May 28th, 2011, 09:23 AM
Review or User Experience?
How do you decide whether or not to buy a new camera? Lets assume you're interested in a particular model, and you would like to find out more about it. Lets also assume you don't know anybody who has one and will let you do a fairly extensive test with it.
There are review sites everywhere and lots of user experiences out there. Which one do you give more credibility to? Or neither or both? In the light of a rather forthright discussion on DxO in another forum, do results like that have an effect on your decision? I was interested in this, when after writing a piece about it on my blog, a photographer said that he was getting comments from his friends about his GH2's DxO "score". He said that this sites conclusions, made him feel that he could be using "something better". So are peer group pressures or lab tests a factor in your choices?
In the days before the internet, I used magazines, opinions from friends and colleagues and whatever I could persuade my local store to let me shoot. But now its more difficult. My local stores, those that still remain, seem to be carrying an ever decreasing choice. There are also cameras that are quite difficult to find. I bought my first Leica for example, an M8, without ever having handled one.
Fortunately I loved it. But I've had the opposite experience. I've looked at samples, read all the reviews, checked out everything I can and still been completely underwhelmed when the camera arrived and I actually used it.
People often complain about the lack of the local photo store and the ability to strike up a relationship which can be helpful in these situations. But if we all buy our cameras from discount box-shifters its not surprising there are less and less of those about.
If I'm honest, I most trust the user experience of those who I think are similar in terms of camera use to me. For me Michael Reichmann at Luminous Landscape shoots pretty much what I shoot and I respect both his photography and his opinions. Whereas other similar reviewers have the opposite effect on my choices. Basically if they like it, I'm not going near it with a bargepole!!
So, who do you trust? Who do you regard as the most reliable? What finally makes up your mind to part with that hard-earned cash?
Last edited by soundimageplus; May 28th, 2011 at 09:51 AM.
May 28th, 2011, 10:22 AM
I start at the end - what is it I need or am looking for. In reality, ever since having a 20D, the things I felt I needed were certainly important but never crucial. I am as susceptible as the next to letting my geek overcome my artist.
But I read a range of reviews from sites that are actual 'review sites', and feel I know the strengths and weaknesses of each. In most I only gain a small nugget of information to add to my thinking. Rarely will I base any major decision on what I read in them. But they do have some value, if little for me. The classic example is dpreview.
I read in detail reports from Reichmann and a few other photographers. I also read field reports like this from photographers who shoot different subjects than I do, with different gear. I just find it very useful to see what they find effective, and what they find negative, in their gear. This helps inform what I look for. Some of the forums I read also have members who can inform or challenge my thinking.
I am happy to be challenged and consider doing things in new ways, but basically I know what I need for where I am on my photographic journey.
The DXO tests: I do read them, but really, they form a very small part of my decision making.
I try to keep things in perspective. I rarely shoot for a living now, and know my outputs. It's hard to find an enthusiast camera that would not, in terms of output, be able to meet my needs. So it comes down to the finer points of user interface and quality of output. So that leaves me with two resources I trust: real users (people like Reichmann and forum 'friends') and my own visit with a prospective camera.
My experience with the G3 is a case in point. I am disappointed at some of the interface changes, but when met in person the camera made a solid impression. I will follow the same process with the EP3 etc.
May 28th, 2011, 11:16 AM
The last two cameras that I bought new were based on discussion and info on photorumours.com Why? I buy new cameras to review based on pre-launch noise. I have plenty of good cameras, so if I don't have to write it up I can afford to wait till it's discontinued. All the cameras that I buy to play with I buy second hand or heavily discounted. I buy these on forum feedback. Typically that means here, Ricohforum or other brand dedicated forums. These people have direct experience of the camera and other comparable models and will be corrected by other members if they're wrong.
Originally Posted by soundimageplus
I depend less and less on reviews these days. Review sites and magazines are not as good as they were. One problem is writers only have time for a few days at most with a camera and the other problem is they depend on advertising. Therefore cameras get reviewed predominently on the specsheet. They rarely highlight drawbacks and flaws.
