A Book on Photography

12th Edition, Sept. 2019

By David Salomon. A free eBook with 645 Figures. xv+1088 pages available here.

From the Preface

Goal of the Book In 2012, when this book was started, its main goal was to convince the reader that the compact cameras then available produce good (or at least, adequate) pictures in most photographic situations. It is only in rare cases that large, expensive cameras are absolutely necessary. Today, in 2019, circumstances have changed. The state of the art of photography, cameras, and lenses has advanced, prices have dropped, and there are more types of cameras, lenses, and accessories. The result is that compact, automatic cameras have become less important, and more photographers, professionals and amateurs alike, use the various types of mirrorless cameras which are small, lightweight (see especially Exercise 3.5), have interchangeable lenses, and are controlled by powerful computers and sophisticated software with many options, choices, and preferences. Thus, Chapter 4 is still part of the book, but recent editions include much new material such as micro four thirds (MFT) cameras (Section 3.9), tilt-shift lenses (Section 1.19), computational photography (Chapter 7), and many thoughts and advice on photography, image composition, and what and when to shoot (in the Introduction).

Organization and Features

There are seven chapters and seven appendixes.

Chapter 1 concentrates on the basic concepts behind photography, namely light, the eye, color, and geometrical optics. The latter topic includes refraction, prisms, and lenses.

Chapter 2 explains how a basic digital camera works and follows with a discussion of basic photographic terms such as exposure, f-stop, depth of field, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and auto-focus.

Chapter 3 is devoted to the principal types of digital cameras. This includes digital- single-lens-reflex (DSLR), twin-lens-reflex (TLR), digital-single-lens-mirrorless (DSLM and MILC), rangefinder, bridge, compact (point-and-shoot), and special types of cameras such as ultraviolet, infrared, 360 panoramic cameras, miniature and spy cameras, and 3D cameras.

Chapter 4 describes two compact cameras and shows how to use them in many practical situations. The intent here is to convince the reader that the compact cameras currently available are not significantly inferior to their more sophisticated (and also bigger, heavier, and more expensive) cousins the DSLRs and MILCs. The reader will learn, among others, how to obtain a shallow or a large depth-of-field (Section 2.6) by controlling the aperture size and how to handle situations with high dynamic range. (HDR, Section 4.6, is a measure of the lightest to the darkest tones in an image. HDR is important where the subject had very bright and very dark parts and we want all their details to appear in the final image.) How to shoot when motion is detected (Section 4.11), how to shoot a time-lapse sequence of images (Section 4.3), and how to mount detachable wide-angle and telephoto lenses in addition to the original, non- interchangeable lens of the camera. The chapter also shows how many Canon compact cameras, even old models, can be given a new life and coerced to perform "miracles" such as the following: (1) Work in shutter-priority and aperture priority modes, (2) output raw image files in addition to the standard JPEG, (3) work with very fast (in some cases up to 1/8000 s) and very slow (up to 64 s) shutter speeds, (4) display RGB color histograms, (5) detect motion, (6) take a group of exposure-bracketing photos, and (7) use the built-in timer to reduce camera shake and vibrations.

Chapter 5 is a detailed discussion of the important concept of high dynamic range (HDR). The term "dynamic range" is defined, the HDR problem is explained, and it is shown how to shoot a sequence of bracketed HDR images either handheld or with a tripod. The chapter continues with descriptions of the two main approaches to HDR, namely exposure fusion and tone mapping.

Chapter 6 is a wide survey of the history of photography. It also includes biographies of several eminent photographers and a detailed timeline of photography.

Chapter 7 is devoted to the new, exciting world of computational photography. The chapter offers much material on traditional methods for image processing as well as descriptions of several new, magical methods for processing photographs.

Appendix A describes the many controls found on a modern DSLR.

Appendix B is a glossary of photographic terms.

Appendix C is a list of the important features buyers should look for in compact cameras. This material is especially relevant to those who are looking to purchase such a camera.

Appendix D discusses legal issues that should interest any photographer or would-be photographer. The last two appendixes are for mathematically-savvy readers who would like to know the details of the JPEG algorithm and how a lens is shaped.

Appendix E tries to explain the basic steps of the JPEG algorithm in a non- mathematical language. This material is intended for readers who are interested in more than just using a camera and obtaining great pictures.

Appendix F employs several mathematical techniques and approaches to analyze the behavior of spherical lenses and to derive the equation of an aspherical lens.

Appendix G is devoted to pixels, their history, their properties, and their meaning.

Target Audiences

I planned this book with two audiences in mind, those interested in digital photography and cameras in general and those interested in getting the maximum out of their compact cameras. The former audience would be interested in the first part of the book, especially the material on optics and concepts of digital cameras. The latter audience would be interested in the material on compact cameras and what they can achieve. The appendixes should be of interest to all readers.


I would like to thank Nelson Beebe for many suggestions, improvements, and error corrections. His help has been invaluable.

I welcome any comments, suggestions and corrections. They should be emailed to [email protected]. An errata list and other information may later be added to this website.

