a camera and aren't a professional photographer, you should have this book. Period.

Basic and B&W

At first blush, you might not consider this book "basic" because of its size. As you read it, though, you find the content sticks to that idea of basic and the book is an easy read. It's even easy to read where it covers technical details.

The one thing that struck me the most about this book was the authors had no need to "impress the reader." I've read too many "how to" books that resemble more of an ego trip than a mentoring. So, I always look for that and did not find it here. While the authors evidently know their material, they talk at the level of the reader instead of over the head of the reader. They keep it simple and practical, too. They assume the beginner has other things going on in life and can't spend 2,000 hours a year practicing the craft. Not all authors make this assumption.

This book is full of photos (thus explaining some of its size). I wasn't surprised to find a large number of photos on a book about photography. Every picture served to illustrate some point that's important to being a better photographer or to being better able to work with the photos you take.

Some readers may wonder why most of these photos are black and white, and may consider that a minus. It's a huge plus. One reason is money. This book is about basics. Part of keeping it basic is to keep it priced accordingly. Its list price does that, but would have been impossible if all of the photos had been printed in color. If you want to see more images, you can always go to the authors' Website.

The person interested in basics of digital photography isn't going to want to drop $200 on a book to get the same information available in a book that sells for less than a tenth of that price. Also, it's worth noting that one of the best photos of all time (taken of a little girl running in Vietnam) was in black and white. Observe and learn.

Some Background

Back in the day, several of my 35mm shots graced magazine covers (I have professional equipment and worked hard to learn composition). I'm not a professional photographer and need to take my shots within a fairly narrow range of conditions. I know enough about photography to have a reasonably substantive opinion about a book on photography.

I have a reasonably substantive opinion about a book on digital photography in particular because when I went from film to digital, I was lost. Not because of the computer aspect (I've built several computers from scratch, and people come to me for tech help), but because it's a bewildering new way to shoot pictures.

With my 35mm camera, I know which lens and which settings to use for a specific type of shot. This is like the bachelor who can make an excellent casserole or a great Chicken Dijon--something scripted, practiced again and again. And pretty basic stuff. Ask him to make something new and complex from scratch, and it probably won't be any good.

When I ventured into digital, I dropped down to a prosumer level camera partly because I didn't want to invest another three grand into camera equipment. But mostly because I wanted to get away from the lens-lugging, settings-calculating way of taking pictures. I thought it would be easier. It wasn't. In fact, many of the kinds of pictures that were easy for me with my professional camera proved impossible with my prosumer one.

This wasn't because the camera lacked anything, but because I did. Despite reading the manual cover to cover and working through a few sections with camera in hand, I just could not get it. All of the settings are on a menu, instead of an easy to see mechanical dial. What makes this especially bad is that when I bought this camera I didn't buy spare batteries or a power adapter. So to charge the batteries (which must be done at least once a week, even if not using the camera) I have to remove them and thus lose all of my settings. Starting all over again just to take a picture doesn't make for a great experience.

This is just an overview of the frustration I've had with a digital camera (though it's fairly high-end for a prosumer model). All of this frustrastion would have been prevented, had I read this book before buying my camera. So going forward, I'm newly encouraged and motivated.

What's Inside

This book consists of 18 chapters, two appendices, and a short but important introduction/preface. It's also thoroughly indexed, so it can serve as an ongoing reference as your needs change and your skills grow.

*Appendix A is an extensive glossary. The authors appear to be allergic to the concept of confusing the reader. What's nice is you don't need to flip to the glossary as you are reading the text, because the authors explain as they go. Still, the glossary is there so you can look things up any time you want.

*Appendix B is an extensive list of relevant Websites. Most such lists elicit a yawn from me, as they are poorly done and most of the entries are marginal. That's not the case here, at all. I've already looked up a few of these.

*The introduction is titled "Read This First." After you read it, you understand why it's titled that way.

*The first five chapters are about equipment and accessories. In my own case, I was able to confirm I had gone through this process correctly already (except for not buying that inexpensive AC adapter, what a mistake!). But that's because I've been playing with cameras for over 40 years and had some background to draw upon. For most people, these five chapters justify the cost of the book because they can spend camera and accessory money just once instead of 3 or 4 times.

