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9/10

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The Digital Photography Handbook

An updated new edition of Doug Harman's best-selling guide

Although most modern compact cameras are designed to be totally automatic and very easy to use, if you get beyond the automation and start experimenting with photography you'll quickly realise that it is a complex and challenging subject that can take a lifetime to master. A good place to start is a beginner's guide book, and those don't come much better than The Digital Photography Handbook, a comprehensive and beautifully illustrated guide written by my friend and former colleague Doug Harman, with photography by David Jones, and published by Quercus Books at the very reasonable price of £6.99. The first edition was a big hit last year, selling over 100,000 copies and making it onto both Amazon's and WH Smith's best seller lists. Doug has now updated the handbook, with the revised second edition including the latest developments in digital camera technology.
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With such a big subject a 221-page book can only hope to offer a broad overview, but the list of topics that the book seeks to cover is exhaustive. The content is divided into four main sections. The first, “Going Digital”, covers choosing and buying a digital camera, as well as what lenses, accessories and computer software you'll need. The second section, titled “Using Your Digital Camera” starts with the basic principals such as composition, focusing, exposure and depth of field, and moves on to specific techniques for portraits, sports, landscapes, weddings and more. The third and largest section deals with “The Digital Darkroom”, and looks at basic image editing techniques such as cropping, straightening and re-sizing, moving on to more advanced procedures such as colour management, levels and clone brush use, and ending with projects such as restoring old prints and making panorama landscapes. The smaller fourth section, “Output”, covers storage, printing, scanning, emailing and uploading, with a section on photo copyright.
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Because the book tries to cover so much ground in a limited amount of space most of the subjects are dealt with in only a couple of pages, many of which also contain large colour photographs. The complicated subject of exposure for example is covered by about 600 words and two photos. If you already have some knowledge of photography or image editing you'll probably find many of the sections lacking in depth, but for the complete novice (who is really the book's target audience) it provides a gentle learning curve, starting out with the basics and leaving out many of the more complicated bits. Although it is definitely aimed primarily at beginners, more experienced photographers should be able to find something useful here, especially in the Digital Darkroom section, and even for experts it makes a handy all-in-one quick reference.

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