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Minolta A1/A2: A Step by Step Illustrated eBook Review

Express Summary

The Minolta A1/A2: A Step by Step Illustrated eBook by Gary Friedman is aimed at new photography enthusiasts who own a Konica-Minolta Dimage A1, A2 or A200 digital camera. The book covers all the features of these cameras at various levels, starting from how to activate them, all the way to how they work. This eBook is well written, well presentedand quite informative for beginning photographers. It is definitely recommended for anyone owning a Konica-Minolta A-series camera who is new to photography.

Review

The MinoltaA1/A2 2: A Step by Step Illustrated eBook's description may vaguely seem like a repetition of the good old Konica-Minolta manual, but it is much more. First, it is  an eBook filled with vivid color photographs on virtually every page. Each photograph serves to reinforce and clarify points discussed on those pages. Starting at the tenth page, it is obvious that the layout of this book was thoughtfully designed to be easily readable on a computer screen. Its 4:3 aspect-ratio format,differs from most eBooks translated from print but matches well the shape of most computer displays. Second, it bridges the gap between knowing how to use a feature and knowing when to use it. To this effect, readers are first introduced to a feature's existence and then introduced to the photographic reason for that feature. Finally, the book covers topics beyond the camera itself such as basic composition, wireless flashes and digital terminology.

The Minolta A1/A2 book is divided into eight chapters of varying length and depth, but each chapter is written with simplicity in mind. The author appears to have taken time to dilute each concept to its essence, sometimes oversimplifying for the purpose of clarity. After all, a complex concept broadly understood is better than one not understood at all. Version 2 of the book covers 3 different cameras from Konica-Minolta: A1, A2 and A200. The A1 and A2 are physically very similar [except for the sensor resolution, electronic-viewfinder and maximum shutter speeds], so most paragraphs apply to both. The A200 on the other hand is internally very similar to the A2 but its external controls are not. This disparity gives rise to numerous paragraphs, some pages, and even an appendix, dedicated to only one of the cameras in question. Given the book's electronic form, I wonder if it could have been more streamlined if it was published differently for each camera. Other than having to occasionally skip parts relevant to a different camera model, the book reads very well front-to-back and progresses at a mostly uniform pace. Only at the very beginning are some concepts mentioned before being introduced (aperture and ISO sensitivity for example - however readers of Neocamera should already be familiar with those terms).

After broadly introducing main features in the first chapter, the second chapter explains the usefulness of each feature. This is where the A1/A2book begins to exceed the camera manuals. This is an important step because Konica-Minolta A-series cameras have so many features that beginners generally have trouble deciding when to use them. Interspersed within each chapter, general photography tips and interesting facts build readers' knowledge of photography. Reading this book, I even learnt the reason behind the shape of the lens hood! Chapter four and five continue to cover more features and explains when to use them. These chapters go even further by explaining how some features work. This gives readers more insight on why some features work the way they do.

As for the third chapter which explains viewing, printing and archiving. It is very detailed with respect to the cameras, but admittedly vague on using the computer to print and archive images. Of course, no single chapter of any book could explain how to use all software on several different types of computers. For this reason, I would have traded the vagueness in this chapter for more details in chapter 6 which is very informative but way too short. Indeed the 6th chapter covers light and composition in a handful of pages, while entire books have been written on the subject. Obviously, composition and lighting are not specific to Konica-Minolta cameras but are the most important concepts to learn for new photographers. The remaining chapters cover the wireless flashes, some general digital camera concepts (explained relative to the A-series) and two informative appendices.

In the end, the book marvelously achieves its goal of explaining the Konica-Minolta A-series cameras in much more depth than the manuals. It turns new owners of these cameras into photographers using these cameras. Interested owners of Konica-Minolta A-series cameras can get started with this book on Gary Friedman's website.

To further improve your photography skills, we recommend to complement this book with a good book on the subject of composition.

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