Gary Friedman's Book on the Sony a99 transcends a mere manual on steroids. It's actually a great read.

I make the same mistake so many people in my age group/demographic/education level, etc., make: I think I am smarter than I really am. Like most people I'm sure I'm pretty close to the middle of the IQ Bell Curve but my ego keeps prodding me to believe that I must be nearer to the more valuable end. Every once in a while common sense wins over ego and I relent and actually do something beneficial for myself rather than presuming I already know everything already. (See how convoluted that paragraph is? Proof of my argument...).

When I bought my Sony a99 I presumed that my Vulcan-like intellect (often disproven) would make mastering all the nooks and crannies and crevices of the camera's potential child's play. And so I labored in blissful ignorance until yesterday. Only yesterday did I really start to unlock the secrets that are making that particular camera even better than I thought it would be. How did this happen? How did I break through the dam of ignorance in order to start realizing the potential of my $2800 purchase?

I took the advice of some people on the internet and bought a book by a guy named, Gary Friedman. He writes books about Sony cameras. If the a99 book is an typical example then he writes very, very good books about Sony cameras. I figured he would cover a lot of filler stuff and that I'd have to pick my way through a junkyard of trivia to find a few gems but I was smacked in the face by how good and how well aimed toward more advanced users the book is.

I've read some sections in their entirety and some I've skimmed over and will come back to. There were two areas about the camera that I hadn't really mastered. One was the use of the flashes that are available from Sony. And, especially, using the flashes in wireless modes and with groups. The second area is in setting the right autofocus combinations for best results. And I'll admit that, with my growing interest in video I read that section twice.

In just those readings I came away with a much enhanced understanding of how to get the best out of the a99 system. The e-book is over 600 pages. It contains lots of color illustrations and Gary gives it to buyers in three formats: a very nicely designed and indexed PDF format, a mobi format and an epub format for Nooks and other readers. Wow. Across all formats. Generous and amazing. Can you say, "Customer Service?"

He writes in a very fluid and humorous way. His understanding of every little detail is obvious. I have never been as happy with an e-book on so many levels. The design is superb. The layout and functionality (at least on an Apple computer, iPad and iPhone) is so good as to be invisible, transparent and buttoned up. I grabbed the information I was originally thirsty for and then went out for dinner. Now that I have the book loaded on my iPad I'll be settling in over the next few days to read it cover to cover like a novel.

The book is best read on a device that has an active connection to the internet. This is because Gary has provided numerous links about subjects you might want to dive into in more detail. Or he provides links to resources like Kurt Munger's excellent lens tests for Sony and Minolta lenses.

I can only recommend the e-books as that's what I've experienced. I wish I could put an affiliate link right here and benefit from his writing genius but I can't. You'll be best served to go directly to his site and order his book directly.  It's right here: Gary Friedman's Excellent a99 book.

Don't shoot with an a99? Browse his site and look at all the other books available. As soon as I digest this one I'm moving on to the Sony Nex7 book. Sorry to the Nikon, Canon and Olympus Shooters....I wish we had someone who writes this well covering those brands. But we don't.


Anonymous said...

Thoroughly agree re Gary's Books - I purchased the A77 ebook as soon as it came out and would class myself as 'knowledgeable amateur' at that point - but the section on using the Sony Flash system were a revelation both in terms of the little technical details that just didn't seem to be available anywhere else AND the practical application of that information to everyday shooting situations. If I had a criticism, its that the layout and formatting are quite up to scratch (typos etc) - but then Gary has since sent me several emails inviting me to download updated versions that address these little niggles.

Edwin said...

"I wish we had someone who writes this well covering those brands. But we don't."
You should read the Nikon guide books by Thom Hogan before you say this.....

Keith I. said...

I had Gary's A700 and A900 printed books and they are outstanding, and I have often recommended his work to any of my Sony shooting friends. He is also a great guy to chat with over email.

- Keith "from NASA" as he knows me.

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

I'm corrected. I bought a Fuji S2 book from Thom a number of years ago and it was quite thorough. I prefer Gary's style but as far as information delivered Thom is right there. Thank you for mentioning him. Now, where are the Canon guys?

Anonymous said...

...and the Olympus guys; what a bear to configure !

Unknown said...

I just bought Gary's Nex-7 book (iBooks format). Been looking at a few, and Gary's get very good reviews. So far it is excellent for the actual content, but I'd agree with the first post here that the formatting is not the best, especially considering the capabilities of iBooks on an iPad (or even iPhone). This is a book I'll want to access a lot of the time, so I will sync it to my phone too.

If you want to see what can really be one with iBooks buy one of David Sparks (MacSparky) iBooks, either 'Paperless' or the new 'Markdown' book. They are amazing on functionality and look truly beautiful on iPad. This ought to be the standard for iBook formatting.

KIRK - you may be interested in checking out those iBooks too, they are excellent, best examples of eBooks I've seen. Makes it so much easier and enjoyable to read and the interactivity really helps with digesting the info.
I'm not buying any more PDF 'eBooks', they were good enough in their day, but there is no reason to distribute in that format for tablet/smartphone any more. Either properly formatted Kindle or (best) iBooks only for me now.

Aside from that though I have noticed that this particular iBook is dreadfully slow to load pages, maybe 20 seconds or so before I can tap a link or read anything - this is maddening! I will post feedback to Gary about it and I expect it is a formatting issue, which can be remedied with an update. I know this is a large iBook, but the MacSparky ones are substantial too and they function swiftly on an iPad.