web sites and books
My main photographic interests are in the equipment and techniques for macro photography and photomacrography, especially for use with Nikon DSLRs (in the past) and Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras (for the past 6 years). On this page are some books and web sites I can recommend as sources of information on these subjects. Since I am mostly technically inclined, rather than artistically, these sources concentrate on technical aspects. Several of these resources deal with equipment no longer produced, which is primarily of interest to collectors and/or advanced technical users who make extensive use of legacy equipment, often for new purposes. You will not find on this page any sources that deal specifically with basic information on photography, or beginner's information on macro photography. However, the first of the web sites listed below can be a good source of information also for beginners.
I do not "swap" links with other web sites, and I am not sponsored in any way by the sources listed below. This gives me the freedom to say what I think about them. The sites listed below are on this page for the only reason that I regard them as the best and most useful. There are several other useful sites, and plenty of less useful sites, but I prefer to keep this list short (at most 10 links). Additionally, I list no sites that charge a membership fee for access to information, or sell courses/training.
photomacrography.net - The "must check every day" bulletin boards on photomacrography (and photomicrography). Most of the photomacrographic techniques introduced and/or refined in the last few years have been developed by users of these bulletin boards, and discussed here. The emphasis of published photomacrographic images is heavily on entomological subjects, but the techniques are of universal usefulness. Also has a wanted/for sale section, restricted to non-commercial members.
ultravioletphotography.com - The best, most modern and independent bulletin board on UV photography (and also IR photography, although this part does not receive as much attention as UV). Concentrates on no-nonsense, free information exchange on technical rather than artistic aspects, and on equipment within the reach of professional and advanced amateur photographers, rather than research labs. Many of the recent practical advances in this field have been discussed here first, and virtuall all advanced UV photographers are members. Free, but you must apply for membership. For amateur and professional photographers alike, but not for equipment dealers.
Digital Photography Review (DPReview)- This site offers in-depth reviews of cameras and lenses, tutorials from introductory to relatively advanced level, and bulletin boards where users can discuss a variety of technical aspects of photography.
The Nikon historical society online - Articles, bulletin board and links about the history of Nippon Kogaku and Nikon, and their equipment. The bulletin board is not very active, but still a useful reference.
Lensrentals blog - This company rents photographic equipment, especially lenses, to professional and amateur photographers. The blog is written by Roger Cicala of Lensrentals as well as other writers, and often contains advanced posts of high technical interests.
The macrolenses collection database - An online database of almost every legacy photomacrographic lens, with pictures of lenses, technical data and often also scanned data sheets. Also a large assortment of special-purpose legacy lenses, especially those designed for UV and IR photography. It contains very little or no information about "normal" macro lenses (i.e., those mounted in barrels that focus between infinity and 1:1), and nothing at all about the dozens of models of modern macro lenses that most photographers use. The descriptions are teutonically concise and contain virtually no text besides technical lens data directly imported from a database. If this is what you need, this site is the best reference, period. If you need more articulated information and advice, look elsewhere. No noticeable updates of contents in almost two decades. Has occasionally been offline for long periods.
Biofos - Lots of technical information on Olympus digital system cameras, especially firmware and settings. Much of it is at a higher level of detail than available from the Olympus camera manuals. Some items for sale, but largely free.
Red Book Nikkor - A web site by a Japanese collector specializing in unusual lenses made by Nippon Kogaku and Nikon. Includes much information not found elsewhere, especially on exotic legacy lenses hardly ever mentioned anywhere else.
DxOMark - Detailed tests of current system camera lenses and other imaging equipment. The lens tests are made in conditions that generally allow comparison among different lenses, the camera model(s) used to test a given lens are always mentioned, the DxOMark score used to grade a lens is famously severe, and no full score has ever been won by any lens. This means that the test results of even the best lenses are really useful, instead of being just an endless list of "five stars" or comparable uncritical assessments. You can create your own comparisons among lenses you are interested in (of course, as long as test results are in their database).
Olympus Shared Resources - Zuiko Lenses - Collects technical information on all Olympus OM-system lenses. Other sections on the same server contain comparable information on legacy Nikon and Canon SLR lenses.
Blaker, A.A. 1976. Field photography; beginning and advanced techniques. Freeman, 451 pp. + field booklet.
This book is entirely about scientific and nature photography, and deals in great part with macro photography. The chapters on film and darkroom techniques are obviously outdated, but the book as a whole is still quite useful. Not extremely technical, and the theoretical aspects are not discussed in a satisfactory way, but contains many suggestions for building or improving equipment.
Blaker, A.A. 1977. Handbook for scientific photography. Freeman, 319 pp. + field booklet.
More technical than the preceding book, also partly outdated, but less so than the preceding one. A must-have source for photography in a scientific laboratory/technical studio. It does not mention much of the more expensive equipment that a photographic studio in a scientific research institute is likely to possess, and instead concentrates largely on using equipment and lenses not originally designed for photomacrography.
Papert J. 1971. Photomacrography: art and technique. Amphoto, 118 pp.
Despite the title, this book concentrates largely on artistic aspects, and the technical aspects are not dealt with in much detail. This book might possibly be used as a complement to more technical ones, but definitely it is the least useful among the books listed here.
White, W. 1987. Photomacrography; an introduction. Butterworth, 221 pp.
A rather detailed and technical review of theory, techniques and studio/laboratory equipment, including specialized equipment. It is much more than just an introduction.
Anonymous, 1969. Photomacrography. Kodak Technical Publication N-12B, 95 pp.
The oldest and technically most outdated of the publications in this list, it is still useful for an extensive discussion of illumination techniques and their effects on contrast. It is sometimes bound together with another Kodak Technical Publication, and entitled Close-up Photography and Photomacrography.
Bracegirdle, B. 1995. Scientific photomacrography. Bios, 105 pp.
The most recent and less outdated of these books. Relatively similar to White (1987) in scope, but somewhat less detailed. Still very useful.
Lefkowitz, L. 1979. The manual of close-up photography. Amphoto, 272 pp.
A technical handbook covering both theoretical and practical aspects of close-up photography, macro photography and photomacrography.Unusually comprehensive, it covers both beginner and advanced techniques, but is principally targeted to advanced users and scientific photography.
Stafford, S., Hillebrand, R. and Hauschild, H.J. 2003. The new Nikon compendium. Hove, 411 pp.
A discussion and illustrations of most cameras, camera lenses and accessories made by Nikon for the 35 mm and digital formats (except for the many Nikon specialty lenses with other mounts than Nikon F bayonet - you wont't find anything about them in this book).