*Chapters 6 through 8 are about camera settings. I've had a love-hate relationship with camera settings for as long as I can remember, despite having read several books on the subject. This book finally gave me some "aha!" moments on that whole set of subtopics.

*Chapters 9 and 10 provide good insight into how to take a good shot. Even with "the best" camera, you won't take good pictures if you don't master this material.

*Chapters 11 through 13 are about managing your images. I am particularly anal retentive about filenames, having cut my computer teeth in the days before GUI interfaces. I thought DOS 3.0 was "the cat's meow" for usability, if that gives you any clue. People who learn machine level language and come from the early DOS years have specific methods for file management for specific reasons that still hold true (especially if they have done any inventory management work).

This book has specific rules for those same reasons, and I know what happens when people break those rules. Most of the problems I've been called upon to fix are due to breaking those rules.

*Chapters 14 through 17 are about editing, printing, and sharing your digital images. Chapter 18 provides the basics of using your camera's movie feature, sound recording, and photo scanning.

Only one thing missing

One thing the authors didn't cover is a simple bit of advice. If you lose your camera somehow, is there a way for someone to get it back to you? Yes. Insert a blank memory card. Then, take out a sheet of plain paper and write your name, phone number, and e-mail address on it with a fat marker. Don't write your physical address--if you lose the camera while away, this tells people your home is vacant at the moment. Then, photograph the paper and lock the image on that memory card. Make a habit of installing this memory card into the camera after each shoot or any time you are just carrying it around. If someone finds your camera and turns it on, there's your name.

Go a step further, and put your photo on that same image (the authors discuss how to superimpose text on an image). The big bonus here is if an airport security person (or similar) is trying to decide if you or the other person claiming to own your camera is the real owner, simply turning it on decides the issue. Put the same photo on your other digital devices, for similar reasons.

I use only one memory card, and the reason that's all I need is I transfer photos at the end of the day. I don't store them on the camera. That card has this image. I don't format the card, as the authors suggest doing, but if I did format it I would reload that image to it before putting the card back in the camera.

Conclusion

You will find other helpful books on this topic. But make sure you have this one in your collection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2010
Beware of '1 Star' reviews...

Great book for anyone who is not a professional.

The writer of the 1 star review certain seems to have an axe to grind or else personal issues with the Grimms.

I read numerous reviews of this book as well as the others here on Amazon and his is the ONLY bad review of the book. Yes, the ONLY bad review and to see so many people - 7/9 - say it they found it worthwhile shows that 7/9 didn't do their homework.

