Why I'm not cut out to review cameras

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Amin Sabet, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    B&H keeps offering me cameras to review, but I don't think I'm cut out for it. Everywhere I look, I see complaints about cameras. Wishes for more or different features. If only this camera had ______.

    I'm just wired to look at what cameras offer rather than what they don't offer. I basically have no complaints about any of my cameras. I can objectively identify some advantages some of my cameras have over others, but I don't feel like any of them have deficiencies.

    Either we're spoilt for choice, or I'm too easily satisfied. Either way, I look at threads like this one and simply draw a blank.
     
  2. snkenai

    snkenai SC All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Stephen Noel
    I have to agree. It has become just too weary-some.

    Saw this on a RV forum. Shortened a bit for here, but you get the idea.

    Protect and grow the nest egg.
    Don't carry debt, leave room for more important things.
    Plan your escape, escape your plan.
    Don't miss what you don't have.
    Take what you think you need, and when you figure out you don't need it, get rid of it.
    Take care of what you have.

    Seems that some of that is missing, in camera reviews, and photography.

    Now if I could just scratch together enough cash to get...... :biggrin: :eek:
     
  3. Livnius

    Livnius SC Veteran

    475
    Jun 3, 2012
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    You're right Amin, you're simply not cut out for it.

    May I kindly suggest you pass on all future B&H camera samples to my good self for review ?

    Seriously though I see where you're coming from and I think I'm experiencing that first hand again right now. Recently sold the X100S and picked up the GR and really enjoying it a lot, fair to say that I'm enjoying it more than the Fuji, but that's not to say that either is better or worse, just different and if I was to be told one had to be my desert island camera I'd manage just fine with either even though I could if pushed pick out a list of relative pros/cons.

    In saying that though, I'd probably get the new OMD or GX2 or XE2 based on some subtle change or improvement...so I guess in my own way I'm always in a state of perpetual camera review.
     
  4. donlaw

    donlaw SC All-Pro

    Sep 14, 2012
    Texas
    Don
    I am with you on this. I rarely find anything to dislike about cameras.
    It used to be with film cameras that a manufacturer would come out with a new version every year or two. With digital it is a constant onslaught of newer, better, faster, smaller...
    It is a great thing, but I would not be a good reviewer because I like almost all of them!
     
  5. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Don't be so hard on yourself, Amin. You might be better than you think. Firstly, there are very few lousy cameras on the market, particularly once one hits the $500 mark. It really does become a matter of personal preference and objective identification of advantages one camera may have over another.

    But I understand your point. A camera company introduces a new product and it is instantly declared a failure by many who have never even picked it up. On the other hand, there are those reviewers who never met a camera they didn't love and never write anything less than a glowing report for fear of being cut out of the inner circle. Most enthusiasts learn how to filter out both.

    My suggestion: Why not accept B&H's offer and try it a few times? I suggest at least three times and possibly up to a half dozen times before deciding if camera reviewing is for you. If it is, fantastic. You have a built-in audience that respects your opinion. If not, fine, you can quietly drop the reviews. Also, by getting some quality time with more cameras, you may get better at identifying what's both right and wrong about them. But I know you would never be obnoxious about it.
     
  6. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    I feel basically the same way. Although I found manual exposure fiddly on the Pens and jumped at the OM-D (which I love) when it came out, I stilled happily used my E-P2 for quite some time -- with lots of legacy lenses too. Over the course of using a camera I find things that might be more convenient with another configuration, but I also don't experience them as a defect of some sort in the camera. It is what it is, and I can usually find a way to enjoy shooting with it. But I don't think you have to be a nit-picker to write useful reviews. I find Steve Huff's enthusiastic recommendations really enjoyable. He does mention limitations in passing, but mostly is out to gain the most enjoyment he can from the camera at hand. Provided the information used is accurate, I don't find reviews of that sort a problem, in fact I prefer them to reviews that endlessly carp about what is missing, what is wrong, what would be better in a perfectly realized platonic form.

    So I think you have a lot to offer if you really feel like reviewing.
     
  7. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    I like reading Steve Huff's no nonsense impressions and enjoy his enthusiasm. You can read reviews at DPREVIEW that have gold awards and still "only" offer "good" image quality! My number one requirement is IQ and there are work around s for most problems so I always think that this is a bit misleading. I'd much rather be able to see real use pics and read about the "but....." And come to my own conclusions.
     
