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on March 28, 2010
The Digital Photography Book volumes 1 and 2

By Scott Kelby
PeachPit Press 2007, 2009.

Many technical books use an informal, conversational style to make very dry information more palatable. It's very easy, however, to go too far with this approach. At it's worst it can be like listening to someone with a lot to say but who is sadly nowhere near as funny and charismatic as they think themselves to be. Scott Kelby comes dangerously close to overusing this bantering approach in these books. In the first 7 pages, there are more than a dozen sentences that start with one of the following: '"Now..."' "'Hey,..." "'Anyway,..."' "'So,..."' and "'Come on,...'" On page 7, Kelby informs the reader that he is going to tone down the 'lame humor' and mercifully begin conveying actual useful information.

From this point on I was pleasantly surprised to find the book concise, very well organized, and full of useful content. The format of one topic to a page works very well, with just enough information to keep the subject matter interesting and not overwhelming. After the first chapter on general photography tips, each chapter is organized by photographic subject matter, for example, weddings, landscapes, etc.

A minor issue to me is the order of the chapters. This was strange to me, even when considering there is no way to organize this in a way that suits everyone's needs. For example, the first chapter on a specific type of photography is '"Shooting Flowers Like a Pro.'" Something so specific belongs in the back of the first book or in the second book. The organization of the subject matter across the two books suggests they were edited separately and the two books don't necessarily work as a two volume set. For example, both books contain chapters identically named "'Shooting Weddings Like a Pro"' and '"Shooting Landscapes Like a Pro."' This suggests the chapters are redundant, which they are mostly not. If the same subject matter is spread across two volumes, it would be useful to the reader if they were named differently and cross-referenced.

The two volumes work much better as reference guides than as something that the reader would want to read from cover to cover. Where these two books shine is in the useful information conveyed within the single paragraph each page/topic contains.

Over the past couple of decades, powerful technology has seduced many of us away from using anything but the camera's automatic settings. What these books do extremely well is to show us ways to make photography much more enjoyable and rewarding by going beyond default settings and methods.

Peter Merrison is a Graphic Artist with a Bachelor of Technology degree in photographic technology from Ryerson University (formerly Ryerson Polytechnical Institute) in Toronto, Ontario.
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on December 28, 2009
I had high hopes for this set, but I was very disappointed. While it does contain some nuggets of good advice, they are interspersed with lots of bad attempts at humour and padding.

Consider the first book, which has 209 pages (excluding the index). Kelby spends the first seven pages telling you that he has a casual style, that he uses three symbols for price ranges, that you should shop at B&H in New York, and that for technical details you should look elsewhere. Every chapter starts with a picture and a page of lame jokes and ends with a blank page, which takes up another 33 pages. So that's 40 pages out of 209 that don't deal with photography! After three pages about buying a tripod (one recommending three tripods, one recommending three ballheads, one recommending a cable release) he then spends another two pages telling you to use a tripod. That's five pages to convey one paragraph of information, and while there are five pictures none actually illustrate the effects of using a tripod (or not). Throw in ten pages of advertising and there's even less room to talk about actual photography.

When Kelby does get down to business his advice is good, but spread over far too many pages: he makes one point per page, which leads to a lot of wasted space. For example, he takes one page to tell you that leaving a lens hood on your camera all the time will help protect your lens from scratches, dust, and fingerprints, and that pros do this. One page to convey two sentences of information!

The boxed set is even worse, because books 2 and 3 repeat information from the first book.

For travel photography I'd recommend The Photographer's Eye Field Guide: The essential handbook for traveling with your digital SLR camera. For portrait photography buy Beyond Portraiture: Creative People Photography. The two together will cost you less than the price of this boxed set, and you'll learn a lot more.
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on January 30, 2010
The Scott Kelby's Digital Photography boxed Set of 3 books is really great.

My husband has been using a camera for a hobby for many years, but he was never able to find a technical book for photography that's comprehensible for an amateur.

This book is exactly what he was looking for, clear, simple, no runaround with useless jargon, it is direct to the point in plain language.

