How to Do Everything with Your Digital Camera, Fourth Edition, by Dave Johnson, ISBN: 0072261633

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, March 2007
Published by: McGraw Hill Osborne
Requires: A digital camera or just an interest in digital photography

MSRP: US$24.99, CDN$33.95, UK£14.99

Your next mission, should you choose to accept it, is to start learning how to take better photos with your digital camera. The fact is, even the latest low end digital camera models are capable of capturing great shots as the long as the photographer isn't a complete boob. In order for some of us to become less boob-like and more photographer-like, a wee bit of education is usually in order. How To Do Everything With Your Digital Camera is an ambitious title, so the purpose of this review is to ascertain, a) whether or not the book is truly comprehensive, and b) whether or not the information in the book can help turn us into better photographers.

How to Do Everything with Your Digital Camera is organized in four main parts containing a total of 16 chapters. Although the title refers specifically to doing everything with your digital camera, over half the book deals with photo editing, processing, special effects, photo printing and photo sharing. So if you were thinking that the book was dedicated to digital camera technology, technique and usage, you'd be wrong. A more accurate title is, "How To Do Quite A Few Things With Your Digital Camera And Then Process Photos And Play Around With Them." It's not an immensely inspiring situation unfortunately. Reference, tutorial and guidebook titles should not be confusing or inaccurate.


If you're truly a novice digital photographer, you're either someone who has just picked up a camera for the first time or someone who has owned various cameras over the years but never really paid too much attention to any of them. The right guidebook should teach the basics, then move you along to a wide range of techniques and ideas, informing you about the technology along the way. That's what author Dave Johnson attempts to do, but he seems to lose focus in the second half of the book.

Despite the foregoing complaint, How To Do Everything With Your Digital Camera can in fact provide novice digital camera owners with expansive and palatable guidance and education. If you don't pay too much attention to some of the technical inaccuracies in the book (most of which won't affect your picture taking and photo processing efforts—but see "Cons" below).

The substance of the book is a general guide which pulls you through digital photography fundamentals. It forms a good starting point for novices and even a few somewhat more experienced photographers who are simply out of practice. Unfortunately, that's where the "How To Do Everything With Your Digital Camera" part ends and the larger photo editing part begins. Johnson bases all his photo editing references and instructions on Corel Paint Shop Pro—a perfectly usable photo editor, no doubt—but hardly the most popular. There are no instructions or examples produced with the market leading Adobe Photoshop Elements, or any of the half dozen or so commercial, shareware and freeware editors on the market. Since the book was published, newer products such as Adobe Lightroom have hit the market and are challenging all the current market leaders.

The tutorials on Special Effect with Text are particularly good, especially blending or masking images into text. But some of the good stuff in the latter half of the book is burdened with below average example photos and poorly printed, slightly misregistered color plates and a weird font change in chapter 10.

Cons: There is some factually inaccurate information in the book with respect to RAM pricing, memory card capacity pricing and purchase choices. The book states repeatedly that several 256MB cards are less expensive than the equivalent single, larger card. That's not accurate—the cost per megabyte or gigabyte drops dramatically as you get into larger storage capacities. It's true for every memory card format. The book is reasonably well written, but the author Dave Johnson tends to use "picture" "photo" and "image" interchangeably, something which caused some confusion among several people who looked at the book. Information on USB connectivity contains some misleading facts and figures. First of all, USB 2.0 exists in two forms: USB 2.0 Full Speed (which operates at the same pokey 12Mbps rate as USB 1.1), and USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (which operates at the same, speedy 480Mbps rate as Firewire 400/IEEE1394). The author only refers to USB 2.0, without distinction, operating at 450Mbps. As well, the author incorrectly states that USB 2.0 is 100% compatible with USB 1.1, when incompatibility issues are in fact quite common. Some technical information about storage cards is misstated as well, particularly the so-called speed ratings. The author quotes speed designations of 2X, 4X and 8X which should actually be 20X, 40X and 80X, with newer cards running at 133X and faster.

Pros: Logically organized. Novice digital photographers, irrespective of which camera they own, will find a useful amount of information that should help to make them better photographers. Author Dave Johnson helps you get decent results from your digital camera by providing enough information to help sharpen your eye. The book begins feeding you information starting with the inside front cover (an overview called "What You'll Do In This Book"), continuing unabated all the way through to the inside back cover (which contains some brief additional picture taking tips and image editing tips. Johnson helps people understand that it is how well they expose and compose what they see in the viewfinder that makes great photos, and that fancy (expensive) cameras and photo gear don't automatically create great pictures.

KSN Product Rating:



© Copyright 2000-2007 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | hot news | about us | search | store | subscribe


The latest in tech news and information Find a product review on KSN Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe