- I believe many in this thread are underestimating the amount to which the D800 is aimed at combo still/video users rather than being merely a still camera which happens to shoot video. I first came to that opinion when I saw the promo video. Finally, after months of anguish, I realized why Nikon had crammed so many pixels and done other things to this camera to make it NOT the D700 upgrade I had been hoping for: it isn't a D700 upgrade. Nikon says it isn't, and they mean it. I saw that film and thought, Oh my oh my oh my Nikon has gone and made a video camera which happens to shoot stills.
With that in mind, I'd really think hard about the amount of space you devote to video on this camera. So many people look at Amazon, count the stars in the ratings, and decide to buy or not to buy without even reading the reviews. It would be such a shame for you to get hundreds of low ratings for your book from people who buy the D800 specifically to do double duty as their video camera and find your book wanting in that area.
As for how to deal with it: video isn't your strong suit, and it's so smart of you to know that. So I'd say, make sure your advertising (and/or title, and/or subtitle, etc.) make it clear what the book is and is not. If you're going to do only very basic video, make sure you sneak that into the front end of the blurb, if not even a subtitle.
If, on the other hand, you can find someone who IS seriously deep into video, and who can help you figure out what information should go into a book aimed at advanced amateurs, still pro's, and newbie/wannabee/hobbyist/whatever SLR videographers, then why not find someone to co-author the book with you? That person could help you decide content and you could help them write. (You're a great writer; that's why we buy your books; I wouldn't suggest you give the entire chapter(s) away.)
- In no way whatsoever include the first five weeks of Digital Photography 101. IMHO, don't even reference it. Too much referencing of other works goes on in these books nowadays, and makes them all the more difficult read for those in the actual target audience. Again, I'd say make it very clear in your blurb and/or other marketing that this is NOT a book for beginners. Any book in my mind which even claims to be useful to both newbies and advanced readers is either (a) lying or (b) junk.
If you want to let the book be accessible to newbies, that's a completely different thing than making it "useful for newbies." You make it accessible to newbies by either
- including an Introduction or Chapter Zero in which you clearly state what kind of knowledge and skills you assume people have before coming to this book; that lets the newbie know precisely what they need to go and learn, without getting sloshed about all the time trying to keep up, while they are strung along in a book too unsure of its own sales to dispense tough but genuine love by directing them elsewhere – or –
- including an Introduction/Chapter Zero which does the above AND instead of farming them out to external resources, including Chapters one, two, and three etc. on-line to be studied separately if needed;
- including a shortened Introduction stating approximately what "level" photographer this book is aimed at, but without including a detailed list necessarily; and, on pages in the book where you might be tempted to discuss such stuff (exposure triangle, ISO, etc.), use completely set apart clearly defined obvious-and-visible-with-clear-color-coding sideboxes to do the referencing.
What will keep the book readable is if you don't even reference the sideboxes in the text; that kind of referencing makes reading into an experience comparable to driving over speed bumps. It gets soooo annoying so quickly! If you explain in the Introduction that external references for those who might see clarifying information on particular photography fundamentals will find references to such material in the green sideboxes or whatever, the green sidebox people will know where to go. And even if they don't read the introduction, they'll figure it out. So will everybody else, and each reader will learn early on whether to go to the green sideboxes every time they come up or whether to treat them as visual white noise. You could even have a separate index devoted just to the green sideboxes.
- While you're at it, you could do the same for those seeking more in depth information on any of a series of topics. Those sideboxes would need their own color, but then the rest of us, who aren't in need of an entire course on portrait photography for example, don't have to break stride reading your book while we're trying to figure out just how far ahead to skip.
