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Kodak Professional Photoguide

by Philip Greenspun, 1998


Kodak Professional Photoguide by Eastman Kodak staff members, 1996 Silver Pixel Press. ISBN 0-87985-798-6. 56 pages. You can order this book from amazon.com .

Photographers. Consumer Electronics Show. Las Vegas, Nevada. 1991 If you had this book, which you'd find in virtually every professional photographer's camera bag, you wouldn't need to ask any questions in the photo.net Q&A Forum. In fact, the Kodak Professional Photoguide contains virtually all the information that you'd get in a one-year photography course.

Confused about exposure? The last page is an 18% gray card. Hold it up in the same light as your subject, meter off the card and you'll get the correct exposure regardless of subject reflectance. Can't remember how to use a meter? See page 19. Too dark for your meter? Turn to the existing light exposure dial and turn until the film speed is across from "moonlighted snowscapes -- full moon".

Worried that your 20 second exposure will induce reciprocity failure in Royal Gold 25? Turn to the film data section and you'll see that no reciprocity correction is required. [Sadly, the film data section contains no information for Fuji products.]

Exterior Wall. Getty Center. Los Angeles, California. The section on filters for color temperature control in color photography and contrast control in black & white photography is extensive and probably a little overly technical for most people. Still, there is a decent half-page summary of what to do to control sky and cloud appearance in B&W.

Flash photography is covered in detail and equipped with an elaborate computer wheel. More useful are the two pages devoted to fill flash. Especially clever is the idea of fooling an old automatic flash into performing as a fill flash by misleading it as to the f-stop that has been set (or alternatively as to the film speed).

Lens selection across formats from 35mm through 8x10 (but not APS) is facilitated with a chart showing magnification and field angle for different focal lengths. Three depth-of-field calculators serve to assist those working with medium format and view cameras but unfortunately omit the 35mm format. Kodak's explanation is that 35mm lenses come with depth-of-field markings next to the focusing ring but of course this ignores the increasingly popularity of unmarked zoom lenses over the last 15 years.

All formats get equitable treatment as far as close-up photography goes. There is a calculator wheel showing necessary exposure corrections at varying magnifications plus a couple of pages of optical equations.

The Kodak Professional Photoguide concludes with a concise appendix on perspective control with view cameras and 35mm cameras and a few checklists for location photography.

While this book never rises to the status of literature, it is something that every photographer will eventually find useful. Buy one and keep it in your camera bag forever .


Text and photos copyright 1991-1998 Philip Greenspun.

Article created 1998

Readers' Comments


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jae -- , March 10, 1998; 06:08 P.M.

A large part of content in this book is reproduced on the Kodak web site, as the Kodak Guide to Better Pictures.

Charles G. Ruberto , October 03, 1998; 07:19 P.M.

A bit of a rant: I agree that every serious photographer will want to (and should) own a copy of the _Kodak Professional Photoguide_, but it seems to me that Kodaks writers should consult some of Edward Tuftes work and put the guide through a serious revision. This clearly seems like a case where Kodaks offering is the standard simply because it was the first and is still, to the best of my knowledge, essentially the only such guide available. Several of the wheels and dials seem unnecessarily cluttered (how many people still use flashbulbs?) and just plain ugly (e.g. the dials in the "camera lenses" section). Further, a lot of the information, while useful, isnt necessarily something I need to have with me in the field for ready reference (e.g. "How to Clean a Lens," "Caring for Film"), which brings me to my final complaint: I cant see why the book needs to be as big and heavy as it is. When I started out in photography, I used a 35mm rangefinder, an old Weston meter, and a Kodak Professional Photoguide my father bought sometime in the 1960s. As I recall it, the old book was attractively produced, perfectly legible, had essentially the same amount of *useful* information, and was less than half the size of the current version  you could stick it in your shirt pocket and not think twice about taking it everywhere. And I did. I cant say the same about the latest one. Perhaps in attempting to please everyone Kodak has produced a book only large-format specialists could love. Maybe Fuji could do it right?

A friend recently pointed me to the FotoSharp Quick Reference Field Guides being sold at . They are clearly not a replacement for Kodaks offering, but some look like they might be useful. Has anyone any comments on these?

Y. Dobon , November 18, 1998; 01:17 P.M.

Kodak does publish a smaller version of the Kodak Professional Photoguide ("Pro Guide" hereafter): the appropriately titled Kodak Pocket Photoguide (Kodak Publication No. AR-21; ISBN 0-87985-609-2). It is indeed about half the size of the Pro Guide and has slightly simplified version of most of the dials and computers in the larger version. It is strongly weighted toward 35mm photography (the depth-of-field dial covers 135 format lenses) and doesn't even try to tackle large format. There is no gray card in the Pocket Guide however.

My copy is a minor revision from 1991 so it seems a bit out of date compared to the 6th edition of the Pro Guide (the latest one with the blue cover), but there's nothing wrong with what's in the Pocket Guide or my older 5th edition of the Pro Guide.

While the Pocket Guide isn't going to win Tufte style points, it is a reasonable pocket companion to the Pro Guide.

Daniel Pothier , February 16, 2000; 04:41 P.M.

I guess all of the photographers in the Las Vegas show photograph were using their copies of AVN and Hustler for photographic reference.... Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

G.Alan Fink , December 02, 2001; 11:51 P.M.

The Kodak Professional Photoguide, though thought out and certainly helpful in my humble opinion cannot stand close or even compare favorably to the one I obtained when I attended the Nikon School. This field guide far surpasses the Kodak guide with useful information that is more in line with current technologies. I like useful information and, though I do recommend the Kodak Photoguide, I personally carry the Nikon Field Book which I would not surrender or loan to anyone... ya want it?... go sit for a day at the Nikon School and learn something useful.

Miguel Marcos , August 31, 2002; 04:09 P.M.

Alan, is that Nikon Field Guide one and the same as this one? http://www.bythom.com/fieldguide.htm

Mick McCorcle , February 18, 2007; 03:44 P.M.

The Nikon Field Book and Nikon Field Guide are two different animals. The Field Book, as far as I can tell, is only available as a text at The Nikon School. It is closer to the Kodak Professional Photoguide than to the Nikon Field Guide.

And speaking of the Photoguide, boy has it gotten pricey now that it appears to be out of print. I'm just glad I remembered mine, tucked inside the pocket of my LowePro bag with my film cameras. Retail for the Sixth Edition (1998) was $29.95 when I bought it, and now on the used market it's hard to find for under $100.

Sanjay Chaudary , November 25, 2007; 07:29 A.M.

Hi, does this book cover 35mm format? I read a comment somewhere that it does not. I am planning to buy an used copy

Kara Helmkamp , February 18, 2008; 11:55 A.M.

I know this comment thread died, oh, ten years ago, but if anyone is still reading, Lark Books has updated this book to this newest version: KODAK Digital Photoguide. It still contains the best of the film book version, but now these technical applications are applied to digital. Definitely worth checking out.


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