Canon EOS 6D – A menu-oriented how-to guide for a feature-rich DSLR camera – #photography #bookreview

Canon EOS 6D

The Guide to Understanding and Using Your Camera
James Johnson
(Rocky Nook – paperback, Kindle)

This definitely is not another “how to take great digital photographs” guide. Yet, you will be able to take better pictures if you pay attention to the author’s explanations, recommendations and experiences in this 263-page how-to manual.

As the subtitle states, James Johnson’s new Canon EOS 6D book shows how to understand and use your camera by getting comfortable with the EOS 6D’s many menu settings, feature options and accessories.

The Canon EOS 6D is a new addition to Canon’s line of full-frame DSLR cameras. It shoots digital images and digital video, and it has built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. You also can connect it to a TV screen using an HDMI cable.

The text is well written, and the book is adequately illustrated with menu screenshots and other graphics. And the author doesn’t pull many punches when he describes a feature he thinks is hard to use or doesn’t quite live up to its marketing hype from Canon. For example, he’s no big fan of the new GPS feature. “[I]t’s not a strong performer; satellite signals are lost quite easily,”  he writes. And: “I find that by simply rotating the camera on the tripod, I can induce an error of 100 to 300 feet in surface measure, or 50 to 80 feet in elevation.” But not everyone needs great accuracy when using the GPS feature, he concedes. “With the GPS feature enabled…the EOS 6D will record GPS data (surface coordinates, elevation, UTC time and date) along with each photo.” And the data will stay with the images when they are transferred to a computer. The internal GPS “can also log locations, totally separate from photo-recording” for a time period set in a menu option.

The Wi-Fi feature generally works well, he notes, and he explains how to use it. But “[t]he Wi-Fi data transfer speed is slower than the USB cable transfer speed, so you will see some delay, and probably some jerkiness in moving objects, in the Live View display on your computer screen.” On the plus side, he adds: “In my own environment, I can reliably maintain a Wi-Fi connection up to 75 feet (I have not tested beyond that), and from that 75-foot distance I can shut off the camera and have the Wi-Fi connection automatically restored when I power on the camera.”

The EOS 6D camera package is offered in two versions, the body-only package, and the body and lens kit, which includes Canon’s EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. Johnson calls it “a very good general-purpose lens” but says little else about lenses in his book. The focus remains on the camera body, its accessories and options, and using the EOS 6D’s extensive array of menu choices to support whatever lenses you choose.

Essentially, Johnson covers all features great and small, right down to the eyepiece cover. “Many Canon owners are not aware that this piece exists,” he points out. “Its purpose is to completely block ambient light from entering the viewfinder’s eyepiece. This is useful if you’re capturing an image when you don’t have your eye at the viewfinder.” For example, you may be taking a long-exposure shot or using remote tripping to take a picture while you are a safe distance from the camera. Cautions the author: “Ambient light entering through the viewfinder can influence exposure metering, resulting in underexposed photos.”

Many DSLR cameras are equipped with tiny pop-up flash units that some photographers like and others consider as insults to their photo-lighting skills. The EOS 6D does not have an internal flash unit. But: “Canon designs, builds, sells, and supports a line of electronic flash units under the name Speedlite. These units represent a broad spectrum of power and capabilities,” Johnson states. And: “I won’t pretend to address the choice of a Speedlite, but will cover what the EOS 6D can do to communicate with and control an external flash, or a flash commander, mounted in the camera’s hotshoe. A flash commander is capable of managing several remote flash units, configured in numerous ways.”

Of course, you can’t really discuss flash settings without using some kind of flash unit to help activate the camera’s menu settings. Johnson uses the new Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite in his descriptions and cautions readers that “[i]f I cover a feature in this section that does not appear on your flash unit, don’t get frustrated trying to find it. However, you may want to evaluate the feature and determine whether you really can live without it.”

From hooking up the camera’s wide carrying strap to cleaning the sensor, managing folders on the memory card, and plugging in an external microphone, this book offers solid how-to guidance for photographers with intermediate-level experience using DSLRs.

Canon EOS 6D: The Guide to Understanding and Using Your Camera can help you master the features you need and want to use and introduce you to new capabilities that can bring you even greater satisfaction with your photography.

Si Dunn

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Software Requirements, Third Edition – A major, long-needed update of a classic book – #software #business #bookreview

Software Requirements, Third Edition

Karl Wiegers and Joy Beatty
(Microsoft Press – paperback, Kindle)

A lot changes in 10 years, particularly in the world of software development. The previous edition of this book appeared in 2003, and I never knew about it while I struggled over software requirements documents and user manuals as a technical writer for several big and small companies.

