I'm a snoop. Whenever I'm out with my camera (and even when I'm not) I look at other people's cameras. OK, I actually don't look at the cameras as much as I look at how they're set. Most people have their camera's set on "AUTO." I try and hide my disappointment. It's the same disappointment I get when someone asks why their sweet and expensive camera isn't taking those perfect pictures they expected.
This paragraph was intended to let me rail against buying beautifully capable cameras then throttling them by choosing the white bread and mayonnaise approach to photography. That was my intention, but then I stopped and realized most people don't have a clue what the non-auto settings change. It's a problem. It's not the buyer's fault.
Problem solved--at least for some Canon Rebel owners. I've been thumbing through Ben Long's "The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS/1000D Companion" and it's sister publication "The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D Companion." These books are the cure for "AUTO," simply described as the camera's choice for the "safest" shot, but often not the best shot.
It's not that new camera owners don't want to know how to get the best photos. They do. Unfortunately, new camera owners don't even know what questions to ask! What I immediately liked was these books (they are virtually the same book, just customized for the individual camera models) gave easy to follow explanations without being condescending. When it came to common problems there were illustrations before the cure was prescribed. You get a chance to look and say, "Yeah, that's my problem," then move to the step-by-step fix.
These are books on specific cameras, but also on general photography. There's a lot of nuts and bolts help on composition, exposure and technique that is applicable to any camera. Let me let my ego butt in for a second. As I thumbed through the books all I could think was that's exactly the advice I'd give!
Both "The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS/1000D Companion" and "The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D Companion" list for $24.99 and are published by O'Reilly. This is how you should spend the money you're no longer spending on film.