First Impressions: The Lens – Book Review

Holy crap, this book is packed solid with just about everything you want to know about lenses: buying lenses, antireflective coatings, toy camera lenses, tilt shift, etc. There is a lot contained in that etc.

But is it useful for you? This is just my first impression from spending an hour with the book and I hope it sheds some light on what you’ll find inside.

Gear Used


It’s a book, it has good ergonomics. But it is a heavy book, so make sure you eat your Wheaties before reading.


This book, while amazing at first, lacks teeth a pro like me is looking for. I picked up the book because I am smart enough to know I don’t know everything. I wanted to learn more about lenses because there are gaps in my knowledge, like how do they actually put a lens together and what is the logic to the grouping of elements inside a lens.

I didn’t quite receive what I was looking for in this regard. The manufacture section is light. Actually, as thick as this book is, many sections are light. Maybe because it includes sections like “Where to buy”. Do I really need a book to tell me where to buy a lens? There are sections on depth of field and f-stop which are vital for those starting out, but it left me yawning.

I’m going to save you some time and not write a full review. Why? Because this book has one market and if you’re in it, you’ll love this book. Otherwise, no long-winded review will convince you this book is worth it.

That one market who may be interested are those just starting out in photography, who love book reading and who have an open mind to soak it all up. But also those who know that book knowledge only gets you so far.

For instance, the section on tilt-shift is 3 pages long. Teleconverters and extenders is a valuable section as is the section on perspective. But really, this book tries to cover too much ground and the lightness for those of us with more knowledge will be annoying.

For those of you starting out, this book will have solid information for you looking to begin your education. But realize it is a starting point. It does a good job of laying down the basics in the first couple of sections on things like “Decoding Lens Names” and “Macro”. It will help you understand how light bends and is crafted. It will be helpful to you.


Plain and simple: If you’re a seasoned pro, don’t bother with this book. It will teach you little for the $25 price tag.

If you are new to photography, you can gain a lot of basic knowledge that will serve you well as you dive into photography.  Buy your copy here.

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Peter Carey

Peter West Carey is a world traveling professional photographer currently leading photo tours to Bhutan, Nepal and Hawaii. He also hosts basic photography workshops along the West Coast of the USA as well as the free 31 Days TO Better Photography series on his blog.