Review: Sybex 40 Digital Photo Tips Books

Beginner's how-to books on digital photography (July 28th, 2005)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Sybex Inc.

Price: MSRP $16.99 US (each)

The Good

  • Easy to read, low learning curve, great price!

The Bad

  • Windows only software on included CD reduced the rating by one star.

The prospect of using a digital camera and processing good pictures to share with the world is still daunting for people making the switch from film to digital photography. As manufacturers focus more on megapixels and zoom length than on user friendliness, it's not hard to understand why many people stick to their trusty and often rusty old film cameras. Sybex is trying to help those waiting on the sidelines with the release of the second edition of two digital technique books. Originally published by the Korean publisher, YoungJin, 40 Digital Photography Techniques focuses on buying, and using a digital camera while 40 Digital Photo Retouching Techniques guides you through editing your photos.

Designed for the Beginner in Mind

The books are designed similarly and complement each other nicely. They are about seven inches wide and tall, so the information on each page is limited to what a beginner can digest easily. The liberal use of pictures makes them a light read. Both books include a Windows-oriented CD-ROM, but the images are platform independent. Retouching Techniques is based on Adobe's Photoshop Elements 3, which is available as a free trial download on Adobe's web site. It would have been nice to save buyers the effort and include the Mac trial version on the CD.

40 Digital Photography Techniques

40 Digital Photography Techniques contains six chapters in which you are lead step by step in buying a camera to using it well. It includes accessories to buy and explains which features do what and why they influence the buying process. Chapters on how to operate a digital camera include settings and creative photography techniques that can be applied to achieve the best results and most creative shots. The book also contains a wide range of tips on what to do in special situations like sunsets, panoramas, moving objects, plus how to handle subjects like pets, cars, and, food. New digital photographers will take vastly better shots after reading this book.

40 Digital Photo Retouching Techniques

40 Digital Photo Retouching Techniques covers the photo editing experience and basically boils down to a manual for Photoshop Elements. A program aimed at the beginning and intermediate photographer. This book is organized like the photography techniques book. It starts with Photoshop Elements interface basics and specifics about digital files. The process of improving imperfect photographs is covered well. Finally more creative tasks are discussed, such as how to combine images and work with text. In the end you'll know your basics but, it doesn't cover information for more advanced photographers. There may be better Photoshop Elements books available, but not at this price.

If you plan to purchase a new camera and have little or no knowledge of the ins and outs of operating a digital camera or the editing process, you will find a wealth of information in these attractively priced books. You can download a sample chapter for each book on Sybex's web site also. Seasoned digital photographers should probably look for more advanced books.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Maarten Delanghe


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