The first rule of camera reviews, know thy reviewer

Carnival Games, Rodeo Austin - Austin, Texas

Carnival Games, Rodeo Austin – Austin, Texas

There’s no lack of commentary on the internet, including my humble attempts here. I got a chuckle last night when a blogger I follow ripped into a posting by another blogger I follow. Both are professional photographers with a considerable following. That got me thinking about something I was meaning to write for a while.

Whenever you hear an opinion, it’s really useful to know the person behind it. The same goes for camera reviews. There’s a lot of “free” advice out there but is it any good? Here are some tips for judging the validity of camera reviews.

1. Does the reviewer post real world photographs? Shooting test charts and brick walls do not a photographer make. Most modern cameras have great image quality. What’s more important is how a camera feels and how they work for your type of photography. Only a real photographer (pro or amateur) that actually uses the camera, in the real world, can make these type of assessments. Test results derived from a lab environment are only theoretical considerations. Reality has a strange way of upending theory.

2. Do they take the kind of pictures you want to take? There is no point in getting sports camera recommendations from a wedding photographer. A studio only portrait photographer does not understand the handling considerations of an optimal street photography camera. A daytime landscape shooter on tripod is not going to know much about high ISO photography at night.

3. Do they show you their photographs? Beware of blogs and forum posters that don’t show their photographs. I find it amusing when photography sites and posters talk a good game about photography and equipment but you never see their handiwork. Until you see their work, it’s all theory and mostly likely, bluster.

I’ve done my share of camera reviews on this site. You may or may not like my photography but I’m clear about the things I shoot, which are usually street and travel photographs, urban landscapes often, though not exclusively, at night. I post plenty of real world examples, so you know where I’m coming from, when I review a camera.

Keep that in mind the next time you read reviews or opinions out there in internet land.


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7 thoughts on “The first rule of camera reviews, know thy reviewer

  1. Funny, I only currently follow 3 English-written photoblogs……and they are exactly Ming, Kirk and you. Love Kirk’s blog for his “I can take whatever camera/old lens and produce a great picture, because of skills with lights….and people”. Love Ming’s blog for his obsessive attention to image quality (but not particularly for his pictures themselves). I like your blog because you are a hobbyist (the fact that you are not making who truly seem to love photography (I initially came on your site because of a review I guess, but am more interested with the diversity of your pictures). Overall, I think Ming and Kirk are at the opposite sides of the photographers spectrum (almost engineer versus artist?)…..

    1. Thank you, Laurent. I’m in good company with Kirk and Ming. I find you observations about Kirk and Ming being on the opposite sides, interesting. Ming does appear to have an engineer’s precision and obsession in this photographs.

  2. Both are good professional photographers, tho I’m biased – I like portraits more than anything else.

    What I normally don’t like – and I think I agree with Kirk in this – is when photographers think they’d know better than camera companies. Thom Hogan would be an example, and now Ming.

    Sometimes I think: come on, people – digital is still so young. And that’s exactly the reason why in digital we still don’t have anything like my old Canon A1 with its 28mm/2.8, 50mm/1.4, and 135mm/2.8 lenses. Not at the price, and especially not at the size. One day we’ll surely have something like that – as soon as all the needed electronics plus the battery are the size, weight, and cost of a 135 film canister…

    1. Wolfgang, thanks for your visit and comment. Digital is young. But I think the competitive pressures and the short lifecycles of the current models are really challenging for the companies. You have major refreshes happening every year or so with so many updates. In the firm days, there were no need to worry about sensor upgrades or processor upgrades. Film is film.

  3. You were the first reviewer I ever really trusted. You still ARE. And I just got the new version of the Pentax, the Q S-1. It seems to recycle a little faster than the 7. I think, but haven’t measured, that it also focuses faster. Mostly, I like that it’s a nice, warm, red 🙂

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