In those days, pulling information out of software engineers was on par with pulling their wisdom teeth using needle-nosed pliers. And management seldom was helpful. Sometimes, I would be sitting at my desk, working on some project, and a high-level delegation suddenly would arrive.

“We are releasing a new software update tomorrow,” the delegation leader would announce. “And we need some documentation written. Here is the latest requirements document. We need for you to expand it into a release document. Oh, and some kind of user manual.”

Fortunately and unfortunately, the software release almost always slipped from tomorrow to the next week and then to the next month as bugs emerged during final testing. While the customer grumbled or screamed, I had time to produce new documents from the software requirements, plus interviews with any engineer I could grab and threaten to name in the materials that I would send out to customers.

It was all seat-of-the-pants stuff. Now, after retiring several years ago, I can only wish I had had this well-written “best practices” guide to creating, managing, and making best use of software requirements documents.

Software Requirements, Third Edition covers a lot of ground in its 637 (print-edition) pages. The 32 chapters are organized into five major parts:

  • Part I – Software Requirements: What, Why, and Who
  • Part II – Requirements Development
  • Part III – Requirements for Specific Project Classes
  • Part IV – Requirements Management
  • Part V – Implementing Requirements Engineering

The book’s two authors, each an expert in software requirements development, emphasize that a software requirements document can be a shining beacon of guidance and clarity or a confusing array of ill-defined features and functions–or it can be something that hovers perilously between good and bad.

The writers emphasize: “Many problems in the software world arise from shortcomings in the ways that people learn about, document, agree upon and modify the product’s requirements….[C]ommon problem areas are information gathering, implied functionality, miscommunicated assumptions, poorly specified requirements, and a casual change process. Various studies suggest that errors introduced during requirements activities account for 40 to 50 percent of all defects found in a software product….Inadequate user input and shortcomings in specifying and managing customer requirements are major contributors to unsuccessful projects. Despite this evidence,” they warn, “many organizations still practice ineffective requirements methods.”

Indeed, they add: “Nowhere more than in the requirements do the interests of all the stakeholders in a project intersect….These stakeholders include customers, users, business analysts, developers, and many others. Handled well, this intersection can lead to delighted customers and fulfilled developers. Handled poorly, it is the source of misunderstanding and friction that undermine the product’s quality and business value.”

The intended primary readership for the book includes “business analysts and requirements engineers, along with software architects, developers, project managers, and other stakeholders.”

In my view, Software Requirements, Third Edition should be read by an even bigger audience. This includes anyone who works in software development, anyone who manages software developers, anyone who sells software development services, plus other key personnel in companies that create, sell, or buy specialized or customized software products or services. The buyer must understand the software requirements process just as keenly as the seller. Otherwise, the software development company may try to hide behind certain jargon or definitions or introduce new processes or changes previously undefined as a delaying tactic, particularly if it has fallen behind schedule or otherwise is failing to deliver what it has promised.

A well-structured, well-worded, well-managed requirements document can help save time, money and, most importantly, the reputations of the companies and people on all sides of a software project. This important, newly updated book shows exactly how such documents can be created, managed, and maintained.

Si Dunn

OpenGL ES 2 for Android – A fine quick-start guide for new developers – #android #programming #bookreview

OpenGL ES 2 for Android

A Quick-Start Guide
Kevin Brothaler
(Pragmatic Bookshelf – paperback)

Yes, the timing might seem a bit strange, releasing an OpenGL ES 2 book in early July, 2013, barely a month before the August release of OpenGL ES 3.

However, OpenGL ES 3 is backward-compatible with OpenGL ES 2. And the steps and techniques you can learn in this Open GL ES 2 book for Android are forward-compatible to OpenGL ES 3. Many also are applicable to iOS WebGL or HTML5 WebGL.

This “quick-start guide” assumes you have some experience with Java and Android, and it quickly jumps into creating OpenGL applications for Android. You install software tools such as the Java Development Kit (JDK) and the Android Software Development Kit and create a simple test project. Then you dive into developing and enhancing a 3D game project —  “a simple game of air hockey” — for the remainder of the book.

OpenGL ES 2 for Android is nicely illustrated, well-written, and cleanly organized with short paragraphs and short code examples that clearly have been tested. It is a fine quick-start guide, particularly for developers looking into OpenGL for the first time.

Some math skills are required to develop the air hockey game. But the author does a nice job of explaining and illustrating the math examples, as well.

Kevin Brothaler has extensive experience in Android development. He founded Digipom, a mobile software development shop, and he manages an online set of OpenGL tutorials for Android and WebGL: Learn OpenGL ES.

Si Dunn