Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi / 450D Book Review by ChristineMM
Title: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi / 450D
Author: Christopher Grey
Publication: Focal Press, 2009
My Rating: 2 stars out of 5 = I Don’t Like It
Summary Statement: Layout Stinks, Too General, Not Specific Enough to This Camera’s Model
I purchased the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi nine months ago, it’s my first DSLR and I’m learning more now about SLRs than when I used my film SLR and I love it! The user manual that comes with the camera is a total joke and I set off to purchase a book from a third party to teach me what Canon chose to not teach.
This book by Christopher Grey disappointed me and I deem it insufficient for me. The layout is terrible which makes understanding the text difficult because none of the illustrations are labeled with a reference number (i.e. figure 3.7) and side by side comparison photos are often on different pages (requiring the page to be turned to see it). The pages are way too cluttered. The small page size often with six or more illustrations on a two page spread, with little white space to help one’s eyes rest, and the fact that the text goes deep into the center crease makes it hard to read. There is not a lot of detail about this model of the camera, it is not infused throughout the text. Too much of this manual is general information that applies to all photography.
After a thorough side by side comparison I feel that the book by David Busch is much better. All I want is one book that tells me how to use the camera, shows clear examples of the difference between using this setting or that setting, and also why I should do things that way. When I understand the why’s I can retain that information for use that knowledge on the fly when in the field (without consulting the book).
Numerous times I sat down to read the Grey book and use it with my camera but found the crammed layout too visually cluttered to handle. The text is dry and lacks excitement for this camera model or for Canon’s. The book didn’t draw me in, it turned me off.
Some sections are general discussions of photography such as light and composition that completely lack details specific to Canon cameras or this specific model.
To be fair to the Grey book, before reviewing it for Amazon Vine, and because I want to be fair before publishing a book rating at 3 stars or below, and because I don’t enjoy writing non-glowing reviews, I pulled out my copy of David Busch’s book. I had previously purchased Busch’s book from Amazon and did side by side comparisons and read the Busch book more thoroughly than I had in the past, spending about four hours at that task. This told me all I needed to know, that I favor the Busch book and like the Busch book more than I’d previously realized. The book by Busch gives more text information in a more clear way, has larger illustrations, and has a great page layout.
I rate this book 2 stars = I Don’t Like It. (I’m being kind and not giving it a 1 star = I Hate It rating because the Grey book will teach someone something, it is not completely useless.)
For more details about the negative opinions listed above for the book by Christopher Grey, with some specific examples, see below.
I am disappointed with the section about picture styles, it is skimpy and says to experiment to find which you like (!). It fails to explain more details about this feature that I learned from reading the book by Busch.
One of my biggest complaints is the illustrations. First they are on the small side compared to other books on the market. The section about using the software that comes with the camera has the smallest illustrations which is not good considering we need to read the small symbols on the screen captures. See page 94 (about using the camera’s menus) for an example of too many small illustrations (nine) without captions that make matching to the text content tricky.
Most of the illustrations have no captions and none have reference numbers. When trying to show a camera using different settings on the same subject it would be clearer to reference a certain illustration (figure 2.6 or figure 2.7). On pages 88-89 there are photos about text on page 87 that have nothing to do with text on page 89.
In the section about lenses you have to guess which image is to what lens, and not every lens has an image to go with it which I think it should. The lens reviews are odd, not really helping me decide which is a must have or which is very specialized. There are no comments about price such as saying “this lens is fantastic but costs over $1000 so if looking to spend less this other lens will do much of the same thing for less money”.
I feel strongly that side by side comparisons of two or more images should be on the same page or at least the same two page spread, the reader should not have to flip over to the next page and back and forth to compare them. See pages 180, 186 and 187 for examples. See pages 85-86 also.
Perhaps these layout issues is not the author’s fault but the other staff of publisher, the graphic designer or the editor’s, or someone else, in any event these problems make the book hard for me to use by turning me off, leaving me confused, or tiring my eyes out.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the Amazon Vine product review program. It's full retail price is $19.95 but as per my agreement with Amazon Vine I cannot resell it, give it away or let anyone else read it so its resale value for me is $0. The camera was purchased with my own money.
Christopher Grey's book reviewed in this post:
David Busch's book which I like much better "David Busch's Canon EOS Rebel XSi/450D"
The camera Canon EOS Rebel XSi / 450D with 18-55mm lens: