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Book Review: Canon 50D: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Jeff Revell

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You just got your new Canon 50D. It is an amazing camera and you can figure out some of the basic features, but you want get the best possible images out of it. Well you could read the manual, but even in the best of manuals will only show you functional topics and they never get into when and why you should use one feature over another.

That is where Canon 50D: From Snapshots To Great Shots comes in. What you really want is someone to show you how go beyond the camera's features, and show you how to actually use the 50D to take great images. The goal of Canon 50D: From Snapshots To Great Shots is to blend photography instruction with camera reference so that you can take your skills to the next level. Canon 50D: From Snapshots To Great Shots is 288 pages in length and divided into 10 chapters.

Chapter 1, "The 50D Top Ten List," consists of elements you can use to make you more productive right out of the box. Whenever anyone gets a new toy, they want to unwrap it and start playing. But many times you would be better off if you spent a bit learning about your toy first. Many of these are fairly basic things like charging your battery, setting up the image quality, setting the correct white balance, and turning off the ability to shoot without a card in the camera, but once they are done even your first images will come out better.

Chapter 2, "First Things First," now examines some of the other details that you should take care to ensure you take the best quality pictures. These things include how to choose the right memory card, updating the camera's firmware, and cleaning the sensor. Here you will also get a primer on RAW vs. JPEG, ISO, exposure, and working with depth of field.

Chapter 3, "The Basic Zone" now examines some of the basic modes that your camera can be put in to take an image. These include Full Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, Flash off, and Creative Auto. After all of this is explained, the author will also explain why you will never want to use the basic zone again.

Chapter 4, "The Creative Zone," is where anyone who has been shooting for any length spends their time. It is known as the backbone of photography. It is here that you are able to control the aperture and the shutter speed. In this chapter the author guides you through what each of these modes do and when to use them. They include Program Mode, Shutter Priority mode (TV), Aperture Priority mode (AV), Manual mode (M), and Auto Depth of Field mode (A-DEP).

Chapter 5, "Moving Target" is hard to hit unless you have the correct settings. In this chapter you will learn the best settings to have when trying to capture a moving target. Along with composition, lens selection, as well as other considerations, what matters is shutter speed. Here you will examine all of the factors that you need to take into consideration when shooting speed.

Chapter 6, "Say Cheese!" slows things down by shooting people. Even though you cannot change how someone looks, you can control how they appear. In this chapter you will look at camera features and techniques that will help you improve your portraits. Here you will look at what mode to be in, how to meter your shots, and other techniques like focusing, working with black and white, and the use of fill flash.

Chapter 7, "Landscape Photography," will challenge you because of the ever changing conditions of the environment, but the 50D has some features that will not only improve your work, but make it easier to take great shots. In this chapter you will look at working with tripods, selecting the right ISO, selecting the correct white balance, and how to tame bright skies with exposure compensation as well as many other techniques.

Chapter 8, "Mood Lighting," explores how to shoot when the light is turned down low. When the sun goes down, the 50D has some great features that will let you work with available light. These include increasing the ISO and the use of Flash, but there are other concerns like red-eye, and dealing with the reflections of flash off glass.

Chapter 9, "Creative Compositions," will show you that a great photo is more than just the correct settings on your camera. It also includes how the elements within the frame come together. Here you will look at depth of field, angles, point of view, color, patterns, contrast, and other things that affect how someone looks at your image.

Chapter 10, "Advanced Techniques," will take your techniques beyond the ordinary and give you an added advantage in obtaining a great shot. These include spot metering, mirror lockup, the use of manual mode, bracketing exposures as well as other more advanced techniques.

Canon 50D: From Snapshots To Great Shots is definitely not a re-do of the user's manual. It is very well thought out and well executed. It makes for a good introduction to digital photography while working with the 50D. While it is geared for the 50D, anyone could learn some lessons from it.

One of the things that I really like are the photographic images that populate the book. At the start of each chapter are a couple of images that fall into a category called "Poring over the Picture" where, in a two page spread, the reason for the image is explained and particular points are highlighted. In every image the camera settings are displayed as well. If you have 50D and want something more than the manual to learn from, then this is a must have, if you have one of the other new Canon DSLR's you will probably learn enough from this book to warrant the cost and it is for that reason I highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • http://www.photowalkpro.com Jeff Revell

    Thanks so much for the great review. I’m really happy to see that people “get” the concept of the book.

    Jeff