Here is a full-blown, totally mathematical optics tome for those who either are not afraid of vectors, matrices, determinants, derivatives and integrals or just have to bite the bullet and use them. What sets it apart from other texts of that ilk are all the illustrations, many of them photographs by the author, that are worth 1000 words or more, and the historical background of the discovery of these electromagnetic principles.

This edition, and its earlier incarnation, authored by Hecht with (I am guessing his mentor, Zajac), can answer just about every theoretical question on light, plus a lot of practical knowledge coming from someone who is obviously a hands-on practitioner. It is not for the mathematically faint of heart, but for someone who wants something infinitely more detailed and developed than web downloads.

I bought my copy of this text when I sat in on Dr. Tung Jeong's Optics class at Lake Forest College when I worked there as a Research Associate for the Center for Photonics Studies. Imagine me sitting in with a bunch of gung-ho Physics students! Luckily I had to attend to other duties on the days of the tests!

Also of interest by the same author is his Schaum's Outline

Don't let the copyright dates lure you into thinking the nformation is out of date. There always are advances made in any science, but the fundamentals remain the same, and a well-written and illustrated text is forever welcome.

This book seems to have been the model for Seeing The Light, as the order of the topics is similar, with even more photographs by the authors, but lighter on the mathematics, although not totally devoid of equations.