Book review: Fotograferen met een Nikon D3100 (dutch)

And there I was, in the possession of a brand new Nikon d3100 but with no knowledge of photography nor camera settings. Lucky for me I had a gift voucher and decided to buy the book Fotograferen met een Nikon D3100 from Dré de Man (blog|twitter) to get me started. The book contains 12 chapters starting to focus on the brand Nikon and the camera to the principles of photography in general:

Chapter 1: Inleiding en geschiedenis (Introduction and history)

A general chapter about the history of Nikon, it’s always nice to know the background of the equipment you buy. Certainly if you learn how it all started and evolved just untill now.

Chapter 2: Voor u begint (Before you get started)

The introduction of the chapter speaks for itself: “You will read things you already know, but also things you don’t know you don’t know”. And indeed you will read where the power button is, but you will also learn how to change lenses, what basic settings you should use. Indeed just everything you need to know about the camera itself. A lot of items will be described in more detail in the next chapters.

Chapter 3: Programma’s voor beginners en gevorderden (Programs for beginners and advanced)

Learning about the shooting programs on the camera. How they work, focus, process the pictures… So very valuable information. Also for future reference, once you start to try the “advanced” modes, you can lookup the settings of the “beginners” programs and tweak them from there.

Chapter 4: Sluitertijden en diafragma’s (Shutter speed and aperture)

The book is moving from the basics of the camera to more general photography principles. You’ll learn about the importance of light and the combination of the shutter speed and aperture. The most important thing I learned was “the depth of field” influence of the aperture settings. A real “ah that’s how they do it” moment.

Chapter 5: Belichting en lichtmeting (Exposure and metering)

At this point the book started to become too complex for me as a beginner. It’s interesting to know how the metering is done in the camera and how you can change some settings. It’s also interesting to learn how the “Auto” program can make the wrong conclusions. Certainly a chapter I will be reading again in a couple of months.

Chapter 6: Autofocus: vloek en zegen (Autofocus: curse and blessing)

Very interesting chapter on how the camera focuses on subjects, what type of focus sensors you have in the camera and how you can focus with the camera. Off course autofocus is only possible with lenses that support the feature. You’ll also learn how the “beginner” programs try to focus and what different settings you can have in the camera. The only thing I miss in this chapter is more details about the AE-L / AF-L button wich can help you locking on a subject. Certainly when the autofocus kicks in every time you press the shutter release halfway.

Chapter 7: Kleur (Color)

A rather short chapter that talks about getting color in your pictures and specially focusses on the various white balance settings.

Chapter 8: Objectieven (Lenses)

For me as a beginner it was interesting to read how a lens works, but the descriptions of some Nikon lenses was beyond my current interest. Probably a chapter to read when I’m ready to expand my equipment with an extra lens.

Chapter 9: Flitsfotografie (Flash photography)

It’s very interesting to read how the use of a flash can influence the results of the photo’s you take. You’ll learn that a flash is not only used in dim situations. Further on external flashes are reviewed in more detail, with maybe too much detail about the high-end flashes while the book focusses on an entry-level camera.

Chapter 10: Nikon à la carte

Just like in a restaurant, a complete listing of al the menu items in the camera with its explanation. Dry but very useful when you want to change something trough the various camera menu’s.

Chapter 11: Foto’s bewerken in en buiten de camera (Photo editing inside and outside the camera)

A promising title, I expected a lot on how and what you should do with your pictures. Instead I got information on how the camera processes its pictures, what the RAW format is and that you should edit your pictures afterwards. In dead also information on how you can edit the photo’s inside the camera, but who will do this on a 3″ screen? On the other hand there are so many photo editing tools, techniques, flavours… It would be impossible for the writer to describe them here.

Chapter 12: Bloopers en ergernissen (Bloopers and annoyances)

A little troubleshooting guide for when the camera is not doing what you want it to do or when the photo results are not what you expect them to be.

Conclusion

I’m glad I bought and read the book, I learned a lot of it mostly about the camera itself. If I had to describe the book, I would call it an advanced user manual with nice picture examples. Some chapters were a little too advanced but I bet I will read them again when I’m going to invest in an extra lens or flash. Concerning photography tips the book let me a bit down.

So if you just bought a Nikon d3100 and want to know all the ins and outs of the camera. This book is value for its money. Certainly because you will pick up the book when you advance in your photography and want to explore more possibilities of the camera.

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Book review: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Administration with Windows PowerShell

Almost every training I teach I get the question: “What with PowerShell?”. Students want to know what they can do with PowerShell, how it’s used and most important where they can learn it. I learned the PowerShell (very) basics from articles on the internet, demo’s on events and so on. But now I think a found a winner for DBA’s who want to start learning PowerShell. The Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Administration with Windows PowerShell book by Ananthakumar Muthusamy (blog) and Yan Pan (blog) is a perfect guide for DBA’s who start with PowerShell or who already know PowerShell but want to use it to administer their MS SQL Servers. Also beginning DBA’s can start using the book because it’s full of tips, tricks and explanations on how and why certain tasks are done.

The first 4 chapters bring the PowerShell ‘dummy’ up to speed with the very basics of PowerShell. Readers will learn how to use commands, create scripts and work with Functions, Parameters and so on. Extensive code examples help to master the basics fast.

In chapter 5 to 8 the writers dig in deeper on the use of PowerShell and how to get information and to get things done on Windows level, covering the File System, Registry, Event Logs, Services and the WMI Provider

And finally starting from chapter 9 to 13 the reader starts reading what a DBA can do with Windows PowerShell starting with the provider for Configuration Management over the SQL Server PowerShell provider, policies and the SMO.

After these chapters the book could have stopped. Everything about PowerShell and SQL Server is covered to get a DBA started but the real surplus of the book is about to start. First chapter 14 is there to advise on using and creating standards within SQL Server and PowerShell. Nothing new, nothing spectacular but it’s nice to see the writers care about standards and want to help and guide beginning coders to use them.

Starting from chapter 15 to 21 all the knowledge of the previous chapters is put into practise. The chapters are no easy read but show the readers how to create a complete PowerShell solution to inventory, monitor and manage a complete SQL Server environment. And even if the reader doesn’t want to create such a solution. The coding examples are just great to lookup how a certain task can be accomplished with PowerShell.

Conclusion

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Administration with Windows Powershell is not a book to read on a holiday nor in bed. But I think it’s a must have on every DBA’s bookshelf whether the DBA is a starter or a senior. Everybody will find value in this book.

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