Book Cover

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction 1

1 Light and Optics 77

1.1 Light and Color 77
1.2 Color and the Eye 79
1.3 Color and Human Vision 80
1.4 Color Spaces 91
1.5 Luminance 96
1.6 Human Vision vs. a Camera 98
1.7 Natural Lighting and Photography 100
1.8 Optics 117
1.9 Mirrors in Photography 122
1.10 Refraction 128
1.11 The Pentaprism 134
1.12 Lenses 135
1.13 Compound Lenses 143
1.14 Zooming and Zoom Lenses 145
1.15 Macro Lenses 152
1.16 Fisheye Lenses 154
1.17 Fisheye Projection 156
1.18 Poor Man's Fisheye 160
1.19 Tilt-Shift Lenses 161
1.20 Anti-Reflection Coatings 168
1.21 Lens Aberrations 170
1.22 Printing Resolution, ppi and dpi 173
1.23 Halftoning 178
1.24 Dithering 180
1.25 Printers and the Longevity of Prints 189

2 Digital Cameras 201

2.1 Basic Components 201
2.2 The Viewfinder and Camera Types 203
2.3 The Shutter 209
2.4 F-Stops and Lens Speed 232
2.5 Aperture 251
2.6 Depth-of-Field 255
2.7 Depth-of-Field Equations 268
2.8 ISO and Image Noise 284
2.9 Exposure Review 294
2.10 Exposure Values 300
2.11 Image Sensors 305
2.12 White Balance 336
2.13 Output Files 340
2.14 Focusing, Manual and Automatic 347
2.15 Light Metering 371
2.16 Exposure Compensation 374
2.17 The Histogram 378
2.18 Lenses 392
2.19 Macro Photography 396
2.20 Lens Hoods 398
2.21 Vertical grips 401
2.22 Remote shutter release 403
2.23 Tripods and Monopods 404

3 Camera Types 409

3.1 Pinhole Cameras 409
3.2 Single Lens Reflex 412
3.3 Single Lens Translucent 417
3.4 Twin Lens Reflex 418
3.5 Rangefinder 420
3.6 View Cameras 423
3.7 Mirrorless (MILC) 426
3.8 Bridge Cameras 430
3.9 Micro Four Thirds (MFT) 431
3.10 Compact Cameras 446
3.11 Specialty Cameras 452
3.12 Infrared Cameras 459
3.13 Night Vision Cameras 461
3.14 3D Cameras 464
3.15 Panoramic Cameras 468
3.16 Miniature Cameras 478
3.17 Dash Cameras 479
3.18 Security Cameras 486
3.19 Drone Cameras 489
3.20 The L16 Multi-Aperture Camera 492

4 Compact Cameras 503

4.1 CHDK 504
4.2 Overrides in CHDK 515
4.3 Time-Lapse and CHDK 518
4.4 CHDK Intervalometer Script Examples 523
4.5 The Intervalometer as a Script 525
4.6 HDR 527
4.7 HDR with CHDK; No Script 530
4.8 HDR of a Single Photograph 533
4.9 HDR Algorithms 533
4.10 CHDK Motion Detection 540
4.11 USB Remote 542
4.12 Zeikos lenses 545

5 High Dynamic Range 551

5.1 Definitions and Units of HDR 552
5.2 The HDR Problem 555
5.3 Shooting HDR Bracketed Images 560
5.4 Exposure Fusion 566
5.5 HDR Radiance Maps 569
5.6 Tone Mapping 572
5.7 HDR Software 577
5.8 Floating-Point Numbers 578

6 History of Photography 583

6.1 Early Attempts 585
6.2 Plates, Wet and Dry 621
6.3 George Eastman and Kodak 633
6.4 Leica and 35 mm Photography 643
6.5 SLRs, Nikon, Canon, and Pentax 647
6.6 The Digital Revolution 666
6.7 History of Smartphone Cameras 669
6.8 Distinguished Photographers 677
6.9 First-in-Class Photographs 736
6.10 History of Photography Timeline 750

7 Computational Photography 771

7.1 Point Operations 775
7.2 Image Blending 783
7.3 Filters 786
7.4 Edge Detection 794
7.5 The Hough Transform 802
7.6 Edge Sharpening 806
7.7 Morphological Filters 808
7.8 Discrete Convolution 812
7.9 Dual Photography 820
7.10 Light Field (Plenoptic) Cameras 825
7.11 The Discrete Fourier Transform 838
7.12 Coded Aperture 849
7.13 HDR+ and its Relatives 856
7.14 Face Detection 865

A Camera Controls 871

A.1 Canon EOS 5D Controls 872
A.2 Panasonic DMC-G7 Controls 878

B Glossary of Photographic Terms 885

C Compact Cameras Feature Guide 903

C.1 Good and Bad 904
C.2 Main Features 904
C.3 Advanced Features 912

D Legal Issues 915
D.1 Public and Private Places 916
D.2 Privacy Issues 918
D.3 Restrictions on Subjects 920
D.4 Protect Your Work 926

E JPEG and TIFF 931

E.1 Image Redundancy 931
E.2 Image Types 933
E.3 Summary of JPEG 934
E.4 Image Transforms 938
E.5 TIFF 949
E.6 Facsimile Compression 951
E.7 PackBits Compression 955

F The Shape of a Lens 957

F.1 Spherical Lenses 959
F.2 Aspherical Lenses 965

G Pixels 981

G.1 Point Samples 981
G.2 Real Optical Devices 984
G.3 Pixel Interpolation 985
G.4 Replicating Rows/Cols 987
G.5 Replicating Pixels 987
G.6 More About Image Scaling 989
G.7 Bilinear Interpolation 992
G.8 Bicubic Interpolation 993
G.9 The Sampling Theorem 999

References 1007

Answers to Exercises 1019

Index 1055


What I have to say about this book can be found inside the book. --Albert Einstein

Last Updated 1 Sept 2019