I think this book deserves better than the few perfunctory reviews offered here. To my mind French photographer Arnaud Frich has put together a serious, comprehensive guide to taking panoramic photographs and this deserves recognition.
The material is organised in seven chapters. The first chapter introduces the subject by defining the panoramic image (in terms of its aspect ratio), briefly surveying its place in the history of photography and by providing a general overview of the different ways in which a photographic, panoramic image can be created.
At one level panorama photography is just a specific application of the photographic craft in general and it follows the same basic rules. This is certainly true when a panorama image is created by either cropping a picture with a more traditional aspect ratio (a square or a 2:3 ratio) or by combining (`stitching') a series of conventional photos into a picture that exceeds the 1:2 aspect ratio. However, panoramic pictures can also be created by specially designed cameras - flatback and swing-lens or rotational cameras - the specifics of which dictate a certain modus operandi (hence the attention to hardware in this book is certainly justified). The particularities of both kinds of cameras are explored in the three following chapters.
Chapter 2 focuses on framing and composition, Chapter 3 on taking pictures specifically with flatback cameras (e.g. Hasselblad XPan) and Chapter 4 zooms in on swing-lens and rotational cameras. The latter type often covers a very wide angle of view (typically 120°) and this implies that particular care has to be taken in exposing the image, particularly when there are significant differences in luminosity across the frame. Frich has built a reputation for his nighttime pictures in urban settings with (Noblex) swing-lens cameras and his treatment of this subject is very detailed (which makes the reproach that this book reflects too little user experience all the more surprising).
Chapters 5 and 6 are fully devoted to joined or stitched panoramas. Again the treatment is exhaustive and goes beyond the relative merits and manipulation of required hardware (panorama heads) and software tools. For example, the reader learns how to calculate the number of pictures that need to be taken relative to the size of the final desired image, how to determine the entrance pupil of the camera-lens combination and the intricacies of exposure and preparation of the images prior to joining.
The final chapter rounds off the discussion by focusing on matters related to printing, presentation and archiving (most of which are not specific to panoramic photography).
In addition to its depth and seriousness the book offers a number of additional pluses. It is carefully and imaginatively designed which makes it very pleasing to read and browse. In addition, Frich has taken the trouble to invite a range of panorama photographers to contribute to the book with their images, expanding the motivic repertoire beyond his own focus on urban architecture to include landscapes and a (small) number of more photojournalistic images. There is a pleasing mix of colour and black-and-white throughout the book.
To conclude, I find this book good value for money. As a manual for aspiring panorama photographers it certainly fits the bill. Its in-depth treatment of swing-lens cameras and of stitched panoramas make it complementary to Lee Frosts Panoramic Photography.
I would just like to offer two mildly critical remarks. First, software tools for stitching photos into panoramas have evolved since this book was published in 2007. These tools will probably continue to develop which will render certain sections of this book obsolete rather quickly.
Finally, as a somewhat more experienced practitioner of panoramic photography, I would have liked a slightly more adventurous take on the subject. Frich's approach is squarely didactic. This is also bound up with his own, traditional predilections as regards style, and with a certain rigour that can perhaps be considered typically French. All this results in a rather careful - and to my liking rather tame - approach. Great practitioners of the genre - Josef Koudelka, Pentti Samalaahti, Michael Ackerman, to name just a few - have given copious evidence of a much more daring and free use of the panorama format. No doubt just that kind of freedom is very difficult to systematically describe. Maybe better to keep this as a subject of a separate book ...