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Customer Review

on 2 May 2014
(edition 4 discussed)

Eric Renner, author of this thing, comes across as a person of complete lack of sensitivity to history and millions of people who to this day cannot forget their past (and this book is yet another proof why they cannot).

Somehow Renner found it important to connect pinhole photography with ... Nazi party and by extension with everything one can think of from Hitler's era. On page 159 he introduces reader to the none other but SWASTIKA shaped pinhole camera, and to drive his point across also a photograph made with it (with multi-swasitkas in it). Of course the insensitivity is conveniently explained by Thomas Bachler (author of this) as his way of showing the past and how viewers should not read into this. Surely, if I went to this pseudo-artist's exhibit, I'd have to deal with it. However, why Renner came to this inclusion in a supposed "bible" on pinhole photography is beyond any logic, unless of course ... there is one. I don't personally care how Renner would explain this because it is inexcusable. Coincidentally, the two images belong to a few largest ones in the entire book, which may suggest his reasoning.

In addition, on page 151 Renner includes two extremely offensive "nude" images; ugly, low in technical quality (even by pinhole standards) and offensive to the point that this book is NOT meant for under 21 (or shell I say - should not be, there are better things to see in life). Again, WHY? Did he run out of variety or is he so shortsighted he cannot think?

Rest of the book will show you what to do with pinhole and how to make it. But you can also find this info for free. When one considers the huge price tag (I luckily paid only about half of MSRP) this is hardly a publication required for purchase. Pinhole is a simple concept. This book will not give you any ideas beyond the basics on camera construction. Inspiration can be found all over the web with far better variety and for free. In fact, if you devote enough time you may find interesting sites for other photographic reasons in the process.

Had Renner been a little more tasteful in his choices, I'd give this book 3 stars and that is based on correlation between content and price. But the two mentioned pages are an absolute show stoppers. In fact they go far beyond that.

To say that I do not recommend this publication would be a huge understatement. Renner has been an acclaimed pinhole king. Now I know of Renner who is narrow minded, insensitive, not worthy of a discussion, irrespective of his supposed contribution to pinhole. I don't care for Renner any more as I don't for his website or any place I come across him. I'm simply disgusted. Also a shame on the publisher to let this one go through. There were certainly superior choices to cover in this material, but when someone manages to drive himself on top of pinhole pedestal, then I suppose others just accept it without a thought.

In the end, the price I paid for this was only worth it, because I now know better.
For those who either don't care about above comments and are not bothered by any of the sorts, I'll add that the book, while covering pinhole photography is NOT what some consider THE book on the subject. I doubt there is one, but this is more than not it. Outside of above mentioned images, most of the rest are OK, but majority hardly a significant photographic accomplishment. Some are quite good, some are well below par. Further, some discussed topics are actually quite selective in information provided and fall short of being considered thorough. If that were not enough, some suggestions are simply mind boggling. As an example, chapter 6 starts with a well know topic of "Optimal Pinhole Formulas" in the "Advanced section". The whole discussion is covered on not even 2 pages + a table. This is at best a very simplistic do over and most formulas are never mentioned. If that were not enough, he comes up with a curious solution to your pinhole sharpness: use sharpening in Photoshop. Is this an advice from a supposed "know it all" pinhole man?

If you want to delve into pinhole and like to have all there is to know, internet is your only solution. If all you want to do is get shooting pinhole without fully understanding its inner workings, than internet is best as it will get you everything fast and for free. If you must have a book, but are unwilling to pay what this is asking for, then there are other choices for much less, but still covering the subject more than sufficiently.
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