- IMHO, you cross-reference things TOO much in your book. Sometimes it's very useful to tell somebody where you'll be covering such and such a feature if you aren't quite ready to do so yet. But for the most part, in my view, if it's worth mentioning yet it's worth explaining already. And if you haven't already explained it yet it is only confusing and making me skip through all kinds of hoops if you mention it anyway. For the most part, IMHO, there should be hardly any cross-referencing forward in a book, and cross-referencing backward only when you are explicitly reminding the reader of something (i.e. "Back in chapter three I discussed ..."), or when you think a huge number of very responsible readers of your book are likely to have missed it the first time.
- Related to that: what you call the "Shoot Now Camera Configuration" section at the beginning of your D300/s book contains a list of pages to go look up. It's frustrating to begin a book with a treasure hunt, and costs you pages as well.
I'd rather you wrote the "Shoot Now" section as an "Initial Set-Up" chapter. It should include everything that everybody has to, or really should, do before they get going, starting with learning how to navigate the Nikon dSLR menu system. It should include setting time, formatting the first card, setting the LCD brightness, getting the numbering system right, etc.
I don't consider these to be Basic Photography 101. They have nothing to do with photography, but everything to do with how to operate this camera. They are things that anybody coming from an Olympus, a Canon, or even many film cameras, won't necessarily know that they need to do, much less know how to do, if this is their first Nikon digital SLR.
Rather than sending me to other places in the book, go ahead and explain precisely what do to right here at the beginning of the book, and at the beginning of our journey together, so I understand you and you can lead me knowing that I have a functioning (i.e. it has a formatted card in it) camera in my hands.
On the other hand, this chapter would be utterly skippable by anyone migrating from another Nikon dSLR, and should be introduced clearly as such.
- Anything you explain in the Start-up chapter I would NOT explain again. When you do your detailed treatment of each menu, I would at most say "see p. xyz" when you come to these things, because by the time we get to page fifty-whatever we really should have already taken care of these things.
On the flip side, anything which needs to be taught before it can be used wisely JPEG compression, picture control, etc.) do not, in my opinion, belong in a Start-Up section. People who already know about setting white balance from previous dSLR experience and want to find out how to do so with the D800/E, they know how to look things up in the index.
By explaining things at the right point in the book, and explaining it only once, will not only save you pages but it will make your book a lot more readable IMHO.
- I agree with you and many of the above folks: histogram, white balance, and color space DO need to be in the book.
- In thinking about what to keep, consider how many people may finally be making the move to digital from Medium Format cameras (or film, for that matter) with this high res camera. As much as I, a digital baby, just cringe every single time folks "waste" time in a book on digital camera explaining it to film photographers, this is probably the time for me to stuff it. This is not only another vote for including histogram etc., but it is even a suggestion (I can't believe I'm saying this) to include an entire chapter (perhaps on-line?) for people who are proficient in film photography but new to digital.
Good stuff to go in a chapter like this might include a little film language/digital language conversion chart (ISO=ASO, that sort of thing), focal length conversions, even (gasp; I'm gonna die) basic digital processing.
By digital processing I do NOT mean editing (gotta leave something to somebody else's book) but just processing, i.e. anything which is done nearly exactly the same way and using nearly exactly the same terms in any program you're using: saving, naming, sizing, cropping, using sliders to change brightness, contrast, and saturation. Anything more and it'll take up way too much space and you'd need to be too program specific anyway.
- Since this is a full-frame camera which can use DX lenses well, I think an entire chapter should be devoted to using DX lenses on a full-frame camera.
The main issue people seem to miss is the difference purposes of each lens. Whenever I hear people saying things to newbies-with-ambition like "if you ever plan to move to FX then buy FX lenses now rather than DX lenses if you can afford it, so that when you move to FX you won't need new lenses," I think they're missing the boat.
For example: I have a DX camera and a 35mm "FX" lens. I have the lens because it was the only 35mm AF prime available at the time. But when (maybe still wishful thinking on my part, but hope springs eternal) I ever move to FX I certainly won't be using my that focal length on it. It'll be the wrong focal length for what I shoot. So this idea of just "bringing" your FX lenses with you from DX use over to your FX camera is something I think people haven't thought all the way through.