  8. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    The only review I read after I bought my E-P2 was the dpreview of the OM-D. Once I'd established I couldn't see a difference in noise that would affect my kind of photographs, I stepped off the hamster-wheel of 100% crops and just took photographs.

    When I see endless threads (they're everywhere, not just here) titled something like "XE-100 vs PRO-MD" or "V20 shots" my heart just sinks. Mostly because if I ever look at them, I simply can't tell the difference between a photograph taken with an XE100 or a PRO-MD or a V20. I've even been quite sure I must be looking at a Foveon-made image that turned out to be made with a Canon APS dSLR.

    My pet belief is that throwing around stats about something called "IQ" is a way of justifying to oneself the acquisition of something new. The process may not be on a conscious level, but that's basically it. The object has become the end, not the object's function, if you like.

    What a review simply can't tell you is what a camera feels like when you pick it up and whether you'll want to pick it up all the time and take lots of pictures with it.

    But then I'm someone who's heading fast down the road of capturing the least detail I can in a photograph, so perhaps I'm not the best judge in the matter of whether "pixel sharpness" (another mythical quality) matters ...
     
  9. porchard

    porchard SC Veteran

    344
    Feb 24, 2013
    Devon, UK
    Yes - I honestly doubt that there any digital cameras now available that could be described as offering truly "poor IQ". The huge array of choice on offer to us is really only about what works for the individual... for whichever purpose that individual has in mind.

    Time to go and make some photographs...:wink:
     
  10. demiro

    demiro Serious Compacts For Life

    527
    Dec 15, 2011
    I'm in the same boat Amin, and I have zero interest in shooting test images to determine every little detail of camera A vs camera B. I like what Ray does with his reviews, even though I don't shoot like he does. He provides a constant baseline for comparison and drills into what features really matter for how he shoots. Most of that can be extrapolated for other shooting styles. But he doesn't get too gushy over anything, nor does he get too negative.

    I was an audio-geek for a while, and I found that my favorite speakers were almost always the next pair I tried. No joke. I liked hearing something new. I think I'm the same way with cameras. The next camera is my favorite, in that it is a bit of an adventure in figuring out how it works (and works best) and learning to relate to it.
     
  11. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    That's kind of how I feel about it too and part of why I've really enjoyed being cut in on B&H's program. I guess Amin's reluctance is my gain! :wink: It's not so much that the next camera is necessarily my favorite, but I really enjoy the "adventure in figuring out how it works (and works best) and learning to relate to it". I think most modern cameras are pretty ingenious and quite well thought out, even if some of them aren't particularly well designed for my personal wants and needs - that's OK, I don't think my wants and needs are all that common!

    And Amin, if you ever decide you want to get more into it (or have more TIME to), I don't think you have to necessarily look at it as a negative endeavor, that you have to find things to criticize. I just look at it with the basic assumption that they're pretty much ALL good, but they're all different too, and those differences can be worth exploring and explaining as a way to help people figure out which options might work for them. In the few years I've been back into photography in a big way, I've tried a LOT of cameras and I don't think I've found more than a couple that I just didn't like much, and there was nothing wrong with those - just didn't work well for me. Then again, what I do is nothing like a formal review, just user impressions with a heavy built-in bias based on my specific shooting habits, which I try to be up front about. I'm interested in the basic tech of a how a camera works but even my technical analysis tends to be down to eyeball level "how's it look" kind of stuff rather than a test lab level of tech analysis. I don't think you have to feel obligated to find a lot of negatives if there aren't any (or many), but just explaining what works well and what could work a bit better.

    And cool new features are always nice to discover. The auto-ISO implementation on the new Nikon Coolpix A is the best I've run across yet and I think it should be a model for every camera out there. I can't even imagine a way it could be made better. I understand Nikon has been using a similar or identical approach in their DSLR's for a while now, but this is my first exposure to it. And it just makes me wonder why any camera would impose more limits on a feature with as much potential as auto-ISO has with today's amazing sensors. Its so good and so intuitive it actually bums me out to think about how close both the Ricoh GR and the Sony RX1 come to doing it as well and how close they are to getting it right, but with some critical gaps in each. And even sort of makes me mad at how lame Fuji's implementation of auto ISO is, even on the new cameras that at least provide a decent interface for it (after how dreadful the X100 was in this regard). I even started to write a piece specifically about different ways of implementing auto-ISO and the tradeoffs involved, but after three pages I realized I was just writing to help clarify my own thinking and understanding and no sane person would ever want to read such a thing! But that process was fun and filled with discovery for a camera geek like me and led to a better understanding of the potential of this newly useful feature and how few camera makers have really figured out how to make it most useful.

