Ralph E Jacobson, Sidney F Ray, Geoffrey G Attridge, Norman R Axford
This book is simply wonderful. It is a detailed and comprehensive treatise on the physical, optical, chemical and otherwise scientific theory behind photography (the authors all have a bevy of these wonderfully quaint British learned society titles, in addition to a hefty list of PhDs and graduate degrees). Also distinctive is that the first edition was published in 1890 and thus it spans three centuries!
That said, the coverage of the latest developments like digital photography is impressive, and this is one of the first photography textbooks that have been updated completely for the coming migration to digital, rather than treating it as an afterthought.
I’ve been looking for a long time for such a book, that explains the theory without patronizing a scientifically literate reader. For instance, the book explains how ISO ratings are defined for film and for electronic sensors, how depth of field is computed, the diffraction limit on sharpness at small apertures and so on. If you are afraid of equations, this is not the book for you.