To help folks think this through better I think your book could do with a couple charts, starting with a basic one just explaining how to convert DX focal lengths to "FX equivalents" and back, along with an explanation of just what that means. People seem to get that really mixed up. So in addition to the formula, I'd include
- a handy little table listing some common FX/DX focal length conversions, together with showing the cut-offs of which lengths are wide, normal-ish, and telephoto, would be great.
- an explanation about how even though the focal length appears to "change" when you switch from FX to DX, the depth-of-field doesn't; and on account of that
- an explanation for people bringing a stable of FX lenses from their DX camera to their new FX camera who are wondering what the heck just happened to their depth-of-field. Such folks, particularly not-quite-intermediate level shooters, could perhaps use having you point out the difference this issue will make on what apertures they'll now want to start using and how much more accurate their focusing/hand-holding skills might need to get.
On account of these issues, I've love to see in this book a discussion helping people re-think their stable of lenses, helping them do it in a really responsible way (rent before you buy? get out your zooms first on your FX camera and use EXIF to see which focal lengths you're NOW using the most?).
- The D300/D300s book is another book that you wrote to cover two cameras. I feel the way in which you did that could have been done a lot more succinctly, particularly in terms of where all the menu functions were. Instead of listing for each and every feature whether it applies to one camera, to the other, or both, why not just use your colors again to give some kind of code in the subtitles when something applies only to one of the cameras? Or perhaps you could find some other kind of short-hand.
- You include a chapter on Speedlights in the D300/s book which I feel would be better left out, particularly given your page limit. As it is currently written there isn't enough content to help somebody new to speedlights figure out how to use them (personal experience), and people who already know how to use them don't need this chapter.
What I would include, however, is a decent chapter on how to use the built-in flash appropriately and well, unless you find its limitations so huge that you'd recommend people not use it at all. In either case, those who want to learn how to use speedlights, refer them to a good book or two. Those who want to learn all about light and lighting (not the same thing as learning about speedlights!) refer them on as well.
- An extension of the above point: my general recommendation would be anytime you find yourself explaining how to use anything that didn't come in the box, leave it out of this book and refer the reader elsewhere. You'll be able to do a fine, thorough job introducing people to the c-a-m-e-r-a, which is what your book want to do. Explain the basics of image processing by using View NX; let somebody else explain how to use Capture NX2. Explain the basics of the flash menu using the built-in flash, and the teeniest-tiniest bit about how you'd use this menu if you had an external flash (only naming the flash in question if you'd need a particular flash to use that setting), but let another book explain how to use the CLS system.
- Since Nikon has positioned this camera for portrait/landscape/fine art photography, and since you need to watch the pages, I'd use Nikon's own target audience for the camera to guide which topics you go into. If you try to be all things to all people in this book you won't succeed, certainly not with such a page limit constraint on such a mammoth camera. So things that are of most interest to photo-journalists/sports photographers/event photographers, I'd either leave them out altogether or give them a very brief sidebar telling them there's more to this camera that they might want to explore, and they might want to check out the following possibilities/accessories. This would include things such as the kind of detail you went into in your D300/D300s book on wireless transfer, Eye-Fi upload, or even Active D-lighting. The way I see it, the D800 is aimed at people who are not in a hurry, so those settings whose primary purpose in life is to help folks get pix finished and to the editor yesterday is where I'd save pages in this book.
Sorry this post ended up being so long! As you can tell, I certainly can feel for you when somebody slams down a page limit. I'm sure I could edit this post down, but by now I'm tired, it's bedtime, and I'm not getting paid. I hope it's useful in spite of its length, and in spite of its coming three weeks after you've started to write the book.
I do hope you keep all the fantastic things about the D300/D300s book, such as others have mentioned: your own recommendations at the end of each section, your great writing style, your thoroughness about the things you do cover. Good luck getting it finished! I hope your excitement for the camera and the book out-live the tediousness which can develop over just getting the *?* book DONE.
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