The subjects of photography and computers have tremendous breadth and depth. Understanding either one can be a challenge, especially if you're a beginner. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Digital Photography does an excellent job of breaking the ice as it introduces readers to photography, computers, and digital cameras.
The book really does start at the beginning, with a short history of the camera and photography, plus the basics of composition. But it progresses quickly into an overview of today's digital tools. Instead of bogging down the reader in myriad details about camera models, computer software and hardware, and other minutiae, the book gives an overview of the available technologies, describing which system or format is best for different kinds of tasks. This is a good thing--hardware and software evolve rapidly, and some of the details mentioned in the book as "up and coming" are now standard. (See the sections on camera resolution for examples.)
After a look at how the gear works, the text dives into a lesson on photography basics (composition, lighting, shutter speeds, and lens focal lengths) and the details specific to digital photography (image resolution, monitor and printer calibration, and compression). The companion CD-ROM includes a demo version of Adobe PhotoDeluxe, and chapter 13, "Improving Your Images," goes into detail on using this image-editing application to improve the pictures you've already shot.
What good is instant digital photography if you can't instantly share your work on the Web? Chapter 22 addresses this specific issue, covering the basics of building a Web site (nothing fancy) and how to compress and upload your favorite pictures for everyone to see.
No particular platform is favored in this book--the contents of the CD-ROM are compatible with both Macs and PCs. Overall, this book succeeds at teaching the principles and basics of how digital photography works, and how to set up for it. Practical, useful, and enlightening, this is a good first step on a complex road. --Mike Caputo