    I'm pretty sure if you had the time to devote, you'd get into this stuff at LEAST as much as I do! Its not about being negative or critical necessarily, but about puzzling these new contraptions out!

    -Ray
     
  12. pictogramax

    pictogramax SC Top Veteran

    979
    Aug 18, 2011
    Belgrade, Serbia
    I sometimes wonder if I am suitable for these photo forums, shooting with gear several generations behind, without all those new features everyone's raving about.
    But then, I still get to enjoy an occasional image from my lowly NEX3 and just one manual lens :)

    2013_06_23_-_2790.
     
  13. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Amin, I'm not sure of what point you are trying to make. But since you called out my thread, I'll post a quick defense.

    Not everyone earns enough scratch to have multiple cameras. I have to make choices on what I keep.

    I really liked the idea of the Fujis, and am going on vacation this week. So, I wanted to test the Fuji in a compressed time frame. I posted that question, and got very helpful responses. I haven't the slightest idea what my post has to do with camera reviews. It was a personal request, and wonderfully fulfilled.

    Sorry it was worded negatively, but that's what I was looking for. A time-compressed way to figure out what I thought about the Fuji. The Fuji is a great camera, and I'm staring at the box to return it, wondering if I should keep it. But I've got $3K into my FF system and probably $2K into my m43 system. That's way too much money to begin with. I already justify keeping the FF system because I shoot events for some charities. I can't keep 3 systems. For better or for worse, I don't have that kind of cash.
     
  14. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Like Wt I don't have 'enough scratch' to try all the cameras I see people go through on here as regularly as changing socks. Like Milan I shoot with older equipment and even flea market film cameras and often wonder why I am here on this forum. When people have questions about gear, and this is a very gearcentric forum even if photos are shared, I have nothing to offer in conversation. When there are technical reviews, often I'm unable to even assimilate all that is being covered. I needed a camera after several years of only being able to afford disposable Kodaks, my husband indulged me with more than a point and shoot in my little dslr and my passion was ignited. It's amuses me when I hear the Canon bashing, particularly in regards to how expensive they are, when my XSi cost a whopping $450 new. Gr is nearly twice that. X100s three times. And really I am not sure my eyes are capable of telling the difference in the photographic results. Particularly after post processing. Of course under a microscope I can.. but where does that end? I understand Wt's line of question, sometimes you are in a rush, you just want to know what the cons are because you have a general idea of what camera you want but you need to know if there are any shortcomings that will affect what you want to do with it. But you're right Amin when you say that cameras have so far advanced that it's really unlikely you'll be let down whatever you buy. Sure there are some cameras that are more intuitive, more ergonomically designed or feel better in the hand but as far as image goes, most of them offer photos that aren't only acceptable but really quite good. You have the technical know-how to review but if you don't have the heart for it you shouldn't indulge in it. I would never be asked to review but If I were, like you I'd be thrilled to try all the new toys. I wouldn't be looking to dissect them but to enjoy them for the brief time I had them. That is what passion is about, enjoying the creative process of taking photos, of learning about and pushing the gear that you have to reap the results and seeing the end product and being wowed. Even if it's a snap of your kids. There's been a little flurry of excitement with the GR coming out and amusement over the new Leica.. but the fervor over gear has for the most part gone flat on SC and I've heard repeatedly from members that the reason is-- no one is overly moved by anything coming out. That is because.. what is out is so damn good already that little tweaks just don't impress. When it's come down to which side of the camera the power button is on.. what is there to evaluate. Just enjoy what you have and keep shooting.

