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Thread: Camera reviews

  1. #1
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Camera reviews

    When someone I know asks me about photographic gear, I usually suggest that they check out online reviews of what they are thinking of buying; assuming that there is one for the specific piece of equipment they are looking at buying. Lately I have started to wonder about how good that advice really is. I think that the review sites are publishing all kinds of information on the equipment that:

    1. Is easy to test for, rather than providing meaningful information to the potential buyers on how well the piece of equipment will work for them. As a rule, especially with camera bodies and lenses, they will compare amongst products from the same manufacturer, especially obsolete models, but rarely across products from different manufacturers that are aimed at the same market segment.

    Much of the information will be informative to pixel peepers, but will have no real impact in the end results when it comes to actually taking a picture.

    2. Is designed not to bite the hand that feeds them, i.e. the manufacturers or importers that supply the gear for testing. I can’t remember the last time I saw a negative review; and

    3. Confusing opinion with fact and not clarifying when a comment is based on a particular market niche, use, shooting style, etc. Something that is important to a sports photographer might be of no interest to someone who does landscapes, etc.

    Seldom do we get comments about:

    1. Robustness – pointing out “features” that will break easily due to design or implementation issues. I really don’t want a piece of gear that will break too easily,

    2. Ergonomics – simple stuff like how someone with large or small hands will be able to handle the camera, how someone with glasses will be able to use the viewfinder, how easy the adjustments are when holding the camera in shooting position, how easy / difficult it is to use the menus, etc.,

    3. Limitations and advantages of the piece of equipment – sometimes a piece of equipment really will be beyond the skills a beginner will have, other times certain tasks will be difficult to do with the equipment, etc., and

    4. Fluff – the camera manufacturers keep throwing more and more sophistication at us, and much of it seems to be from the marketing departments that is put there because it is a “feature” that distinguishes the product from the competitive products in the sales literature without really adding to the user experience in a meaningful way. No one ever calls them out on this, so we keep on getting cameras with more and more fluff.


    Anyhow, that’s my rant for the day. Any thoughts or opinions?

  2. #2
    Clactonian's Avatar
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    Re: Camera reviews

    Are you including dpreview in your criticism? I've always found their reviews fairly even handed to a point where they are almost over-critical on some issues which in everyday life wouldn't be a problem.
    I do suspect however that you are correct about 'biting the hand that feeds them', to a degree.
    I also find Thom Hogan's reviews on Nikon cameras helpful.
    I find lens reviews more annoying than camera reviews. I have several lenses that have received quite damning reviews yet perform perfectly well for my purposes. Too many criticisms seemed to be based on the need to print to poster size, when in reality most users will probably not even print a photograph.
    I guess it's a question of reading as many different reviews as possible, taking the average opinion, and then reading between the lines!!

  3. #3

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    Re: Camera reviews

    Bearing in mind the 'Silent Majority Thread' Manfred I felt I just had to comment rather than Pass By. Past experience of specialist review magazines in the past has shown that sooner rather than later they will all fall into the traps you list. There are so few real reviewers around eventually that every new product issued will be 'The Best', 'The Ultimate', 'The Answer to our prayers' and other suchlike marketing rubbish. I find the inclusion of Video on DSLR cameras is IMHO in your category of 'Fluff' but now features as important on most reviews. One of the reviewers of Digital Cameras I find is as honest as possible is 'The Computer Shopper' where they are not afraid of naming the turkeys and they do tend to look at the items you list. They include software and computers as well.

    Keith

  4. #4
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Camera reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Clactonian View Post
    Are you including dpreview in your criticism?
    Yes, definitely, I wrote this after reading one of their most recent reviews. I find that after they were bought by Amazon, they started to really head in the wrong direction.

  5. #5

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    Re: Camera reviews

    Most purchases that hurt the bank account require some serious homework for the buyer. It would be nice if there was someone who could pick that perfect car, house or camera for us and we'd live happily ever after with the choice. Unfortunately that service has been copyrighted by Santa Claus (49 sleeps) so the rest of us have to make do. The lucky ones will have a friend or family member as knowledgeable as the people on this forum to help. Checking the internet has made many of these purchases easier. You no longer have to hit the library or buy Consumer Report magazines or listen to high pressure salesmen, etc. Everything is at your fingertips. Being easy doesn't transfer the onus off of the buyer though. You still need that "mentor" who represents your characteristics and that may be the hard part. Lots of technical articles are available but a newbie may not understand most of the vocabulary. They need to learn some facts and that learning should go up in relation to the dollar value which in the case of photography is a very valid yardstick. The more you have to spend the better performance/options you will get. There are a zillion sites to check reviews on so within budget, the technical comparison is the easy part. After that, my best suggestion, and not just with a camera, is to try it. Does it feel right? Does it do what you want it to? In the DSLR market the performance differences between the major manufacturers in the same price range is negligible. It comes down to ergonomics and only you can judge that for yourself.

  6. #6
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    Re: Camera reviews

    Additionally, sometimes sites such as Snapshot use ridiculous comparisons such as the 7D being "thinner" than the 60D. Come-On Man! A difference between 2.9 inches and 3.1 inches is certainly nothing to tout as an advantage (or disadvantage) additionally a color depth of 22.2 bits vs. 22 bits is also really scraping the bottom of the barrel for a plus or minus...

  7. #7
    Clactonian's Avatar
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    Re: Camera reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Yes, definitely, I wrote this after reading one of their most recent reviews. I find that after they were bought by Amazon, they started to really head in the wrong direction.
    There was definitely a change to be sure.

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