Review of “Beyond Point-and-Shoot” by Darrell Young, O'Reilly Media

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Ever since getting my first point-and-shoot digital camera in 2004, I’ve wanted to take better pictures than those small-sensor devices can provide. Since I’m also in charge of taking project photos for the family’s home remodeling business, learning how to take better low-light pictures is particularly important. However, before I make the investment in a micro four-thirds camera, I wanted to know how to use it properly. Once again, O'Reilly’s Blogger Review Program saves the day by offering Beyond Point-and-Shoot: Learning to Use a Digital SLR or Interchangeable-Lens Camera by Darrell Young.

Beyond Point-and-Shoot is short, simple, and to the point, providing a no-nonsense introduction to all the baseline terminology and techniques a point-and-shoot photographer needs to jump into the world of higher-end cameras. Want to know how a lens works, or what all the dials and numbers on the lens mean? It’s in there. Want to know what depth of field or focal length is? It’s in there. Young not only explains the terminology but also discusses how it affects the photos you take, such as when and when not to use a wide-angle lens. Also scattered throughout the book are various exercises so readers can see how their newfound knowledge relates to their particular camera.

The chapters on exposure control were by far the most useful to me. Young provides clear explanations of what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity are, and how to make them work together for getting well-exposed photos in specific situations (e.g. landscape vs sports photography). Prior to reading the book, I only had a vague sense of how exposure controls worked or related to one another, but now my understanding feels more well-rounded.

While Young can be a little too repetitive at times (the fact that higher ISOs can introduce noise must have been mentioned a dozen times), that really is a nitpick in what is a very useful book. Beyond Point-and-Shoot is a great quick read for someone who wants to make the leap to micro four-thirds or DSLR photography but doesn’t yet understand the basic terminology and techniques needed to leverage the abilities of their new gear.

Note: I received this book for free through the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program