    ADDING: Amin, you wrote this post recently https://www.photographerslounge.org...seless-high-iso-not-so-fast-19154/#post129797 and what I read out of it was that you refused to accept the cameras weakness as a fatal flaw and instead found a solution to the encountered problem. You seem very knowledgeable regarding the cameras technologically yet what I see isn't necessarily a tech geek but a photographer. You can put a disposable into a photographer's hands and he can make it work. Just like you got the Sigma to dance for you. :)
     
  15. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Amin, These are great points. The latest brouhaha over the Leica X Vario almost had me running offline to the hills. It is, after all, just a camera, and a camera that like any other camera requires design priorities and tradeoffs in order to meet whatever goals. But it's easy to be a critic (and hard to be a good reviewer - I could never do it either). But seriously, I've backed off from the camera forums because I think a lot of the posters have gone too far, and IMO lost site of the photography itself. I still visit SC because there are a lot of photographs here and the conversations are interesting and thoughtful.

    While no camera or lens is perfect, if a person cannot find one today that basically works for them then perhaps they should find another passion or hobby or interest. Otherwise, some folks will just never be satisfied. But I also wonder if they are even into photography or if cameras are simply gadgets for them, to be evaluated like the latest smart phone or laptop.

    On a side note, the camera reviewers I do appreciate are extremely thorough, do not jump to conclusions, and through them I learn about camera design and photography. I also appreciate more casual camera reviewers who are good writers and structure their thoughts in interesting and enlightening narratives.
     
  16. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    What I like about a forum like this is that there is something for everyone. For people who like gear. For people who like to analyze files. For people who like to shoot.
    What I also like is that the discussions are (mostly) respectful.

    W.r.t. the discussion topic: I find the gear review "business" fascinating. Whenever I read a review, I feel that something is missing in my photobag. So I had to force myself to stop reading them. However... I am very, very happy that there are people out there who are willing to try and test the new cameras and share their findings with us. Whether it's pixels, bokeh, settings, sharpness, speed, camera color, you name it. And it's all for free! That is something to appreciate. It helped me make up my mind. and discover what is important to me in a camera.
     
  17. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I can relate to that as I was too! Although in hindsight some gear or system stands out better than others. But when my kids arrived I lost time (and $) to play audiophile and now I have a simple but wonderful system that I'll keep for many years. I get the itch every now and then, but there's really nothing I can do about it. I just enjoy the music.

    To an extent, I too feel the same way about cameras (and I think one aspect of audio gear and camera gear that strongly appeals to me is the industrial design factor). But with cameras comes the ability to create something, whereas with audio gear all you can do is listen. Unless of course it inspires you to play music! With photography, the pictures have always been primary and the gear is secondary. Funny, but when I have more time to take pictures I focus less on the gear and when I have less time for photography the inverse occurs. Oddly, if I had all the time in the world to take pictures it just might cure any fetishism about camera gear! But I don't have that luxury given work, family, kids, dog, you name it...

    In my audiophile the days the one true constant was my Resolution Audio equipment (and it still is today). And with photography the one true constant is the Ricoh GR(D) line of cameras. In certain ways, both of those remind me of the other.
     
  18. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    I'm the anti-Amin.

    I can find something wrong with EVERY camera I've ever come into contact with. When I'm on a roll, I'll find something wrong even with cameras I've never come into contact with! Without more people like me, we'd all be using 2 mp cameras. :wink:
     
  19. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    I tend to find with a lot of camera reviews that there are large chunks that I skip over because they are lauding or criticising some kind of feature or quality that I'm not particularly interested in myself, usually something that might be considered a bit more traditional. I rarely feel like I am the intended audience and as a result I tend to just look at the pictures and the hard numbers rather than read the opinions and impressions.
     
  20. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Bill, I'm sorry if I offended you. I didn't mean to criticize you, and I didn't take your post as a negative. I think it's completely valid to look at the negatives of a camera and/or gather information the way you did. I meant only the part that I said - I don't feel very fit to review cameras because I am hard pressed to identify negatives. Your post was one of many examples and was the easiest one to dig up. I often see posts like that one, try hard to think of something I don't like about the camera, and draw a blank.

    Fuji and NEX autofocus seem great to me. Micro 4/3 image quality to me is superb. When my camera doesn't have a viewfinder, I find myself preferring to work off the rear LCD. When it has a viewfinder, I find myself preferring to work with the viewfinder. When camera has lots of dials and controls, I enjoy that. When they don't, I like that too. When my cameras have a plug to charge in camera and don't come with a charger, I think that's pretty neat. When they have a charger, I like that too. Can't really imagine caring a whole lot about how auto ISO is implemented. Etc etc. Even the miserable-by-any-objective measure battery life and buffer of my DP2M don't bother me at all.

    I can't remember the last time something about a camera really bothered me.