- Hardcover: 880 pages
- Publisher: Focal Press; 4 edition (April 25, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0240807405
- ISBN-13: 978-0240807409
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 2 x 11.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,081,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, Fourth Edition 4th Edition
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"A huge volume of knowledge, we would call this book no less than a bible... it is something to be studied and not simply read. Every serious photographer should have a copy of The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, and anyone who is genuinely interested in learning, will find himself going over its pages again and again."--Better Photography
"There is hardly an aspect of photographic practice and equipment that is not covered in this encyclopedia." -- The Picture Professional, Quarterly Magazine of the American Society of Picture Professionals, third issue 2007
"This work is without doubt one of the most important single-volume encyclopedias in print."
"It is a must purchase for all public and academic librabries, and the relatively low price puts it within reach of most individuals who are involved in the photographic arts."
-CHOICE (Nov. 2007)
About the Author
Chairman of the Biomedical Photographic Communications department at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Professor in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences.
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It tends to be more of an anthology and historical study than a practical working encyclopedia. That is not to say that there isn't a great deal of practical information in the book. However, in aiming to be a comprehensive history of photography and an encyclopedia of both current and past photographic technology it sets itself a daunting task. Some sections, probably the majority, are handled well. However, probably as a result of the authors efforts to all inclusive, some subjects are treated rather superficially. Others, such as the sections on image formation and color science delve too deeply into higher mathematics to be of relevance to most of the book's readers. The section on biographies of selected famous photographers is very good but seems to have an over-representation of American photographers in its selection. The spell-check has managed to slip a few items past the proof reader and the Voigtlander Vitessa camera has been rather humourously changed to the Voigtlander Vanessa camera.
In spite of the above quibles, I think most readers will find the book eminently readable and worthwhile and will come away with a much better apprecation of the vast scope of photography in all its fields.
The encyclopedia is a significant update of its predecessor volumes (the first edition, a classic in its time when it was published in 1956, has been long out of print and is obviously extremely dated given all of the advances in photographic science, engineering and art that have occurred since then; the third edition (edited by Richard D. Zakia and Leslie Stroebel), which I own and love, is only a decade old but has very little on the burgeoning field of digital photography; still, it contains a wealth of useful information and, though it is also out of print, is still available in some used book stores).
The new fourth edition has 880 pages in all, over 400 images, covers all major (and minor) areas of photography (ranging from photography and art / society / commerce, museums, the science of photography, galleries, workshops, education, publishing, history, theory, practice, criticism, and short biographies of selected photographers in the 20th Century), and comes with a CD-ROM that contains the entire (and fully searchable) text + images in the book (this one surprising, and most welcome, addition is worth the "price of admission" on its own).
The book is very handsomely produced, with strong, thick covers and thick, semi-glossy pages that give the volume a "classy feel" and give the overall impression that the editors designed it to be well thumbed and used, and to last a long, long while (which I pray it does since most of my photo books, particularly reference works, tend to become tattered and grow nested dog-ears in no time, as I repeatedly dive in for the shear pleasure of discovering some morsel of photographic delight).
The encyclopedia does have one unfortunate, but arguably unavoidable, drawback: it is so big and heavy that it is impossible to just "whip it out" on your lap and sink into (a flimsy chair) for some leisurely reading; you have to plan on when and where you will be reading this monster! ... and, God forbid, don't even think of taking it to an upstairs room to read in bed: if the staircase doesn't collapse from the weight before you get there, your bed surely will! ;-)
Kudos to Focal Press' editorial board for producing such a fine masterwork. It will likely become the "standard" such reference for all current and future generations of students of photography (and, I suspect, quite a few working professionals as well).