User reviews are more useful. You may not agree with the review; you may not even respect the reviewer and his views, but all the data is relevant. I then reconfirm the user's findings in-store. Sometimes I will borrow a camera. If buying second hand, I can always resell for ten to fifty bucks loss (about 10%-15% of what I paid).
May 28th, 2011, 11:59 AM
I am a gear head. So I get stuff just because ... DXO doesn't affect my decision. When I look at the score for the M9, my reaction is "c'mon!". The M9 gives me awesome results but somehow, if I made a decision based on DXO, I would have never gotten to enjoy the M9.
More thoughts later ...
Current Gear: A little bit of this and a little bit of that, but want more!
May 28th, 2011, 12:13 PM
I tend to buy what I like the look of as soon as it appears and then read the reviews later.
In the case of the X100 only a lack of supply stopped me.
Generally I find user reviews a mixed bag but these are the sites I've found to be accurate and factual:
Other sources like SteveHuff and luminous-landscape are more like users reviews and I treat their findings as I would any amateur user having disagreed so often with their conclusions.
Anyway in the last 5 years I've only bought one rubbish camera - Fuji Z10
and one dubious lens - Lumix 45-200mm
and I ddn't agree with the reviews of either
May 28th, 2011, 12:50 PM
Indeed, to quote DxO - "In comparison with the sensors used by other full-frame main manufacturers, the pixel quality of the Leica M9 sensor remains low."
Originally Posted by Armanius
Though many can see results like this for what they are, and what they omit, I wonder how many take them seriously, and indeed take other reviews seriously. I've lost count of how many posts I've seen that include "well Dpreview say........"
Last edited by soundimageplus; May 28th, 2011 at 03:37 PM.
May 28th, 2011, 01:48 PM
I'm wanting to say something witty to express my disbelief, but my jaw dropped open so far it's got stuck ...
Originally Posted by DxO
My photostream at Flickr.com is here
"We can not shake the illusion of the truthfulness of photography" - William Gedney
May 28th, 2011, 02:29 PM
I read depreview religiously, and used to trust them completely but started taking them with a grain of salt after their NEX-5 review, which caused me to delay buying it for nearly a year. User reviews here are the reason I finally bought it, and I love the camera and will continue to read user reviews here. I do trust Thom Hogan when it comes to Nikon. That said, he and dpreview love the Nikon D7000 and I didn't like it at all. I may have had a lemon but I returned it and won't buy another one. I would love to be able to handle cameras before buying, but the closest camera store with a wide selection is 100 miles away. I don't trust magazine reviews in general, but I do read the ones in Pop Photo with interest. I pay no attention to DxO, but that's just me.
May 28th, 2011, 06:48 PM
Well, as far as I'm concerned you did good.
Originally Posted by pdh
I have a splendidly bi-polar relationship with DxO . . . if they agree with me (K5 sensor) I think they're great, if they don't (M9) I ignore them. There have been so many crap reviews of splendid stuff: The Olympus E10, E1 . . The Kodak SLR/n . . . Layla . . . the list goes on and on.
Lots of use of the Pentax 18-135 zoom, (which has been almost universally hammered by lens review sites) has proved what a good lens it is in the real world (for me).
If I fancy a camera, then I buy it and try it (in the last year that includes the A55, K7, K5, X100). If I don't like it, then it goes - quickly before it's too expensive (K7, X100).
If I think it's good, but my copy ain't, then I'll try again (I've had 5 copies of the Pentax DA 16-50 in the last year, and they've all gone back).
Reviews are clearly useful, but in the final analysis, a good review is usually good - a bad review needs to be treated with care.
May 28th, 2011, 09:35 PM
The problem with "official" reviews is that they are just as prone to personal bias as any other opinion you'll read. The only difference is that the official reviewer was paid to give their personal opinion.
Test charts for interchangable lens cameras are hard to compare as well. For example on dpreview, if an Olympus 50/2 macro is sharper than a Canon 50/1.4, then a 12MP Micro 4/3 camera might show up as resolving more detail than a 7D. If I choose not to own either lens, the test is useless.
Nic (Canonite, Olympian, Panasonian, Samsunite) ~flickr~
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