He is very satisfied and happy. He has learned and mastered a lot of technical
concept of photography in a short while with this book.

D. Fluckiger
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on October 7, 2009
Scott Kelbey's 1st Digital Photography Book is still the best selling book on the subject ever published. His 2nd is still selling briskly and now his recently published 3rd volume has been packaged with the other two in a convenient boxed set. When you are out on a shoot you don't want too much weight with your gear but these are handy sized pocket books with tons of worthwhile set-up and how to information. They are full of tips ie. spraying water on flowers when shooting a macro close-up. A few times when I've been out on a shoot I have left them behind and truly regretted it. Scott also gives us hints on the best equipment to purchase and at various cost levels to match any budget from the poverty stricken to the ultra super expensive stuff. He never hesitates to encourage and fits his suggestions to streamline post production in Photoshop or Lightroom for once you get your shots downloaded. Panoramas, tripods, ball heads and even lens filters and lenses themselves are discussed in detail. The best feature of this series is that it is eminently portable and easy to keep on hand. I highly recommend all 3 volumes and this is a great way to get them all at once.
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on November 5, 2009
I've read all three books once and I am now going back for a second read to reference specific tips I want to make sure I remember. Great information that is very useful and presented in a very straight forward way. I really like the fact that you get a series of different themes covered through the three books so that you gain some insight into many areas of photography (e.g. portraits, weddings, sports, studio, flash, landscape, travel etc.).
These books are focused very much on the "how" and not the "why", which means there is no theory or real technical information covered - which is fine for those who want to jump in and strat producing some great images.
If you are new to photography, but passionate about it, you will really find these books useful. If you experienced in the field, you may know most of this, but I'm sure the few new tips you will pick you that you didn't know would be worth the cost of the books.
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on January 15, 2010
I wasn't sure I'd like this set of books because I'd heard they were pretty basic, but I picked up the boxed set of 3 during the Boxing Week sale for 50% off. I figured I could use some light reading. I have to say that a lot of the information is very basic (geared to beginners). However, some of the other things like the studio lighting information is great if you don't know anything about it. Each book repeats a bit of what the previous book contained, but also adds even more information about a particular subject (like studio photography, landscapes, sports, etc.). Overall, this is a great set of books, full of information that allows you to quickly go out and shoot pretty much anything. I didn't mind the references to B&H; it's actually my favourite online photo store.
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on March 8, 2011
Even if the title might suggest otherwise, I still suggest getting it. However, there was so many expectations on my side that I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong : very good buy, but don't expect miracles.

If you want a book that gives nice and short tricks for photography, I think you've got a good part covered. I'd suggest getting something on exposure from elsewhere, though. I think it should've been covered more thoroughly in these books.

Basically, a good basic read, that is a nice intro to whatever you will read next. Not a finality in itself by any means, in my opinion.
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on November 10, 2009
Been wanting to buy the first book and second, but then saw the boxed set. Which worked out great for me. The books are written is a style that some may not like, it basically tells you if you want this type of picture then this is what you do on your camera set up. It's not as technical as some others, but the style is easy reading and in some cases humorous. The nice thing about these books are each little subject is contianed within just 1 page. So you can read it and put it down and pick it up again without having to re-train your brain to remember where you left off. You can skip subjects and not worry about any missing something, so you can ready what you like instead.
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on October 11, 2011
I purchased this book believing it would have a lot of useful information. Although it's not lacking in some very useful tips for users of digital cameras, the book's quality is lessened substantially by a huge amount of childish, immature gibberish relating to his personal life and other references that have no purpose here, whatsoever. Although I have noted some useful tips, I would definitely recommend a pass on this book.

It would appear that the author has a problem with white space on a printed page, and lacking anything relevant to the chapter, fills the page with personal nonsense. He thinks that his anecdotes are humourous, but they are far from it in the context of a technical writing.

I would also be wary of anything else Scott Kelby has written, assuming he uses the same writing style in all his publications.
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on January 17, 2010
Learn at your own pace with these well written books. From beginer to advanced everyone could find something helpful.
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