It's a good book and well worth the money; don't believe one bad review, especially one that is such an 'outlier' as this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2010
What a cool book! I was so excited to receive this book for review because, as hard as I try, I'm really just a terrible photographer. I'm hoping that, with all of the fantastic tips I've read in this book, all that's about to change. I think this review is best done with tabs!
- It was very well-organized, meaning that it was incredibly easy to find anything specific one might be looking for.
- It has lots of helpful illustrations that complement the ideas being written about. It's just a pity more of them couldn't have been in color.
- It's got tips and ideas for everyone, from the immediate beginner (seriously, even for those that may not even know how to turn on a camera) to the more advanced photographer just looking for a new way of thinking about something.
- I think it's a fantastic gift idea for those who love taking pictures or even for someone starting off with a digital camera.
- It's even great for someone thinking about purchasing a digital camera, as it starts off with some great buying strategies.
- Literally every single thing I could think to look up I found in this all-inclusive book.
- At the end of the book, there was a glossary of digital photography terms with clear, concise definitions of next to every possible word one might have trouble with.
- This book serves as a great reference guide. I know I for one will be happy to have it around.
- My two biggest complaints were the lack of color photos (which I understood, as I know they can get VERY expensive) and that it sometimes felt a little bit TOO elementary.
So there you have it. I, for one, thought this book was fantab! My night time photographs have already improved thanks to one small tip from this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2010
I took out many books from the public library system, looking for the perfect easy to understand -must have- manual. I looked at a dozen or so that had been published in the last year or two and found this one to be the easiest to read, with clear descriptions and images to show what the results should be. It is comprehensive without being too techy. Because no general digital photography book is written about your specific model, I recommend having your camera manual with you when you read this book. When I read about a function I would find it in my manual and then go to the camera. I learned that my camera could do many things that I was unaware of. You just don't know what you don't know!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2010
"The Basic Book of Digital Photography" by Tom and Michelle Grimm ISBN 978-0-452-28955-0
Review by Chris Phillips
Michelle & Tom Grimm have put together a great introduction to Digital Photography. With copious photographs to illustrate many of the discussed topics, the book is a reference useful to the beginner and the professional alike. Even if the photographer only wants to touchup photos that they have already taken, this is a step-by-step guide of what works and what does not.
Following a logical progression, the first section introduces style, format, and purpose. This is followed by a concise, but thorough, treatment of cameras and accessories. It discusses that advantages and disadvantages of many types. The main goal is to provide the new user with an overview of what is available, what is reasonable to expect and how much time and other resources the user wishes to invest.
Following these initial sections, the Grimm's lead the reader through the process of photo clean-up (including retouching) and the use of photo-editing software. Outputting images to print, disk, or to a web site is an extensive discussion, techniques and problems with storage are discovered, including what different types are available and what are the most useful for which purpose, completes the book.
The table of contents contains helpful descriptions of each section. A glossary of terms with excellent definitions is appended, followed by a website list and finally includes an index. These combine to make a great reference manual for the most expert photographer.
The illustrative photos reference both the related passage near their placement, but also any other sections pertinent to the discussion. With description sections, technique sections and then external references the Grimm's have created a general coverage of all the topics related to this. However, it is not purported to be complete and is not for people who are more experienced with photography.
However, the amount of information provided is much greater than would initially appear from the book's outer appearance. As shown above, it is inclusive and thorough enough to help a user create really good photographs.
I recommend that this be read by anyone considering the purchase of a digital camera. Professionals should keep a copy nearby for reference purposes.
Published by Penguin Group, 2009. ($24.00 USD SRP/Amazon $16.32 USD) Reviewer received book from FSB Associates, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Basic Book of Digital Photography by Tom and Michele Grimm
Genre: Educational, Artistic
Rating: 4.5/5

Tom and Michele Grimm have compiled a magnificent handbook for any photographer, beginner or otherwise. This book has everything in it--from how to pick the best camera for you, to when and where to shoot, to editing, to timing... the list goes on and on.

The book is packed with photos, both color and black and white, examples, footnotes, and easy to read and understand text. At first glance it may seem intimidating, but it is so incredibly reader friendly that it's suitable for almost any age.

The only thing about this book that I didn't like was that there were only some pictures that were color, and most of them were black and white.

Recommendation: Ages 10+ to anyone interested in digital photography, whether they have been snapping photos for years or whether they've never even picked up a digital camera.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2010
From the authors of the popular BASIC BOOK OF PHOTOGRAPHY comes a fine digital photography guide packing in details on how to compose the best shots with a range of cameras. From picking a camera to suit needs to editing and improving photos with computer software, this is packed with color examples and specifics to improve any photographer's skills.
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on July 19, 2012
Tom and Michele Grimm were way ahead of the pack when they wrote the Basic Book of Digital Photography! This beautifully-illustrated handbook is filled with information that every modern photographer--amateur or professional--needs to know, about the ins and outs and ups and downs of shooting and processing digital images. It's all here, from how to choose the right digital camera to editing and improving your images to how to organize and store your output. I've used it more times than I can count, and every other professional photographer I know has used it. Anything you want to know about digital photography, you'll find it here.
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on March 2, 2014
This book is absolutely great for the beginning photographer, it tells of not just one specific camera but of practically all types whether it be the simpler point and shoot or the more professional digital single lens reflex. I only got through the first few chapters when I decided to get a book specifically geared to my new (pre-owned) DSLR, hence my reading of this book as just about stopped dead.
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on August 16, 2010
Long time photographers/authors Tom and Michele Grimm have updated their best selling Basic Book of Photography for the world of digital imaging. Their hands-on long time experience comes through in the thorough and easy to understand text. The photos are great too. I highly recommend this title to the photographers that hire me as a consultant.
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