I RECENTLY acquired a newer model Sony RX100: the RX100vi. It has been years since an electronic appliance shipped with documentation. Most have at least a rudimentary PDF which can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website. That may be a good thing. Save a tree, and acknowledge that many, if not most, users don’t read the instructions anyway. On the other hand, some of us do. I have always liked to take my documentation and the appliance and pour through it, trying things, making settings, etc. As time has gone on, I have found even the PDF documentation to be relatively useless for this purpose, though. This lack of documentation has presented greater opportunity for authors to write supplemental guides for particular camera models.
ALEXANDER White’s “The Photographer’s Guide To The Sony DSC-RX11 VI,” is such a book. Some readers may be old enough to remember old “Magic Lantern Guides” series. While it depended on who wrote the particular volume, they were generally a thorough explanation – with examples and illustrations – of the camera model’s features and workings. Since I have never seen any manufacturer’s documentation particularly well-written, they were generally useful and I usually had one for each camera I owned. I thought they were the best such aftermarket documentation available (I even became online friends with one of the prominent authors). If I am wrong, I hope someone here will correct me, but I do not see them anymore for recent camera models. That is unfortunate.
THERE are a few other guide series, but for the most part, I don’t find them useful. There is one series, for example, that maintains the same “theme” from camera to camera, model to model, and is really more of a “how to” book for new photographers, repeating the same generic information in every edition. Along with it, the actual documentation if usually little more than you can get from the manufacturer’s site. There is another prominent series often seen in bookstores. It seems to confine itself to DSLR Cameras, and I find the content lacking in detail and depth. If you are a Nikon. Thom Hogan has some pretty good guides, but again they are restricted to the larger DSLR and MILS cameras.
WHITE’s series has squarely targeted “higher-end” compact point & shoot (P&S) cameras. The guide being reviewed here is my first experience with his guides, and if it is any indication, it would be well worth your time to pick one up (if available) for your camera. All of his works can be found on his website, here.
THE book is available in either paperback or ebook format. The reviews (mostly on Amazon) did not care for the ebook version, as they found it poorly indexed and organized. I read alot of ebooks. But mostly I don’t like textbooks and guidebooks delivered that way. Almost all of my photobooks are in paperback format and reside on a shelf in my office. I like being able to flag and highlight pages and text. I also like being able to follow along with camera in hand, or with the book next to my computer screen, as the case may be. I strongly recommend the paperback format of this book.
THE book is well-organized and goes through the controls and each of the menu items, one-by-one with (in most cases) in-depth explanation of their function with illustrations. Sony has revamped its menu system a couple of times, and the first change for the RX100 series came with this model. Because I had two older Sony cameras, I was unfamiliar with the newer system and my primary purpose for purchase of this book was to get an in-depth guide to its features and functions. It has served the purpose well.
I have a couple of “niggles” with the book.
- The paperback is a full-size book (8 1/2 x 11). I wish it were in a smaller format (the Magic Lantern Guides, for example, were around 4 1/2 x 8) and more easy to stuff into a backpack or pocket. It may be a matter of economics of publishing, but due to its size, this will not be a book to carry in the field.
- While the book is reasonably thorough, there are just a couple places where the author admits he either doesn’t use a feature, or isn’t interested in it, and so he simply doesn’t cover it. It doesn’t happen often, but there was at least one occasion in the book where I wanted to know more about a feature the author didn’t feel was important. A truly comprehensive book should cover subjects even if not interesting to the author.
- This last comment is a pet peeve of mine about virtually all digital camera guide books that cover cameras with raw capture capability. I think it is likely that most people who purchase these generally higher-end cameras do so purposely for the raw capability. All of the cameras today have a lot of “built-in” “scene modes,” “vivid” modes, HDR in camera features, and the like. Virtually none of them work on raw images. I would like to see writers devote a bit of time explaining that point (even though a lot the more experienced among us know this), in a front-and-center way at the beginning of the book, and then have some kind of consistent reminder throughout. When I first started using these guides, even though I kind of intuitively knew the answer, I often find it difficult to confirm this fact.
ALL in all, I think this purchase is a good value and a worthwhile addition to your library if you have this camera model.